2024 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Fairbury Speedway

Positivity Overflowing, Devin Moran's Best Is Yet To Come

Positivity Overflowing, Devin Moran's Best Is Yet To Come

Devin Moran notched his fourth overall victory of 2024 on Saturday at Fairbury Speedway on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

May 12, 2024 by Kyle McFadden

Devin Moran’s ability as a racer is starting to take after his consistently upbeat nature and personality that doesn’t appear to ever waver no matter the circumstance.

The Dresden, Ohio, driver’s victory Saturday on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Fairbury Speedway means more than his $30,000 in event winnings. His fourth overall victory of the season now ties the best start he’s had to a season of his Dirt Late Model career. It would be a career-best five victories if not for a failed tire test that stripped him of Feb. 13’s DIRTcar victory at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. 

But what matters most is that the 29-year-old can testify that his best is only starting to show itself.

“I feel like I’ve the best I’ve ever been,” Moran said. “But I’m not at the level I feel like I want to be at. I feel like we’re closer than I’ve ever been. But unless you’re winning every night, you’re not at the level you want to be, you know? I feel like we’re doing a good job. The guys are doing a good job. We just have to keep working and get better.”

Moran’s victory Saturday is his first at the quarter-mile since his 2018 Prairie Dirt Classic triumph, which had been his most lucrative victory at $33,200 until he inherited last year’s Show-Me 100 victory worth $50,000 after apparent race winner Ricky Thornton Jr.’s disqualification. Six years later, Moran followed a similar blueprint back to Fairbury’s victory lane as he stayed true to the bottom of the black-dirt bullring en route to paydirt.

“It was kind of the same way I won tonight. Actually it was almost identical,” Moran said. “My car was just really good tonight. I laid down a really good lap in qualifying and that made the night work for us.”

Those memories are fond to Moran because they remind him how far he and Fairbury as a facility have come since then.

“The track hasn’t changed a whole lot. The facility has changed a little bit. But my racing has changed,” Moran said. "It’s night and day different. I was with (team owner) Tye (Twarog) then, then (Carlton Lamm’s) Dunn-Benson (Motorsports), then back to Tye, and now here (with Double Down Motorsports and car owner Roger Sellers). It’s definitely changed a lot, but Roger Sellers has provided us with a great race team. Yeah, I’m just thankful for that.”

For those recounting last year, Moran won his first two races out of the box with the rebranded and relocated the Tennessee-founded Double Down team, which now operates out of Moran’s shop in Ohio. But those back-to-back victories Jan. 19-20 at Volusia Speedway Park were his only outright triumphs until he crossed the checkers first again to win July 6’s NAPA Auto Parts Gopher 50 prelim at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn.

While Moran crept into Lucas Oil’s Big River Steel Big Four to nearly steal the tour title in the one-race, best-man-wins format at last October’s Dirt Track World Championship at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway, he didn’t win another full-field feature the rest of the season.

He did capture July 24’s Elkhorn 100 prelim at Off Road Speedway in Norfolk, Neb., but against 13-car split-field competition. This year, Moran now has praiseworthy wins in January, February, March and now May: Jan. 19 on the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series at Volusia., Feb. 16 again on the WoO tour at Volusia, March 23 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway and now Saturday at Fairbury.

In bookending fashion, Moran led 34 of 60 laps for his richest victory of the season. He started the feature swiftly, leveraging the outside front row starting spot to lead the opening 18 laps and capped it with poise as he regained the point from Jason Feger in a single move on lap 45 to lead the final 16 laps.

While Feger blew around Moran on the top side and opened up a 1.3-second lead by lap 23, Moran never talked himself out of aborting the bottom side. He sensed rubber starting to build around it as the race wore on while Feger couldn’t. So he stayed put until it was time to pounce.

“I was trying to be fairly easy, and Feger was railing it pretty hard. I was like, just be patient,” Moran said. “Then I saw 25 to go, and I was like, ‘OK, it’s time to go.’ I started reeling him in a little bit. I was like, ‘All right, we’re good as long as he doesn’t move down.’ He didn’t, and it worked out.”

By the time Moran cleared Feger rounding the backstretch on lap 45, Thornton had stayed close enough to Moran that Feger couldn’t jump down to the bottom. From there, it was Moran’s to lose.

“Obviously (the track surface) was a little faster at the start of the night, or the start of the feature, then it started cleaning up,” Moran said. “The cushion was never really in play. It was a little in one and two. And I guess a little in three and four. But I never really ran it a whole lot. I touched it a couple times. Yeah, I was just trying to save my tires a little at the start and not knocking the spoiler off. Luckily we didn’t do either of those. And we were good enough to get up front before it rubbered.

“As I said, I didn’t want to burn my tires up being impatient. I went harder (on tires like Feger), but keeping my spoiler on and the edges (on the tires) was the main thing for me.”

Outside of Friday’s 23rd-place finish at Farmer City (Ill.) Raceway where a parts failure in the right-rear foiled his night, Moran has been nearly as consistent as Thornton: Six podium finishes and another top-five to boot over his last eight races. Thornton, meanwhile, has seven podium finishes over his last eight races, including three victories and four-runner-up finishes.

The only other race Moran hadn’t finished on the podium over this brief stretch is April 28 at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway. But even then he started 13th, slipped to 15th early, then rallied to finish fifth. From keeping his poise on one-lane racetracks to navigating the challenges of dirty air to still move forward, and from big tracks to small tracks, Moran feels as well-rounded as ever.

He’s even closed the gap at one of his biggest weaknesses — Tennessee’s high-banked and red-clay circuits — by finishing runner-up twice on April 7-8 at Volunteer Speedway during the XR Super Series Spring Thaw.

“I’m ready to go back there (for June 28-29’s $50,050-to-win event). I’m just excited to race it,” Moran said. “We’re having a fun time racing. As I said, the whole team is gelling. Yeah, everything is good.

“That’s where I feel like our team excels,” Moran added. “We can race on any sized track and any kind of dirt. And that’s where I feel like we’ve gotten better. We can do both. Yeah, it’s just a good feeling to go anywhere and everywhere. I can’t wait to race with the Outlaws next week (in Pennsylvania on Friday at Bedford Speedway, Marion Center Raceway on Saturday, and Path Valley Speedway Park on Sunday). I’m ready to go.”

Moran is also ready to close the gap on his next weakness, to fill the next glaring void on his resume, head on.

“There’s nothing better than winning at Fairbury,” Moran started. “Well, maybe Eldora. But I ain’t won there yet.”

Overhearing Moran’s comments after helping the Double Down team for the weekend, crew member Tyler Bragg then fueled the Eldora conversation in light of June 6-8’s Dirt Late Model Dream: “That’s all about to change.”

Moran smiled and carried on.

“I cannot wait,” Moran said. “I’m excited for Wheatland (and the Show-Me 100), really. I’m ready to get back to Wheatland and get rolling there. One week at a time. … But we’ve already been thinking about Eldora. We have a car ready to go. I’m excited for Eldora.”

Considering so much positivity surrounds he and his race team, does he stand on the expectation that this could finally be the year he bucks The Million Dollar Curse?

Dirt Late Model diehards — and certainly the Morans — don’t need reminding that no Moran has visited Eldora victory lane since his father Donnie’s Eldora Million victory June 9, 2001. Perhaps 23 years to that day — that the Sunday morning after the Dream — Moran will have his answer.

“We’re headed in the right direction,” Moran said. “Hopefully we can keep headed that way.”