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Poll Position presented by Bilstein

Top 25: T-Mac zips up with B-Shepp back on top

August 18, 2020, 10:03 am
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer
Tim McCreadie (heathlawsonphotos.com)
Tim McCreadie (heathlawsonphotos.com)

A week headlined by four nights of racing at Florence Speedway and six straight events on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals produced major shakeups in DirtonDirt.com's power rankings presented by Bilstein Shocks with Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., retaking the No. 1 spot and Tim McCreadie moving up a whopping nine positions into the top five.

McCreadie was the week’s biggest mover in the rankings after scoring a surprise victory in Saturday’s Sunoco North-South 100 feature at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. The Watertown, N.Y., driver rallied from his 20th starting spot and led the final 13 laps at Florence to earn his second $50,000 payday of the season.

Sheppard made the most of his break from following the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series in the Rocket Chassis house car by driving his family-owned Rocket to four victories in six races on the Summer Nationals tour. The successful stretch propelled him back ahead of Brandon Overton of Evans, Ga., for the top spot in the top 25 poll with Sheppard earning seven of the poll’s 10 first-place votes. Overton, who finished second to McCreadie at the North-South, received the other three first-place votes.

Other big movers in the poll included Chris Ferguson of Mount Holly, N.C., who moved up six spots to No. 13 after earning the North-South 100 pole and finishing fourth in the 100-lap feature. Summer Nationals points leader Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., moved up five spots into a tie for sixth after winning the tour’s two races that Sheppard didn’t win last week.

Rick Eckert of York, Pa., was the top driver to enter the poll this week, landing all the way at No. 16 after scoring a pair of Ultimate Northeast Series victories over the weekend. Max Blair of Centerville, Pa., also entered the poll on the strength of a weekend sweep, ranking in a tie for the 22nd spot after winning both of the weekend’s Zimmer's United Late Model Series events.

Also joining the top 25 were Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., who won Florence’s North-South Shootout on Thursday night, and Frank Heckenast Jr. of Frankfort, Ill., who continued his solid showing behind Shirley in the Summer Nationals points chase.

Dropping out of the poll were three drivers who took the weekend off — Payton Looney, Jimmy Mars and Cory Hedgecock — and Dennis Erb Jr., who had just two top-five finishes in his five-race Summer Nationals stretch.

Voting is done by a 10-member committee comprised of staffers and contributors to determine the Top 25 power rankings. Voters: Richard Allen, Jeff Broeg, Kelley Carlton, Ryan Delph, Robert Holman, Dustin Jarrett, Joshua Joiner, Derek Kessinger, Kevin Kovac, Kyle Symons and Todd Turner (alternate). Voting results are compiled and tabulated by Todd Turner.

1. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.

Comment: After successful Summer Nationals stint, returns to Rocket house car and the WoO tour for a three-race Pennsylvania weekend. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Previous ranking: 2nd (+1)

2. Brandon Overton, Evans, Ga.

Comment: Falls just short of another 50,000 payday thanks to McCreadie’s unexpected charge. Series points: 1st (Southern Nationals). Previous ranking: 1st (-1)

3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Leads 179 of 200 total feature laps at Florence but only comes away with one victory. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 3rd (nc)

4. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.

Comment: One-ups his 13th-to-first run at Eldora’s Stream by charging from 20th at Florence to score another $50,000 victory. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 13th (+9)

5. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.

Comment: Rebounds to finish sixth both Thursday and Saturday after contact with Shane Clanton knocks him from the top three of Wednesday’s race. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 7th (+2)

T6. Ricky Weiss, Headingley, Manitoba

Comment: Up-and-down North-South weekend ends with a $2,000 non-qualifier’s race victory. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Previous ranking: 4th (-2)

T6. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.

Comment: Enters final week of Summer Nationals with a comfy 148-point lead in his chase for a third straight series title. Series points: 1st (Summer Nationals). Previous ranking: 11th (+5)

8. Tyler Erb, New Waverly, Texas

Comment: His Thursday night fast qualifier award of $2,034 paid more per lap than any Florence feature winner. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 5th (-2)

9. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: A slow start at Florence improves to a top-five by Saturday’s finale. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 13th (+4)

10. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.

Comment: Former North-South winner quietly logs finishes of 14th, 15th and 11th in Florence’s three features. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 5th (-5)

11. Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.

Comment: Heads back to Pennsylvania where he scored a $30,000 Firecracker 100 victory in his last visit. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Previous ranking: 10th (-1)

12. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.

Comment: On the verge of breaking into the top five in the North-South finale until his high-side run was slowed in the final 20 laps. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 8th (-4)

13. Chris Ferguson, Mount Holly, N.C.

Comment: Up-and-down Florence trips ends on a positive note with his fourth-place North-South 100 finish. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 19th (+6)

14. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.

Comment: Enjoys more family time while plotting his next move. Series points: 2nd (Southern Nationals). Previous ranking: 12th (-2)

15. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.

Comment: After a weekend off, returns to action with WoO’s Pennsylvania tripleheader. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Previous ranking: 15th (nc)

16. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: Prepares to face the WoO regulars on his home turf after picking up a pair of Ultimate Northeast victories at Path Valley and Selinsgrove. Series points: None. Previous ranking: Unranked

17. Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, Ariz.

Comment: Impresses yet again at Florence with a high-side rally to second before fizzling out in the final 20 laps. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 17th (nc)

18. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.

Comment: Shows improvement at Florence highlighted by his runner-up finish in Wednesday’s Ralph Latham Memorial. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 20th (+2)

19. Kyle Bronson, Brandon, Fla.

Comment: Broken J-bar dooms his impressive North-South Shootout performance on Thursday while running second. Series points: 7th (Lucas Oil). Previous ranking: 15th (-4)

20. Zack Dohm, Cross Lanes, W.Va.,

Comment: Beats Owens and Overton in one of his North-South 100 heat races, but still misses the main event. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 16th (-4)

21. Ross Bailes, Clover, S.C.

Comment: After finishes of 10th at Cedar Lake and 17th at Florence, he can complete a trifecta of August crown jewel feature starts if he makes Batesville’s main event. Series points: 3rd (Southern Nationals). Previous ranking: 18th (-3)

T22. Max Blair, Centerville, Pa.

Comment: Track names may be opposites, but he had the same results during his sweep of the ULMS doubleheader at Thunder Mountain and Hidden Valley. Series points: 1st (ULMS). Previous ranking: Unranked

T22. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: Muscles his way by Overton to win Thursday’s North-South Shootout. Series points: None. Previous ranking: Unranked

24. Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, Ill.

Comment: Finishes fourth or better in five of six Summer Nationals events, but still can’t close the gap on Shirley. Series points: 2nd (Summer Nationals). Previous ranking: Unranked

25. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Summer Nationals weekend produces finishes of 12th at Fayette County and fifth at I-55. Series points: None. Previous ranking: 23rd (-2)

Dropped out: Payton Looney, Dennis Erb Jr., Jimmy Mars, Cory Hedgecock

DirtonDirt Top 25

Pos. Driver (Pts.) (1st place)
1. Brandon Sheppard (245) (7)
2. Brandon Overton (239) (3)
3. Jimmy Owens (236)
4. Tim McCreadie (206)
5. Josh Richards (186)
T6. Ricky Weiss (185)
T6. Brian Shirley (185)
8. Tyler Erb (180)
9. Dale McDowell (175)
10. Jonathan Davenport (170)
11. Cade Dillard (128)
12. Bobby Pierce (121)
13. Chris Ferguson (109)
14. Chris Madden (96)
15. Darrell Lanigan (93)
16. Rick Eckert (91)
17. Ricky Thornton Jr. (83)
18. Shane Clanton (82)
19. Kyle Bronson (71)
20. Zack Dohm (69)
21. Ross Bailes (57)
T22. Max Blair (42)
T22. Mike Marlar (42)
24. Frank Heckenast Jr. (27)
25. Billy Moyer (25)
Others receiving votes: Payton Looney (23), Jimmy Mars (20), Devin Moran (14), Dennis Erb Jr. (13), Shannon Babb (9), Ashton Winger (7), Cory Hedgecock (7), Scott Bloomquist (4), Jason Feger (4), Josh Rice (2), Kyle Strickler (2), Travis Stemler (1), Tanner English (1).

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