Dillon Houser held off challenges from Jesse Clark, Davey Smart and several others in a caution-filled Limited Late Model feature at Tri-County Motor Speedway to pick up his second consecutive victory in the series.
Houser’s victory adds another chapter to what has already been a busy 2018 season for his Limited Late Model program, which includes an appearance in the first CARS Limited Late Model Tour race at Tri-County in March. Houser is proud of all the hard work that his team has put into the program in recent months and gives them credit for consistently providing him with competitive cars.
“We rebuilt our car over the winter from top to bottom,” Houser said. “We switched over to a 604 motor after running a 603 motor, and I feel that it’s really helped out my driving style. I’m not sure where we stack up in other series since some of the competitors here aren’t the ones I normally run against, but I feel like that anywhere we go, we can be just as good as the other guys.”
Although Houser qualified a tenth faster than the rest of the field, a dice roll ultimately determined the starting lineup for the 50-lap Limited Late Model feature. Houser rolled a four on his roll, which dropped him back to fourth place behind his teammate Chris Phipps and Late Model veteran Kyle Barnes.
It would only take a couple of laps for Houser to find a way around Phipps for third but proceeded to ride behind Barnes and Tanner Brookshire for most of the opening 30 laps. Houser knew that the rough surface of Tri-County would abuse his equipment if he used too much of it early in the race, and intended to log laps behind the leaders in order to have a chance at victory at the end.
As the laps began to wind down, Houser would find himself in the middle of a controversy when Barnes came down in front of Houser as he tried to get in line behind Brookshire, which caused the two drivers to make contact, sending Barnes into the wall. Race control reviewed the incident but determined that Houser did not intentionally wreck Barnes, which allowed him to start on the front row alongside Brookshire for the next restart.
The final few laps of the race featured several more cautions that slowed the pace of the race, which created more opportunities for Houser to pass Brookshire for the lead. Houser eventually gained the upper hand on Brookshire on a late-race restart and managed to pull away from the rest of the field in his #11 Pepsi/Mountain Dew Limited Late Model as he secured the hard-fought victory.
Houser has had success at Tri-County in the past, as he was in contention to win the inaugural CARS LLM Tour race at the track before an accident with Zach Bruenger took him out of contention near the end. Houser understood that the track surface was going to be an issue for him and the other competitors for the weekend, as pieces of the track damaged cars during the Do the Dew 150, but Houser added that the track remained in great shape throughout the weekend.
“Jeff Myers and the other caretakers did a really great job of taking care of the track,” Houser said. “They put concrete on all of the spots that were bad, as well as some parts of the track that were about to come up during the CARS Tour race. It was actually really good to race on, and we were all shocked.”
Houser intends to compete for the 2018 GRIPP LLM series championship, but also plans to race in several standalone Limited Late Model events, including the CARS Tour Throwback 276 at his home track of Hickory Motor Speedway in August. Regardless of his plans, Houser wants to keep racing along the east coast until circumstances prevent him from being at the track every chance he gets.
1. 11 Dillon Houser
2. 5 Jesse Clark
3. 14 Davey Smart
4. 10 Randy Ollis
5. 81 John Gallman
6. 37 Chris Phipps
7. 10T Marion Thomas
8. 3 Everette McMahan
9. 55 Tanner Brookshire
10. 4D James Dolan
11. 15 Kyle Barnes
12. 17 Baron Kuritzky
13. 65 John Mamph