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Any questions? Sweep gives Richards unanimous No. 1

July 2, 2013, 7:18 am
From staff reports

After scoring an unprecedented sweep of Firecracker 100 action at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., Josh Richards of Shinston, W.Va., was voted a unanimous No. 1 in DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 power rankings presented by JRi Shocks.

Richards, who has held the top spot for ten consecutive weeks, left no doubt in claiming all three World of Outlaws Late Model Series events at held at 4/10-mile, Pennsylvania oval and pocketing more than $42,000.

Fellow World of Outlaws Late Model Series regular Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., maintained the second and third spots behind Richards in the power poll, while Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., hopped Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., for fourth in the weekly rankings.

Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill, is the biggest mover of the week. The Summernationals points leader roared up seven spots after notching back-to-back victories for the second time on tour and clicking off more consistent finishes up front.

Bobby Pierce, 16, is the lone newcomer in this week's poll. The Oakwood, Ill., driver makes his first appearance since June 4's polling, after becoming the youngest winner in Summernationals history on Sunday at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway.

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. Twenty-one submitted ballots this week. Weekly polls continue through mid-November.

1. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.

Comment: Survives for a sweep at Lernerville, extends his World of Outlaws points lead before heading out West. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)

2. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.

Comment: Solid all weekend, but another bittersweet podium finish in the Firecracker finale leaves him at a loss for words. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 2nd (nc)

3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Lucas Oil Series points leader takes weekend off, preps for upcoming Ohio swing at Muskingum County and Portsmouth. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 3rd (nc)

4. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.

Comment: Falls victim to ruthless cushion after closing on leader at Lernerville; salvages eighth-place finish. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 5th (+1)

5. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.

Comment: Three-time champ goes back home to the Summernationals during an off week for the Lucas Oil Series. Series points: 5th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 4th (-1)

6. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.

Comment: Roller coaster weekend at Lernerville ends with runner-up finish in Saturday night's attrition-filled finale. Series points: 6th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 8th (+2)

7. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.

Comment: Charges from 16th to second in first half of Firecracker finale before flat tire ends quest for his first crown jewel win. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 7th (nc)

8. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.

Comment: After missing Thursday's action due to motorhome gremlins, defending Firecracker champ's repeat bid goes up in smoke. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 9th (+1)

9. Don O'Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Joins Hell Tour for two-race stint in Moring Motorsports No. 1; comes forward for second Sunday at Lincoln. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 6th (-3)

10. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa

Comment: Former Firecracker champ is out of his element all weekend on Lernerville's rain-soaked surface. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 10th (nc)

11. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.

Comment: Quietly makes all three features at Lernerville, comes home sixth in Saturday's 100-lap finale. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 11th (nc)

12. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Snaps winless skid with $10,000 Summernationals payday at Paducah; plans to take upcoming weekend off. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 13th (+1)

13. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: Comes to life late in Firecracker finale, but suffers rear-end heartbreak as he attempts to overtake Richards. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 14th (+1)

14. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: Forced to pit after losing hood on parade laps before Firecracker; never recovers in finishing 18th. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 15th (+1)

15. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.

Comment: Turbulent weekend at Lernerville; plans to stay near home, enter July 3 Carolina Clash event at Cherokee. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (-3)

16. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.

Comment: Up seven spots after running away from Hell Tour competitors; points leader owns series-best four triumphs. Series points: 1st (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 23rd (+7)

17. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: Another front-runner that pulls up lame mid-race on Lernerville's lightning-quick track surface. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 17th (nc)

18. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.

Comment: Will welcome World of Outlaws competitors for upcoming Wild West Tour, rare touring events close to home. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 16th (-2)

19. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.

Comment: Scheduled for return to Cherokee on July 3, just a dozen days after scoring Lucas Oil victory at the 3/8-mile oval. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 19th (nc)

20. Chris Simpson, Oxford, Iowa

Comment: Records pair of podium finishes in tri-sanctioned MARS, MLRA and Corn Belt Clash events at I-80 and Adams County. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 20th (nc)

21. Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Ind.

Comment: Spring Nationals champ plans a four-race week after taking previous two weekends off. Series points: 1st (Spring Nationals). Last week’s ranking: 18 (-3)

22. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.

Comment: Hopes to carry momentum of Wythe victory into Lucas Oil's Ohio stops at Muskingum County and Portsmouth. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 24th (+2)

23. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.

Comment: Two-time Firecracker winner is first to retire with mechanical issues in Saturday's finale. Series points. None. Last week’s ranking: 22nd (1st)

24. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.

Comment: Ominous forecast keeps him away from Lernerville; awaits upcoming Lucas Oil doubleheader near home. Series points: 8th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 21st (-3)

25. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.

Comment: Impresses Kenny Wallace, among others, in becoming youngest winner in Hell Tour history at Lincoln. Series points: 2nd-tie (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: Unranked

Dropped out: Shannon Babb

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.

DirtonDirt Top 25

Driver (pts.) (1st place)
1. Josh Richards (525) (21)
2. Darrell Lanigan (489)
3. Jimmy Owens (459)
4. Shane Clanton (440)
5. Dennis Erb Jr. (408)
6. Tim McCreadie (389)
7. John Blankenship (380)
8. Scott Bloomquist (350)
9. Don O'Neal (350)
10. Brian Birkhofer (327)
11. Steve Francis (306)
12. Billy Moyer (280)
13. Rick Eckert (247)
14. Mike Marlar (207)
15. Jonathan Davenport (201)
16. Brandon Sheppard (187)
17. Dale McDowell (169)
18. Brady Smith (157)
19. Chris Madden (108)
20. Chris Simpson (103)
21. Steve Casebolt (89)
22. Earl Pearson Jr. (88)
23. Jimmy Mars (79)
24. Eddie Carrier Jr. (75)
25. Bobby Pierce (70)
Others receiving votes: Shannon Babb (61), Casey Roberts (43), Matt Miller (31), Doug Drown (27), Tony Jackson Jr. (23), Randy Weaver (19), Chad Simpson (15), Jared Landers (15), Scott James (15), Eric Wells (12), Ray Cook (11), Steve Shaver (10), Tim Fuller (8), Gregg Satterlee (8), Ryan Unzicker (8), Jason Feger (7), Dave Hess Jr. (6), Bub McCool (5), Jamie Lathroum (5), Terry Phillips (4), Brian Shirley (4), Kevin Weaver (2), Jesse Stovall (2), Brian Harris (1).
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