Owens edges closer to No. 1 Richards in Top 25
World of Outlaws Late Model Series Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., maintained the top spot in DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 power rankings this week, but the Show-Me 100 weekend domination by Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Jimmy Owens pushed the Newport, Tenn., driver back to the No. 2 spot.
While Richards, who has led all but one regular-season poll in 2013, has a secure spot atop the rankings, Owens (pictured) actually had more first-place votes — 10 for Owens, nine for Richards — in the poll presented by JRi Shocks.
Owens moved up three slots to the No. 2 position while Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who like Richards and Owens grabbed a weekend victory, held fast at No. 3. Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., remained in fourth while Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., slipped three spots to No. 5.
Overall in the top 10, there are four representatives each of the national tour rivals World of Outlaws and Lucas Oil Series along with two independent drivers. WoO drivers make up three of the top four spots.
Besides Owens, drivers moving up in this week’s poll included Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., who jumped to No. 16 from the 19th spot after a pair of top-five finishes that continue a recent hot streak. Additionally Show-Me 100 runner-up Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, moved up four positions to No. 20 after his best-ever crown jewel performance.
Simpson’s older brother, Chad, of Mount Vernon, Iowa, returned to the poll in the 24th slot after his fifth-place Show-Me 100 finish.
After restricting poll voting to staffers the previous two seasons, DirtonDirt.com invited more than 30 media members and drivers along with track, series and manufacturer representatives to vote in 2013’s rankings. Nineteen submitted ballots this week. Weekly polls continue through mid-November.
1. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
Comment: Continues stretching WoO points lead with a pair of runner-up finishes and a victory at Tyler County Speedway. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)
2. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Dominates Lucas Oil Speedway with MLRA victory and picking up his third consecutive Show-Me 100 trophy. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (+3)
3. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Comment: Gets richest victory on WoO weekend with a $15,000 payday at Tyler County Speedway’s Jackpot 100. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 3rd (nc)
4. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Comment: After mechanical woes force him out at Wayne County, he rebounds with a pair of fifth-place finishers at Tyler. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 4th (nc)
5. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: His winless streak lengthens as, beyond trigging a scramble on the first lap, he’s not a factor at Show-Me 100. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 2nd (-3)
6. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Disappointing weekend with early retirement from the Show-Me 100 and running into more trouble at Tri-City. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 6th (nc)
7. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.
Comment: Clicks off a pair of top-five finishes over holiday weekend, including an impressive 20th-to-third charge at Show-Me 100. Series points: Tie-5th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 9th (+2)
8. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: Runs into more trouble at Wayne County and Tyler County and isn’t better than 13th in three WoO starts over weekend. Series points: 6th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 7th (-1)
9. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Comment: Tunes up for Eldora Speedway’s Dream XIV with a third-place finish in ALMS-sanctioned Johnny Appleseed Classic. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 8th (-1) None.
10. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Hangs around the top five most of Lucas Oil Speedway’s Show-Me 100, but settles for sixth-place finish. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 10th (nc)
11. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: His Ozarks hot streak, which included a victory at Batesville’s Bad Boy 98, comes to an end with 15th at Show-Me 100. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 11th (nc)
12. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Gives it his all to try and deny Owens lead early, but slips back and out of contention at Show-Me 100. Series points: Tie-5th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 13th (+1)
13. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
Comment: Can’t summon his past success at Wheatland during Show-Me 100 weekend, then ends up 18th at Tri-City. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 14th (+1)
14. Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind.
Comment: Disappointing results in two WoO starts as driveshaft woes knock him out of second spot in Tyler County opener. Series points: 1st (Spring Nationals). Last week’s ranking: 12th (-2)
15. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: Stays steady and solid on World of Outlaws circuit with two top-fives and a sixth on Memorial Day weekend. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 15th (nc)
16. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.
Comment: After misstep in Show-Me prelim, he rallies for fourth place at Show-Me 100, finishes second at Tri-City. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 19th (+3)
17. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: A runner-up in each of his last three starts, he’s idle until the $100,000-to-win Dream at Eldora Speedway. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 16th (-1)
18. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.
Comment: Can’t get it going at Wheatland with 22nd-place MLRA run and 19th in Show-Me 100 after taking provisional. Series points: 9th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 18th (nc)
19. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.
Comment: After failing to make MLRA feature at Wheatland, captures Show-Me consolation race and drops out in 24th. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 17th (-2)
20. Chris Simpson, Oxford, Iowa
Comment: Gets career-best crown jewel finish with a runner-up performance at Lucas Oil Speedway’s Show-Me 100. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 24th (+4)
21. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.
Comment: Passes up $2,000 after winning Show-Me 100 non-qualifiers’ race and rallies from 15th row to finish seventh. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 20th (-1)
22. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Comment: Takes a provisional at Show-Me 100 and ends up 17th on a weekend with more than 70 competitors at Wheatland. Series points: 7th (Lucas Oil) Last week's ranking: 21st (-1)
23. Doug Drown, Wooster, Ohio
Comment: Sets fast time at WoO’s Wayne County stop, settles for 11th. Finishes fourth and eighth in two Portsmouth starts. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 22nd (-1)
24. Chad Simpson, Mount Vernon, Iowa
Comment: Rallies from 24th starting spot at Show-Me 100 to join brother Chris in the top five with a fifth-place finish. Series points: 2nd (Corn Belt Clash). Last week’s ranking: Unranked
25. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.
Comment: After struggling to 26th- and 27th-place finishes at Wheatland’s big weekend, clicks off a third-place finish at Tri-City. Series points: 10th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 25th (nc)
Dropped out: Scott James.
Editor’s note: The top 25 drivers are determined by a points system with 25 points for a first-place vote, 24 points for a second-place vote and so on through a single point for a 25th-place vote. The voting panel is made up of media members, drivers, and track, series and manufacturer representatives.