Summernationals pilots on rise in power rankings
For the second consecutive week, World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader Josh Richards of Shinston, W.Va., was voted a unanimous No. 1 atop DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 power rankings presented by JRi Shocks.
Fresh off a Gopher 50 victory at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., remains in command of the second spot over fellow World of Outlaws drivers Shane Clanton of Zebulon, Ga., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y, who ascended one and two spots respectively in the weekly poll. Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., rounds out the top five after falling two spots from No. 3.
A trio of Summernationals pilots headline the week’s biggest risers. Following three Hell Tour wins over the course of five races, Shannon Babb (pictured) of Moweaqua, Ill., has climbed from unranked last week up to No. 15 in the latest rankings. Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill., jumped six spots to No. 19, while moving into second in Summernationals points behind Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill, and claiming the series’ Fourth of July event at La Salle (Ill.) Speedway. Another handful of consistent finishes helped Sheppard not only stay atop the Hell Tour point standings, but also slide up the rankings from No. 16 to No. 14.
Aside from Babb, Tony Jackson Jr. of Lebanon, Ill., is the lone other driver new to the poll. The white-hot Jackson is making his first poll appearance of the year after scoring his sixth and seventh victories since Memorial Day in MARS DIRTcar Series action at Monett (Mo.) Speedway and 81 Speedway in Park City, Kan., during Fourth of July week action.
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. Seventeen submitted ballots this week. Weekly polls continue through mid-November.
1. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
Comment: Caught up in a first-lap melee at Amsoil; rebounds with runner-up finish at Deer Creek. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 1st (nc)
2. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Comment: Strong start to WoO’s Wild West Tour, headlined by Gopher 50 victory at “Darrell Creek.” Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 2nd (nc)
3. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Comment: Begins WoO’s Wild West trip with a pair of top-10 finishes at Amsoil and Deer Creek. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 4th (+1)
4. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: Collects fourth WoO victory of the season Friday at Amsoil on son Gavin’s third birthday. Series points: 5th (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 6th (+2)
5. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Forced to his backup car after time trials at Muskingum County, salvages ninth-place finish. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 3rd (-2)
6. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: Closes within 65 points of Owens atop Lucas Oil standings after fifth-place finish at Muskingum County. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 7th (+1)
7. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.
Comment: Stops in Haubstadt, Ind., for Sunday’s Summernationals race after Portsmouth rainouts. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 5th (-2)
8. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Plans to hit Florence’s Hell Tour event following past weekend stops at Luxemburg and Deer Creek. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 8th (nc)
9. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
Comment: Off his game at La Salle and Deer Creek; will look to regroup at familiar tracks of Tri-City and 34. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 10th (+1)
10. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: Still looking to snap a near five-month winless drought dating back to East Bay in February. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 9th (-1)
11. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Among frontrunners all night at Muskingum County, winds up fourth at the finish. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 11th (nc)
12. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Awaits Lucas Oil’s Friday visit to Tri-City, a track where no driver has found more success. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 12th (nc)
13. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: Redraws worst possible pill two straight nights to start Wild West swing; comes forward both nights. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 13th (nc)
14. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.
Comment: Still the favorite on the Hell Tour, but competitors have begun to close his early gap. Series points: 1st (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 16th (+2)
15. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.
Comment: Summernationals vet appears poised for late-tour run after finding victory lane three times in five events. Series points: 3rd (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: Unranked
16. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.
Comment: Loses top-five run after slipping over banking during Lucas Oil feature at Muskingum County. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 14th (-2)
17. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.
Comment: Starts WoO’s Wild West Tour with a top-five after a disappointing Firecracker weekend at Lernerville. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 18th (+1)
18. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Comment: Cherokee rainout allows him to vacation and refresh before upcoming Southern Nationals. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 15th (-3)
19. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.
Comment: Celebrates Fourth of July with $5,000 victory, Pierce Party during Summernationals stop at La Salle. Series points: 2nd (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 25th (+6)
20. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: Team Dillon driver sure to make appearances on Ray Cook’s upcoming Southern Nationals. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 17th (-3)
21. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: Four-time Southern Nationals champ enjoys time off, prepares to defend his crown once again. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 19th (-2)
22. Chris Simpson, Oxford, Iowa
Comment: Lowers track record, leads early and comes home third in Deer Creek’s Gopher 50. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 20th (-2)
23. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Comment: Runner-up finish at Muskingum County lifts him back up a notch in Lucas Oil points. Series points: 5th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 22nd (-1)
24. Tony Jackson Jr., Lebanon, Mo.
Comment: Winningest touring driver in the country since Memorial Day shows no signs of slowing down. Series points: 1st (MARS). Last week’s ranking: Unranked
25. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.
Comment: Seventh at Muskingum County before rainouts at Portsmouth (twice) and 201 cut his weekend short. Series points: 8th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 24th (-1)
Dropped out: Steve Casebolt, Jimmy Mars
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.