Quick Time: Summernationals by the numbers
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: Two-time and reigning series champ Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., ended a drought on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series with a $27,000 victory in I-80 Speedway’s Silver Dollar Nationals in Greenwood, Neb., on July 20.
Regional: On the first anniversary of his Late Model debut, Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, nearly shocked the world with a 34th-to-first charge at the Silver Dollar Nationals before a wreck knocked him out of the lead. Honorable mentions: R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio (UMP DIRTcar Summernationals victory at Brushcreek and weekly win at Portsmouth); Brad Seng of Grand Forks, N.D. (NLRA victory at Norman County and weekly victory at River Cities); and Rob Blair of Titusville, Pa. ($3,000 victory at Eriez along with Raceway 7 win to continue a personal six-race win streak).
Weekly: Todd Cooney of Des Moines, Iowa, extended his IMCA Late Model weekly points lead with home-state victories at Shelby County Speedway and Stuart Speedway.
Crate: Steve Banal of Troutman, N.C., scored back-to-back NDRA-sanctioned victories at Carolina Speedway near Gastonia, N.C., and I-77 Speedway near Chester, S.C.
Turn 1: Summernationals by the numbers
A by-the-numbers review of the UMP DIRTcar Summernationals from June 12’s race at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway to the July 20 finale at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio (with assistance from staffer Joshua Joiner):
1: Series regular who made every race without a provisional starting spot, Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill.
3: Drivers who entered every event, six fewer than last season: champion Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., runner-up Bobby Pierce and fifth-place Dustin Griffin of Camp Point, Ill.
3: First-time series winners: Chris Simpson, R.J. Conley and Doug Drown.
5: Victories for three-time series champion Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., more than any other driver.
6: Cars finishing on the lead lap in Oakshade’s finale, the fewest in any series event.
11: Heat race victories for champion Brandon Sheppard, more than any other driver, but half as many as Brian Shirley in 2012.
14: Drivers scoring at least one series win, tying the record set in 2008 and one fewer than last year.
17: Number of official positions Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., advanced to win the Brownstown opener, the deepest rally of any winner.
21: Top-five finishes for Bobby Pierce, more than any other driver.
24: Lowest car count at Kankakee County Speedway in Kankakee, Ill.
26: Points races on the series out of 31 originally scheduled events, two fewer than the record of 28 (2010 and ’12).
36: Average car count for 26 series races, two fewer than last season.
48: Highest car count at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway.
49: Drivers who entered a single Summernationals event and earned the minimum 10 points, 35 more than last season.
82: Career series victories for Billy Moyer and Shannon Babb after Babb moved into a tie for the lead on the all-time victories list.
122: Points Brandon Sheppard led Bobby Pierce following June 27's event at Clayhill, Sheppard's largest lead.
325: Drivers entering series events, nine more than last season.
1,675: Total points for champion Brandon Sheppard, 15 more than runner-up Bobby Pierce.
3,646: Days between Scott Bloomquist’s previous series points race before his July 9 victory at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky. His previous points start came with a July 16, 2003, victory at the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna, Minn.
25,000: Dollars in prize money going to champion Brandon Sheppard.
Turn 2: Race report of the week
The caution-shortened Crate Late Model feature July 19 at Bradford Speedway had so much off-track drama, the race report included the dreaded “meanwhile, back on the track” phrase. Some of the best sentences after controversial contact between Garrett Mott and Brad Mesler triggered a pit area fracas that resulted in the suspension of one of Mott’s crew members:
• Foster Township Police were called to help resolve the issue. No arrests were made, but pit steward Jim Airgood made the decision to suspend the offending member of Mott’s crew for two weeks (one week for entering another driver’s pit area plus one week for the physical contact with track security).
• Airgood also reviewed relevant social media posts for a possible third one-week suspension under the track’s new social media conduct rule that prohibits disparaging comments about the Bradford Speedway or track officials on Facebook, message boards, and the like. Airgood determined that social media posts made after the incident did not warrant a further suspension.
• The two-week suspension for the member of Mott’s crew was reviewed and confirmed by track promoter/owner Jeff Andrulonis, who also noted that the offending pit crew member will be notified of his two-week suspension by a certified letter to be delivered via U.S. Mail.
• Meanwhile, Mott himself will be able to race this Friday night. “Our rules give us the discretion in a situation like this to either suspend just the pit crew member or suspend the pit crew member and the driver. While the driver is ultimately responsible for the actions of his pit crew, I determined that the pit crew member acted on his own accord without the consent of Garrett Mott. Therefore, I’ve determined that punishing Garrett Mott would be unfair and detrimental to the best interests of racing.”
Backstretch: Facebook status of the week
From Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series announcer James Essex:
I had a dream the other night that I got to announce a trophy dash between these four drivers ... wow: John Provenzano, Mike Provenzano, Jeff Provinzino, Tad Pospisil
Turn 3: Tweets of the week
Reactions to Ryan Gustin’s 34th-to-first charge at I-80 Speedway’s Silver Dollar Nationals before a wreck knocked him out of the race:
Racing Tweets! @racingproblemz: Everyone just now realized how much of a wheelman Ryan Gustin is #smh he has been for a long time people!! Come on!!
DirtonDirt @DirtonDirt: Tough break for Gustin, but he very well may earn $27,000 in T-shirts sales after that run. #SilverDollarNats
Team FK @FKrodends21: Somebody tell Ryan Gustin to call me wow. #impressive#scoutin4futurechampions
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
July 31, 1985: Steve Kosiski overtook Ken Walton on the fourth lap and led the rest of the 50-lap feature at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, to win the first ever NASCAR Busch All Star Tour event. Roger Dolan finished second followed by Tom Hearst, Dave Chase and Walton.
July 27, 1996: STARS points leader Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., nipped defending series champion Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio in a photo finish at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway, winning $12,000 in the 17th annual Conococheague 100 for his biggest career payday. Rick Workman, Todd Andrews and Nathan Duboraw rounded out the top five.
July 29, 2001: Former Muskogee and Tulsa Speedway promoter Stanley Durrett died at his Oklahoma home after a battle with cancer.
July 25, 2009: Joe Kosiski, 51, of Omaha, Neb., topped MLRA and NCRA foes at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, for his first touring victory in seven years.
July 28, 2011: Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pa., announces its closure, canceling Labor Day events for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions
• Home-state drivers will take at least half of the top 10 finishing positions at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway’s Prairie Dirt Classic, the first World of Outlaws Late Model Series visit to the quarter-mile oval.
• Either Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa., and Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway will produce a first-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series winner.
• John Blankenship’s streak of top-five finishes on the Lucas Oil Series will come to an end.
• Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn., will provide the most dramatic moment on the Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series.
• Rob Blair of Titusville, Pa., will click off at least two victories in three starts, giving him eight wins in July alone.
(Last week: Three out of five predictions correct)