Quick Time: Does the black flag even exist?
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with managing editor Todd Turner for roundup of Dirt Late Model racing through the latest weekend of action. Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the week
National: Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., who swept Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series action in Ohio at Portsmouth Raceway Park and Muskingum County Speedway. His crew finally got to spend a little time in victory lane mugging for photos instead of in the pits banging out sheetmetal after a rash of accidents. Honorable mention: Chris Madden, who gave Bloomquist Race Cars a sweep of the weekend's biggest races by overcoming a fuel-pressure bugaboo in his World of Outlaws victory at Tazewell, Tenn.
Regional: Mike Johnson of Lompoc, Calif., who borrowed a car from Oregon racer Rob Mayea and proceeded to outrun Mayea and all the home-state drivers in a pair of Northwest I-5 Tour DIRTcar Series events at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Ore., and Cottage Grove (Ore.) Speedway. Johnson pocketed $7,000 on the weekend. Honorable mention: Dustin Linville of Bryantsville, Ky. (a pair of sanctioned $3,000 victories in eastern Kentucky at Mountain Motor Speedway in Isom and 191 Speedway in Campton); Morgan Bagley of Longview, Texas (O'Reilly SUPR victories at Champion Park Speedway in Minden, La., and Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas); and Dave Hess Jr. (weekly victory at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., and $5,500 victory at Stateline Speedway in Busti, N.Y.).
Weekly: Steve Lucas of Charleston, W.Va., swept a pair of Ripley Racefest events at I-77 Raceway Park in Ripley, W.Va., pocketing $3,000 on the weekend. Honorable mention: Jon Henry of Ada, Ohio, scored a home-state sweep at Attica Raceway Park and Oakshade Raceway near Wauseon.
Crate: William Thomas of Phenix City, Ala., who swept NeSmith Chevrolet Late Model Series events at Penton (Ala.) Raceway and his hometown East Alabama Motor Speedway. Honorable mention: Mike Pegher Jr. of Wexford, Pa., the only multiple race winner on Fastrak Northeast's five-race Bully Dog Speedweek.
Turn 1: Five things we'd like to see more
Black flags: Have we seen even one this year? You'd think flaggers would be whipping it out all the time. It's about the only leverage — or at least satisfaction — in communicating with drivers who retaliate against competitors, stop needlessly to draw cautions or fail to line up properly.
Jack Sullivan interviews: The Arkansas driver clearly knows how to ask the hard-hitting questions. In Saturday's Summernationals Minute from I-55 Raceway, he laid it all out there for Jeep Van Wormer. "I don't think you know you run over people, do you?"
Readable graphics: Dirt Late Models have the coolest graphic schemes in auto racing, but often to the detriment of sponsors getting bang for the buck. First make sure your sponsor's logo and name is perfectly legible from a reasonable distance, then proceed with the snazzy colors and designs.
Announced schedule updates: Too many tours shuffle dates willy-nilly with nary an announcement, expecting everyone to stumble across new dates on the website.
Summernationals at Kokomo: It'd be nice to have the Indiana track back on the UMP tour's schedule after its dramatic final laps and efficiently run program last season.
Turn 2: Five random holiday weekend awards:
Watch What You Say Award: To Ross White of Knoxville, Tenn., who criticized the slower drivers after his victory Friday victory at Wartburg (Tenn.) Speedway. "Get out of the way guys, come on, quit racing the leaders," White pointedly said in a victory lane interview. "We're racing for five grand and you're racing for $500." Just 48 hours later, it was a slower White holding up leader Chris Madden in World of Outlaws action at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway, triggering the leader's brief bobble when the two touched on the backstretch in the first 20 laps of the $20,000-to-win race.
It's Been A Long Time Coming Award: In more than 20 years of racing, Tom Copeland captured his first checkered flag Friday at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio. Copeland won a six-lap, non-qualifiers' race in Fastrak Northeast touring action for Crate Late Models.
Tweet of the Week Award: To @rocket_up_top, who posted this on Twitter amid a series of Hesston (Pa.) Speedway race results — "Drunk domestic dispute in the grandstands including a cooler toss in the middle of it loving it LOL gotta love dirt bags."
Turnabout is Fair Play Award: To former Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway Mike Johnson for earning $5,000 at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Ore. Five weeks earlier, former Willamette champion Trevor Glaser of Tangent, Ore., earned the same purse at Santa Maria.
Three for the Price of One Award: To Ross White and Jason Utter of Columbus Junction, Iowa. Both drivers notched Friday victories sanctioned by three organizations. Utter's I-80 Speedway victory was with Lucas Oil MLRA, NCRA and the Dart Corn Belt Clash. White's Wartburg victory was with the STARS Volunteer Racing Series, STARS Midwest Dirt Racing League and Southern Regional Racing Series.
Backstretch: Five pleasant first-half surprises in 2011
• A tight points chase on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series between Jimmy Owens and Scott Bloomquist after Bloomquist dominated the top spot for more than two years running.
• The consistent success of Steve Shaver driving Lee Roy and Kevin Rumley-owned cars.
• The impressive showings of true Late Model rookies Morgan Bagley and Mike Spatola.
• East Bay Raceway Park's revival with higher car counts at Florida Speedweeks.
• A ton of first-time series winners who have helped inject new blood into Super Late Model racing.
Turn 3: Five unpleasant first-half surprises in 2011
• The closure of more than a half-dozen dirt tracks that run Late Models weekly or occasionally.
• Winless streaks for reigning and former Dirt Track World Champions Earl Pearson Jr. and Steve Francis.
• Dream XVII's event-low 91 cars at Ohio's Eldora Speedway.
• Another spate of drivers disqualified for (or accused of) cheating tires.
• The wettest spring we can remember.
Turn 4: Weekly racing tidbits
• Canadian standout Chris Ross of Wallaceburg, Ontario, notched his first-ever victory in the United States on Sunday at Millstream Speedway in Findlay, Ohio, outrunning Jerry Bowersock.
• Johnny Philpot Jr. of Sunnyvale, Texas, ended Wendall Bolden's three-race win streak at Devil's Bowl Speedway in suburban Dallas. Bolden finished second.
• With his victory Saturday at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, Brandon Burgoon of McDonald, Pa., became the track's first three-time winner in the DIRTcar Late Model division this season.
• Jeff Rine's 69th career victory at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway ties Bobby Croop atop the track's all-time list. Rine also notched a $5,000 victory Sunday at Hesston (Pa.) Speedway in a race co-sanctioned by UFO and the Three State Flyers circuit.
• With Saturday's victory, Eric Spangler of Lake City, Mich., notched his third in a row at Merritt (Mich.) Speedway.
• Caney Valley Speedway in Caney, Kan., drew an impressive 24 Late Models on July 2 in its first night since switching to Saturdays from Fridays. Gary Gorby won the feature.
Checkered flag: Five fearless Southern Nationals predictions
• The championship won't be decided until the final lap of the final race.
• Jonathan Davenport and Chris Madden will share eight victories in the 10 races.
• Davenport will become the second winningest driver in series history.
• The biggest car count will be July 21 at Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway.
• Tennessee drivers will be shut out of victory lane.