Quick Time: DTWC, PRP and Buzzin' Half Dozen
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: Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., made his guest appearance for Louisiana-based Childress Racing successful Oct. 12-13 with a $15,000 victory in the 18th annual Coors Light Fall Classic at Whynot (Miss.) Motorsports Park.
Regional: Michael Chilton swept the Ironman Classic-Border Wars weekend at Lake Cumberland Speedway in Burnside, Ky., on Oct. 12-13, pocketing $8,000
Crate: Dale Caswell, who already won the track title at Can-Am Speedway, wrapped up the Go Nuclear Late Model Challenge Series championship with his Oct. 12 victory in the finale at Brockville (Ontario) Speedway.
Turn 1: Five memorable Portsmouth moments
Five memorable moments at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park, the 22-year-old dirt track along the Ohio River that hosts its first Dirt Track World Championship this weekend:
Infield excursions (Aug. 5, 2000): Chub Frank of Sugar Grove, Pa., notched his first STARS victory of the season by driving through the infield to regain the lead from Billy Drake on the last lap. Drake dipped two wheels into the infield exiting turn two to take command, so Frank took it a step farther on the other end of the track, blazing through the infield to retake the lead and edge Drake at the checkers. Normally, "you don't go in the infield," Frank said. "But once one guy does it, it's fair game.” STARS officials instituted a rule after the race making such infield excursions illegal.
Boggs injured (Sept. 5, 2009): Jackie Boggs of Grayson, Ky., suffered fractures to four vertebrae in his lower neck and upper back in a scary rollover accident exiting turn four during a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event won by Jimmy Owens. A scramble off turn four ended with Boggs in the low groove and violently flipping onto the frontstretch. The car came to rest on its wheels, but the car suffered hard impact on the driver's side window. Boggs, then 39, was airlifted to aï¿½ Huntington, W.Va., hospital and missed the rest of the season.
Super sub (Oct. 14, 1995): Chub Frank, substituting for an injured Davey Johnson in the No. 1j Rocket, scored his biggest career payday with a $10,000 win in the twice rain-delayed Cornett Clash 60. Frank took the lead on lap 23 when leader Donnie Moran and second-running Kevin Weaver got tangled and held off fast qualifier Steve Francis to win in the Gary Henry-owned car. Henry tapped Frank to drive after two-time and reigning STARS champion Johnson suffered a severely broken leg in a highway accident.
Moyer rebounds (Sept. 1, 2002): Billy Moyer’s crew replaced the front upper and lower ball joints after the veteran brushed the backstretch wall in the dash, then watched Moyer come from sixth to dominate the Pepsi 100 and earn $15,000. “We were experimenting with some setup changes in the dash and I hit the wall pretty hard, but the guys fixed it and we were really good in the feature,” Moyer said. Moyer took the lead from Jackie Boggs on the 15th lap and went on to lap all but four competitors.
Conley’s breakthrough (Aug. 2, 1997): Rod Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio, took the lead from Steve Shaver on the 42nd lap and pulled away to win the STARS Cornett Clash 50. The $10,000 victory marked his richest payday at that point in his career. Todd Andrews, Shaver and Mike Balzano followed Conley across the stripe, while Steve Lucas rallied from his 17th starting position to finish fifth. Scott Bloomquist, driving the Calvin Kenneda-owned 7UP-sponsored car, started seventh in the feature but was caught up in Billy Hicks' accident on the third lap.
Turn 2: Five key DTWC streaks
A look at five streaks heading into the 32nd annual Red Beck Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth, Ohio:
• There’s a nine-year streak of no repeat DTWC winners.
• For six straight seasons no Ohio driver has cracked the top five. Bart Hartman (twice) is the only Ohio to driver finish in the DTWC’s top five this century.
• Scott Bloomquist has an unprecedented streak of 20 consecutive DTWC feature starts heading into this weekend’s event.
• Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., is on a two-year winless streak since his DTWC victory Oct. 16, 2010, at West Virginia Motor Speedway.
• Rocket Chassis has put more cars into DTWC lineups each race over the past nine seasons than any other manufacturer, twice notching 14 starters. The last time Rocket didn’t top the list was in 2002 when MasterSbilt had eight starters.
Backstretch: The Buzzin' Half Dozen
I miss Donnie Barnhart. And not just because the now-retired North Little Rock, Ark., driver was among the most underrated drivers of the late 1990s, and always was quick with a smile or laugh while clowning around with fellow drivers Bill Frye or Robbie Starnes.
One reason to miss him Barnhart, whose been out of racing since 2004, is for the controversy he sparked by utilizing a six-cylinder engine in his blue No. 11 that he bought from a NASCAR team on the old Busch Grand National circuit.
In beating competitors with bigger V-8 engines sporting 200 more horsepower, Barnhart got inside the heads of plenty of competitors who wondered about his engine’s legality and weight or setback advantage.
Barnhart denied any funny business, but you could tell he enjoyed playing it to his psychological advantage in the ’99 season. He told my colleague Tim Lee in a 1999 interview that the engine simply made his car easier to drive on certain tracks in certain conditions.
"I’m not out there to just drag race; I’m out there to try and beat you in the corners whether I’ve got a V-8 in there or a V-6,” Barnhart said. "If I’m a tenth (of a second) better than you in the corner and I can keep up with you on the straightaway, that means I’m going to turn a faster lap than you. That’s where I’m at.”
Plenty of drivers that Barnhart outran with the Buzzin’ Half Dozen couldn’t wrap their heads around it.
"The ones that are whining about it can’t seem to keep up with us to start with,” Barnhart told Lee. “If they’re worried about my program, then they ain’t got time to worry about their own program. So I’m already ahead of them before we ever get to the racetrack.”
Turn 3: Facebook posts of the week
After fast qualifier Robert Diekemper (No. 48) couldn’t overcome an eight-car inversion in the Oct. 13 victory by Mark Whitener (No. 58) at Oglethorpe Speedway Park’s Showdown in Savannah, there was plenty of back-and-forth about the inversion on the track’s Facebook page (edited for clarity):
Patricia Casteel Foote-Garcia: We all know who should have won the Late Model race. In my eyes No. 48 was the best. But, of course, OSP screwed him again. Wouldn't go back to that track even if they flew in some big name race car drivers. Robert Diekemper, we true fans believe OSP should get off their wallets and give the true winner the $7,500 prize since you won the poll and were the fastest car on the track. OSP should be glad that you don't drive dirty. Could have knocked the slower cars out of the way.
Mark Flamino: He had 75 laps to get to the front and plenty of cautions along the way. While I can appreciate your loyalty, the best cars finished up front. I would like to thank OSP for an outstanding show. All the features were fun to watch, show moves right along, nice operation. Came up from florida. Will definitely go again.
Richard Boatright: The best car got screwed and put (start eighth) after winning pole when you got good driver that was slower then we was all weekend, and you put them out front and they start running down on track and start throwing all the loose dirt up in the groove, all you do then is spin tires. That’s what they had to do to keep the 48 behind them.
Christopher Fail: Being fast for on lap doesn't mean you will win. If that's the case, next year I say no races — you just get two laps and the fastest car wins. Save a lot of time and money. ...
David Williams: What's the purpose of qualifying?
Cameron Hunter Hinson: The 48 never would of caught him. The 58 was checked out and the field never had a chance of catching him.
Jessica L. Lednum: I have to say I hate the invert as well, especially if my favorite driver got pole. But then again, it also gives the fans more action vs. watching follow the leader around the track!
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Oct. 21, 1984: The centerpiece of three straight victories in wrapping up the National Dirt Racing Association championship, Jeff Purvis of Clarksville, Tenn., won at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Mo.
Oct. 20, 1990: Doug Ingalls won the Louisiana State Championship at Baton Rouge Raceway in Baker, La., en route to his championship on the first year of the Southern United Professional Racing tour.
Oct. 22, 1995: Continuing a late-season surge and boosting his earnings to nearly $200,000 over a three-month stretch, Jack Boggs of Grayson, Ky., led the final 92 laps at Pennsboro (W.Va.) Speedway to capture his third Dirt Track World Championship.
Oct. 20, 2000: Long-time dirt racing driver and crew chief Randle Chupp took a job with ppc Racing as in-house car chief for Jeff Green’s No. 10 NesQuick Chevrolet on the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series.
Oct. 22, 2004: Billy McCoy, owner of Barren County Speedway in Glasgow, Ky., died. The former Barren County sheriff operated the track as McCoy Motors Speedway in previous years.
Checkered flag: Five fearless DTWC predictions
• The race will have a repeat winner.
• The 100-lapper will have at least three lead changes.
• The top four drivers in Lucas Oil points will finish among the top 10.
• Seven or more chassis brands will be represented in the feature lineup.
• Kentucky will have the most feature starters.
(Last week: Zero of five predictions correct)