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DirtonDirt.com exclusive

Quick Time: Crown jewel wins rare for youngsters

October 23, 2013, 8:16 am
By Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.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: Storming from fifth-to-first over a three-lap stretch, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., earned $50,000 at Portsmouth (Ohio) Raceway Park's 33rd annual Red Buck Dirt Track World Championship on Oct. 19 in the Rocket Chassis house car.

Regional: Capturing his fifth special event victory at Talladega (Ala.) Short Track over two seasons, Randy Weaver of Crossville, Tenn., earned $4,000 on the Southern All Star Series on Oct. 19.

Weekly: Clicking off his 17th victory at the season at Delaware International Speedway, Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del. collected $8,005 for his Fall Championship victory Oct. 20 at the Delmar, Del., oval.

Crate: After losing the series points lead, Mike Pegher Jr. of Wexford, Pa., rebounded with an Oct. 18 victory at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa., on the Sweeney Chevrolet-Buick-GMC RUSH Crate Late Model Series.

Turn 1: Ages of crown jewel winners

Tired of hearing how 20-year-old Brandon Sheppard’s Dirt Track World Championship was a big deal because of his age?

Give us one more crack at it, because Sheppard’s age is half the average age of crown jewel winners over the past four seasons. And over the past five years, only three crown jewel winners (Josh Richards, Jared Landers and John Blankenship) were under the age of 37.

When it comes to winning the biggest and richest races in Dirt Late Model racing, age and experience means everything, and on only five occasions, drivers under the age of 25 have hoisted crown jewel trophies.

While there can be debate about what constitutes a crown jewel event, for our purposes we’ll include the Show-Me 100, Dream, USA Nationals, North-South 100, Topless 100, World 100, Knoxville Nationals and Dirt Track World Championship. Check out the statistics:

Five youngest crown jewel winners
• 20 years, 8 months, 23 days: Brandon Sheppard (2013 Dirt Track World Championship)
• 23 years, 4 months, 12 days: Josh Richards (2011 USA Nationals)
• 24 years, 3 months, 4 days: Marshall Green (1997 Dirt Track World Championship)
• 24 years, 6 months, 23 days: Jeff Purvis (World 100, 1983)
• 24 years, 9 months, 23 days: Scott Bloomquist (World 100, 1988)

Crown jewel winners under 30 years old (by race)
• World 100 (Eldora): 7 — Jeff Purvis (three times), Scott Bloomquist (twice), Donnie Moran, Joe Merryfield
• Topless 100 (Batesville): 3 — Jimmy Mars, Shannon Babb, Jared Landers
• DTWC (various tracks): 3 — Brandon Sheppard, Marshall Green, Billly Moyer
• USA Nationals (Cedar Lake): 2 — Jimmy Mars, Josh Richards
• Dream (Eldora): 2 — Jimmy Mars, Steve Casebolt
• Show-Me 100 (West Plains/Wheatland): 1 — Ray Cook
• North-South 100 (Florence): 1 — Jeff Purvis
• Knoxville Nationals (Knoxville): 1 — Brian Shirley

Average age of crown jewel winners (last five seasons)
2013: 40.0
2012: 42.0
2011: 42.3
2010: 43.9
2009: 38.5

Average of crown jewel winners (last five seasons by race)
37.4 — USA Nationals (Cedar Lake)
37.4 — Dirt Track World Championship (various tracks)
39.0 — Show-Me 100 (West Plains/Wheatland)
40.8 — World 100 (Eldora)
40.8 — Topless 100 (Batesville)
42.2 — North-South 100 (Florence)
44.6 — Dream (Eldora)

46.8 — Knoxville Nationals (Knoxville)

Turn 2: Dirt track lies

• “All I needed was another five laps.”

• “We’ll take a 10-minute intermission.”

• “I hated to to get into him.”

• “The bathrooms aren’t that bad.”

• “It hasn’t rained at the racetrack all day.”

Backstretch: Worse than a wrong turn

Heading to Pennsylvania’s Thunder Valley Raceway a dozen or so years ago, all seemed well on the trip until I glanced at the atlas and made a troubling discovery: There were two locales in Pennsylvania listed for Central City, the location of the track.

I immediately began to sweat it out: Was I headed to the wrong Central City? It turned out I wasn’t, but for a moment back in the pre-GPS days, I wondered if my racing plans for the night were going to be derailed.

So I was listening with rapt attention the other day when UMP DIRTcar director Sam Driggers told me a story about being called to substitute for MARS DIRTcar Series director Randy Mooneyham for the tour's final series weekend. After I heard one word — Salina — I knew where his story was headed.

Driggers headed for the MARS weekend from a race the previous night in Illinois, and all was well when he rolled into Salina early in the afternoon. But when he called a colleague to ask how to find the track, none of the road descriptions matched up.

And suddenly Driggers had an awful realization — he was in the wrong state. Driggers had headed to Salina Speedway in Kansas, not Salina Highbanks Speedway in Oklahoma. Yes, the states border each other, but Driggers suddenly was facing a 300-mile trip to reach his destination. While it was an immediate crisis, Driggers was later able to laugh about it. But you can bet next time, he’ll ask “Which Salina?”

Turn 3: Tweets of the Week

Twitter reaction about the 33rd annual Red Buck Dirt Track World Championship:

Ryan DeVos ‏@RyanDeVos22: If you didn't believe in Brandon Sheppard before I think now now maybe you will. #DTWC #kid

Kyle Dunn ‏@dunn_kyle85: The move Brandon Sheppard put on Scott Bloomquist for the lead in the #DTWC Was awesome..Highside Hustling at its best!

Jesus Shuttlesworth ‏@mbunner23: Still in awe over Brandon Sheppards DTWC win. Guy can wheel it and is as humble as they come. Wish there were more racers like him.

Gabrielle Hendrix ‏@gabbyhendrix: Even though he didn't win, Jackie Boggs just showed PRP who is boss. #DTWC #dirt

Keith Courson ‏@UpontheWheel1: If this lineup were at Pennsboro, I would take Moyer. At PRP, you probably gotta go with Bloomer. #dtwc

Turn 4: Turn back the clock

Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:

Oct. 15, 1987: Denny Chamberlain of Lost Creek, W.Va., grabbed his lone career victory on the All Star Circuit of Champions at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.

Late October 1996: Midwest LateModel Racing Association co-founder and president Ken Essary sells the series to Allen and Harriet Chancellor; Chuck Stowe, who debuted as MLRA race director in 1996, remains in his role.

Oct. 20, 2000: Former dirt crew chief Randle Chupp, driver of the No. 114 Biscotti’s Restaurant Rocket, landed a job with ppc Racing as the in-house car chief for Jeff Green’s NesQuick Chevrolet on the NASCAR Busch Grand National tour.

Oct. 27, 2007: Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, led every lap at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky., for a $10,000 victory in the curfew-shortened Commonwealth Cup. Birkhofer took the checkers ahead of Dennis Erb Jr., Dale McDowell, Dan Schlieper and Ricky Arms.

Oct. 30, 2011: Promoters David and Anita Ferrell ended 12-year run at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, Ky., they announced at the track’s postseason banquet. The Ferrells presented plaques to employees who worked at the track each season.

Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions

• A former winner will repeat at at Whynot (Miss.) Motorsport Park’s Coors Light Fall Classic.

• Home-state drivers will win special events at 201 Speedway in Sitka, Ky., Winchester (Va.) Speedway and Chatham (La.) Raceway.

• Smoky Mountain Raceway’s Southern All Star winner will come from the list of previous 2013 winners at the Maryville, Tenn., oval.

• At least two World of Outlaws Late Model Series regulars will grab weekend victories.

• No driver will capture the three-feature bonus at Carolina Speedway’s King of the Carolinas.

(Last week: Four out of five DTWC predictions correct)

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