Batesville Motor Speedway
Topless drivers hope for slower Batesville surface
By Joshua JoinerDirtonDirt.com staff writer
LOCUST GROVE, Ark. (Aug. 17) — Hometown driver Jared Landers has made plenty of laps around Batesville Motor Speedway, but even he couldn’t believe just how fast cars were flying around the 3/8-mile oval during Friday night’s Comp Cams Topless 100 prelims. | Complete Topless 100 coverage
“I didn’t think we’d ever be going around there that fast,” said Landers, the former Topless 100 winner who was one of four heat race winners during Friday’s action that set the lineup for Saturday’s $40,000-to-win Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature. “Somehow, this track’s just come around. … It’s a different kind of racetrack. It’s not gonna tear up tires like it usually does, but it’s too fast to race out there.”
Landers’ heat race victory came after Tyler Reddick of Corning, Calif., went for a wild ride while leading Landers in Friday’s second 12-lap prelim. Reddick’s car shredded its right-rear tire and went flipping when the wheel dug into the racing surface.
Reddick was uninjured in the wreck, and afterward said the high-speed surface was to blame for the flat tire.
“It looks like the sidewall on our right-rear tire just basically fell apart on us,” Reddick said. “The track’s been really fast all weekend long with track-record speeds, and I just think it’s too fast. I’m surprised more people haven’t had the same issue.”
Whereas tire wear typically dominates the talk around the pit area among drivers and crews at most Topless 100 Saturday’s, this year’s main topic of conversation will likely be track conditions as teams wonder if man and machine will be able to survive 100 laps at Friday night’s pace.
“The track conditions are gonna be what we’re looking at now,” Landers said. “If it’s gonna be like it is right now, it’s gonna be hard to manage to stay up there and finish. … I don’t know if it’s gonna be a tire issue tomorrow night, but it’s going to be a motor issue.”
Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., will start from the pole of Saturday’s feature after winning the first heat race Friday. If Saturday produces another high-speed surface, Francis knows making your way through traffic could be tricky in the main event.
“You’re going so fast here when it’s like that, you wanna make sure you’re committed where you’re going or you know where that other guy’s going cause you jump wheels here and it’s big time,” Francis said. “You’ll end up looking like Tyler’s car did.”
Drivers starting up front aren’t the only ones concerned about the track surface. For drivers like Greenbrier, Ark.’s Jack Sullivan, who’ll start 16th after grabbing the final transfer spot in Friday’s final heat race, a slower surface would be welcomed because it would allow for much more passing.
“If it stays like that, it’s gonna be all about track position. When everyone’s wide open like that the only way you’re gonna pass is if it’s on restarts,” Sullivan said. “But if (track crews) will stay off of it and not mess with it too much, tomorrow it’ll be a little bit racier, hopefully.”
Wet and overcast weather during the days leading up to this weekend’s event played a major role in Friday’s track conditions. With a break from the gloomy weather predicted for Saturday, Francis believes the sun will help dry out the track and slow down the pace considerably for the main event.
“I don’t think we’re going to see these conditions like we seen tonight,” Francis said. “Tomorrow, I think it’s supposed to be sunny and 75 or 80 degrees, which is not Batesville weather, but at least it won’t be raining.”