by John Rittenoure - VAN BUREN, Ark. (March 20, 2021) - Dustin Allen had only ran three races in a late model prior to Saturday night at Crawford County Speedway, but he is not new to winning and he did just that in the Sooner Late Model Series season opener.
The former modified ace raced in two Sooner Series events last year and was not expecting to win this soon.
“We did not have that big of expectations for this weekend,” said Allen of his thoughts going into his first weekend. “We are in a new car and new class. We have only run a couple of times in late models. I ran once in somebody else’s car and twice in my car.”
However Allen spent the off season working toward being competitive.
“We did a bunch of homework this winter to try and be where we need to be and I am happy with where we are at,” he said.
“Its a lot more fun than modifieds,” Allen explained. “They (late models) drive a little different. Everything a lot quicker from the steering and things like that. You have more grip. They are similar to a modified.”
Allen started on the pole next to three-time defending series champion Kip Hughes and the two were side-by-side to end the first lap when the yellow waved for Richard Shepler who was stalled in turn four. On the restart Allen jumped out front with Hughes close behind.
After a second restart due to a four-car tangle in turn four, the duo continued out front until lap six when Hughes hit a rut in turn one and sailed into the wall. Hughes was done, leaving 19-year old Haden Ross the opportunity to run down Allen.
“I was sad to seem him wreck,” Allen said of Hughes’ misfortune. “I was hoping to have a good battle with him. We both had good heat races.”
Ross stayed close to Allen till late in the race when he pulled to a comfortable lead. Ross held on to second with Steven Hawkins finishing third, Zach Nickell fourth and Jason Redman rounding out the top five.
Next weekend the series moves to the historic half-mile at Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee and Allen is looking forward to it.
“I have never raced that track, so it will be interesting,” he said.
The Okie Dirt Nationals at Thunderbird is a Friday-Saturday show paying $1,000-to-win on Friday and $2,000-to-win on Saturday.
Sooner Late Model Series Results
Crawford County Speedway
March 20, 2021
O’Reilly Auto Parts Heat 1 (12 laps) - 1. 11-Dustin Allen; 2. 24-Dan Moreno; 3. 88S-Richard Shepler; 4. 31-Gary Lowe; 5. 36-Jason Redman; 6. 65-Eric Brill.
O’Reilly Auto Parts Heat 2 (12 laps) - 1. 4-Kip Hughes; 2. 66-Hayden Ross; 3. 33-Steven Hawkins; 4. 77-David Lane; 5. 55-Zach Nickell; 6. 7S-Eric Redman.
A Feature (25 laps) - 1. 11-Dustin Allen; 2. 66-Hayden Ross; 3. 33-Steven Hawkins; 4. 55-Zach Nickell; 5. 36-Jason Redman; 6. 24-Dan Moreno; 7. 65-Eric Brill; 8. Kip Hughes; 9. 77-David Lane; 10. 88S-Richard Shepler; DNS: Eric Redman, Gary Lowe.