Quick Time: What national driver will top win list?
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with managing editor Todd Turner for a roundup of Dirt Late Model racing through the latest weekend of action along with some other quirks of racing (along with occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the week
National: Jamie Lathroum of Mechanicsville, Md., captured his career-richest victory Sept. 15 at Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Va., earning $20,000 in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned USA 100. His previous richest victory came in World of Outlaws Late Model Series action at Delaware International Speedway in 2009.
Regional: Coming off a three-week layoff, Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn., clicked off his fourth consecutive victory with a Sept. 15 Southern All Star triumph at Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway’s Grant Adcox Memorial.
Weekly: Dustin Linville of Bryantsville, Ky., enjoyed a two-victory weekend at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., and Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, where he earned $2,500 in the Hall of Fame Classic.
Crate: Chad Wright of Springboro, Pa., won Sharon Speedway’s Apple Festival Nationals in Hartford, Ohio, for his first-ever victory on the Fastrak Northeast circuit.
Turn 1: Five big questions for autumn
Who will be the season’s winningest national touring driver? It’s still up in the air with Billy Moyer (15 victories) of Batesville, Ark., Darrell Lanigan (15) of Union, Ky., and Don O’Neal (14) of Martinsville, Ind., (14) running neck-and-neck-and-neck in the waning weeks of the season. Ironically they’re all winless in September and likely have fewer than 10 races apiece remaining. While Moyer has victories in every previous month, Lanigan missed winning in March and O’Neal didn’t get a victory in April (they’ve won every month otherwise).
Are the national touring titles wrapped up? With his record-setting 14-victory season, Lanigan has virtually sewn up his second World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship. Even cruising home with 20th-place finishes in the last five races — he’s only been out of the top 10 three times all season — will be enough to lock up the title. Reigning champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., has a solid 305-point lead on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, but he’s got a little work remaining. Even if O’Neal can rip off an incredible win streak, steady top-five finishes for Owens would virtually clinch his second straight crown.
How will the DTWC’s move to Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park pan out? The Carl Short-promoted Dirt Track World Championship received good news this week with title sponsorship from Red Buck, and hopes are high that another change of venue — the fourth different track in four years for the race in its 32nd year — pays off. The event’s dwindling car count rebounded last year with 90 cars at the now-closed Atomic Speedway near Chillicothe, Ohio, but O’Neal's 100-lap victory was a one-grooved snoozer. PRP has hosted a number of exciting events so far this season, and let’s hope it's saving the best for last.
Is Charlotte’s World Finals the new official ending of the season? It certainly feels like it. Although the Peak Motor Oil-sponsored event is relatively young in just its sixth year, the gathering of DIRTcar’s top divisions — WoO Late Models, WoO sprints and big-block modifieds — is a fitting conclusion to the season at one of the nation’s most impressive dirt tracks.
What national touring drivers most need a good finish to 2012? Tim McCreadie, Earl Pearson Jr. and Jonathan Davenport. McCreadie’s topsy-turvy, hot-and-cold season is on a downswing he’d dearly like to reverse before the engines go quiet. McCreadie owns eight special-event victories, but none since late July. Pearson is closing in on a two-year stretch without a victory and Davenport is winless since February in his Clint Bowyer-owned ride as both are outside the top five in Lucas Oil Series points.
Turn 2: Five noteworthy fashion accessories
• John Gill’s cowboy boots (always tucked in to his jeans, to boot).
• The colorful mohawk of World of Outlaws rookie points leader Bub McCool.
• Michigan driver Jeep Van Wormer’s white sunglasses.
• The winter shorts collection of Steve Norris, Billy Moyer’s long-time crew chief.
• The bandana of Mississippi driver Tombo Callahan.
Backstretch: First-world results problems
Five annoyances when tracking down Dirt Late Model results on the web:
• When a track’s website doesn’t put the event’s date atop the listings on the results page.
• When a results thread on a racing forum includes 17 posts — including helpful insights such as “great race!” and “they should’ve called back that restart!” — but not a single mention of who actually won.
• When listings from an Iowa race include “Eckrich” or “Simpson” without a first name.
• When a track’s Facebook page posts photos of winners, but no identification or written results otherwise.
• When a track website’s results aren’t updated at all.
Turn 3: Five names to always double-check
• Illinois driver Mike Guldenpfennig
• New York driver Glenn Whritenour
• Mississippi driver Kurt Radojcsics
• Michigan driver Steve Nieuwenhuis
• Kansas drivers Earl and Justin Kinderknecht
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Sept. 20, 1982: Jim Dunn of Roseville, Ohio, won the National Dirt Racing Association finale at Auto City Speedway in Flint, Mich., the middle race in a three-race win streak stretching over two seasons.
Sept. 14, 1985: Buddy Armel of Winchester, Va., won at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway for his lone career victory on the Short Track Auto Racing Stars circuit.
Sept. 23, 1995: Winning the only series victory of his career, 10th-row starter John Lovas of Forest Hill, La., captured the SUPR Star Invitational at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, after Donnie Barnhart’s disqualification at the scales. The race required teams to make a pit stop.
Sept. 21, 1997: Rick Aukland of Fargo, N.D., led the final 46 laps of the Pittsburgher at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway to earn $21,000 and push his earnings to more than $100,000 for a seven-week stretch. Scott Bloomquist was second in an event that drew 90 cars.
Sept. 20, 2003: Justin Fegers of Mound, Minn., led the final 22 laps at Red Cedar Speedway en route to a $4,000 victory in the 24th annual Punky Manor Challenge of Champions.
Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions
• The World of Outlaws Late Model Series winner at dirt-covered Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich., will have some asphalt racing experience.
• Don O’Neal will join Scott Bloomquist as a four-time winner of Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway’s Jackson 100.
• One driver will win two of three ULMS features at McKean County (Pa.) Raceway’s Fall Classic.
• Virginia's Winchester 200 will have a first-time winner (earning a $2,500 bonus).
• Jimmy Mars will sweep Late Model and modified features at Red Cedar Speedway’s Punky Manor Memorial.
(Last week: Two of five predictions correct)
Correction: Fixes Lanigan's requirements to clinch the WoO title.