Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with Todd Turner for a roundup of Dirt Late Model racing, statistical analysis, historical bits and racing’s other quirks (along with the occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, presented by PFC Brakes, appears throughout the season most Wednesdays:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the week
National: Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., led all 100 feature laps of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action en route to June 26-27 victories at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn., and Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala.
Regional: Max Blair of Centerville, Pa., earned more than $31,000 June 25-27 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., during the Firecracker 100 weekend, including a $6,000 victory and $15,000 runner-up check along with $10,000 in RUSH's Bill Emig Memorial.
Weekly: Kent Arment of Aberdeen, S.D., scored back-to-back $2,000 victories June 26-27 at his hometown Brown County Speedway and Miller (S.D.) Central Speedway.
Crate: Overcoming lost power steering, Wil Herrington of Cochran, Ga., led all 50 laps of June 27’s Crate Racin’ USA debut at Mountain View Raceway in Spring City, Tenn.
Turn 1: Before and after (Lucas Oil)
Frequently observers split the Dirt Late Model season into halves, basically before and after Fourth of July. This year's coronavirus that idled racing for most of two months has created another divider in the 2020 season: pre- and post-shutdown.
The trends in national touring points are significant with Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., the dominant post-shutdown driver on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. He erased his middling Georgia-Florida Speedweeks start and tallied 415 points more than any other driver in the 13 post-shutdown events.
Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., is still digging out of his Speedweeks struggles, but his post-shutdown points total is second on the series between Owens and Jonathan Davenport. Here's a driver-by-driver look at pre- and post-shutdown points for Lucas Oil regulars (listed in order of current points):
Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Current points: 3,545 (1st)
Pre-shutdown points: 975 (8th)
Post-shutdown points: 2,570 (1st)
Note: Hasn't been worse than fourth since shutdown.
Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Current points: 3,145 (2nd)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,074 (4th)
Post-shutdown points: 2,070 (2,070 (3rd)
Note: Only three top-five finishes since shutdown.
Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Current points: 3,140 (3rd)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,150 (2nd)
Post-shutdown points: 1,190 (7th)
Note: Hasn't cracked top five since May 25.
Tyler Erb, New Waverly, Texas
Current points: 3,115 (4th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,050 (5th)
Post-shutdown points: 2,065 (4th)
Note: Winless on tour since last September.
Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
Current points: 3,090 (5th)
Pre-shutdown points: 935 (12th)
Post-shutdown points: 2,155 (2nd)
Note: His 10-position jump from pre- to post-shutdown is tour's biggest.
Devin Moran, Dresden, Ohio
Current points: 3,035 (6th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,115 (3rd)
Post-shutdown points: 1,920 (8th)
Note: Best run of fifth since shutdown.
Kyle Bronson, Brandon, Fla.
Current points: 2,975 (7th)
Pre-shutdown points: 980 (7th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,995 (6th)
Note: Better than 12th just once since May 27.
Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Current points: 2,975 (8th)
Pre-shutdown points: 950 (11th)
Post-shutdown points: 2,025 (5th)
Note: Seven top-fives since shutdown (but three finishes 20th or worse).
Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, Ark.
Current points: 2,725 (9th)
Pre-shutdown points: 965 (9th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,760 (11th)
Note: Talladega marked first top-five since shutdown.
Tanner English, Benton, Ky.
Current points: 2,615 (10th)
Pre-shutdown points: 725 (17th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,890 (9th)
Note: Seven top-10s since shutdown for tour rookie.
Shanon Buckingham, Morristown, Tenn.
Current points: 2,505 (11th)
Pre-shutdown points: 735 (16th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,770 (10th)
Note: Logged first to-five of season at 411.
Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Current points: 2,470 (12th)
Pre-shutdown points: 720 (18th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,750 (12th)
Note: After brief upswing, a non-factor last five races.
Hudson O'Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Current points: 2,445 (13th)
Pre-shutdown points: 850 (14th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,750 (13th)
Note: Two of three top-10 finishes came post-shutdown
Tyler Bruening, Decorah, Iowa
Current points: 2,320 (14th)
Pre-shutdown points: 790 (15th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,530 (15th)
Note: Lone top-10 finish came in February.
Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
Current points: 2,205 (15th)
Pre-shutdown points: 655 (20th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,550 (14th)
Note: Season's best finish of ninth came post-shutdown at East Bay.
Turn 2: Before and after (World of Outlaws)
When analyzing the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series points before and after the coronavirus shutdown, there's no difference in the top spot. Series points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., was the top points earner in the nine races before racing ground to a halt, and also the top points earner in the last nine series events since racing returned.
But there are some interesting developments otherwise between pre- and post-shutdown points with the World of Outlaws.
Chief among them is the surge for recent Firecracker 100 winner Cade Dillard of Robeline, La., who has earned the second most points on the series (just 48 fewer than Sheppard) over the last nine races. And while he's sixth in current points, Chase Junghans of Manhattan, Kan., was the tour's third-highest points earner since the shutdown.
Here's a driver-by-driver look at pre- and post-shutdown points for WoO regulars (listed in order of current points):
Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.
Current points: 2,560 (1st)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,292 (1st)
Post-shutdown points: 1,268 (1st)
Note: Leads the series with 14 top-fives in 18 starts.
Ricky Weiss, Headingley, Manitoba
Current points: 2,414 (2nd)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,234 (2nd)
Post-shutdown points: 1,180 (6th)
Note: Only top-fives post-shutdown came in first three races back.
Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Current points: 2,374 (3rd)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,180 (3rd)
Post-shutdown points: 1,194 (4th)
Note: Worst back-to-back finishes (27th and 25th) came in last two races before shutdown.
Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Current points: 2,346 (4th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,152 (4th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,194 (5th)
Note: Expected to drop off tour after split with Scott Bloomquist Racing.
Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.
Current points: 2,344 (5th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,124 (8th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,220 (2nd)
Note: Top-fives in five of his last six starts; only two top-fives pre-shutdown.
Chase Junghans, Manhattan, Kan.
Current points: 2,336 (6th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,138 (7th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,198 (3rd)
Note: Outside the top 10 just twice since shutdown.
Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.
Current points: 2,278 (7th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,140 (5th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,138 (8th)
Note: Two of his three top-fives came in last five races.
Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Current points: 2,254 (8th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,140 (6th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,114 (9th)
Note: Five top-fives in last eight series events.
Ashton Winger, Hampton, Ga.
Current points: 2,206
Pre-shutdown points: 1,058 (9th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,148 (7th)
Note: Ninth or better in last five series starts.
Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, Pa.
Current points: 2,056 (10th)
Pre-shutdown points: 1,000 (11th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,056 (10th)
Note: Matched his best career Firecracker finish in 14th.
Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, Minn.
Current points: 2,022 (11th)
Pre-shutdown points: 976 (13th)
Post-shutdown points: 1,046 (11th)
Note: Still looking for his first top-10 finish of season.
Matt Cosner, Ridgeley, W.Va.
Current points: 1,830
Pre-shutdown points: 1,002 (10th)
Post-shutdown points: 828 (12th)
Note: Announced he's dropping off tour after father-in-law's death.
Backstretch: Guess the driver
Part of Andy Savary’s continuing feature at DirtonDirt.com this season, test your knowledge in identifying Dirt Late Model drivers based on blind resumes of four career statistical accomplishments (answers below):
Driver No. 1
• I won my first and only Southern All Stars race in 2017.
• My first crown jewel victory came as a substitute driver.
• I scored victories paying $15,000 or more in driving two different cars last season.
• I have the longest active streak of seasons with at least a single victory on the Summer Nationals.
Driver No. 2
• I have made 46 Eldora crown jewel starts.
• I am a winner on both current national tours, but nearly 95 percent of my victories are associated with a single series.
• Entering 2020, I had banked a five-figure victory in 16 consecutive seasons.
• I am a three-time national champion with a current tour, each of which came by a runaway margin.
Driver No. 3
• I have collected championships on two longstanding Midwestern tours.
• I have an active streak with victories in nine consecutive seasons on one of the tours (including a 2020 triumph last month).
• My first $10,000 triumph came in ArkLaTex Speedway’s Pelican 100.
• I won 17 special events during a dazzling 2015 season.
Driver No. 4
• My richest payday came as runner-up of Eldora Speedway's Dream.
• The richest victory of my career paid $15,074.
• I was the 2003 Ralph Latham Memorial winner.
• I am former runner-up in the Lucas Oil championship standings.
Driver No. 5
• My first career special event victory came in auditioning for a current car owner.
• I own multiple victories on each of Ray Cook’s three tours.
• I also own multiple championships across Ray Cook’s tours.
• I won the first event of the 2016 season.
Driver No. 6
• I have an identical victory total (12) on each of the current national tours.
• My last crown jewel victory came in 2015, 12 years after I first won the same race.
• I won the final Kentucky Klassic.
• I was the 2004 NARA DirtCar Series champion.
Driver No. 7
• I have a single victory on each of the current national tours.
• My richest career triumph of $20,000 came in 2012.
• I won the final Mid-Atlantic Championship Series event.
• I was the 2019 Potomac Speedway track champion.
Driver No. 8
• I finished seventh in my first campaign with a national touring series.
• I won 2019 events on the Comp Cams, Dirt Kings and Louisiana tours.
• My richest victory of the 2019 season did not come in the Late Model division.
• I have claimed January victories in each of the past two seasons.
Driver No. 9
• I have finished among the top 10 in three of my four career World Finals starts.
• I scored my second career Summer Nationals victory last season.
• I am former Dream prelim winner.
• Topping a 52-car field, I scored my most recent five-figure payday in May 2019.
Driver No. 10
• I am six-time Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association winner.
• Both of my 2020 victories have come in the same state.
• I won the 2013 Carolina Crown.
• I have bagged a victory paying $20,000 or more in 10 of the past 11 seasons.
Turn 3: Guess the driver answers
1. Brandon Sheppard
2. Darrell Lanigan
3. Jesse Stovall
4. Scott James
5. Donald McIntosh
6. Shannon Babb
7. Jamie Lathroum
8. Cade Dillard
9. Kent Robinson
10. Jonathan Davenport
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
July 4, 1980: Jim Dunn of Roseville, Ohio, won the Midwest Outlaw Super Series event at Cannonball Motor Speedway in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
July 3, 1988: Willy Kraft of Lakefield, Minn., won at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, for his second straight USAC Late Model victory and one of six overall during his championship season.
July 7, 1998: Johnny Appleget, the founder and designer of the Chasin’ Racin’ website, the original site of 4M.net, died from injuries suffered in a one-vehicle accident near Baton Rouge, La. He was 33.
June 30, 2000: Leading the final 37 laps at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio, Ryan Markham of Ashland, Ohio, survived a souring engine to earn $5,000 and his first-ever Mid-Atlantic Championship Series victory. New Yorkers Mike Wonderling of Wellsville and Dick Barton of Ashville finished second and third.
July 1, 2006: Competing in his first-ever Southern All Star event, Pennsylvania transplant and former big-block modified racer G.R. Smith of Mooresville, N.C., won at I-20 Speedway in Batesburg, S.C. Smith inherited the lead when polesitter Chris Madden was caught up in a collision of lapped cars. Before the night’s feature, Madden made a reverse victory lap while holding the checkered flag high in honor of fellow South Carolina racer Thomas “Farmer” Barber, who died earlier in the day after a bout with cancer.
Checkered flag: Five fearless Fourth of July weekend predictions
• Thursday's tuneup winner at Cedar Lake will capture one of the $20,000 features.
• A single Lucas Oil driver will score top-five finishes in both Ohio races.
• 34 Raceway's Slocum 50 will have at least three leaders.
• One driver will sweep Iron-Man victories on the Tennessee high banks of Tazewell and Volunteer.
• The Comp Cams series will have four winners in four races.
Last time: One of five predictions correct.