Crate notes: Davenport, Dauderman down to wire
The nip-and-tuck battle for the 2009 UMP DIRTcar Crate Late Model championship will come down to three nights of action at Tri-City Speedway.
Defending champion Tait Davenport of West Paducah, Ky., leads the standings by a slim 12-point margin (2,210-2,198) over Bobby Dauderman of Alhambra, Ill., entering the 3/8-mile track's three-race weekend on Oct. 2-4, a tripleheader event postponed a week by rain and then pushed back another day by Thursday rain.
The biggest evening for UMP Crates will come Friday for the Bud Light 40, which pays $2,500 to the winner plus lap leader bonuses. The division will also compete in events on Saturday ($750 to win) and Sunday ($500 to win). The weekend program also includes modified and Super Late Late action.
Tri-City's ambitious multi-day affair will include plenty of points-title drama. Davenport, Dauderman and Dustin Griffin of Camp Point, Ill., who sits third in the national standings (101 points behind Davenport) and is the only other driver still mathematically alive for the championship, all plan to enter the three events.
Davenport, 31, is bidding to repeat his 2008 championship. He lost the points lead to Dauderman, 20, after the weekend of Sept. 11-13, but he turned his 11-point deficit into an eight-point edge the following weekend and extended his advantage to 12 points in the latest rankings for races run through Sept. 28.
The standings are determined using a driver's best 30 finishes. The title contenders have already passed that number of starts, so Tri-City's program gives them three chances to replace the lowest remaining points totals on their ledgers.
Multiple scenarios are possible for Davenport and Dauderman depending on each night's car count, which determine the number of bonus points racers can earn.
Provided that a field of 30 or more cars is signed in to give drivers the opportunity to race for the maximum 10 bonus points, Davenport will have to finish fifth or better in the first feature at Tri-City to gain points. If he accomplishes that, he would need to finish fourth or better the second night and, finally, third or better the third night in order to replace his worst points outings.
Dauderman, meanwhile, has three 65-point nights as the lowest remaining numbers on his season log, so he can erase them and gain points by finishing fourth or better in each of the features provided there is 30 or more cars on hand.
A $10,000 points-fund check for winning championship is the pot of gold at the end of this weekend's rainbow for one of the drivers. — Kevin Kovac
COOLEY NEARING NeSMITH CHAMPIONSHIP: Eric Cooley of Fulton, Miss., can all but clinch the $20,000 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series championship Saturday at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala. Heading into the $2,500-to-win, 40-lap event at Talladega, the 18-year-old Cooley has a 102-point lead over Larry Boutwell of Baker, Fla., for the top spot in the series point standings. If Cooley can leave Talladega on Saturday night with a 97-point lead, all he has to do is start the final two point races of the season at South Mississippi Speedway in Pass Christian, Miss., on Oct. 16-17 to claim the title. Saturday's race at TST also serves as a tuneup for a non-points series event at Talladega, the rain-postponed, $10,000-to-win Red Top Auto Auctions Dega 100 on Oct. 22-24. — Roby Helm
NDRA SET FOR OCT. 10 EVENT AT FRIENDSHIP: The first round of the two-race NDRA Crate Championship Series is scheduled for Oct. 10 at Friendship Speedway in Elkin, N.C. Drivers that finished in the top five in points at their NDRA-sanctioned home track and any driver that had perfect attendance in the NDRA touring series events are eligible for the $25,000 point fund, which pays $10,000 to the winner. The first-year organization drew 65 drivers to weekly events at seven sanctioned tracks in the Carolinas and Virginia. — From series reports
FASTRAK BEGINS GRAND NATIONALS: The first round of the Fastrak Racing Series Grand Nationals is set for Oct. 2-3 with regional events for Great Lakes, Southeast and Northeast drivers. Langlade County Speedway in Antigo, Wis., hosts Great Lakes drivers, Lavonia (Ga.) Speedway hosts Southeast drivers and Mercer (Pa.) Raceway Park hosts the Northeast drivers. The chase for the $30,000 Fastrak weekly championship continues Oct. 21-22 at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., and Oct. 23-24 at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va. Through the end of September, A.J. Diemel of Navarino, Wis., and Mike Pegher Jr. of Wexford, Pa., are tied for the weekly points with 705 points apiece, while Brandon "Cornbread" Haley of Lavonia, Ga., Speedway is third with 703 points. — From series reports