BARBERVILLE, FL – Only one word describes Mat Williamson’s Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals in 2023. Storybook. The St. Catharines, ONT driver, scored two Super DIRTcar Series wins at Volusia Speedway Park with thrilling last-lap passes on Jack Lehner and Demetrios Drellos, paving the way to his first big gator trophy.
He’ll return to Volusia on Feb. 14-17 for the 53rd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, aiming for his second consecutive DIRTcar Nationals title in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet #88. Only this time, he hopes it doesn’t take him the whole race to get the lead.
“It’s almost storybook to think about,” Williamson said. “When you win races on the last lap, first off, it doesn’t happen very often, but to get two of them down in Florida and turn that into a big gator was pretty cool. Obviously, we couldn’t have scripted it any better on our end, but we wish it would’ve been a little easier.”
Those two wins continued momentum for “Money Mat,” who won two of the three races at World Finals to finish 2022. He didn’t stop winning after DIRTcar Nationals, either. Williamson also earned the first two victories in the championship season, holding off Matt Stangle at Bridgeport and winning by more than 17 seconds at Weedsport.
Williamson hopes to repeat that fast start in 2024 as a spark toward his second Super DIRTcar Series title.
“Everyone tends to say what happens in Florida never translates to anything up North,” Williamson said. “When you run down in Florida and don’t run well, you tend to wish that was almost the case. But last year, it seemed to transpire to some momentum for us. We picked up a few wins earlier in the year last year, and normally, that’s not my style. Usually, we don’t win until September or October.
“The big gator worked out good for us getting momentum last year, and hopefully we can keep that rolling.”
Last season, Williamson figured out the formula for success at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.” But he also knows what not to do. That lesson came from The Dirt Track at Charlotte last season, after making changes that he said kept him out of Victory Lane.
“I think we learned we just need to unload with what we did last year,” Williamson said. “So, we’re going right back to what we did last year, and hopefully, we can transfer it to success.
“Hopefully, we can unload fast and get in the redraw every race. That’s really it. If you don’t make the redraw down there, you’re probably not going to win the race. And that makes it tough. So, you have to qualify good and unload fast.”
To have another storybook ending at this year’s DIRTcar Nationals, Williamson knows he’ll have to beat a field containing some of the country’s best Big Block Modified drivers. But as he prepares for the competition, he’s excited to battle against a stout field traveling from as far north as Quebec.
“Year after year, DIRTcar seems to be making the purses a little bit better and making more of an incentive to go down there,” Williamson said. “And I think it’s going to show. There’s going to be between 40 and 50 cars. It’s pretty crazy to think with the Northeast cars that we’re probably a minimum of 12 hours away, and the ones from Quebec are probably 24 hours away.
“It’s pretty crazy to think we’re going to get that many cars when everybody is driving a distance to get there. It shows how loyal the Northeast is for putting on great races for great fans.”
Williamson begins his quest for a second big gator with the Super DIRTcar Series at Volusia Speedway Park during Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 14-17.