Poll Position: Lanigan solidifies top spot
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: Lanigan comes from fifth to first in the final 15 laps at dirt-covered Berlin Raceway for his record-setting 15th WoO victory. Series points: First (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)
2. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Moyer lost the lead at Berlin to Lanigan with six laps remaining and scored his third straight runner-up finish. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 3rd (+1)
3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Owens dominated with barely a challenge at Brownstown, Ind., for his first Jackson 100 victory. Series points: First (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 6th (+3)
4. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: Three-time Jackson 100 winner never gets in gear at his home track in finishing sixth at Brownstown. Series points: Second (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 4th (-2)
5. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Survives scrape with Jonathan Davenport in his 11th-to-third run at Brownstown’s 100-lapper. Series points: Third (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (nc)
6. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
Comment: Contact with Bloomquist puts him behind 8-ball in Brownstown prelims as night ends with whimper. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 4th (-2)
7. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: Debuting new MasterSbilt for Team Dillon Racing, he sweeps Winchester 200 action for a $15,000 weekend. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 9th (+2)
8. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Noses in on Owens a few times early in Jackson 100, but settles for solid second-place finish at Brownstown. Series points: Fourth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 7th (-1)
9. Brian Shirley, Chatham, Ill.
Comment: Gets weekly victories at Kankakee and Quincy, but loses runner-up finish at Peoria when he fails to visit scales. Series points: First (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 8th (-1)
10. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: In the pack of frontrunners late at Berlin, Eckert posts a third-place finish at dirt-covered oval. Series points: Second (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 11th (+1)
11. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: After a weekend off, Madden heading to East Alabama for $7,000-to-win Alabama State Championship. Series points: First (Southern Nationals). Last week's ranking: 10th (-1)
12. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.
Comment: Led all three of his weekend races, getting a $2,000 victory at Tri-City and $5,000 victory at Peoria. Series points: Fourth (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 14 (+2)
13. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.
Comment: After a weekend off because of a death in the family, Carrier aiming for a pair of $10,000-to-win Epic events at Brushcreek. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (-1)
14. Shane Clanton, Fayetteville, Ga.
Comment: Right in the mix at Berlin, Clanton settles for a fourth-place finish in the dirt-on-asphalt event. Series points: Third (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 13th (+2)
15. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.
Comment: Rain hampers Fall Classic weekend at McKean County, but he salvages sixth-place finish in lone feature. Series points: First (Three State Flyers). Last week's ranking: 15th (nc)
16. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.
Comment: An early retirement at Jackson 100 gives him back-to-back DNFs for the first time since early May. Series points: Second (Summernationals). Last week's ranking: 13th (-3)
17. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: Never a factor at Brownstown, Blankenship heads back to Iowa for first time since his Aug. 4 ARCA outing at Iowa Speedway. Series points: Fifth (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 17th (nc)
18. Billy Ogle Jr., Knoxville, Tenn.
Comment: Stretches personal win streak to five at Smoky Mountain, where he notched his third straight Southern All Star win. Series points: Fourth (Southern All Stars). Last week's ranking: 20th (+2)
19. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.
Comment: After a weekend off, Smith takes his hot streak (six victories in seven starts) to Knoxville, where he’s a former winner. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 18th (-1)
20. Jesse Stovall, Galena, Mo.
Comment: He’ll go back to work on the MARS circuit with $3,000- and $5,000-to-win events in Muskogee, Okla. Series points: First (MARS). Last week’s ranking: 19th (-1)
21. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Comment: Season winding down for one of the sport's busiest drivers as he takes the weekend off. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 21st (nc)
22. Jamie Lathroum, Mechanicsville, Md.
Comment: Two-race win streak ends with a thud as he posts a 23rd-place finish at Winchester 200. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 22nd (nc)
25. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.
Comment: Heads for Knoxville after a runner-up finish in Punky Manor Challenge of Champions at his hometown Red Cedar Speedway. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 25th (+2)
24. Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind.
Comment: Fast car at Brownstown’s Jackson 100 derailed by broken driveshaft in heat, rear end woes in consolation. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 24th (nc)
25. Chad Simpson, Mount Vernon, Iowa
Comment: After rubbing elbows with big dogs at World 100, he’ll try to do the same at three-night Knoxville Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals. Series points: Corn Belt Clash (champion). Last week’s ranking: None.
Dropped out: Mike Marlar
Outside looking in: Dennis Franklin, Brandon Sheppard, Mike Marlar, Clint Smith.
Michael Rigsby’s comments: Is there any doubt that Darrell Lanigan is the Driver of the year in 2012? Hard to dispute at this point, as his Michigan victory puts him in near runaway status for the DirtonDirt.com driver of the year. ... Moyer (my No. 2) gets a bump by finishing second to Lanigan, while Jimmy Owens (3) moves up with his Jackson 100 victory as well. ... Early word is that Lanigan won’t be at Knoxville, however, and as a fan, that is a major bummer. You’d like to see he, Owens, Moyer, Bloomquist, etc. all go at it this weekend. Come on Darrell, make the trip to Iowa! ... Brian Shirley (8) gets a couple of weekly wins, but it’s not enough to have him passed by Dale McDowell (7), whose Winchester sweep puts him comfortably in the Top 10. ... Billy Ogle Jr. (21) with a $5,000 regional victory gets a solid bump from this pollster
Todd Turner’s comments: Another couple of victories, especially big ones, and Lanigan’s season will be among the most memorable in history. He’s still a solid No. 1. ... I’ve restored the Big Five with Moyer (2) and Owens (3) both edging up. ... Dale McDowell (8) is up a notch after his Winchester sweep and Jason Feger (13) is on the rise with Knoxville giving him the opportunity to crack the top 10. ... Not much movement in the rest of my rankings as regional stalwarts Ogle (17), Satterlee (18) and Brady Smith (19) remain in the mix.
Joshua Joiner’s comments: Darrell Lanigan remains at the top of my poll after separating himself even farther from the pack with another major-event victory. … Jimmy Owens’ Jackson 100 victory is enough for me to move him from sixth to third, but he’s still behind Don O’Neal in my mind. … It’s strange for Billy Moyer (my No. 4) to drop a spot after finishing second in a $20,000-to-win race, but he’s still lacking a victory paying more than $10,000 this year. Berlin was a chance for him to get a signature win for the season, and he missed out. … Dale McDowell moves up to No. 8 after dropping slightly in recent weeks. His sweep at Winchester was impressive, let alone the fact it was his first time out in a new MasterSbilt.