Madden, Rambo climb in Top 25 power rankings
By Andy SavaryDirtonDirt.com
For the third consecutive week, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., was voted No. 1 in DirtonDirt.com's weekly Top 25 power rankings presented by JRi Shocks. Lanigan gathered 21 out of a possible 24 first-place votes to best World of Outlaws Late Model Series points leader Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va, and (unofficial) Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., atop the weekly poll.
Though there was no movement in the top 12 spots of this week's poll, South Carolina drivers Dennis Franklin of Gaffney, and Chris Madden of Gray Court, headlined movers farther down. Franklin leaped three spots from No. 25 to No. 22 following his richest victory of the season in the Fastrak World Championship at Beckley (W.Va) Motorsports Park, while Madden led flag-to-flag in the Dixie Shootout to bag his 11th special event victory of the season and jumped two notches from No. 15 to No. 13.
Franklin's AES Racing teammate Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., rejoined the rankings at the demise of Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill, after a one-week absence. Erb is now among drivers just on the outside looking in, along with Ray Cook of Brasstown, N.C., Chris Simpson of Oxford, Iowa, and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn.
After restricting poll voting to staffers the previous two seasons, DirtonDirt.com invited more than 30 media members and drivers along with track, series and manufacturer representatives to vote in this season’s rankings. Twenty-four submitted ballots this week. Weekly polls continue through mid-November.
1. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Comment: Unsure when or where he will return to the track following his $40,000 victory in Knoxville's finale. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 1st (nc)
2. Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.
Comment: Can clinch his third career World of Outlaws title by averaging a 17th-place finish over the final three events. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 2nd (nc)
3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Unofficially clinches his third consecutive Lucas Oil championship with a top-five at Dixie and a rainout at Rome. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 3rd (nc)
4. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: Will finish third in Lucas Oil points and complete his best-ever finish in a season-long championship chase. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 4th (nc)
5. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Struggles at Dixie and rains at Rome close the book on his chances of catching Owens atop the Lucas Oil standings. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 5th (nc)
6. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: Prepares his big-block modified for the upcoming Super Dirt Week in home-state New York. Series points: 5th (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 6th (nc)
7. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Hopes to be crowned the inaugural NDRL champion following this weekend's Pittsburgher 100 at PPMS. Series points: 1st (NDRL). Last week’s ranking: 7th (nc)
8. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.
Comment: Magnolia's Cotton Pickin' 100 and Portsmouth's Dirt Track World Championship are up next for the youngster. Series points: 2nd (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 8th (nc)
9. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Comment: Competes at Tri-County and Dixie on an off weekend from World of Outlaws touring action. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 9th (nc)
10. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.
Comment: Mother Nature denies the UMP Summernationals and UMP Weekly king the chance to add a UMP Nationals crown. Series points: 1st (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 10th (nc)
11. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: Will make appearances in a Childress Racing-owned No. 71 MasterSbilt at Magnolia and Whynot. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 11th (nc)
12. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: Former race winner fades from fourth to tenth in the Dixie Shootout before getting rained out at Rome. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 12th (nc)
13. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: Gains a redeeming Dixie Shootout victory; no driver has been hotter over the second half of the season. Series points: 3rd (Southern Nationals). Last week’s ranking: 15th (+2)
14. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Inaugural Pittsburgher winner will make his return to PPMS this weekend after a 10-year absence. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 13th (-1)
15. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: PPMS-bound with his Bloomquist Chassis following another top-five run in Paul Crowl's Rocket at Natural Bridge. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week’s ranking: 13th (-2)
16. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.
Comment: Will return to PPMS for the Pittsburgher less than two months after winning the track's Red Miley Rumble. Series points: 1st (AMS). Last week's ranking: 16th (nc)
17. Jason Feger, Bloomington, Ill.
Comment: Takes a week off before Pittsburgh to refresh all of his equipment following a rollover accident at Knoxville. Series points: None. Last week’s ranking: 18th (+1)
18. Shannon Babb, Moweaqua, Ill.
Comment: Currently sits at 10 victories on the year, but still undecided on what the rest of his 2013 racing season holds. Series points: 3rd (Summernationals). Last week’s ranking: 17th (-1)
19. Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
Comment: Overtaken late in Saturday's MLRA finale at Lakeside, but bagged $10,000 in the USMTS portion of the event. Series points: 3rd (MLRA). Last week's ranking: 19th (nc)
20. Tony Jackson Jr., Lebanon, Mo.
Comment: Becomes only the second driver to ever record MLRA and MARS championships in the same season. Series points: 1st (MARS and MLRA). Last week’s ranking: 21st (+1)
21. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
Comment: Diehard Steelers fan is off to the Pittsburgher for what could be his final event of this season. Series points: 5th (NDRL). Last week’s ranking: 20th (-1)
22. Dennis Franklin, Gaffney, S.C.
Comment: Takes a week off from his Carolina Clash domination to capture Beckley's Fastrak World Championship. Series points: 1st (Carolina Clash). Last week's ranking: 25th (+3)
23. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Comment: Barring a DTWC disaster, the four-time Lucas Oil champ will finish fourth in this year's championship standings. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week’s ranking: 23rd (nc)
24. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Comment: Taking a weekend off for the first time since early July following busy Fastrak competition at Beckley. Series points: 1st (Southern Nationals). Last week’s ranking: Unranked
25. Jackie Boggs, Grayson, Ky.
Comment: Records his most meaningful win of the season in Saturday's Black Jack & Farley Boggs Memorial Race at Southern Ohio. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 24th (-1)
Dropped out: Dennis Erb Jr.
Editor’s note: The top 25 drivers are determined by a points system with 25 points for a first-place vote, 24 points for a second-place vote and so on through a single point for a 25th-place vote. The voting panel is made up of media members, drivers, and track, series and manufacturer representatives.