Weekly Notebook presented by JRi Shocks
Notes: Iowan, 18, scores breakthrough at Corning
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Sterling Perkins was so excited about his first Dirt Late Model victory last weekend at Adams County Speedway, the recent graduate of Lamoni (Iowa) High School said he couldn’t find the words to describe it in an interview after the race.
And while his father Tom Perkins, a former champion dirt racer himself, was proud, dad had some “mixed emotions” about the success at the Corning, Iowa, oval, 18-year-old Sterling said. | Weekly results
“He said there was some things to the car we could’ve done to make it better,” the younger Perkins said.
And so instead being satisfied with the first checkered flag for the second-year driver, the team is looking to follow it up the rest of the season and beyond. Perkins plans to tackle tonight’s Super Late Model Racing Series event at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., and perhaps hang around for the weekend’s Silver Dollar Nationals, the $27,000-to-win Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
The team is also getting an IMCA-rules car ready to the team can compete in select spec-engine races the rest of the season.
Perkins, who works on the family farm, leaves next month for Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids where he’s considering studying agriculture production. But he’ll race until then and hopefully the following summers.
“I’m planning on racing the rest of the my life if I can — if I’ve got the money,” he adds.
Tom Perkins was a successful Dirt Late Model racer until retiring a half-dozen years ago, including one season — the year Sterling was born — when he won all but one race and notched a championship at the Northwest Missouri State Fairgrounds in Bethany.
Sterling wasn’t raised in racing cars, but when he was 17, they decided to give it a shot and go ahead and start in the Late Model division. His father “figured if we started out in the Late Models because that’s what he knew ... he knows the setups and we’ve got a lot of people helping us,” Sterling said. “I took it out and didn’t do half bad.”
He finished just behind teen Daulton Maasen in the rookie points last season at Adams County Speedway, and this year he’s sixth in points, chasing veteran Iowa racers including Jason O’Brien, Chris Spieker, Paul Glendenning, John Hampel and last year’s champion J.C. Wyman.
In Saturday’s event, rain soaked the surface just before the racing and there was plenty of traction, Perkins said. He started inside the second row, overtook the polesitter early in the race and went hammer-down in the high groove.
“I knew I had a good enough car if I held the top line,” Perkins said, who built a straightaway lead early then held off the field on a couple of restarts. “The top was just the place to be and that’s where I was. ... there wasn’t really any other places to pass.”
“It was pretty much the best time of my life right there. I was pretty speechless afterwards,” Perkins said. To get “my first win in a Late Model running against the calibers of cars there, that’s pretty cool. It’s pretty unbelievable.”
And he’ll try to follow it up with some consistency.
“I wasn’t expecting to win that one, but a win’s a win,” Perkins said. “I’ll be happy with top-fives if we can just keep up there in the points.”
• When Michael Wright’s car broke on the final lap, Chris Combs of Isom, Ky., inherited the lead July 13 at 201 Speedway in Sitka, Ky., for his second victory of the weekend. Combs won $3,000 the previous night at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky., by overtaking Dustin Linville in the final laps.
• With July 12-13 victories at Tri-City Motor Speedway in Auburn, Mich., and Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway, Zack Olger of St. Johns, Mich., stretched a personal winning streak to four races. He had a six-race winning streak earlier this season.
• At Tyler County Speedway in Middlebourne, W.Va., Paul Wilmoth Jr. of Clarksburg, W.Va., swept the 25-lap twin features in the Eaton-Childers King of Ring, winning the second race after rallying from his 11th starting spot. He overtook Dusty Hamrick to lead the final two laps of the nightcap.
• With his July 12 victory at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo, Minn., Dustin Virkus of Clarkfield, Minn., won in his second start in a Bloomquist Race Car. He rebounded from a heat race spin caused when his steering wheel got caught in his lap belt.
• Jason Russell of Henley, Mo., had a two-victory weekend with ULMA triumphs at Callaway Raceway in Fulton, Mo., and Double-X Speedway in California, Mo.
• Becoming Lernerville Speedway’s first repeat winner, Jared Miley of South Park, Pa., took the July 12 checkers in Sarver, Pa., outrunning Brian Swartzlander, the track's all-time winningest modified driver.
• At Riverside International Speedway, Billy Tedford of Pontotoc, Miss., won July 13 for his second straight unsanctioned crate feature at the West Memphis, Ark., oval.
• With his July 13 victory at Jackson County Speedway in Maquoketa, Iowa, Justin Kay of Wheatland, Mo., extended a personal winning streak to eight. The streak came to his end the next night in Deery Brothers Summer Series at Dubuque, Iowa.
First things first
First-time occurrences at the dirt track:
• At Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga., Jody Knowles of Tyrone, Ga., won his first-ever start in a new Capital Race Car on July 13.
• Mike Altobelli Jr. of Saxton, Pa., won his first Bedford (Pa.) Speedway Super Late Model feature July 12. He’s the 128th winner in the division in track history.
• With a July 12 win, Josh Collins of Knoxville, Tenn., visited victory lane for the first time at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway. He also had a two-victory weekend with a July 13 win at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, Tenn.
Weekly points chases
UMP DIRTcar (Super Late Models): Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., has a huge lead with 2,137 points through July 7. Shannon Babb (1,769), Rusty Schlenk (1,731) and Kevin Weaver (1,646) are far behind.
UMP DIRTcar (Crate Late Models): Aaron Heck of Mount Vernon, Ill., is on top of the tight chase with 1,329 points over Jeff Walston (1,317) of Paducah, Ky., and Nick Lyons of Centralia, Ill. (1,291).
IMCA: Todd Cooney of Des Moines, Iowa, has 777 points in stretching his lead over Tyler Bruening (761) of Decorah, Iowa. Darrel DeFrance is third with 733 points.
WISSOTA: Second-year division driver Dustin Strand of Grand Forks, N.D., is on top through July 13 with 946 points. Chad Becker (900), Mike Balcaen (885) and Curt Gelling (864) are among drivers in pursuit.
WDLMA: Justin Hirt of Tigerton, Wis., is still on top with 262 points followed by Russ Scheffler (235) and Tim Buhler (219).
AMRA: Andy Bond of Coolville, Ohio, maintained his points lead with a victory at Ohio Valley Speedway. He’s got 975 points to lead Chris Garnes (955), Ronnie Mayle (930) and K.C. Burdette (905).
ULMA: Jason Russell of Henley, Mo., as eight victories and the lead on the Missouri-based Limited Late Model organization with 1,6738 points. He’s being chased by Chris Cox (1,399), his brother Justin Russell (1,351) and Todd McCoin (1,343).
NeSmith Chevrolet Series: Noah Daspit of Kiln, Miss., extended his lead in Old Man’s Garage Weekly points with his ninth victory. With 673 points, he has a 33-point edge on Sid Scarbrough (640) with Derrick Mackner (612) in third.
RUSH: Mike Pegher Jr. of Wexford, Pa., has 1,614 points in weekly Crate Late Model points to lead Rick Singleton (1,584) of Huntingdon, Pa., and Joe Martin (1,571) of Mayport, Pa.
SECA: Trent Ivey of Union, S.C., leads with 405 points on the first-year Crate Late Model organization over Joey Phillips (355) and Mac Owens (341).
Upcoming weekly specials
Among non-touring and independent special events at dirt tracks around the country for the upcoming weekend:
Winchester (Va.) Speedway (July 19): The $2,500-to-win Mike Clore Memorial is part of the Winchester-Potomac Super Late Model Challenge; entrants get 150 bonus points. Limited Late Models are also on the car.
Raceway 7, Conneaut, Ohio (July 19): Fan Appreciate Night includes a $1,500-to-win for Super Late Models.
Lucky 7 Speedway, Colston, Ky. (July 20): The Summer Sizzler is a 40-lap feature for Super Late Models paying $2,500-to-win.
Susquehanna Speedway Park, Newberrytown, Pa. (July 20): The Silver Springs Speedway Racer Reunion includes action for Late Models.
South Buxton Raceway, Merlin, Ontario (July 20): The Don Hendricks Memorial for Late Models honors a former track champion.
Macon (Ill.) Speedway (July 20): Hall of Fame Driver Reunion Night includes a Midwest Big 10 race for Late Models.
441 Speedway, Dublin, Ga. (July 20): The track's American Crate Late Series event pays $2,000-to-win.