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Poll Position: Top-ranked Lanigan heads for World

September 4, 2012, 1:19 pm

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: Heads to Eldora hoping to add first globe trophy to his record-breaking season. Series points: First (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)

2. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Last year’s World 100 runner-up will look to improve on his 16th-place finish at the Dream. Series points: Second (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 2nd (nc)

3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Defending race winner will attempt to become the first driver ever to score six consecutive top-five finishes in the World 100. Series points: First (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 3rd (nc)

4. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Heads to Eldora fresh off a victory and runner-up finish in back-to-back weekends on the MARS tour. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 4th (nc)

5. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.

Comment: Three-time World 100 winner looks to win the event for the first time since 2001. Series points: Third (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (nc)

6. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.

Comment: Former race winner heads back to Eldora looking to improve on his fourth-place Dream finish in June. Series points: Fourth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 6th (nc)

7. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa

Comment: Has plenty of motivation heading back to Eldora after missing the World 100 feature lineup for the first time in nine years in 2011. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 8th (+1)

8. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.

Comment: Looking for a better feature performance at Eldora after fading from the pole to 20th at the Dream. Series points: First (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 7th (-1)

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

Comment: Enters the World 100 with momentum from his first victory at Cherokee Speedway in nearly two years. Series points: First (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 11th (nc)

10. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: Aiming for his first Eldora main event start since the 2010 World. Series points: Second (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 9th (-1)

11. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: The ’05 World 100 winner heads to Eldora looking for his first top five in nearly a month. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 10th (-1)

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

Comment: After a near-miss in the 2011 World, Carrier could be a likely contender again this year. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (nc)

13. Shane Clanton, Fayetteville, Ga.

Comment: Dream winner heads back to Eldora with momentum from his victory in Friday’s Black Diamond opener. Series points: Third (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 15th (+2)

14. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.

Comment: Figures to be a contender this weekend after a fifth-place finish in last year’s World and an impressive runner-up effort earlier this year at the Dream. Series points: Fifth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 17th (+3)

15. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.

Comment: Looking for his first top-10 finish in an Eldora biggie since the 2008 World. Series points: Second (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 13th (-2)

16. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.

Comment: Three State Flyers tour will keep Satterlee away from Eldora this weekend after back-to-back World 100 starts the past two years. Series points: First (Three State Flyers). Last week's ranking: 17th (+1)

17. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.

Comment: Looking for first start at Eldora since his runner-up finish in the 2010 Dream. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 19th (+2)

18. Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind.

Comment: Will look to rebound from Portsmouth disappointments with his first World 100 start since 2004. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 16th (-2)

19. Jesse Stovall, Galena, Mo.

Comment: Tops six-time World 100 winner Billy Moyer for MARS victory at Monett Speedway. Series points: First (MARS). Last week’s ranking: 21st (+2)

20. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: Looking for another surprise victory this weekend after a stunning last-to-first run at I-77’s Hillbilly 100. Series points: Second (Southern Nationals). Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

21. Billy Ogle Jr., Knoxville, Tenn.

Comment: Will his recent Lucas Oil victory at Volunteer entice the veteran driver to make a rare trip to Eldora? Series points: Third (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 20th (-1)

22. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.

Comment: Looking to better his best World 100 finish of 17th in 2007. Series points: Fourth (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

23. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.

Comment: Enters World 100 week after a two-month stretch without a top five on the World of Outlaws tour. Series points: Fourth (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 16th (-7)

24. Clint Smith, Senoia, Ga.

Comment: Will look to use momentum from Rome Boss victory to make first World 100 lineup since 2006. Series points: Seventh (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

25. Vic Hill, Moshiem, Tenn.

Comment: Last year’s World 100 trip ended with the east Tennessee veteran upside-down in a heat race accident. Series points: Fourth (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 24th (-1)

Dropped out: Terry Phillips, John Anderson
Outside looking in:
Terry Phillips, John Anderson, Casey Roberts, Steve Shaver, Jackie Boggs

Michael Rigsby's comments: Labor Day didn’t provide the big weekend of racing I was hoping for in terms of separation amongst the pack. … Little to no movement at the top, with only Brian Birkhofer (my No. 7) moving up after a solid win at Portsmouth among his other strong runs recently. … Mike Marlar (20) takes a big leap in. Say what you want, but when you start 24th, and run that well, you deserve a spot based on the rest of the year he’s had … Gregg Satterlee (18) and Jesse Stovall (19) are truly “the” regional drivers of the year along with Vic Hill (21), as Stovall and Satterlee continue the Al Davis motto: “Just Win Baby.”

Todd Turner's comments: Lanigan remains my No. 1 — and my World 100 pick. ... Birkhofer (my No. 7) gets boost for solid runs over the past month. ... Satterlee (18) and Stovall (19) cement themselves among the top regional drivers of 2012. ... Marlar’s Hillbilly victory moves him from No. 30 to No. 23 in my rankings, but he’ll need some consistency to stay there. ... Eldora’s big weekend will give us some head-to-head views of drivers we don’t see face off every week.

Joshua Joiner's comments: Not much movement at the top of my poll with Lanigan leading the Big Five to Eldora. … Brian Birkhofer (my No. 7) moves up a spot after his impressive victory in Portmouth’s weekend opener while Gregg Satterlee (13) also gets a boost for his continued regional success. … Shane Clanton moves up a couple spots to No. 14 after winning at Tyler County. Interested to see how well he follows up his Dream victory. … Mike Marlar lands at No. 19 with his thrilling Hillbilly 100 win, but it’ll be tough for him to stay that high without more consistency.

DirtonDirt Top 25

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