Steel Block Bandits
TRIUMPHANT RETURN, MITCHELL DELIVERS AT DIXIELAND
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (June 2, 203) With fair weather clouds dotting the horizon and a warm breeze flowing through the air, the teams of the Steel Block Bandits Dirt Late Model Challenge gathered off Highway 17 in Northeastern North Carolina for their annual trek to Dixieland Speedway. As in the past, the first Friday in June is earmarked as one of the biggest races of the season at the 3/8ths mile oval.
Thirty one teams answered the call for night one of the first doubleheader weekend of the 2023 campaign. Two groups of HGR's Truck & Trailer Sales, Inc. qualifying would set up the four heat races for the evening. Group A saw Team Michael Batten Motorsports go to the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 17.211. Robbie Emory was second and Willie-Crystal Milliken third. Matt Glanden Racing was quickest in Group B followed by Dustin Mitchell and Michael Rouse. Batten scored his second career Bandit pole and collect the $200 from Bryan Sullivan.
In the first eight lap heat presented by Dirt Freak Racewear, Milliken jumps out to a big lead and holds on to secure the win over Walker Arthur, Brent Robinson Racing and Batten. In the Scott Service Company heat, Emory goes wire to wire over Derick Quade, Brad Lowe and Brenden "Butterbean" Queen.
Michael Rouse dominates the Mega Plumbing of the Carolinas heat over Dan Breuer, Samuel Bryant and Sherman Underwood. Mitchell leads every lap of the final heat presented by VP Racing Fuels bringing Brad Rigdon, Jeff Parsons and Michael Alderman with him to the big dance.
The last Chance Qualifying race would take the final six cars to the 40 lap feature. Derrick Rankin Racing #72 brought the 14 car field to green with some hungry drivers with him. Rankin sails out to a big lead and get the win. Local driver Tom Wilson finishes second along with Larry Jackson in third. Natural Bridge winner Tyler Arrington rallies to finish fourth, Will Prichard fifth and Dale Moore Racing was sixth. Tyler Bare Racing and Glanden both get provisionals after problems in their heat races to fill out the 24 car field.
With the field set, the capacity crowd settled into the seats for a full moon Friday night of racing. Milliken and Rouse made up the front row as the field thundered to green. Rouse gets the edge on Milliken as the two dash off turn two and head to three. Milliken throws a strong slider exiting turn four which collects Rouse sending him into the outside wall. The Wilson North Carolina driver expresses his displeasure with Milliken under caution, gets disqualified with Milliken relegated to the rear for rough driving.
Mitchell and Emory would now be on row one and as the green flew, the defending series champ, motored out front. Milliken brought out the caution on lap 12 and retired afterwards. As Mitchell’s lead continued to mount, Emory and Quade tried their best to stay in his tire tracks. Tyler Bare raced his way from 23rd to 7th before losing power on lap 25 with a broken rear end. Dan Breuer and Robinson battled door to door for several laps as the two old rivals put on a show. Arizona Sport Shirts rookie points leader Jeff Parsons once again battled his way through the field to cash in on a sixth place finish.
Mitchell wasn’t to be denied in the night he returned to the series as he posts his 7th series win becoming the sixth different driver to win in the six races held in 2023. Empry was second, Quade third, with Robinson and Breuer fourth and fifth. The Pine Level, North Carolina driver was satisfied in victory lane; “We’ve been behind this year after changing cars a few times and we really wanted to do this deal again this year but it didn’t work out. The car was good tonight, better than it has been, I’m pleased with the forward bite we had but we still have some work to do.” Mitchell is ready for tomorrow as well; “I’ve been there a few times I think it’ll be a good race and I’d definitely like to sweep the weekend.”
- Rouse on the incident; “I got wiped out, he drove through me and tore up the car, it’s pretty simple.” Milliken was upset as well post race; “I hit a rut and it threw me into him I would have hit the wall if he hadn’t been there.“
- Disappointing night for Tyler Bare after a wreck in his heat the Virginia driver loses a rear end; “Probably driver error in the heat, I should have been up front but we’ll rebound and get ready for VMS.” Bare was thrashing in the pits after the race getting his second car ready for tomorrow.
*Great effort for Glanden who goes into Kerry Kings car and advanced 14 spots to finish in the top 10.
- Brent Robinson has a solid run in fourth and was tickled after racing with his old friend Breuer; “That was like the old Clash days racing with Dan we raced hard and never touched. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I feel like we have a good package for VMS.”
- Tyler Arrington struggled after winning at NBS; “I’ve never been on a track this flat, it threw us for a loop but we’ll definitely be better tomorrow.”
- Another solid performance from point leader Quade who is still not satisfied even though his stats this year are improved; “I messed up in qualifying again and it set us back. We aren’t going to be happy just points racing, we want to be in victory lane.”
- Dustin Mitchell
- Robbie Emory
- Derick Quade
- Brent Robinson
- Dan Breuer
- Jeff Parsons (R)
- Walker Arthur
- Brad Rigdon
- Samuel Bryant (R)
- Matt Glanden (R)
- Brenden Queen
- Michael Alderman
- Derrick Rankin
- Dale Moore (R)
- Tom Wilson
- Larry Jackson
- Tyler Bare
- Will Prichard
- Tyler Arrington
- Willie Milliken
- Sherman Underwood
- Brad Lowe (R)
- Michael Batten
- Michael Rouse
EP/ Bandit PR
C&R Motorsports / Team 32