Twice-winning Lanigan on top in power rankings
By Andy SavaryDirtonDirt.com
After debuting his own Club 29 Race Car in style with a pair of Speedweeks victories, Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., has been voted atop DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 driver rankings to begin the regular season. Lanigan received 689 total points and 11 out of a possible 29 first-place votes in the weekly poll presented by JRi Shocks.
Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., parked his Longhorn Chassis second in the power rankings, securing 658 total points and five first-place votes, while Rocket Chassis house car driver Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. was tabbed third in the rankings, collecting 646 total points and six first-place votes. Moyer joined Lanigan as the only other driver to win more than one Speedweeks event, while Sheppard led all drivers with over $34,000 in feature earnings during his venture south.
Volusia Speedway Park’s DIRTcar Nationals champion Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., and defending World 100 winner John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., rounded out the top five in the regular season-opening rankings. Bloomquist garnered 642 total points, four first-place votes and over $30,000 in winnings on his Speedweeks trip, while Blankenship nabbed one first-place vote, along with Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis., and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who were voted No. 7 and No. 8, respectively.
Smith joins Eddie Carrier Jr. of Salt Rock, W.Va., Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., Billy Moyer Jr., of Batesville, Ark., and Casey Roberts of Toccoa, Ga., in a group of drivers who went unranked in DirtonDirt.com's preseason rankings and make their first poll appearance of 2014 in this week’s rankings.
DirtonDirt.com invited more than 30 media members and drivers along with track and series representatives to vote in this season’s rankings. Twenty-nine submitted ballots this week. Weekly polls continues through mid-November.
1. Darrell Lanigan, Union, Ky.
Comment: Leaves Speedweeks action with a pair of victories, the World of Outlaws points lead and a potential big-name Club 29 teammate? Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Preseason ranking: 2nd (+1)
2. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Turns in a dominant week at East Bay, where he is only slowed by a deck-height controversy in the finale. Series points: - (NDRL). Preseason ranking: 4th (+2)
3. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.
Comment: If his Speedweeks is any indication, the 21-year-old is on the World of Outlaws tour to stay this season. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Preseason ranking: 6th (+3)
4. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: The only non-first-time winner at Volusia collects his first DIRTcar Nationals weeklong championship. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 8th (+4)
5. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: Held out of victory lane in 13 Speedweeks starts, but lowers East Bay’s track record to 13.854 seconds. Series points: 5th (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: - 3rd (-2)
6. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Not fast at all times during Speedweeks, but fast at the right times during Lucas Oil points races. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: 5th (-1)
7. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.
Comment: Gets off to a fast start in his new Rocket Chassis and contemplates a full-season run with the World of Outlaws. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Preseason ranking: Unranked
8. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: Takes Darrell Lanigan’s new Club 29 Race Car for a quick test drive and makes waves in the pit area. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: 1st (-7)
9. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: Runner-up once at both Golden Isles and Ocala, but never a serious contender at East Bay or Volusia. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: 11th (+2)
10. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: Passes a week’s worth of cars in both Wednesday and Thursday’s DIRTcar Nationals features at Volusia. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 18th (+8)
11. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Comment: Not the start he wanted to his World of Outlaws season with zero top-five finishes through five events. Series points: 6th (World of Outlaws). Preseason ranking: 10th (-1)
12. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.
Comment: Turns in his best week ever at East Bay, where he records his first-ever Speedweeks victory on Monday. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: Unranked
13. Gregg Satterlee, Rochester Mills, Pa.
Comment: Impresses while leading all drivers with 15 Speedweeks starts at Golden Isles, East Bay, Ocala and Volusia. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 23rd (+10)
14. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Comment: Lucas Oil points leader nabs a trio of third-place finishes at Golden Isles before a roller coaster week at East Bay. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: Unranked
15. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: Wins at Golden Isles and calls it quits for Speedweeks; he’ll return to the track this weekend at EAMS and Cherokee. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 14th (-1)
16. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.
Comment: Redeems his early-week East Bay struggles by claiming his first Lucas Oil win in Saturday’s day race. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 12th (-4)
17. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Comment: Sweeps his Longhorn Chassis debut in lowering the track record, winning his heat and leading every lap of the feature. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 22nd (+5)
18. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: On-track struggles are put in perspective by news back home of a newborn granddaughter, Lona. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Preseason ranking: 13th (-5).
19. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: Competes at all five Speedweeks tracks, but rolls off to a sluggish start in his new Rocket Chassis mounts. Series points: 8th (World of Outlaws). Preseason ranking: 9th (-10)
20. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.
Comment: Triumphs in his return to Rayburn under the lights of East Bay’s live TV race, but can’t muster much else. Series points: 11th (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: 25th (+5)
21. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Comment: New MasterSbilt house car team starts off slow with no top-five runs in eight starts at Golden Isles and East Bay. Series points: 8th (Lucas Oil). Preseason ranking: 16th (-5)
22. Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Carries Longhorn Chassis' western success to the opposite coast with solid outings at Golden Isles and East Bay. Series points: - (NDRL). Preseason ranking: Unranked
23. Terry Phillips, Springfield, Mo.
Comment: Parks his Late Model in favor of his modified after early-season NDRL events at Tucson and El Paso. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 22nd (-1)
24. Casey Roberts, Toccoa, Ga.
Comment: Tops Scott Bloomquist in Volusia’s most thrilling race for his first career WoO and DIRTcar Nationals victories. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: Unranked
25. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.
Comment: Skips out on Florida after making the long trip out west for the NDRL’s preseason desert events. Series points: None. Preseason ranking: 21st (-4)
Dropped out: Josh Richards, Jason Feger, Brian Birkhofer, Shannon Babb, Ryan Gustin.
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 and series representatives.