HAGERSTOWN — It’s been a long time since Ronnie DeHaven Jr. found the path back to Victory Lane Saturday with a brand new yellow Mastersbilt chassis race car featuring his usual 1D number on the side at Hagerstown Speedway.
DeHaven zipped around last week’s first-time Late Model winner, Ashley Barrett, as they navigated through heavy lapped traffic. DeHaven held on to win the caution-free 25-lap 31st annual Ernie D’s Shorty Bowers/Bull Durham Championship by several car lengths.
“I don’t know if I’ve got room for a (feature win) sticker,” DeHaven joked afterward about his sponsorless car. “It’s pretty tight quarters; I’ve got a lot of vinyl on there.”
The Winchester, Va., driver had good reason to be happy: It was his first win since June 2008. DeHaven scored the $2,500 top prize plus an additional $125 for leading the last five laps.
Barrett received an extra $500, courtesy of race sponsors, for leading the first 20 laps in addition to his $1,200 second-place money.
DeHaven started third and made use of several racing lines as he sat back and watched Barrett, of Shippensburg, Pa., ride the high groove to a sizable lead before he entered lapped traffic. From there, DeHaven picked his spot and drove by the eventual runner-up on the 20th lap.
“I could go just about anywhere,” DeHaven said. “That’s the benefit of leading. I’m telling you right now, that Ashley Barrett drove the wheels off the car. It was me just being able to watch what was going on, riding in second, third, racing Rusty (Sites). I saw what the lapped cars were doing. … I feel like I’m getting a little older. I guess I’m getting smarter.”
DeHaven is the 11th different Late Model driver to claim a victory at Hagerstown this season.
Sites finished third, followed by division points leader Roy Deese Jr. and Kyle Lear. Jason Covert overcame his 19th-place start to finish sixth. Marvin Winters, Jim Bernheisel, Bo Feathers and Tyler Hershey rounded out the top 10.
Heat winners were Jeremy Miller, J.T. Spence and Feathers. Covert won the consolation race before moving up through the field in the feature.
In the 20-lap Late Model Sportsman feature, Chaz Walls of Taneytown, Md., earned his first career victory by edging Mike Walls (no relation) by a fender at the checkered flag.
Ronnie Dennis started on the pole and led the first two laps before Mike Walls took the top spot for several circuits. Chaz Walls picked up ground and a 12-lap battle ensued between the two drivers, both looking for their first win.
“I thought I saw him below me, but I wasn’t sure,” Chaz Walls said, “but I wasn’t holding back. I just held (the throttle) down.”
Dennis finished third, followed by Cody Lear and Scott Palmer.
Heat races went to Dennis, Paul Cursey and Palmer.
Kicking off the night’s card, Tony Catlett of Hedgesville, W.Va., got a better run off Turn 4 on the final lap to beat Steve Lowery by a nose in the 15-lap Pure Stock feature.
“That was a hard race,” said Catlett, who had a win stripped several weeks ago after he failed a post-race inspection. “It’s good to race Steve though. … I thought he had us once he passed us. He started getting away, but that old Ford, there it came. That thing likes it up top and it’s fast.”
Rick Stouffer, Eddie McClellan and Dave Stouffer Jr. came home with top five finishes.