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Fast Talk: Wrapping up the Dart Show-Me 100

May 30, 2011, 1:30 pm

Here's the latest edition of Fast Talk, a new DirtonDirt.com feature appearing each Monday. Staffers Michael Rigsby, Todd Turner and Joshua Joiner will gather each Sunday night for a roundtable discussion about what's going on in Dirt Late Model racing:

Todd Turner: Let's get started by reviewing the Dart Show-Me 100 and the $30,000 victory by Jimmy Owens at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. There were likely a few skeptics after Thursday and Friday track conditions were less the ideal, but we ended up with a pass-friendly feature race that will make for great entertainment when it's on CBS on June 19, didn't we?

Michael Rigsby: As bad as Friday night was — and you'd be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't call it bad) — Saturday night's feature was equally as good. Three-wide racing, multiple passes for the lead, late-race, drama ... it sort of had everything you'd want for a crown jewel.

And really, it was all above TLC for the racetrack. They worked, and worked, and then worked some more to make sure the racetrack was going to be just right Saturday night. It was mostly brown, with just a few black streaks through it that made it perfect for racing. In my opinion, the perfect combination color-wise most tracks should shoot for. I'm betting next year, however, Friday night won't be like it's been the past two years.

TT: It's great that they nailed it for Saturday night. I'm not sure I could have abided all the critics that would've come out of the woodwork if it would've been a one-laner.

Joshua Joiner: It was a great race. It was my first trip to Wheatland, and I'll admit that after Friday night, I was definitely one of the skeptics. But the race turned out fantastic. There was plenty of passing and even three-wide racing throughout the field. And of course there was some last-lap drama to top it all off. As a few drivers put it after the race, if the CBS audience doesn't like that, they're not going to like Dirt Late Model racing.

TT: For those of us that weren't there, was there any kind of buzz about the national broadcast? Or did it seem like a regular race?

MR: It's probably hard for me to tell, because we do so many crown jewels, but it definitely felt, just before the race, down on the track, that it had a little extra "pop" to it. I actually think last year's crowd may have been a tick bigger, but not by much. This year's crowd was more rowdy, though, and it did seem there was a general "discussion" in the stands about being on CBS.

It was probably — other than track conditions — the No. 1 topic of conversation. On the "buzz" scale, though, I'd give it an 8 of 10.

The bottom-line is that it was neat to see. There's something about National TV cameras, and even seeing the CBS logo on Dave Argabright's jacket, and that "eye" on the mic flag made you stand up and take notice.

JJ: And I would say the drivers may have approached the race a little different with the CBS factor in place. Most of the younger, up-and-coming drivers were maybe a little more excited about than your established veteran drivers, but even some of them were talking about it. I think it shows just how big of a deal the race and TV coverage is when a guy like Ray Cook compares winning that race to Donnie Moran winning the Eldora Million.

TT: Owens may be a driver who may nab every crown jewel before he hangs it up, but this was an interesting race in that he wasn't dominant. I mean, twice he had to regain the lead from other drivers, and even he seemed to say after the race that he didn't have the best car. It was a compelling race to watch.

MR: I still say O'Neal wins the race if not for the misfortune with Wells — which was not Eric's fault at all.

TT: From watching the video, is sure looked like Jared Landers might've had the fastest car on the track, at least before the problems he ran into. He was flying on the top side.

MR: I talked to Jared at Tri-City on Sunday about just that, he just couldn't get the car to "calm down" as he said. And then they had rear-end issues. It was pretty crazy to think he would have had exactly two career Late Model victories: the Show-Me 100 and Topless 100.

JJ: Jared did have a great car early, but I think he may have benefited from being the first driver to really move around on the racetrack. Once everyone else started searching, he may have lost his advantage. He still had a top-five maybe even top-three car if things would have gone right for him, but he unfortunately tangled with a lapped car. It was definitely an interesting race to watch. Just past the halfway point it seemed as though Don O'Neal was going to maybe run away with it, but you just had this feeling that as racy as the track was, something was going to happen.

TT: Bloomquist and Moyer haven't had too many dustups despite thousands of laps together, but they had one in their heat race at Wheatland. What did you all make of that?

MR: For the track being the way it was, I thought Scott might have been too aggressive there. He certainly didn't "clear him out", but in a one-lane situation, that was pretty close to it. I know Moyer was not "thrilled" with what happened there, let's just say that.

JJ: I think it was just two drivers racing really hard on a one-groove racetrack. Every knew that once the field shook out in the heat races, that it would likely finish that way. Bloomquist may have drove it a little too hard into the corner, but at the same time, Moyer left the door open. I think Moyer may have been a little more frustrated about the track and not transferring than he was mad at Bloomquist.

MR: What happened in the dash later just shows how popular these two drivers are. Moyer slid up in front of Bloomquist, and the whole place erupted. When those two are going wheel-to-wheel, everyone has a vested interested one way or another.

JJ: You're exactly right, Michael. And you could definitely tell Moyer and Bloomquist were racing for more than just the $1,000 in the dash. I think there was maybe some pride on the line there as well.

TT: Speaking of contact, the end of Tri-City Speedway's Budweiser 50 on Sunday had a bit of fireworks with winner Jason Feger and runner-up Scott James making contact heading for the white flag. How did you see that one Michael?

MR: If I asked 1,000 people after the race, 500 told me one thing, 500 told me another. I know the Feger camp — not Jason, he really wasn't upset at all — wasn't happy with what they called a "crazy move" by James. But when you watch it again, it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time. Jason had a good lead going into turn three, then he bobbled. Now, it wasn't a giant door-opening for James, but it certainly shrunk the space between them in an instant. James took a shot he thought he had, and didn't quite clear it.

But I will say this: it would have been so easy for James to take them both out, and he didn't. He let off the gas, and let both guys finish the race. That could have been 10 times worse. In the end, if I was a judge and had to hand down a verdict, I'd say James probably shouldn't have tried that move, but if Feger doesn't bobble (thanks to a rut in turn three), the door isn't open for the chance at all. I do know the Feger camp was pretty upset at first, but as far as racetrack scuffles go, they were over it in about 10 minutes. So how bad could it have really been?

TT: It appeared James came up more than Feger came down, but Feger definitely didn't plan on backing off. Despite what the crew might have told James, I'm not sure he would've cleared Feger.

You're right, though, it ended the way it should've — and way different than the Ronny Lee Hollingsworth-Bub McCool collision in a similar instance at Arizona way back in January.

MR: Oh don't get me wrong, I definitely think James came up more, but Jason did admit after the race that he had no idea James was there.

TT: We've got a busy weekend coming up, but even a bigger week following that with Eldora's Prelude to the Dream and the $100,000-to-win Dream XVII. Matt Miller won Sunday's Sunoco ALMS race at Eldora. Any thoughts heading to the Big E?

MR: The biggest thing on my mind coming into Eldora is that I have no idea what to expect car count wise. We had 104 last year, and I can't decide if it will be more or less this year. I say that might be about right. I'd like to see it hit 100 again, but it's almost impossible to know.

The only thing that makes me think it could be more is the total lack of racing we had all spring long. And talking to guys like Chris Brown and others at Wheatland, they're all planning on going. I say we get 112 cars. I also feel like we might have an odd-ball winner this year, or someone that no one else expects.

JJ: I think it's going to be a big race. For the sport as a whole, I feel like the buzz from the Show-Me and the CBS coverage has interest in the sport pretty high right now, especially after a rain-filled start to the season. Hopefully that will help the car count. I'm sure a lot of people are looking forward to Eldora and the current storylines in the sport.

Can Jimmy Owens turn the Show-Me momentum into a good run at Eldora? Is Bloomquist and Moyer's confrontation at Wheatland settled? And with the Lucas Oil regulars and World Outlaws regulars all coming together really for the first time since Speedweeks, which group will perform better? It will be interesting to watch the Lucas Oil-dominating Bloomquist and Outlaws-dominating Darrell Lanigan go head-to-head, especially since we didn't get to see it at the Show-Me.

TT: I'd agree we'll see more cars, and it'll be interesting to see if Eldora continues the overall season trend of some new names popping up as first-time winners or making their first big splash at Eldora. Kent Robinson ran third in the ALMS race and it'd be neat to see him in the mix.

MR: Robinson also told me he's thinking about running "all of the Summernationals." Wow! If you mix in Babb, Feger, Robinson, Jeep, James, you've got some guys that aren't afraid to get up on the wheel there.

TT: That'd be a great addition to the mix. On the same lines, it's neat to see Jimmy Mars planning a return to the Appalachian Mountain Speedweek, and fellow Wisconsin driver Brady Smith is planning that week-long swing, too.

MR: That has to rank No. 1 or 2 on the list of "wow, I didn't expect to see those guys there" list. But when you haven't been able to race much, you have to go where you can I guess.

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