Sheppard rises to No. 6 in Top 25 power rankings
By Andy SavaryDirtonDirt.com
Fresh off the biggest victory of his young career, 20-year-old Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., headlines a list of three drivers on the move in DirtonDirt.com's latest Top 25 power rankings presented by JRi Shocks.
Sheppard (pictured), who claimed Saturday's Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park while making a guest appearance in the Rocket Chassis house car, jumped five spots before settling at No. 6 in the weekly poll.
Along with Sheppard, Jackie Boggs of Grayson, Ky., and Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., also made an upward charge in the rankings. Boggs catapulted six spots from No. 24 to No. 18, while Feger ascended another three notches to No. 12. Each driver scored a top-five finish in Saturday's DTWC.
Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., remains atop the power poll once again this week, with familiar faces Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., and Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., completing the top five. Lanigan secured 13 out of a possible 21 first-place votes this week, while Richards and Owens split the remaining eight first-place votes.
Despite notable movement in the poll, no new drivers entered the rankings this week. Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., and Eddie Carrier Jr., of Salt Rock, W.Va, are among drivers on the outside edge of the rankings.
After restricting poll voting to staffers the previous two seasons, DirtonDirt.com invited more than 30 media members and drivers along with track, series and manufacturer representatives to vote in this season’s rankings. Twenty-one submitted ballots this week. Weekly polls continue through mid-November.
1. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Comment: Likely won't return to the track until the final three World of Outlaws events at Lavonia and Charlotte. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 1st (nc)
2. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
Comment: Steps away for a vacation, but the Rocket house car team doesn't miss a beat in his absence. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 3rd (+1)
3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Officially secures his third straight Lucas Oil crown with yet another top-five run in a major event. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 2nd (-1)
4. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: Wraps up the best points finish of his career at Portsmouth; he'll return to the track at the World Finals. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 4th (nc)
5. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: DTWC and Lucas Oil points runner-up currently has no events remaining on his 2013 schedule. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 5th (nc)
6. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.
Comment: Dazzles in his Rocket house car guest appearance and delivers Mark Richards his first DTWC victory. Series points: 1st (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 11th (+5)
7. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Among the frontrunners all weekend at Portsmouth in what could have been his final event of the season. Series points: 1st (NDRL). Last week’s ranking: 6th (-1)
8. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: November's World of Outlaws stops at Lavonia and Charlotte will conclude his 2013 season. Series points: 5th (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 7th (-1)
9. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Looks strong out front early at Portsmouth, but slows mid-race with a vibration and then a flat tire. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 9th (nc)
10. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Comment: Among early retirees in the DTWC; he'll take a few weeks off to prepare before the WoO final swing. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 10th (nc)
11. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.
Comment: Calls it a weekend after being caught up in a heat race accident on Friday at Portsmouth. Series points: 2nd (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 8th (-3)
12. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.
Comment: Continues his recent streak of strong runs with a high-side charge and a top-five finish in the DTWC. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 15th (+3)
13. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: Defending Fall Classic winner will make his final start of 2013 in a Childress Racing entry at Whynot. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 13th (nc)
14. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: A recent string of mechanical issues and DNFs in major events has slowed his wave of mid-season momentum. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 12th (-2)
15. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: Back in Paul Crowl's No. 7 Rocket for the Delaware State Championship, where he finishes fourth. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 14th (-1)
16. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: Victorious in three of his last four starts and headed to Smoky Mountain for a twinbill this weekend. Series points: 3rd (Southern Nationals). Last week’s ranking: 16th (nc)
17. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.
Comment: Will look to rebound at Winchester this weekend after a disappointing DTWC at Portsmouth. Series points: 1st (AMS). Last week's ranking: 17th (nc)
18. Jackie Boggs, Grayson, Ky.
Comment: Slowed by his nosepiece and an unexpected invert, but still almost muscles his way to DTWC victory lane. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 24th (+6)
19. Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
Comment: Untouchable en route to another $10,000 victory in his modified, this time at Southern New Mexico Speedway. Series points: 3rd (MLRA). Last week's ranking: 20th (+1)
20. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.
Comment: Prairie Dirt Classic winner has packed up for the winter and called it a season with 10 total victories. Series points: 3rd (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 18th (-2)
21. Tony Jackson Jr., Lebanon, Mo.
Comment: Up-and-comer may be done for the season following his first MARS and MLRA championships. Series points: 1st (MARS and MLRA). Last week’s ranking: 22nd (+1)
22. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
Comment: Two-time Fall Classic winner plans to enter a Ray Moore-owned machine this weekend at Whynot. Series points: 5th (NDRL). Last week’s ranking: 19th (-3)
23. Dennis Franklin, Gaffney, S.C.
Comment: Captures his third Carolina Clash title in four years; he won half of the tour's 18 races this season. Series points: 1st (Carolina Clash). Last week's ranking: 21st (-2)
24. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Comment: Bests a big field for $2,000 on Friday at Talladega and backs it up with a runner-up finish on Saturday. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 25th (+1)
25. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Comment: Gets off to a fast start on Friday at Portsmouth, but his weekend stalls with Saturday's 100-lapper. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 23rd (-2)
Editor’s note: The top 25 drivers are determined by a points system with 25 points for a first-place vote, 24 points for a second-place vote and so on through a single point for a 25th-place vote. The voting panel is made up of media members, drivers, and track, series and manufacturer representatives.