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Quick Time: Reviewing Bloomquist's title chases

September 21, 2011, 11:54 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.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: Bloomquist's key title chases

Jimmy Owens is trying to do something only three drivers have done before: deny Scott Bloomquist a touring championship. Fourteen times Bloomquist has set out for a series championship, and 11 times he's come home with the series trophy.

Freddy Smith topped Bloomquist for the '96 Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series title, while Bloomquist was third in points on the same series in '99 and '01 when Dale McDowell and Rick Eckert captured titles. Bloomquist has five Hav-A-Tampa/UDTRA/Xtreme crowns ('94, '95, '98, '00, '03), three Summernationals titles ('90, '91 and '02), two with Lucas Oil ('09, '10) and one with the World of Outlaws ('04).

With Bloomquist edging ahead of Owens last weekend in this year's Lucas Oil chase, let's take a look at five key title chases involving Bloomquist:

1996 (Hav-A-Tampa): Bloomquist's penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct let Freddy Smith back into the title chase, and Smith took advantage late in the season, tying Bloomquist for the points lead with two events remaining then winning the second-to-last race at North Georgia Speedway to build a near insurmountable points lead.

2000 (Hav-A-Tampa): Bloomquist dashed the dim hopes of Steve Francis in the series finale, earning a $53,000 Hav-A-Tampa Shootout victory at Dixie Speedway. Bloomquist had taken the points lead from Francis with his North-South 100 victory at Florence Speedway in late August.

2002 (Summernationals): In the first Bloomquist-Billy Moyer showdown on the UMP tour in 11 years, Bloomquist won the title by 28 points over Moyer despite winning just two series races. Moyer upped the ante by winning the Oakshade Raceway finale, but Bloomquist — after an engine swap — finished second to give him a cushion of five positions in securing his third championship on the series.

2004 (World of Outlaws): Entering the doubleheader series finale at Delta Bowl Speedway with a three-point lead on Francis, Bloomquist swept both races to secure his first series championship by 13 points.

2009 (Lucas Oil): The consistent Bloomquist clinched the title in the second-to-last race without so much as a single series victory, then won one for good measure in the series finale at Rome (Ga.) Speedway. "I don't think anybody remembers who won the first race very much," he said. "I think they'll remember who won the last one."

Turn 1: Drivers of the Week

National: Scott Bloomquist extended his series record on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series with his 12th and 13th victories, dramatically regaining the points lead from Jimmy Owens, who he clashed with at Winchester in the first race of Bloomquist's Virginia sweep.

Regional: Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, topped a 46-car field at Farley (Iowa) Speedway to win the Deery Brothers Summer Series portion of the Yankee Dirt Track Classic. Bruening earned a career-high $7,500 and his first series victory.

Weekly: Justin Rattliff of Campbellsville, Ky., picked up a pair of $2,000 paydays on Friday at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., and Saturday at Lake Cumberland Speedway in Burnside, Ky.

Crate: Lee Gill of LaFargeville, N.Y., earned $5,000 for his victory in the Great Crate Race at Brighton (Ontario) Speedway.

Turn 2: Roundup of series champs

Here's a look at some of the drivers who have wrapped up season-long regional championships so far:

North: Jason Covert of York Haven, Pa., won five races en route to his third straight title with the Three State Flyers.

Midwest: Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire, Wis., won three series races in capturing WISSOTA's Dart Challenge Series championship. ... Three victories also helped Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., capture the Northern Allstars Late Model Series title. ... Ricky Weiss of Winnipeg, Manitoba, won four Northern LateModel Racing Association events, all during NLRA's August Speedweek, to capture the series crown.

South: Morgan Bagley became the first Texan in 15 years to capture the O'Reilly SUPR championship. He's clinched the title with a single series race remaining. ... California driver Eric Jacobsen, who races out of an east Tennessee race shop, won a tiebreaker with Ross White of Knoxville, Tenn., to grab the STARS Volunteer Racing Series championship. White had a comfortable lead heading into the finale series weekend but faltered while Jacobsen finished no worse than second.

Crate: Ron Parker of Belwood, N.C., captured the NDRA Road Show title. He was also NDRA's weekly champ.

Backstretch: Weekly racing tidbits

• Solidifying his UMP points lead, Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., swept races Friday at Kankakee County (Ill.) Speedway and La Salle (Ill.) Speedway with his closest pursuers, Ohio's Rusty Schlenk and Jon Henry, competing in both events. Unzicker has four straight victories.

• Winning his first ever Super Late Model event, Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., pocketed $2,000 Saturday at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway's Hall of Fame Classic. Robinson took the checkers ahead of Joe Janowski and Tanner English.

• Notching his first career victory at Thunder Valley Raceway, Wayne Johnson of Hancock, Md., earned $1,500 Friday in the Late Model Challenge of Champions at the track near Central City, Pa. The invitation-only event was among the last 10 feature winners and top five drivers in points without a victory.

• Two Mississippi Crate Late Model drivers in a tight battle for the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Series West Region title went head-to-head for the first time all season on Saturday with Jim McDuffie of Meridian edging Duke Palasini of Leland at Drew County Speedway in Monticello, Ark. McDuffie, who has 13 victories, is a single point ahead of Palasini and can clinch the his second regional title with one more victory.

Trever Feathers of Winchester, Va., earned $2,000 for Saturday's Limited Late Model victory at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway's fifth annual Small Car Nationals.

Turn 3: Five favorite things about Brownstown

With the 32nd annual Jackson 100 coming up this weekend at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, here are five of my favorite things about the dirt track closest to my boyhood home:

The lip: A berm separates the quarter-mile oval's frontstretch proper from a runoff area in front of Brownstown's grandstands. The lip isn't as pronounced as it was in the '80s or '90s, when drivers would drift high out of turn four, use the runoff area as a groove for the best turn-one entry, and sometimes literally launch back onto the racetrack.

The covered grandstands: It's not unique at Brownstown, as plenty of fairgrounds tracks have covered grandstands. But Brownstown's version seems just a bit cozier than the others, and no doubt more solid with the concrete foundation.

Cool-down laps: Few tracks provide drivers the opportunity to acknowledge approving (or disapproving) fans more than Brownstown, where after cool down laps, most drivers slowly cruise in front of the grandstands heading for the turn-one exit to the pits. Best when it's timed perfectly as the announcer recaps the top finishers, many drivers give a wave, a spin of the wheels — or perhaps another gesture — as they head pitside.

No walls: A track without walls means fewer accidents (good for drivers), fewer cautions (good for fans) and the excitement of rim-riding (good for everyone).

Cheap seats: I've never been to Brownstown when a few fans didn't decide to pulled up lawnchairs and watch the races lakeside high above turn two from the Jackson-Washington State Forest property. I'll stick with the grandstand, myself.

Turn 4: Turning back the clock

Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:

Sept. 26, 1980: Ferris Collier of Lampe, Mo., won at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City, Okla., for his fourth National Championship Racing Association victory on his way to the title in the inaugural NCRA season.

Sept. 21, 1985: The late Jerry Goodwin of Wilsonville, Ala., raced to his lone career victory on the Southern All Stars Dirt Racing Series at Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Ala.

Sept. 20, 1998: Taking the lead when Gary Stuhler departed with transmission problems on the 28th lap, Tim Hitt of Weston, W.Va., led the rest of the way at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway to capture the STARS-sanctioned Pittsburgher, earning $21,000.

Sept. 29, 2002: Jackie Boggs of Grayson, Ky., led all 50 laps of the Miller Brothers Coal-Pepsi Fall Classic at Thunder Ridge Raceway near Prestonsburg, Ky., to earn $10,000. Scott Bloomquist and Dan Schlieper crossed the line second and third but both came up light at the scales.

Sept. 22, 2006: Mark Pettyjohn of Milton, Del., earned $4,999 at Georgetown (Del.) Speedway by outrunning Jim Yoder and Rob Schirmer in an unsanctioned event.

Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions

• After having a single home-state driver in the top 10 last year, four Mississippi drivers will crack the top 10 in Columbus Speedway's Magnolia State 100.

• Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway's Jackson 100 will have a first-time winner.

• Both Friday and Saturday winners in MLRA and Corn Belt Clash action at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., will be series champions on one series or another.

• Chub Frank will land in victory lane during McKean County Raceway's big ULMS-sanctioned weekend.

• The third time will be a charm for Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway's twice rained out Prairie Dirt Classic.

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