Quick Time: The rarity of back-to-back first-timers
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 along with some other quirks of racing (and occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the week
National: Brad Neat of Dunnville, Ky., ran away with a World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory at North Alabama, his first on the circuit and his first national touring victory in 14 months.
Regional: Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., continued his rebound from an early-season racing injury with a $3,800 victory at East Bay Raceway Park’s Scott Thompson Memorial.
Weekly: Michael Norris of Sarver, Pa., rallied from his 12th starting spot Sunday to notch his second straight victory in DIRTcar-sanctioned competition at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.
Crate: Chase Washington of Houlka, Miss., won a pair of NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series events in Mississippi, topping a 17-car field Friday at Hattiesburg Motorsports Park and topping 18 drivers Saturday at Jackson Motor Speedway. He also lowered Hattiesburg’s track record.
Turn 1: First-time national tour winners
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series had back-to-back first-time series winners last weekend with Brad Neat’s victory at North Alabama Speedway and Bub McCool’s victory at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway, a relative rarity on a national Dirt Late Model tour. Let’s check out the previous three times national tours have had back-to-back first-timer winners, including one instance involving the same tracks as the most recent occurrence:
World of Outlaws: In 2009, Jason Feger won on May 24 at Charter Raceway Park in Beaver Dam, Wis., followed by Jamie Lathroum’s May 28 victory at Delaware International Speedway.
Lucas Oil Series: In 2009, Jake Knowles won June 16 at Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway, followed two days later by Casey Roberts winning at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway.
Lucas Oil Series: In 2008, Joe Armes won at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway on July 6 and Hall of Famer Freddy Smith on July 11 at North Alabama Speedway for his lone career series victory.
Turn 2: Crowdfunding the Summernationals
Hollywood stuntwoman Kathy Jarvis plans to take a stab at this summer’s UMP DIRTcar Summernationals, and the second-year Dirt Late Model driver has taken her sponsorship needs to the people.
Jarvis has set up a $50,000 budget for the Hell Tour, breaking down her needs and using the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo to accept donations from fans. You want to help “send a woman driver to hell,” as her funding page says? Click this link. Here’s the 29-race budget for Jarvis, who was Rookie of the Year last season at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., and is trying to become the first woman to follow one of racing’s most grueling tours:
Parts and repairs: $12,500
Backstretch: Facebook status of the week
From Friendship Motor Speedway’s page, where track officials don’t seem too crazy about the “social” part of social media:
"From this point forward, ANYONE fussing and/or complaining will be banned from the page. ... This page is to keep you updated on basic information regarding upcoming events and to promote Under The Lights Photography. When we receive information, we pass it along. Ten different people asking the same question isn't going help us answer you any faster. Links are provided below for the schedule and rules and contact numbers are listed above. There is no sense in any negativity on this page, none whatsoever. Again, from this point forward, absolutely NO drama of any kind will be tolerated. Thank you.”
Turn 3: Stop at your own risk
Sunoco American Late Model Series competitors are headed to Limaland Motorsports Park on Friday (if rain doesn’t zap the race for the umpteenth time in a row), and I’ve got a tip for drivers: Don’t stop on the track. For any reason. Even if you have to run over another car, apparently.
It was at the 2005 ALMS race at the Allentown, Ohio, track and Rusty Schlenk was leading when a caution appeared with three laps remaining. Rough track conditions had caved in the floorboard of Schlenk’s car, engaging the brakes and making it suddenly lurch to a stop at the flagstand where the yellow flag hung.
Second-running Jayme Zidar was pacing behind Schlenk during the caution and had nowhere to go when Schlenk’s car stopped. Following closely, Zidar stopped, too. The ruling? Schlenk and Zidar both were sent to the tail of the field, and third-running Aaron Scott was awarded the lead — and the victory.
I’m all for sticking with clearly stated rules, after all, drivers were told in the pre-race meeting not to stop on the track, even under caution. It’s generally a good rule that makes it clear who is part of a caution and prevents drivers from stopping willy-nilly during cautions to whine to officials.
Should Schlenk have gone to the tail? Sure. It was a tough break, but even if the track caused his problems, his car wasn’t able to keep moving and his penalty was justified. Zidar? That’s another case. His penalty was, in a word, ridiculous. What were Zidar's options? Ram Schlenk’s car and never let off the gas so he didn’t come to a complete stop?
Following rules to the letter of the law always makes sense — except when it doesn’t. That’s when it calls for the race director’s discretion to make a decision that’s fair and reasonable for everyone.
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
May 2, 1986: Getting a rare victory on asphalt, Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark. won the USAC Late Model tour’s season opener at Sportsdrome Speedway in Jeffersonville, Ind., to launch a title-winning season.
May 1, 1992: Steve Kosiski of Omaha, Neb., won in NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour action at Davenport (Iowa) Speedway for his first victory of the season en route to his third straight series championship.
April 28, 1996: SUPR driver Doug Ingalls Jr., of Longview, Texas, was paralyzed in a four-wheeler accident that ended the 24-year-old’s Dirt Late Model career.
May 5, 2001: Mike Balzano of Parkersburg, W.Va., won his first career UDTRA race at K-C Raceway near Chillicothe, Ohio, earning $10,000. Balzano had a two-victory weekend in Ohio, winning on the MACS circuit the previous night at Cannonball Motor Speedway in St. Clairsville.
May 3, 2007: Fighting off a challenge from Rick Eckert, Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., earned a $5,000 victory in Virginia Motor Speedway’s Paul Sawyer Memorial, a Thursday night special at the Jamaica, Va., oval.
Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions
• Lucas Oil Series winners at Tri-City Speedway and Paducah International Raceway will have previously won UMP DIRTcar Summernationals events at the tracks.
• Look for a weekend sweep on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series at 311 Motor Speedway and Swainsboro Raceway.
• Four drivers will lead at least part of Saturday’s ULMS-UFO feature at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.
• If he heads to Talladega Short Track, North Carolina driver Ray Cook will win in Alabama for the third time in as many weekends.
• Tennesseans will grab four spots among the top five in Saturday’s Ultimate Super Late Model Series event at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn.