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Poll Position: World 100 victory elevates Birky

September 11, 2012, 1:02 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: World 100 hopes hampered by a run-in with a lapped car while leading a heat race. Series points: First (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)

2. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Bid for first globe trophy gets derailed by transmission woes three laps after taking the lead. Series points: Second (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 2nd (nc)

3. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa

Comment: Dominates second half of Eldora’s main event for his second World 100 triumph. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 7th (+4)

4. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Untimely brake problems dash hopes for seventh World victory. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 4th (nc)

5. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Qualifying mistake leads two-time race winner to miss World 100 lineup for first time since 2003. Series points: First (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 3rd (-2)

6. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.

Comment: Three-time race winner settles for his eighth runner-up finish at World 100. Series points: Third (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (-1)

7. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.

Comment: Finishes sixth at Eldora, narrowly missing his first World 100 top five since 2007. Series points: Fourth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 6th (-1)

8. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.

Comment: Again fades in Eldora main event after running among the top five early. Series points: First (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 7th (-1)

9. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: Former race winner impresses with World 100 fast time honors. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 11th (+2)

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

Comment: Finishes 14th in fourth consecutive World 100 start. Series points: First (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 9th (-1)

11. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: Ends up 26th at Eldora after dropping out on lap 41. Series points: Second (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 11th (-1)

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

Comment: Records eighth-place World 100 finish for fourth straight top 10 in an Eldora major event. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (nc)

13. Shane Clanton, Fayetteville, Ga.

Comment: Recovers from qualifying mistake to win World 100 consolation race. Series points: Fourth (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 13th (nc)

14. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.

Comment: Rallies from provisional start to record first top 10 major event finish at Eldora since 2008. Series points: Second (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 15th (+1)

15. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.

Comment: Fails to make World 100 lineup after back-to-back top fives in previous two Eldora appearances. Series points: Fifth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 14th (-1)

16. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.

Comment: Advances from 16th to earn first top-five finish in one of Eldora’s crown jewels. Series points: Fourth (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 22nd (+6)

17. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.

Comment: Ends up 16th after running into trouble late in Roaring Knob’s Three State Flyers feature. Series points: First (Three State Flyers). Last week's ranking: 16th (-1)

18. Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind.

Comment: World 100 hopes end with Birkhofer’s controversial heat race slide job. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 18th (nc)

19. Jesse Stovall, Galena, Mo.

Comment: Finishes second in a weekly event at Caney Valley Speedway. Series points: First (MARS). Last week’s ranking: 19th (nc)

20. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.

Comment: Misses World 100 lineup by one position in second consolation race. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 19th (-1)

21. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: World 100 weekend ends early after tagging the wall in qualifying. Series points: Second (Southern Nationals). Last week’s ranking: 20th (-1)

22. Billy Ogle Jr., Knoxville, Tenn.

Comment: Sits idle as Tazewell’s Southern All Stars event rains out for second straight week. Series points: Third (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 21st (-1)

23. Chad Simpson, Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Comment: Regional standout turns heads before his impressive Eldora performance ends nine laps from the finish. Series points: First (Corn Belt Clash). Last week's ranking: Not ranked

24. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.

Comment: Earns sixth victory since Aug. 4 with $9,200 triumph in River Cities Speedway’s Seitz Memorial. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: Not ranked

25. Vic Hill, Moshiem, Tenn.

Comment: Fails to make World 100 lineup in a quiet weekend at Eldora. Series points: Fourth (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 25th (nc)

Dropped out: Clint Smith, Tim McCreadie
Outside looking in:
Clint Smith, Tim McCreadie, Jimmy Mars, Dennis Franklin, John Anderson

Michael Rigsby's comments: A dominating World 100 victory speaks volumes to me, as Birkhofer (my No. 4) shoots up the poll ahead of Jimmy Owens (5) and Scott Bloomquist (6). … Hard to punish Bloomquist for another second-place run at Eldora, but can’t moving him ahead of anyone in front of him in my poll. … More World fallout has Steve Francis’ (7) sixth-place finish holding him steady, while Brian Shirley (8) did nothing this weekend to hurt his top-ten status. … My biggest leap comes from Jason Feger (15). A top-five World 100 finish along with a solid past few weeks keeps launching him up my poll. Some may disagree, but when you finish top five at Eldora, you’ve done something right. … One thing that bums me out is that we didn’t get to see Gregg Satterlee (19) at Eldora. Would love to have seen where his regional success would have stacked up at the Big E. … Brady Smith’s (23) recent hot streak launches him into the top 25 as well. … Speaking of that, Chad Simpson (25) showed me enough at Eldora that I shot him into the my poll.

Todd Turner's comments: Brian Birkhofer (my No. 3) cracks Big Five with his World 100 victory, his sixth solid victory since June 29. ... Lanigan (1) and O’Neal (2) retain their spots as the guys who seem most likely to win every time they unload. ... A few guys take a small hit for skipping World 100, while Feger (18) gets a boost from his fifth-place finish. ... Third-place Brad Neat is also lingering just outside my rankings. ... Air cleaner woes knocked Jimmy Mars out of the top five at Eldora, but he’s back in my poll at No. 24. ... DirtonDirt.com’s rankings fared well at the World 100 with 13 of our top 14 making the main event.

Joshua Joiner's comments: No surprise Brian Birkhofer makes a big jump in my poll, moving up four spots to No. 3. … Lanigan (1) and O’Neal (2) remain at the top while Moyer (4), Bloomquist (5) and Owens (6) make room for the World 100 winner. … After dropping slightly in recent weeks, Dale McDowell (11) moves back up a couple spots on the strength of his World 100 fast time. … Jason Feger (17) picks up quite a bit with his first Eldora top five. … Chad Simpson has been just outside my poll with his Corn Belt Clash success the past few weeks, and he finally breaks in at No. 20 with his head-turning Eldora performance. … Brady Smith (22) and Dennis Franklin (25) both also move into my poll with their recent hot streaks on the regional level.

DirtonDirt Top 25

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