Poll Position: Show-Me win puts Owens on top
Welcome to one of the newest DirtonDirt.com features, Poll Position, as DirtonDirt.com staffers Michael Rigsby, Todd Turner and Joshua Joiner rank the nation's top 25 Dirt Late Model racers by consensus. Future rankings will appear every Tuesday at DirtonDirt.com.
1. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Survives Wheatland’s treacherous cushion for his second consecutive victory in the $30,000 Dart Show-Me 100. Series points: First (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 3rd (+2)
2. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Comment: Gets back to victory lane in World of Outlaws action not once, but twice with triumphs at Wayne County Speedway and Tyler County Speedway’s $25,000 Jackpot 100. Series points: First (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 5th (+3)
3. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Follows up a fifth-place Show-Me 100 finish with a $10,000 Budweiser 50 victory Sunday at Tri-City Speedway. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 2nd (-1)
4. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: A broken rear-end deals the MasterSbilt house car driver his fifth DNF in a Lucas OIl feature. Series points: Second (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 1st (-3)
5. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Wheatland’s cushion gets the better of the Show-Me’s winningest driver, denying a potential late Owens-Bloomquist battle. Series points: Third (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 4th (-1)
6. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: Rebounds from Tyler County disappointment with a runner-up WoO finish at I-77 Raceway Park. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 6th (nc)
7. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Hangs around for a sixth-place finish in an attrition-filled Show-Me 100 feature. Series points: Fourth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 7th (nc)
8. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: Watches WoO title hopes slip farther away with Lanigan’s impressive Memorial Day weekend performance. Series points: Second (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 9th (+1)
9. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: Taking a couple weeks off before heading to Eldora. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 10th (+1)
10. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.
Comment: Falls out early in Wheatland, but rebounds with a runner-up effort at Tri-City. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 11th (+1)
11. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.
Comment: Breaks out of recent slump with career-best Show-Me 100 finish. Series points: Seventh (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 13th (+2)
12. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Comment: Still looking for first victory since Speedweeks after a seventh-place Show-Me 100 finish. Series points: Sixth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 12th (-3)
13. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.
Comment: Posts three top-three finishes in sticking close to home over the holiday weekend. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (-1)
14. Bub McCool, Vicksburg, Miss.
Comment: Rear-end issues spoil a potential top-three result at Wayne County. Series points: Eighth (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 14th (nc)
15. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: Comes up just short at Wayne County to kick off a solid tripleheader weekend. Series points: Fifth (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 19th (+4)
16. Jared Landers, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: A leaking power steering pump lasts just long enough for Landers to make it from 26th to first at Wheatland, but not long enough to go the distance. Series points: Eighth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 16th (nc)
17. Chub Frank, Bear Lake, Pa.
Comment: Sandwiches an 11th-place Jackpot 100 finish between a pair of top fives at Wayne County and I-77. Series points: Third (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 21st (+4)
18. Steve Shaver, Vienna, W.Va.,
Comment: Falls out while leading I-77's WoO feature, opening the door for Chris Garnes’ upset victory. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 22nd (+4).
19. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Comment: Two-time Show-Me 100 winner skips the crown jewel event for the first time since the early ‘90s. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 15th (-4)
20. Tyler Reddick, Corning, Calif.
Comment: Impressive Show-Me 100 performance is cut short by mechanical woes just 16 laps in. Series points: Ninth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 24th (+4)
21. Jesse Stovall, Galena, Mo.
Comment: Looked as fast as anyone in Show-Me prelims before a heat race tangle with Dennis Erb Jr. Series points: First (MARS). Last week's ranking: 23rd (+2)
22. Randy Weaver, Crossville, Tenn.
Comment: Southern All Stars points leader makes the most of the tour’s Mississippi doubleheader with wins at Whynot and Magnolia. Series points: First (SAS). Last week's ranking: Not ranked
23. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.
Comment: Still looking to break season-long slump before hitting the unforgiving Summernationals tour. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 17th (-6)
24. John Anderson, Omaha, Neb.
Comment: Follows his top 10 at the Show-Me with a $5,000 victory in Sunday’s Alphabet Soup Classic at I-80 Speedway. Series points: First (MLRA). Last week's ranking: Not ranked
25. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: Breaks recent slump by contending in the season’s first traditional crown jewel event. Series points: 10th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: Not ranked
Dropped out: Earl Pearson Jr., Shane Clanton, Brad Neat
Outside looking in: Earl Pearson Jr., Shane Clanton, Matt Miller, Will Vaught, Brandon Sheppard
Michael Rigsby's comments: It’s time for major shakeups throughout the 10-25 range in my poll; a Memorial Day weekend full of racing will do that … Owens has to go back to the top after the past two weekends' performances, but Lanigan gets launched to a close second with his double-dip Friday and Saturday … I actually moved Tyler Reddick (my No. 20) up. He had that good of a car at Lucas Oil Speedway …Welcome Randy Weaver (25) to my Top 25. Others like Brandon Sheppard and Matt Miller aren’t far behind. … I look for things to get hot and heavy in the next few weeks, but as for now, I feel pretty comfortable with this poll.
Todd Turner's comments: Owens on top for me with Lanigan a close second after both had big weekends, but the Big Five continue to separate themselves. ... The never-ending difficulty of ranking mid-range national touring drivers vs. top-notch regional stars continues, but Randy Weaver (my No. 19), Matt Miller (my No. 22) and Jackie Boggs (my No. 24) seem worthy enough amid some drivers who are winless through the year’s first big weekend. ... Would’ve dinged McDowell (my No. 6) after missing Tyler County feature, but he rebounded with impressive runner-up finish at I-77.
Joshua Joiner's comments: Just when it appears things may stay put a while, we see more turnover at the top. ... Can’t deny Owens (my No. 1) and Lanigan (2) are the most impressive and consistent drivers in the country at this point in the season. ... Landers (13) moves up in my poll with an unbelievable run from 26th to third in 18 laps at Wheatland. ... Still not completely sold on Chub Frank (20), but his weekend performance helps. ... I am finally sold on Reddick (20). Looking forward to seeing him at Eldora for the first time in a couple weeks.