Quick Time: Another young series champion
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 (and the occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, presented by PFC Brakes, appears throughout the regular season every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the Week
National: John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., posted runner-up and winning performances on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series to move into the series points lead for the first time.
Regional: A back-to-back honoree, Justin Kay of Wheatland, Iowa, stretched his Deery Brothers Summer Series win streak to three, and coupled that with five straight weekly victories before Brian Harris snapped his eight-race success on Sunday in Dubuque, Iowa.
Weekly: Zack Olger is streaking again. After posting a six-race winning streak earlier this season, the St. Johns, Mich., driver is back at it with four wins in a row after winning July 12-13 at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich., and Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway.
Crate: Driving his self-built High Roller Race Car, Justin McRee of Cottondale, Ala., swept July 12-13’s NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series-sanctioned Rumble on the Gumbo events at Greenville (Miss.) Speedway.
Turn 1: Young champions
The UMP DIRTcar Summernationals is certain to have its youngest champion this season with Illinois youngsters Brandon Sheppard (20) and Bobby Pierce (16) battling it out in the final week. Here’s an unofficial look at some of the youngest Dirt Late Model touring champions over the past 10 years or so, with the driver’s age at the time he wrapped up the championship:
19 - Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., Appalachian Mountain Speedweek (2011)
20 - Rusty Schlenk of Weston, Ohio, Sunoco American Late Model Series (2006)
21 - Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., World of Outlaws Late Model Series (2009)
21 - Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Arks., Comp Cams Super Dirt Series (2009)
22 - Clay Daly of Watsonville, Calif., West Coast Late Model Shootout (2011)
23 - Rodney Wing of Meridian, Miss., Southern United Professional Racing (2002)
23 - Matt Aukland of Fargo, N.D., Northern LateModel Racing Association (2007)
24 - Klint Byars of Calhoun City, Miss., Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series (2011)
Turn 2: All in a name
Dirt Late Model drivers who have names that “sound” like they should race:
• Tony Brakeall of Lebanon, Ore.
• Jason Rider of Clinton, Pa.
• Louie Krushansky of Morgantown, W.Va.
• Jason Kruse of Wonder Lake, Ill.
• Randy Wheeler of Cedar Falls, Iowa
Backstretch: Mountaineer success
With John Blankenship’s rise to the top of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points, it provides the possibility of West Virginia achieving an unprecedented sweep of national touring titles.
If Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., can capture his third World of Outlaws Late Model Series title, and Blankenship, of Williamson, W.Va., claims his first Lucas Oil Series crown, it would mark the first time drivers from the same state have won titles on those national tours in the same season.
As a matter of fact, the only state represented on the champion list of both tours since 2004 is Tennessee, with Scott Bloomquist earning both a World of Outlaws title (2004) and Lucas Oil Series championships (2009-10).
Turn 3: Facebook status of the Week
Dirt Late Model racer Evan Becton of Valdosta, Ga., couldn’t beat the rain last weekend:
“It's crazy. I have been to 3 different race tracks today and haven't even made 1 lap around any of them ... this must be what torture feels like!!”
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
July 15, 1997: A 25-year-old Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, led all 50 laps at Cresco (Iowa) Speedway for his first career UMP Summernationals victory. Birkhofer started third but outjumped front-row starters Mitch Johnson and Bob Pierce en route to a $10,000 victory. Pierce finished second followed by Rick Aukland, Johnson and Bill Frye.
July 21, 2001: Tyler County (W.Va.) Speedway driver Bill Childers died shortly after completing a feature event at the track. The speedway canceled its July 28 events in his honor and paid tribute at an Aug. 4 event.
July 20, 2003: Corey Haney, a long-time Dixie Speedway official who always made small-talk with those entering the infield pits, died from injuries suffered when he was struck by a Late Model during a caution period. Haney, 42, was working the crossover gate on the backstretch at the Woodstock, Ga., track when he was hit.
July 20, 2008: Belleville (Kan.) High Banks dominator Kelly Boen of Henderson, Colo., captured his first-ever World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Belleville, earning more than $10,000. He led the last 22 of 35 laps after Josh Richards slowed with mechanical problems. “This is the biggest race I’ve ever won,” Boen said, “and it means a lot more to me to win it at Belleville. I just love this place.”
July 18, 2011: Dirt racer Billy Carroll Wooldridge of Frankfort, Ky., who suffered a heart attack that triggered a heat-race accident at Richmond (Ky.) Raceway two days earlier, died at a Lexington hospital. He was 61. Wooldridge returned from semi-retirement to compete at Richmond in a race honoring his uncle, Paul "Butterball" Wooldridge.
Checkered flag: Five fearless I-80 predictions
Predictions heading toward July 18-20’s Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb.:
• One driver will score double heat-race victories in Friday’s prelims.
• Saturday’s feature winner will be a first-time I-80 winner.
• John Blankenship will end the weekend at least a 100-point lead in the series title chase.
• Four of the top five finishers in Saturday’s main event will have car numbers between 14 and 33.
• Seven states will be represented among the top 10 finishers of Saturday’s feature.
(Last week: Two out of five predictions correct)