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Weekly Notebook presented by JRi Shocks

Notes: Tried and true car lifts Winchester winner

July 11, 2013, 6:46 am
By Joshua Joiner
DirtonDirt.com staff writer
Rodney Walls enjoys victory lane at Winchester. (Travis Trussell)
Rodney Walls enjoys victory lane at Winchester. (Travis Trussell)

Most Dirt Late Model racers prefer to update their race cars every few years to keep their equipment fresh and to keep up with new developments. But Rodney Walls of Saint Thomas, Pa., is finding success in a race car nearly as old as he is.

Proving that older race cars can win races, the 23-year-old Walls drove a 19-year-old Late Model to victory Saturday night at Winchester Speedway, earning his first victory of the season in the 3/8-mile Virginia oval’s Limited Late Model division.

“It definitely isn’t anything fancy,” Walls said of his 1994 Rocket Chassis. “The car’s nothing too fancy, but the parts on it are good stuff. It’s a little out dated, but it gets the job done.”

Walls’ victory was a much-needed improvement over his previous two weeks of racing. His well-seasoned race car was left with heavy damage following a trip to Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway on June 15 and again when he returned to Winchester on June 28.

“We had a bad night a couple weeks ago and had to get the car clipped after a tie rod broke and put us in the wall at Hagerstown, then again when we got wrecked there at Winchester,” Walls said. “We were feeling pretty down, but to come back there and win last week like we did, words can’t explain it how excited we were.”

Walls hopes Saturday’s victory was a sign of more to come as he looks to build momentum for the second half of the season. Chasing Winchester’s Limited Late Model title for the first time this season, Walls is hoping to climb from fourth in the division’s current standings.

“We decided this year we wanted to run Winchester and run for the points there, but we kind of got behind a little bit,” said Walls, who’s currently 179 points back of leader Jonathan DeHaven in the current standings. “We’re gonna have to have good luck the rest of the year. We need top five finishes and DeHaven to have a couple of bad weeks. It’s going to be tough getting to him, but we’re gonna do our best.”

Walls will rely on his older race car in his quest to catch DeHaven even though he has another option. His family-owned race team recently added a newer Rocket to the team’s arsenal, but Walls plan to stick with his trusty older car for now.

“We’re gonna stick with it as long as it’s hanging in there,” said Walls. “We check it every week to make sure nothing’s cracked or unsafe, but it’s holding together really well.

“We’re putting together an ’03 Rocket with ’06 updates, but we’ve kinda put it to the side here lately. I’ll probably switch to it eventually, but right now it’s hard to get out of the older one. It’s been really good to us, so we’ll stick with it for now.”

Weekly highlights

• Securing a two-victory Fourth of July weekend, Shawn Claar of Imler, Pa., earned $3,000 with a July 4 victory at Marion Center (Pa.) Speedway, then followed that with a July 6 victory at America’s Motorsports Park in Clearfield, Pa.�

• With July 5-6 victories, Ryan Griffith of Webster City, Iowa, had a two-win weekend in Iowa at Crawford County Speedway in Denison and his hometown Hamilton County Speedway.

• In a holiday special at Tri-County Motor Speedway, Ryan VanderVeen won July 3 at the Auburn, Mich., track for a personal three-race win streak.

Greg Roberson of Waynesboro, Va., scored a July 5-6 Virginia sweep with Limited Late Model victories at his hometown Eastside Speedway and Natural Bridge Speedway.

• In his first start back after a December garage fire burned much of his racing equipment, Bob McMillen of St. Marys, Pa., finished third July 6 at Hummingbird Speedway in Reynoldsville, Pa. Chris Farrell won the main event.

• Rallying from the third row into the lead on the first lap, Rick Dralle of Waterloo, Iowa, dominated the July 6 feature at Independence (Iowa) Motor Speedway.

Gavin Landers of Batesville, Ark., swept July 5-6 NeSmith-sanctioned Crate Late Model victories at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway.

• At Hill Valley Speedway in Orbisonia, Pa., Andy Fries of Mercersburg, Pa., earned $2,500 for his victory in the Moonshine Madness feature for topless Limited Late Models.

• Winning July 6 at Willamette Speedway, Trevor Glaser of Tangent, Ore., lapped all but six cars in winning his seventh race at the Lebanon, Ore., oval.

• Returning to form, Zack Olger of St. Johns, Mich., grabbed July 5-6 victories at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich., and Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway.

Weekly points chases

UMP DIRTcar (Super Late Models): Current Summernationals points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., continues to lead UMP’s national points chase with 2,137 points, while Shannon Babb (1,769) of Moweaqua, Ill., has jumped to second ahead of Rusty Schlenk (1,731) of Weston, Ohio.

UMP DIRTcar (Crate Late Models): Aaron Heck of Mount Vernon, Ill., continues to show the way, but Jeff Walston of Paducah, Ky., has closed the gap to just 12 points. Nick Lyons of Centralia, Ill., is third, 38 points out of the lead.

IMCA: Todd Cooney of Des Moines, Iowa, has climbed atop of the standings with an eight-point lead over Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, through June 30 events. Nick Marolf (-57) of Moscow, Iowa, has dropped to third after leading the points way a week ago.

WISSOTA: Chad Becker of Aberdeen, S.D., has taken the lead with 824 points through July 7 events, with rookie contender Curt Geling (768) also of Aberdeen, second and Casey Hanson (751) of Badger, S.D., third.

WDLMA: Justin Hirt of Tigerton, Wis., leads reigning champion Russ Scheffler of Waukesha, Wis., by 32 points as of June 30, with Tim Buhler of Glenbuelah, Wis., two points behind Scheffler in third.

AMRA: Andy Bond of Coolville, Ohio, continues to lead reigning champ Chris Garnes of Evans, W.Va., with a 20-point advantage. Ronnie Mayle of Chesterhill, Ohio, is third, two points behind Garnes.

ULMA: Reigning champ Jason Russell of Henley, Mo., holds a firm 127-point lead over Justin Russell with Chris Cox another 26 points back in third.

NeSmith Chevrolet Series: Breaking a tie with Sid Scarbrough of Florence, Miss., Noah Daspit of Kiln, Miss., leads the Crate Late Model standings by five points, with Shannon Lee of Lumberton, Miss., another 42 points back in third.

RUSH: Dennis Lunger Jr. of Albion, Pa., has moved to the top of the first-year Crate Late Model organization’s weekly points chase with a slight four-point lead over John Over of Uniontown, Pa. Chad Ruhlman of Bemus Point, N.Y., is third, 19 points out of the lead.

SECA: Trent Ivey of Union, S.C., has leads with 372 points. He’s trailed by Mac Owens (306) of Woodruff, S.C., and Michael Brown (303) of Pageland, S.C.

Upcoming weekly specials

Among non-touring and independent special events at dirt tracks around the country for the upcoming weekend:

Southern Ohio Speedway, Wheelersburg, Ohio (July 12): The Southern 50 pays $6,000-to-win for Super Late Models.

Little Valley (N.Y.) Speedway (July 12): The Mid-Summer Special sponsoredby Randy’s Collision includes a $3,000-to-win Super Late Model feature. the BRP Can Am Series also competes in the Brock Young Memorial.

Winchester (Va.) Speedway (July 12): The Red Nininger Memorial is a $3,000-to-win Winchester-Hagerstown Shootout event for Supers.

441 Speedway, Dublin, Ga. (July 12): The Friday Night Lights special pays $2,000-to-win for the track’s Limited Late Models.

Ponderosa Speedway, Junction City, Ky. (July 12): The Red Clay Bash is a $3,000-to-win Super Late Model event highlighting the night before the Butterball (see Richmond Raceway below).

Richmond (Ky.) Raceway (July 13): The 26th annual Paul “Butterball” Wooldridge Memorial pays $7,500-to-win and $750-to-start for Super Late Models. Josh McGuire is going for his third straight victory in the event.

Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway (July 13): The sixth annual Red Nininger Memorial is a 35-lapper paying $3,000-to-win as well as a Winchester-Hagerstown Shootout event.

Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway (July 13): The Late Model championship event pays $2,000-to-win for the Gray’s Auto & Towing-sponsored division.

Rodney Walls file

Age: 23 (born July 20, 1989)
Hometown: Saint Thomas, Pa.
Family members: Wife Megan, son Gunnar
Home track: Winchester (Va.) Speedway
Occupation: Installer at Ty Construction
Car owners: Richard and Sue Walls
Chassis/engine: Rocket/Hershey
Sponsors: ATTCO Truck Painting, Lincoln Lanes Bowling Center, Oberholzer Fabrication, Mulch by Richard Walls, Stouffer Brothers Arctic cat, Shaffers R&D and RS entertainment.
Crew members: Darin Helman (crew chief), Tommy Martin, Devin Thomas, Jonathan Schill, Chris Walls, Carl Biddle, Gunnar Walls.
Career highlights: Fourth-year Late Model driver competes is competing weekly at Winchester (Va.) Speedway for the first time this season with one victory in five events.
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