Quick Time: A rare track where inversions abide
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: Extending his World of Outlaws record with his 15th series victory, points leader Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., muscled past Billy Moyer with six laps remaining for the dirt-on-asphalt victory at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway.
Regional: Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., captured two of three weekend starts (and breaks leading the third), including a $5,000 victory in Peoria (Ill.) Speedway’s Jon Hamilton Memorial Illinois State Championship.
Weekly: Already the champion at Monett (Mo.) Speedway, Justin Wells of Aurora, Mo., continued chugging away with his fourth straight victory at Caney Valley Speedway in Caney, Kan.
Crate: Series points leader Bobby Dauderman of Alhambra, Ill., swept the Pro Crate Racers of American weekend at Kankakee County (Ill.) Speedway, leading all but one feature lap of the Rocktoberfest III doubleheader.
Turn 1: Knoxville format primer
Uttering “inversion” to a Dirt Late Model racer usually draws a look of disdain, but not at the Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals. At most races, inversion is merely a nice way of saying we’re penalizing you for a good time trial. At Knoxville, racers receive the benefit from a good time trial along with the chance to improve their fortune further by passing cars in a heat race. How?
The three-race event is set up with Thursday and Friday’s full-program preliminaries using a points system to set the starting field for Saturday’s $40,000-to-win finale. Drivers take their better points total from Thursday or Friday to earn a spot in the lineup for the finale.
On each preliminary night, drivers take two laps of time trials. The fastest qualifier is awarded 200 points, second gets 198 points, third gets 196 points, and so on. The 12-lap heat races have a whopping 10-car inversion, but those fastest qualifiers are rewarded for making their way back to the front. A heat victory is worth 100 points, second gets 97 points, and so on. Likewise points are doled out for C-Main and B-Main finishers. In the $7,000-to-win semifeature, the winner receives 200 points, second gets 198 points, and so on.
A driver’s perfect preliminary night — setting fast time, winning a heat race and winning the semifeature — is worth 500 points and assures a driver a front-row starting spot in Saturday’s finale. The better points night for each driver sets the first 12 rows of the 100-lap finale.
It’s a format that, for the most part, eliminates complaining, sandbagging and poor-mouthing. As Knoxville veterans describe, drivers simply race as hard as they can every time they hit the half-mile oval.
Turn 2: Five Knoxville tidbits
Courtesy Knoxville Raceway’s PR machine and DirtonDirt.com records heading into this weekend's ninth annual event:
• Only four drivers have competed in each of the previous eight Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals: Brady Smith, Brian Birkhofer, Jimmy Mars and Scott James.
• Different chassis brands have won the finale each of the last four years.
• Four drivers are tied with four top-five finishes in the finale: Birkhofer, Billy Moyer, Rick Eckert and Josh Richards.
• Seven states have been represented among the eight Knoxville winners (Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., is the race’s only two-time winner).
• Brian Birkhofer leads the way with seven top-10 finishes at Knoxville followed by Moyer (6) and five apiece for Scott Bloomquist, Shannon Babb and Brady Smith.
Backstretch: Examining 100-lappers
DirtonDirt.com’s social media director Andy Savary compiled some interesting information from this season’s 100-lap races at Eldora Speedway and the national touring circuits. Here are statistics from the 15 races:
Winningest drivers: Three victories for Darrell Lanigan (in seven starts), two for Jimmy Owens (in 10 starts) and two for Don O’Neal (in 11 starts).
Flag-to-flag winners: Five (Dream, Illini 100, USA Nationals, Topless 100, Jackson 100).
Total lead changes: 16 (only Virginia Motor Speedway’s Commonwealth 100 and Eldora’s World 100 had more than two lead changes).
Total lead changes after lap 25: Five (excluding drivers who inherited lead).
Most leaders: Eldora’s World 100 with four (Tyler Reddick, Chad Simpson, Don O’Neal and winner Brian Birkhofer). The only other race with more than two was Berlin Raceway’s Keyser Manufacturing Down & Dirty 100 (Shane Clanton, Billy Moyer and winner Darrell Lanigan).
Top lap leaders: Jimmy Owens (370); Darrell Lanigan (191); Don O’Neal (176); Shane Clanton (122); and Scott Bloomquist (110).
Turn 3: The generosity continues
The outpouring of support — and indeed, sadness at missing Photobilly's eager smile — continues in the Midwest, where drivers, fans and others contribute to helping the family of Charles “Photobilly” Haffer, the racing photographer killed last month in a highway accident.
Drivers, including UMP DIRTcar points leader Brian Shirley, have donated purses and tracks have hosted special events for one of the biggest racing fans you’ll ever meet.
“He was an awesome dude,” Late Model driver Justin Reed told Steve Eighinger of the (Quincy, Ill.) Herald-Whig. “You never heard a foul thing from him or about him. I wish everyone had the outlook Billy did.”
At intermission of Quincy Raceway’s penultimate event of the season Sunday, Dustin Griffin of Griffin Sign Co. presented Haffer’s family with a check of more than $7,000 in money raised from fans and others over the past month.
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Sept. 26, 1981: Freddy Smith of Kings Mountain, N.C., earned his lone National Dirt Racing Association victory of the season at 311 Motor Speedway in Madison, N.C., en route to a runner-up finish in NDRA points.
Sept. 29, 1984: On his way to wrapping up his first All-Star Circuit of Champions title, Donnie Moran of Frazeysburg, Ohio, raced to victory at Southern Ohio Raceway near Wheelersburg, Ohio.
Sept. 28, 1991: Tony Reaid of Acworth, Ga., captures the second annual Hav-A-Tampa Shootout at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga.
Sept. 27, 1997: Bart Hartman of Zanesville, Ohio won a thrilling race-long battle with seven-time race winner Gary Stuhler to capture his first Winchester 200 and $10,000 on the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series.
Sept. 29, 2002: Polesitter Jackie Boggs of Grayson, Ky., led all 50 laps to win the Miller Brothers Coal-Pepsi Fall Classic at Thunder Ridge Raceway near Prestonsburg, Ky. He fought off challenges from Brandon Kinzer and Scott Bloomquist en route to $10,000.
Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions
• The Knoxville Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals gets a first-time winner for the $40,000 finale.
• No driver wins more than one feature during Knoxville's three-race weekend.
• Eddie Carrier Jr. leaves Brushcreek Motorsports Park on two wheels after the Epic weekend feature’s Harley-Davidson.
• Jesse Stovall clinches the MARS DIRTcar Series title in the first of two ThunderFest events at Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee, Okla.
• Clint Smith wins his first Alabama State Championship at East Alabama Motor Speedway in seven seasons.
(Last week: Two of four predictions correct; one rained out)