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Poll Position: I-80 victory vaults Birkhofer to 10th

July 24, 2012, 11:45 am

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. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.

Comment: Puts his hot streak on simmer while taking a few weeks off after WoO's Wild West Tour. Series points: First (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)

2. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Fades to a sixth-place Silver Dollar Nationals finish after battling for the lead early. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 2nd (nc)

3. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.

Comment: Settles for a runner-up finish in first visit to I-80 Speedway. Series points: Second (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 3rd (nc)

4. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Last year’s race winner starts fifth and finishes fifth in the $25,000 Silver Dollar Nationals feature. Series points: Third (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 4th (nc)

5. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Charges from 16th to fourth at I-80, scoring third straight top-five finish. Series points: First (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (nc)

6. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.

Comment: Will look to get back on track after a disappointing finish to WoO's Wild West Tour. Series points: Third (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 5th (-1)

7. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.

Comment: Takes some well-deserved time off after a grueling trek to the Summernationals championship. Series points: First (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 7th (nc)

8. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.

Comment: Continues recent upswing with a third-place effort at I-80. Series points: Fourth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 8th (nc)

9. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.

Comment: Claims a pair of top-three finishes in Skyline Speedway’s Jack Shutts Memorial and Richmond Raceway’s Butterball Wooldridge Memorial. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 9th (nc)

10. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa

Comment: Dominates I-80’s Silver Dollar Nationals weekend for biggest one-race payday in more than three years. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 14th (+4)

11. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: Posts a fourth-place finish in Rome Speedway’s Southern Nationals event. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 10th (-1)

12. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.

Comment: Taking some time to regroup before returning to action in two weeks at Cedar Lake Speedway’s USA Nationals. Series points: Second (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 11th (-1)

13. Shane Clanton, Fayetteville, Ga.

Comment: Fails to crack the top five in a pair of Southern Nationals starts at Screven and Rome. Series points: Fourth (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 12th (-1)

14. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: Plans to enter Saturday’s Lucas Oil show at Hagerstown before heading out to Wisconsin. Series points: Second (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 13th (-1)

15. Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.

Comment: Finishes 10th in Silver Dollar Nationals main event after winning the undercard USMTS modified feature. Series points: Second (MLRA). Last week’s ranking: 15th (nc)

16. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.

Comment: Gets back on track with six straight top-three Southern Nationals finishes, including a victory at Swainsboro. Series points: First (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 21st (+5)

17. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.

Comment: Getting set for Lucas Oil’s northeast swing, which produced a victory at Hagerstown last year. Series points: Sixth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 17th (nc)

18. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.

Comment: Veteran driver switches gears to promote his Southern Nationals Series. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 18th (-2)

19. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.

Comment: Taking the upcoming weekend off to gear up for big home-state events at Shawano and Cedar Lake. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 19th (nc)

20. Vic Hill, Moshiem, Tenn.

Comment: Southern Nationals title hopes take major hits at Swainsboro and Screven. Series points: Fourth (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 18th (-2)

21. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.

Comment: Rain washes out the majority of the Pennsylvania driver’s weekend plans. Series points: Third (Appalachian Mountain Speedweek). Last week's ranking: 22nd (+1)

22. Bub McCool, Vicksburg, Miss.

Comment: Leading series rookie takes some time off to regroup from WoO’s Wild West Tour. Series points: Sixth (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 23rd (+1)

23. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.

Comment: First post-Hell Tour competition produces a pair of victories at Farmer City and Peoria. Series points: Fourth (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

24. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.

Comment: Records fifth straight finish outside the top 10 during a disappointing weekend at I-80. Series points: Seventh (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 24th (-4)

25. Josh McGuire, Grayson, Ky.

Comment: Pushes season win total to eight with a $7,500 victory at Richmond and a $3,000 victory at Skyline. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: Not ranked

Dropped out: Steve Shaver, Jesse Stovall
Outside looking in:
Jesse Stovall, Randy Weaver, Tyler Reddick, Mike Marlar, Steve Shaver

Michael Rigsby's comments: You'd think with all this racing it would be easier to corral the back-half of this poll, but it isn't becoming any easier. Jason Feger (my No. 22) and Mike Marlar (25) are about the only major movers this week for me. … Vic Hill (15) and Brian Birkhofer (8) did have upward weeks as well, however. ... Top five stays put, and until someone behind them (maybe Birkhofer) can move up, it looks like they will remain at their status quo. ... For the interviews alone, it'd be great Josh McGuire (27) to continue rolling. Is that too much to ask? … Do me a favor DirtonDirt.com subscribers, and email me your top 25. I'd love to see it!

Todd Turner's comments: My top five remains steady, but Brian Birkhofer (my No. 7) could crack it if his roll continues. ... Terry Phillips (14) holds fast after a middling 10th-place finish in the Silver Dollar Nationals. ... Chris Madden inches back up (16) with his Southern Nationals consistency. ... Jonathan Davenport (25) is on the cusp of dropping out. ... Josh McGuire could pop into my rankings if his streak continues.

Joshua Joiner's comments: Brian Birkhofer is by far the biggest mover this week, jumping from 21st to 14th in my pole. ... No changes among my top 10 this week with plenty of drivers taking the weekend off. ... With solid performances on the first half of the Southern Nationals tour, Madden (my No. 16) moves back up after slipping dangerously close to falling out of my top 25. ... Now Jonathan Davenport (24) is the biggest name in danger of dropping out without a top-10 finish this month. ... Jason Feger (22) and Josh McGuire (25) both crack my top 25 with impressive weekend performances.

DirtonDirt Top 25

1. Darrell Lanigan (nc)
2. Billy Moyer (nc)
3. Scott Bloomquist (nc)
4. Don O'Neal (nc)
5. Jimmy Owens (nc)
6. Tim McCreadie (nc)
7. Brian Shirley (nc)
8. Steve Francis (nc)
9. Eddie Carrier Jr. (nc)
10. Brian Birkhofer (+4)
11. Dale McDowell (-1)
12. Shannon Babb (-1)
13. Shane Clanton (-1)
14. Rick Eckert (-1)
15. Terry Phillips (nc)
16. Chris Madden (+5)
17. John Blankenship (nc)
18. Ray Cook (-2)
19. Jimmy Mars (nc)
20. Vic Hill (-2)
21. Gregg Satterlee (+1)
22. Bub McCool (+1)
23. Jason Feger (new)
24. Jonathan Davenport (-4)
25. Josh McGuire (new)
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