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Poll Position: Lathroum makes Top 25 after VMS

September 18, 2012, 2:12 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: A rare mistake nearly sends Lanigan upside-down while battling for the lead late in I-55’s Pepsi Nationals. Series points: First (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)

2. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Recovers from an early tangle to finish fourth in Virginia Motor Speedway’s USA 100. Series points: Second (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 2nd (nc)

3. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Scores a pair of runner-up finishes in WoO’s doubleheader weekend at Belle-Clair and I-55. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 4th (+1)

4. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa

Comment: Rallies to third late at I-55, notching his fifth top-five finish in his past six starts. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 3rd (-1)

5. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.

Comment: Commonwealth 100 winner settles for second in USA 100, just missing a sweep of Virginia Motor’s two major events. Series points: Third (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 6th (+1)

6. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Friday’s fast qualifier ends up seventh in Saturday’s USA 100 main event. Series points: First (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (-1)

7. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.

Comment: USA 100’s early leader becomes one of many drivers to find trouble on rugged track conditions at VMS. Series points: Fourth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 7th (nc)

8. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.

Comment: A pair of sixth-place finish in Fairbury’s Prairie Dirt doubleheader lessens the blow of a frustrating weekend. Series points: First (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 8th (nc)

9. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: Ends up 22nd at VMS after a tangle with Chris Madden. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 9th (nc)

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

Comment: Former VMS winner runs into trouble late in the USA 100. Series points: First (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 10th (nc)

11. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: Records finishes of 10th and 14th in WoO’s stops at Belle-Clair and I-55. Series points: Second (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 11th (nc)

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

Comment: Solid weekend produces finishes of third in Skyline Speedway’s Harvest 50 and second in West Virginia Motor Speedway’s reopening event. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (nc)

13. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.

Comment: First post-Summernationals victory pays $5,000 in Prairie Dirt Shootout. Series points: Second (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 14th (+1)

14. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.

Comment: Rules Fairbury’s Prairie Dirt Classic, scoring his first $10,000 payday in more than a year. Series points: Fourth (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 16th (+2)

15. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.

Comment: Scores career-high $10,000 victory in 24th annual Pittsburgher at PPMS. Series points: First (Three State Flyers). Last week's ranking: 17th (+2)

16. Shane Clanton, Fayetteville, Ga.

Comment: I-55 heat race winner salvages a sixth-place finish after engine woes sent him to a backup car for the Pepsi Nationals feature. Series points: Fourth (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 13th (-3)

17. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.

Comment: Survives rough-and-tumble VMS surface for a third-place finish. Series points: Fifth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 15th (-2)

18. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.

Comment: Continues upper Midwest domination with a $5,000 victory over Jimmy Mars in Cedar Lake Speedway’s Legendary 100. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 24th (+6)

19. Jesse Stovall, Galena, Mo.

Comment: Ends up eighth at I-55 after climbing as high as fourth from his 13th starting spot. Series points: First (MARS). Last week’s ranking: 19th (nc)

20. Billy Ogle Jr., Knoxville, Tenn.

Comment: Red-hot Ogle earns fourth straight victory in Cleveland’s Southern All Stars event. Series points: Third (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 22nd (+2)

21. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.

Comment: Comes up just short at Cleveland, losing a late duel with Ogle. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 20th (-1)

22. Jamie Lathroum, Mechanicsville, Md.

Comment: Makes his solid season a stellar one with a career-high $20,000 victory at the USA 100. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: Not ranked

23. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: Scores a $3,000 victory at Lake Cumberland Speedway in a rare start behind the wheel of his own Rayburn Race Car. Series points: Second (Southern Nationals). Last week’s ranking: 21st (-2)

24. Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind.

Comment: Will look to rebound from recent troubles at Brownstown’s Jackson 100. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 18th (-6)

25. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.

Comment: A weekend close to home produces a runner-up finish in Cedar Lake’s Legendary 100. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: Not ranked

Dropped out: Chad Simpson, Vic Hill
Outside looking in:
Chad Simpson, Dennis Franklin, Brandon Sheppard, Clint Smith, Vic Hill

Michael Rigsby's comments: Very little movement at the top of my poll, but things shook up a bit in the middle. … Jason Feger (my No. 13) gives me a the post-race interview call-out during the Prairie Dirt Classic, and I respond by moving him up more than a few notches (OK, the win moved him up, but we’re glad people love the Top 25!). … Brady Smith (18) continues an impressive late-season run and is up to the top 20 in my poll. … Billy Ogle Jr. (25) picks up another regional victory, and cements himself back in my top 25.

Todd Turner's comments: Lanigan, showing he’s in contention virtually everywhere, still my No. 1 with O’Neal next. ... Otherwise a little shuffling among my top five with Moyer (my No. 3) up a spot past Birkhofer and a Bloomquist-Owens switch (Nos. 5-6). ... Brian Shirley (8) had a tough weekend and he’ll have to avoid those to stay in the upper echelon. ... Jason Feger (16) gets a bump for his Prairie Dirt Classic victory. ... Likewise Jamie Lathroum (22) enters my poll for the first time this year. ... With the season winding down, the poll’s settling down and drivers will have to make the most of head-to-head action to make a move.

Joshua Joiner's comments: The top half of my poll stays mostly the same as last week, with Gregg Satterlee (No. 15 to No. 12) and Jason Feger (16 to 13) the only major movers. … Satterlee and Feger are the hottest regional drivers right now, but Satterlee edges Feger because of his consistency all year long. … The back half of my poll features a lot more movement with Billy Ogle Jr. (my No. 18) and Brady Smith (19) each moving up after their continued success. … After hovering outside my poll for much of the season, Jamie Lathroum debuts at No. 20 after his major victory at VMS. … Brandon Sheppard (25) moves into my poll with his breakthrough WoO victory at Belle-Clair.

DirtonDirt Top 25

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