Quick Time: How will the 2013 season wrap up?
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: Although friendly rival Josh Richards won both preliminary features, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., notched a crown jewel victory Sept. 28 at the 10th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals, earning $40,000.
Regional: Dennis Franklin zeroed on his third Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series title with a Sept. 28 victory at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway, his sixth in the last seven series events.
Weekly: Winning a second season-ending event at an Iowa track, Corey Zeitner of Bellevue, Neb., topped Sept. 28’s Dave Hubbard Memorial at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City. Zeitner two weeks earlier capture the Tiny Lund Memorial at Shelby County Speedway in Harlan.
Crate: Dale Caswell of Central Square, N.Y., earned one of Crate Late Model racing’s richest paydays at Brighton (Ontario) Speedway, earning $5,000 in the Go Nuclear Late Model Challenge Series-sanctioned Great Crate Race.
Turn 1: Five late-season questions
What’s different this late season? With the cancellation of a race at New York’s Rolling Wheels Raceway Park, the World of Outlaws won’t have an October event for just the second time since 2004. Another change is East Alabama Motor Speedway’s $20,000-to-win National 100 moving up in the schedule to proceed WoO’s World Finals in Charlotte. And finally, for Crate Late Model fans, the NeSmith Chevrolet Late Model Series wraps up the weekend before Thanksgiving at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla., after typically running in December further south at East Bay.
Who will have a late-season hot streak? Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., might already be in the middle of it after back-to-back Saturday victories at Michigan’s dirt-covered Berlin Raceway and a $40,000 payday at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway and four September victories overall. Three WoO races wrap up his season, but Lanigan could potentially venture to the Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park to try to crash another Lucas Oil Series party.
Are the national tour titles decided? Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., has all but clinched his third WoO title as an average finish of 17th place secures the crown. He’s been 16th or better in all but two series races. With three Lucas Oil Series events remaining, Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., leads Steve Francis by 125 points, meaning Owens would likely have to run into trouble. If Francis were to win the final three races, Owens could still win the title by finishing fourth or better, not counting the potential bonus points for either driver setting fast time.
What’s the best way to make a late-season splash? Crashing victory lane at the World Finals in Concord, N.C. The Nov. 7-9 event at the Dirt Track at Charlotte has become an event that puts an exclamation mark on the season, and drivers who run well can turn heads that count.
What else is there to look forward to for the off-season? A short break before racing begins again, for one, as Tucson, Ariz., action fires up Jan. 10 for the six-race Winter Extreme. Plans are in the works for a points-paying winter miniseries in the West that will connect 2013’s late-season events along with early-season 2014 events.
Turn 2: Fear itself
Things I fear at the dirt track:
• Tip-toeing across a just-watered frontstretch before the feature event and sprawling face-first in front of thousands of fans.
• Opening the flimsy door of an occupied portable toilet.
• Walking across the infield scales and seeing that big number pop up.
• Tripping over a jackhandle emerging from underneath a race car and breaking a leg.
• Being mowed down by a four-wheeler driven too fast through the pit area.
Backstretch: Knoxville by haiku
The 10th annual Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals through haiku, the Japanese form of poetry. The poems are about Josh Richards-Darrell Lanigan, Jason Feger and Brian Birkhofer:
Friendly rivals race
feathers ruffled by contact
frown suddenly smiles
Highside no surprise
Late restart challenge is feared
Car over, with race
First two nights wasted
home-state hero still struggles
Pow! Tire blows last chance
Turn 3: Quote of the week
Dennis “Rambo” Franklin talks about his fourth-to-first move at the start of Saturday’s Carolina Clash event in Fayetteville, N.C.:
“(Polesitter Johnny) Pursley drove it down in there 'til he seen Elvis, I think. He washed up and I said, 'Well, I'm going to the bottom and I hope there's no caution.' ”
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Oct. 5, 1980: Buck Simmons of Baldwin, Ga., captured his fourth National Dirt Racing Association event of the season at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga.
Oct. 4, 1996: Johnny Virden of Russellville, Ark., claimed the largest purse of his career at Jackson (Miss.) Motor Speedway’s Magnolia State 100. Virden earned $12,500 for the flag-to-flag victory over his GRT teammate, Bill Frye of Greenbrier, Ark. Mike Boland, Robbie Starnes and Scott Bloomquist (making his Jackson debut) rounded out the top five.
Oct. 4, 2003: Anthony Rushing of Kosciusko, Miss., led all the way in the Magnolia State 100 at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway for a $20,003 victory. Rushing drove his Travis McBride-owned car to victory over Kenny Merchant and Ray Cook.
Oct. 4, 2007: MLRA co-founder Randy Mooneyham announces the launching of the Dirt LateModel Racing Association for the 2008 season.
Oct. 1, 2011: Team owner Lynn Richard announced the hiring of Mark Burgtorf, 45, of Quincy, Ill., to field the Richard Realty & Auction No. 15 in 2012.
Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions
• The winners on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Dixie and Rome Speedways in Georgia won’t finish among the top five in the other event.
• A current or former Eldora track champion will capture the UMP Nationals feature.
• Two World of Outlaws regulars will score victories in events on other tours.
• One of two winners at Lakeside Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., will best a first-time winner at the track in MLRA action.
• Three home-state drivers will finish among the top five at Natural Bridge (Va.) Speedway’s Sunoco Fall Classic.
(Last week: Three out of five Knoxville predictions correct)
Editor’s note: Todd Turner will be on vacation next week; Quick Time will return Oct. 16.