Weekly Notebook presented by JRi Shocks
Notes: New Mexicans battling it out for crown
A pair of New Mexico drivers are locked in a battle for the championship of the inaugural DIRTcar Late Model Tri-Track Challenge.
A new points series designed to provide more opportunities and recognition for DIRTcar Late Model competitors in the New Mexico-West Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming areas, the Tri-Track Challenge is boiling down to a neighborly struggle between Garrett Alberson and Jimmy Ray, both of Las Cruces, N.M.
Alberson, 23, has the upper hand following the Labor Day weekend racing activities, leading the standings by 197 points (1,221-1,024) over the 62-year-old Ray. One month of action remains in the Challenge, which is focused on weekly DIRTcar-sanctioned racing at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway and I-76 Speedway in Fort Morgan, Colo., and also includes local events run at El Paso (Texas) Speedway Park, Aztec (N.M.) Speedway, Philips County Speedway in Holyoke, Colo., and Casper (Wyo.) Speedway.
“The DIRTcar Late Model Tri-Track Challenge is doing exactly what we envisioned — giving weekly Late Model drivers at tracks like Southern New Mexico Speedway, Gillette Thunder Speedway and I-76 Speedway a chance to race for another DIRTcar points title,” said Chris Morgan, director of DIRTcar's Western operations. “DIRTcar is committed to building Late Model racing and growing car counts across New Mexico, West Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming, and providing teams another opportunity to compete in a regional points program in 2012 certainly helps move us in the right direction.
“The more excitement and financial incentives we can provide the region’s DIRTcar Late Model class, the more likely it is that the division will grow stronger in the future.”
The Tri-Track Challenge makes three separate points races that DIRTcar Late Model drivers in the region can chase in 2012, joining the DIRTcar State and national programs. Currently $1,000 in points-fund cash will be divided by the top-five finishers in the Tri-Track Challenge standings, and those drivers and others can also claim awards from the DIRTcar State ($5,860 total) and national ($65,000-plus) points funds.
On the strength of a spectacular season, Alberson is in the driver’s seat for the Tri-Track Challenge crown. With drivers’ best 15 finishes nights counting toward their points total, the 2011 Championship Late Model Association DIRTcar Series Rookie of the Year already has 17 top-five finishes in 19 feature starts, highlighted by 11 victories (six at Southern New Mexico, five at El Paso).
Alberson spent the Labor Day weekend competing in the two-day Floyd Reynolds Memorial at Aztec Speedway. He finished fourth on Sept. 1 and third on Sept 2, continuing his string of solid performances in 2012.
Ray, meanwhile, also has 15 top-five finishes and hasn’t finished worse than seventh in 18 feature starts, but his win total lags behind Alberson’s. The veteran driver, who co-owns Southern New Mexico Speedway with Royal Jones, owns two checkered flags at El Paso and one at SNMS.
In the bigger DIRTcar Late Model points picture, entering Labor Day weekend Alberson was second in the Western States points standings and 88th in the national rankings. Ray was third and 92nd, respectively, in the pair of points battles. — Kevin Kovac
• Sweeping Stateline Speedway’s season-ending Fun Fest, David Scott of Garland, Pa., earned $6,000 between Aug. 31-Sept. 1 Super Late Model victories in Busti, N.Y.
• Hometown driver Chris Combs won at Mountain Motor Speedway in Isom, Ky., on Aug. 31 for a $3,000 victory in the Coalfields 40.
• Making a long haul worthwhile, David McDonald of Huron, S.D., won Sept. 2 at Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway, topping fellow traveler Chad Becker. Hometown star Eddie Kirchoff was fifth.
• Snapping Don Smith Jr.’s five-race win streak, Jeff Kroger of Canton, S.D., won Sept. 3’s Labor Day weekend event at Wagner (S.D.) Speedway.
• Randy Foote of Stanton, Iowa, won Sept. 1 at Adams County (Iowa) Speedway in an event that dimmed the NASCAR track title hopes of Jason O’Brien. O’Brien was leading the main when he broke a driveshaft, and he fell 34 points behind J.C. Wyman in the championship chase.
• On Aug. 30 at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway, Rob Bauman Sr. won the Limited Late Model feature, his first main event victory in a 33-year racing career.
• Dustin Mitchell of Pine Level, N.C., won Sept. 1 at County Line Raceway in Elm City, N.C., to capture the second annual Carolina Steel Block Nationals.
Weekly points chases
UMP DIRTcar (Super Late Models): Brian Shirley leads with 2,520 points over Kevin Weaver (2,445) and Ryan Unzicker (2,355) through Aug. 26 events.
UMP DIRTcar (Crate Late Models): Bobby Dauderman and Nick Bauman are knotted at 1,465 points while Evan Fink is at 1,425 through Aug. 26 events.
IMCA: Ray Guss Jr. edged Todd Cooney by a single point to wrap up his third consecutive weekly crown.
ULMA: With just three points races remaining, Jason Russell still leads with 1,813 points over Joe Walkenhorst (1,712) and Brandon Imhoff (1,693).
WDLMA: Through Labor Day weekend events, 15-race winner Russ Scheffler still leads with 502 points over Craig Schueffner (474) and Rick Scheffler (442).
WISSOTA: David McDonald’s Labor Day weekend victory in Gillette, Wyo., helped him solidify his lead. He has 1,608 points to keep an edge on two-time and reigning champ Ricky Weiss (1,603) and Chad Becker (1,595).
NeSmith Chevrolet Series: Mickey Trosclair’s 22nd victory, coming at Albany (Ga.) Motor Speedway, put him back into the points lead after week 23. Trosclair has 796 points followed by Chase Washington (795) and Jeremy Shaw (790).
Upcoming weekly specials
Among non-touring and independent special events at dirt tracks around the country coming up this weekend:
Georgetown (Del.) Speedway (Sept. 7): The half-mile oval hosts another of its infrequent events with a $2,000-to-win Super Late Model feature; Crate Late Models are also on the card.
Tri-City Motor Speedway, Auburn, Mich. (Sept. 7-8): The Battle by the Bay includes Super Late Model action with a $1,212-to-win main event.
Jackson Motor Speedway, Byram, Miss. (Sept. 8): The All-American 50 pays $5,000-to-win for Super Late Models.
Duck River Speedway, Wheel, Tenn. (Sept. 8): Last weekend’s rained out $3,000-to-win event for Super Late Models highlights the racing card.
Amsoil Speedway, Superior, Wis. (Sept. 8): While the track hosts Thursday night practice and Friday night action with sprints, super stocks and Midwest Mods during its Northern Nationals, the WISSOTA Late Models compete Saturday only in an event that pays a total purse of $75,000. The Late Model feature pays $2,500-to-win.
I-77 Speedway, Chester, S.C. (Sept. 8): The Chester County Shrine Club race pays $2,000-to-win for Limited Late Models and $1,500-to-win for NDRA-sanctioned Crate Late Models.
Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway (Sept. 8): The track is running a full-day program of double features for Super Dirty Saturday. Racing begins at 1 p.m. for the first program and 7 p.m. for the second program. Super Late Model driver will receive a $300 bonus for a two-feature sweep.