GREENWOOD, Neb. (July 22) — Jared Landers might not have thought he had an especially stout race car Friday night at I-80 Speedway. His results, however, in the qualifying program for the sixth annual Silver Dollar Nationals would seem to indicate otherwise.
The 34-year-old driver from Batesville, Ark., was the star of the unique show that featured no time trials and two rounds of heat races, emerging as the only driver to win a pair of preliminaries and tallying the most passing points to secure the pole position for Saturday night’s 80-lap finale that boasts an event-record $40,000 first-place prize.
Landers just didn’t sound like a racer who had become only the fourth to win two heat races under the Silver Dollar Nationals’ double-prelim format, joining Jonathan Davenport (2015), Tyler Reddick (’12) and Brian Birkhofer (’12).
“I just don’t feel that great,” Landers said of his Sweet-Bloomquist car. “I don’t feel like I had something to win the race … but I didn’t feel fast enough to win Knoxville (last year’s Late Model Nationals), so I’m just gonna go with it and see how it works.”
Landers certainly appeared to have plenty of speed in his machine as he vaulted from the third starting spot to score a flag-to-flag win in the first round’s fourth heat race and marched forward from seventh in the second round’s sixth and final prelim to pass John Hampel of Omaha, Neb., for the lead on lap five. He considered his strong outing a product of some fortunate breaks, however.
“Obviously it’s pretty decent,” Landers said. “But my heat races were in my favor to help me out. With the luck of the draw (to determine starting spots), it was my luck. I didn’t have Scott (Bloomquist) in front of me … I wouldn’t have been able to win if Scott had been on the front row of my heat race.”
Landers, who earned a total of $500 — paid entirely in silver dollars — for his heat victories, does bring confidence into the weekend. He won his second Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature of the season on July 16 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. — one day after being left with a swollen neck, among other minor injuries, from a wild, car-destroying flip during qualifying at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. — so he knows he can get the job done.
Staying in front to the end of Saturday’s headliner is thus Lander’s supreme challenge.
“I’m kind of nervous sitting on the pole of this thing because it means I have to set the pace, but I know it means a lot to be up front here,” said Landers, who continues to race with a hard brace on his right hand to protect the middle finger he broke (and subsequently underwent surgery to repair) in a last-lap scrape with Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., during the June 11 Dream XXII at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. “I think our car’s gonna be good enough.
“I just kind of got out there (in the heats) and I watched my crew guy and I didn’t put myself in any bad situations … just kind of felt the car out. Hopefully tomorrow is the same thing and we can get out front and get out there and get the clean air and just ride, and hopefully we set the right pace to keep these guys behind.”
One of the drivers who will try to unseat Clanton is Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, who earned the right to start the Silver Dollar Nationals from the outside pole after accumulated the second-highest passing points total for winning the first round’s third heat by nearly a half-lap margin from his starting spot inside the second row and marching from seventh to a second-place finish behind reigning World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., in the second round’s Heat 2.
“We were really good in the first heat,” the 32-year-old Simpson said. “I feel the second heat we were good too, but Clanton was in there and he obviously was really good. I felt like we were coming to him at the end, though, so I’m exited for the big race.
“I was a little tight in that second heat race, so I think the car will just get better and better throughout the race. I think we got a good (Longhorn Chassis) piece and hopefully we can stay up there.”
Clanton, 40, will start third in the 80-lapper after finishing a close second to Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., in the first round’s sixth heat and winning the second round’s Heat 2. He started fifth in both races.
“The car was good, but it’s hard to judge how good you are (versus the competition) because you’re on 55s (hard-compound tires) and everybody’s on the racetrack at the same time,” said Clanton, a first-time entrant at I-80. “But at least my (Capital) car was maneuverable and I could pass some cars — good cars. I ran with Davenport and Owens and them two guys have been pretty good on 1600s, so I feel pretty good.
“We got a pretty good starting spot for tomorrow and hopefully we can just bide our time. Eighty laps is a long time and hopefully we’re there at the end.”
Other heat winners on Friday night included (first round) R.C. Whitwell of Tucson, Ariz., Jesse Stovall of Billings, Mo., and Terry Phillips of Springfield, Mo., and (second round) Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., and Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill.
The only heat-race winner who didn’t crack the top 18 in passing points to lock into the feature was Sheppard, who dropped out of his first heat on the last lap due to a broken rearend and then won his second-round prelim in convincing fashion but did so from the pole position.
Preliminary results and notes:
(12 laps; top 3 transfer to feature)
Row 1: Darrell Lanigan, Austin Smith
Row 2: Jake O’Neil, Clay Daly
Row 3: Brandon Sheppard, Brent Larson
Row 4: Tommy Weder, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Randy Timms, Bill Leighton Jr.
Row 6: Dave Eckrich, Andrew Kosiski
Row 7: Chase Junghans, Al Humphrey
Row 8: J.C. Wyman, Colton Flinner
Row 9: Mark Dotson, Bob Milander
Row 10: Junior Coover, Heath Clausen
Row 1: Rodney Sanders, Matt Buller
Row 2: Jason Papich, Justin Duty
Row 3: Frank Heckenast Jr., Tyler Erb
Row 4: Ben Schaller, Kyle Berck
Row 5: Don O’Neal, John Hampel
Row 6: Bryon Allison, Cale Osborn
Row 7: Tad Pospisil, Brad Perdue
Row 8: Austin Siebert, Josh Most
Row 9: John Duty, Brantlee Gotschall
Row 10: Mike Stadel
Second round heat notes
Jared Landers roared forward from the seventh starting to pass John Hampel on lap five and capture the sixth heat, becoming the only driver to win two prelims. His performance put him on the pole position for Saturday night’s 80-lap feature. He will share the front row with Chris Simpson, who tallied the second-highest points total. … Shannon Babb led the first heat from flag-to-flag, but he had to fight off several challenges from fifth-starter Ryan Gustin. … Shane Clanton vaulted from fifth to first at the start of the second and never looked back en route to winning the second heat by 1.029 seconds over eighth-starter Chris Simpson, whose brother, Chad, advanced from the seventh starting spot to place seventh. … After leading the first four laps of the third heat, Mark Dotson lost the top spot to Tim McCreadie’s inside move through turns one and two. Dotson attempted to regain command with a charge to the bottom of turn three but lost control and backed into the outside wall. … McCreadie survived a last-lap threat from Scott Bloomquist to win the third prelim, prompting him to speak confidently afterward: “That’s the best I’ve felt all year.” … Colton Flinner brought out a caution flag on lap one of the fourth heat when he spun between turns three and four in front of Earl Pearson Jr., whose car sustained nose damage. … Billy Moyer passed Jake O’Neil for the lead on lap eight and went on to win the fourth heat but said he still “had some work to do” on his Victory Race Car. … Brandon Sheppard ran away with the fifth heat, winning by a full straightaway over eighth-starter Jimmy Owens after his crew barely installed a new rearend in his car due to his first-round heat race mechanical trouble. But he entered the second round ranked 43rd in passing points after breaking a rearend in the first round and might not have earned enough points to crack the top 18 because he was victorious from the pole. … Jonathan Davenport charged from the scratch position in the sixth heat to finish second. … Chase Junghans slowed suddenly while battling for second on lap two of the sixth heat and pulled off. A broken yoke on the back of the transmission was the culprit.
Second round heat results
First heat finish (11 laps): Shannon Babb, Ryan Gustin, Jimmy Mars, Jason Papich, Bill Leighton Jr., Frank Heckenast Jr., Ben Schaller, Andrew Kosiski, Al Humphrey.
Second heat finish (10 laps): Shane Clanton, Chris Simpson, Chad Simpson, Terry Phillips, Tyler Erb, Randy Timms, Bryon Allison, Austin Siebert.
Third heat finish (10 laps): Tim McCreadie, Scott Bloomquist, Dennis Erb Jr., Darrell Lanigan, Dave Eckrich, Austin Smith, Brad Perdue, Mark Dotson (DNS) Brantlee Gotschall.
Fourth heat finish (12 laps): Billy Moyer, Rodney Sanders, Jake O’Neil, Matt Buller, Earl Pearson Jr., Kyle Berck, Clay Daly, Brent Larson, Colton Flinner, Mike Stadel.
Fifth heat finish (11 laps): Brandon Sheppard, Jimmy Owens, Mike Marlar, Brian Shirley, Jesse Stovall, Tommy Weder, Don O’Neal, Tad Pospisil, J.C. Wyman (DNS) Junior Coover.
Sixth heat finish (10 laps): Jared Landers, Jonathan Davenport, Jon Hampel, Cale Osborn, R.C. Whitwell, John Dusty, Josh Most, Chase Junghans (DNS) Heath Clausen.
First round heat notes
No heat winner was more dominant than Chris Simpson, who vaulted from third to first in one lap and ran away to capture the third prelim by nearly a half lap over first-time I-80 visitor Austin Smith. … R.C. Whitwell and Jesse Stovall scored victories in heats one and two, respectively, from their pole starting spots. … Racing one week after flipping wildly during time trials at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., Jared Landers shot forward from the third starting spot on the opening lap and marched on to take to the checkered flag in the fourth heat. … Tim McCreadie lost ground when he slid high in turn two on the opening lap of the fourth lap, but he rallied to finish third — a solid passing points performance for the race’s sixth starter. … Scott Bloomquist, who opted to skip hot laps, was very strong in the fifth heat, charging from mid-pack to finish second hot on winner Terry Phillips’s rear bumper. The two-time defending Silver Dollar Nationals champion overtook both Justin Duty and Jimmy Mars in one sweep through turns three and four on lap four and caught Phillips, who started sixth, but ran out of time to make a winning move. … Jonathan Davenport and Shane Clanton battled side-by-side for second in the sixth heat until Davenport bounced through turns one and two on a lap-seven restart that followed a caution flag for Junior Coover’s smoking car, allowing Clanton to grab second place. Clanton challenged Jimmy Owens for the lead in the final laps but settled for a runner-up finish behind the former Silver Dollar Nationals winner. … Brantlee Gotschall was a heat-race casualty; he slowed on lap one of the second heat after slapping the wall between turns three and four. … Brandon Sheppard pulled off the track on the final lap of the fifth heat. ... Phillips topped the passing-points rundown over Landers after the first round of heats.
First round heat results
First heat finish (12 laps): R.C. Whitwell, Dennis Erb Jr., Earl Pearson Jr., Ryan Gustin, Tyler Erb, Jake O’Neil, J.C. Wyman, Mike Marlar, Mark Dotson, Cale Osborn.
Second heat finish (11 laps): Jesse Stovall, Clay Daly, Chad Simpson, Billy Moyer, Tommy Weder, Al Humphrey, Bryon Allison, Brad Perdue, Brantlee Gotschall (DNS) John Duty.
Third heat finish (11 laps): Chris Simpson, Austin Smith, Brent Larson, Darrell Lanigan, Jason Papich, Shannon Babb, Tad Pospisil, Austin Siebert, Mike Stadel (DNS) Heath Clausen.
Fourth heat finish (10 laps): Jared Landers, Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, Ben Schaller, Kyle Berck, Randy Timms, Bill Leighton Jr., Josh Most (DNS) Bob Milander.
Fifth heat finish (10 laps): Terry Phillips, Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Mars, Justin Duty, Don O’Neal, Andrew Kosiski, Colton Flinner, Brandon Sheppard (DNS) John Hampel.
Sixth heat finish (11 laps): Jimmy Owens, Shane Clanton, Jonathan Davenport, Frank Heckenast Jr., Matt Buller, Chase Junghans, Rodney Sanders, Dave Eckrich, Junior Coover.
DirtonDirt.com is offering pay-per-view video coverage of the action with the broadcast set to begin around 7 p.m. CT. ... The boiling afternoon weather has cooled with the setting sun — but only slightly. Temperatures are expected to dip only into the low 80s. … The Silver Dollar Nationals is Nebraska's richest dirt race, with the winner's purse continuing its upward trajectory by jumping to $40,000 from the $32,000 prize offered last year. … The 4/10-mile oval near Omaha is promoted by former Dirt Late Model standout Joe Kosiski. ... Previous Silver Dollar Nationals winners are Don O'Neal (2011), Brian Birkhofer (’12), Jimmy Owens (’13) and Scott Bloomquist (’14 and ’15). ... Drivers running in the Dirt Late Model and USMTS modified divisions are Rodney Sanders, Terry Phillips, Austin Siebert and Randy Timms. … Reigning World of Outlaws champion Shane Clanton headlines an invasion of drivers running Capital Race Cars; he’s joined by Chase Junghans, Frank Heckenast Jr., Austin Smith and Mike Marlar. … The father-and-son team of John and Justin Duty made the long haul from Portland, Ore., to compete in the Silver Dollar Nationals for the second time. … Another West Coast racer in attendance is California’s Clay Daly, who is behind the wheel of a car owned by Pete VanIderstine, a New Jersey native who fielded a big-block modified in the ‘70s and ‘80s before relocating to California and in recent years entering the Dirt Late Model ranks. … With Brad Looney unable to compete this weekend in Al Humphrey’s No. 6, Giltner, Neb.’s Humphrey decided to put on his driving suit and drive his own car.
I-80 Speedway hosts the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association and United States Modified Touring Series for the sixth annual Silver Dollar Nationals.
The three-day event kicked off Thursday with an open practice for Lucas Oil and USMTS competitors along with a complete racing program for the Nebraska-based Super Late Model Racing Series. The preliminary event’s $2,000 top prize was captured by Kyle Berck of Marquette, Neb.
Friday night’s card features hot laps and two rounds of heat races for the 58 Late Model competitors on hand along with a identical two-round heat-race format for USMTS entrants. No time trials will be contested for the Dirt Late Model division; heat races will be aligned by a draw and combined passing points from the prelims will set the lineups for Saturday’s 100-lap main event. The top 18 drivers in heat race passing points will be locked into the 80-lap feature, while remaining drivers will run consolation races on Saturday to secure feature starting spots. The 32-car feature field will then be filled out with multiple rows of provisional starters.
Saturday's grand-finale card also features the Belt Bash for Late Model non-qualifiers, which gives the winner the option of taking the $3,000 first-place prize or a feature starting spot, and the conclusion of the $5,000-to-win USMTS program.
With excessive heat warnings posted for the area — afternoon temperatures are pushing 100 degrees with a heat index as high as 113 degrees — officials have pushed back the start of Friday's action by a half-hour to let the conditions cool down slightly. The drivers' meeting is set for 7 p.m. CST, with hot laps at 7:30 p.m. and racing at 8 p.m.
First round heat lineups
Row 1: R.C. Whitwell, J.C. Wyman
Row 2: Earl Pearson Jr., Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 3: Tyler Erb, Ryan Gustin
Row 4: Cale Osborn, Mike Marlar
Row 5: Jake O’Neil, Mark Dotson
Row 1: Jesse Stovall, Clay Daly
Row 2: Brantlee Gotschall, Chad Simpson
Row 3: Al Humphrey, John Duty
Row 4: Tommy Weder Jr., Billy Moyer
Row 5: Brad Perdue, Bryon Allison
Row 1: Mike Stadel, Austin Smith
Row 2: Chris Simpson, Jason Papich
Row 3: Heath Clausen, Tad Pospisil
Row 4: Brent Larson, Darrell Lanigan
Row 5: Austin Seibert, Shannon Babb
Row 1: Randy Timms, Ben Schaller
Row 2: Jared Landers, Brian Shirley
Row 3: Kyle Berck, Tim McCreadie
Row 4: Bob Milander, Bill Leighton Jr.
Row 5: Josh Most
Row 1: Andrew Kosiski, Justin Duty
Row 2: Don O’Neal, Colton Flinner
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Terry Phillips
Row 4: Jimmy Mars, John Hampel
Row 5: Brandon Sheppard
Row 1: Jonathan Davenport, Jimmy Owens
Row 2: Rodney Sanders, Dave Eckrich
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 4: Chase Junghans, Junior Coover
Row 5: Matt Buller
Second round heat lineups
Row 1: Shannon Babb, Bill Leighton Jr.
Row 2: Jimmy Mars, Frank Heckenast Jr.
Row 3: Ryan Gustin, Al Humphrey
Row 4: Jason Papich, Ben Schaller
Row 5: Andrew Kosiski
Row 1: Bryon Allison, Jake O’Neil
Row 2: Bob Milander, Terry Phillips
Row 3: Shane Clanton, Tyler Erb
Row 4: Chad Simpson, Chris Simpson
Row 5: Randy Timms
Row 1: Mark Dotson, Brad Perdue
Row 2: Darrell Lanigan, Tim McCreadie
Row 3: Scott Bloomquist, Dave Eckrich
Row 4: Dennis Erb Jr., Brantlee Gotschall
Row 5: Austin Smith
Row 1: Matt Buller, Jake O’Neil
Row 2: Billy Moyer, Brent Larson
Row 3: Kyle Berck, Colton Flinner
Row 4: Rodney Sanders, Earl Pearson Jr.
Row 5: Clay Daly, Mike Stadel
Row 1: Brandon Sheppard, Junior Coover
Row 2: Mike Marlar, Tommy Weder Jr.
Row 3: Tad Pospisil, Brian Shirley
Row 4: Don O’Neal, Jimmy Owens
Row 5: J.C. Wyman, Jesse Stovall
Row 1: Josh Most, John Hampel
Row 2: Chase Junghans, Cale Osborn
Row 3: John Duty, Heath Clausen
Row 4: Jared Landers, Justin Duty
Row 5: Jonathan Davenport, R.C. Whitwell