Quick Time: Seeking the elusive perfect month
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: Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., outdueled Dale McDowell and Bobby Pierce in the final laps of the 24th annual Prairie Dirt Classic for a $20,000 World of Outlaws Late Model Series at Fairbury (Ill.) American Legion Speedway.
Regional: R.J. Conley of Wheelersburg, Ohio, extended a personal four-race win streak on July 26-27 with victories at Southern Ohio Speedway and Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park, collecting $5,000 on the weekend. Honorable mention: William Thomas of Phenix, City, Ala. (July 27-28 sanctioned victories at Talladega and Rome worth $9,300).
Weekly: Garrett Alberson of Las Cruces, N.M., swept July 26-27 weekend events at El Paso (Texas) Speedway Park and his hometown Southern New Mexico Speedway.
Crate: Wayne Robertson of Corning, N.Y., won his first-ever trip to Raceway 7 for a $1,200 Fastrak Northeast Series victory July 26 in Conneaut, Ohio.
Turn 1: The elusive perfect month
Perfection over a calendar month is a rarity in Dirt Late Model racing, where rugged competition, mechanical failure, uncooperative weekend dates — or the finicky racing gods — usually keep drivers from keeping their records unspotted for 30 or 31 days.
But Rob Blair is most notable among at least three drivers in July who pulled off such a feat as the 43-year-old from Titusville, Pa., reeled off eight victories during the month without a single loss. Blair clicked off an average of two victories per week at three tracks, winning a pair of NDRL's ULMS Racing Series events and six weekly races amid a standout 15-victory season. | Blair's impressive season
Blair’s perfect-July club also included Trevor Glaser of Tangent, Ore., whose record was unblemished in five races at Willamette Speedway and Cottage Grove Speedways, including twice in 100-lappers. (Alaska driver Shawn Hutchings was also perfect with four victories at Twin City Raceway in Kenai, but he competed in fields of a half-dozen cars or fewer and once won, in part, because his four other competitors all retired).
As with most records in Dirt Late Model racing, it’s tricky to find a list — or even one, to be honest — of drivers who have recorded perfect months, although you’d think Scott Bloomquist or Billy Moyer might’ve pulled it off, or Hall of Famers such as Jerry Inmon or Buck Simmons during seasons of 50 or more victories.
Among touring drivers in recent seasons, Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., won six of eight starts in June 2009, finishing no worse than fourth. Not quite perfect, but a record most drivers would envy.
Do you remember a perfect month for a Dirt Late Model driver? Send us a tweet @DirtonDirt or message our Facebook page.
Turn 2: Title-clinching finales
We shouldn’t have been surprised that Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., captured the Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway finale on the Schaeffer Oil Southern Nationals Series while wrapping up the title.
After all, it was the fifth time in nine series that the champion captured the last points race (all of them at Tazewell). Davenport also pulled off the feat with his first title in 2010, while Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., did it three times in 2007, ’08 and ’12.
The trend of five such instances in nine years is far higher than other currently operating tours with no other tour even approaching that percentage. As a matter of fact, only three series have at least as many five drivers who have won finales the years they won a series championship.
Leading the way is the IMCA-sanctioned Deery Brothers Summer Series with nine finale champions over 26 seasons. Tied with the Southern Nationals with five apiece is the National Championship Racing Association and UMP DIRTcar Summernationals.
Here’s how it stacks up with other currently operating tours that have completed at least five seasons, listed in order of seasons where champions won points finales:
9 - Deery Brothers Summer Series (IMCA): Nine times in 26 seasons with Curt Martin (1991), Jeff Aikey (1996, ’12), Gary Webb (1997), Mark Burgtorf (1998, '01), Rob Toland (2004), Terry Neal (2005) and Ray Guss Jr. (2010)
5 - UMP DIRTcar Summernationals: Five times in 28 seasons with Rick Aukland (1997), Kevin Weaver (2000), Billy Moyer (2001) and Shannon Babb (2006, '11).
5 - National Championship Racing Association: Five times in 29 seasons with Larry Phillips (1982), Billy Moyer (1984), Al Purkey (2004), Kelly Boen (2005) and Tommy Weder Jr. (2012).
4 - Sunoco American Late Model Series: Four times in 18 seasons with Shane Yoder (1996), Kris Patterson (1998), Brian Ruhlman (2005) and Rusty Schlenk (2006).
3 - Championship Dirt Motorsports: Three times in 13 seasons with Dave Garmann (2004) and Eddie Kirchoff (2007, '10).
3 - Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series: Three times in in 12 seasons with Mike Boland (2002), Chris Wall (2006) and David Breazeale (2010).
3 - Southern All Star Racing Series: Three in 30 seasons with Jerry Inmon (1984) and Ronnie Johnson (1985, ’87).
3 − World of Outlaws Late Model Series: Three times in 11 seasons with Scott Bloomquist (2003) and Billy Moyer (1988-’89).
2 - Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series: Twice in nine seasons with Scott Bloomquist (2009) and Jimmy Owens (2012).
2 - Lucas Oil Midwest LateModel Racing Association: Twice in 24 seasons with Alan Vaughn (2004) and John Anderson (2008).
2 - MARS DIRTcar Series: Twice in 13 seasons with Bill Frye (2007) and Terry Phillips (2008).
2 - NDRL's ULMS Racing Series: Twice in 10 seasons with Dick Barton (2001) and Boom Briggs (2010).
2 - P&W Sales Southern United Professional Racing: Twice in 23 seasons with Ronnie Poche (1995) and Rob Litton (2012).
1 - Blaine Brothers Challenge Series (WISSOTA): Once in 14 seasons with John Kaanta (2003).
1 - Northern LateModel Racing Association: Once in 14 seasons with Mike Balcaen (2000).
1 - Southern Regional Racing Series: Once in seven seasons with Byron Michael (2007).
1 - United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series: Once in five seasons with Mark Whitener (2012).
0 - Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series: Never in 13 seasons.
0 - Comp Cams Super Dirt Series: Never in six seasons.
0 - Super Late Model Racing Series (Nebraska): Never in five seasons.
Backstretch: Facebook statuses of the week
From the page of Benton (Mo.) Raceway Park:
“This is to a certain person or small group of people who were in the stands Friday night. There was a young man at the races with 2 children who was ridiculed, called names and had things thrown at them. If you were the person doing this, you know who you are, you should be ashamed. This was a potential new race fan, which we desperately need if this track is gonna survive. This type of action is discouraging to someone who comes to check out our facility and beloved sport. If I get confirmation on who did this, and I have some ideas, you will be officially uninvited back to the track.”
From the page of Union County (Ind.) Speedway:
“To the precious little boy that I knocked down tonight, I am so sorry sweetie! I should not have been running down the ramp to get down to the track and take pictures. The precious little guy stepped out in front of me just as I got to him and I knocked him down. I won't run down the ramp again!”
Turn 3: Robert’s rules of order
Contributor Ben Shelton pointed out the top five finishers in July 26’s P&W Sales Southern United Professional Racing event at Golden Triangle Raceway in Beaumont, Texas. Shane Hebert and Ray Moore finished first and second, but the rest of the top five might all answer to “Robert.”
Robbie Stuart of DeRidder, La., was third, Rob Litton of Alexandria, La., was fourth and Robbie Starnes of Houston, Texas, was fifth. Fans cheering for Rob weren’t robbed.
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Aug. 7, 1986: En route to the first of back-to-back championships on the USAC Late Model tour, Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., raced to victory at Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., in a race shown live on ESPN.
Aug. 4, 1996: Dick Barton of Ashville, N.Y., avoiding potential late-race trouble with lapped traffic on single-groove track, hung on for a $5,000 victory in a race celebrating the 35th anniversary of Eriez Speedway in Hammett, Pa.
Aug. 7, 2003: Jason Croft of Woodstock, Ga., celebrates his 21st birthday at Dixie Speedway with his first-ever Late Model victory at his hometown track.
July 31, 2008: Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., led all 24 laps of a fog-shortened race at Bedford (Pa.) Speedway for a $7,000 victory on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Francis took the checkers ahead of Earl Pearson Jr. and Josh Richards in the inaugural Paul Beamer Memorial.
Aug. 1, 2011: The Oregon-based DAA Northwest Extreme Series suspended driver Jimmy Schram for one race for misconduct at Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Ore. Schram rammed the car of winner Greg Walters — a car he owned — in a retaliatory move after the checkered flag fell. Schram was also fined $500 and put on probation.
Checkered flag: Five fearless USA Nationals predictions
• The 100-lapper will have a first-time winner.
• Three drivers will take turns leading the 100-lapper.
• An Illinois driver will set fast time either Thursday or Friday night.
• Five World 100 winners will finish among the top 10 of Saturday’s finale.
• Jared Hawkins of Fairmont, W.Va., will be the best finishing driver from among Fans Fund invitees in the 100-lapper.
(Last week: Three out of four predictions correct; one rained out)