Quick Time: Sweet 16 triumph at Speedweeks
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: Speedweeks parity
If you felt like you’d never seen so many drivers reach victory lane before at Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, you were right. With only only two drivers winning more than once, a record-setting 16 drivers in 18 Super Late Model races reached victory lane.
While it’s been common to have 10 or more winners since the winter action expanded in the late 1990s, 16 marks an all-time high. That eclipses the record of 14 winners in 16 races in 2004, a season enhanced by Volusia running a Speedweeks-high nine events.
Before that, 13 winners reached victory lane in Super Late Model events in back-to-back years in 1998 and ’99, the only year in the past 20 where there wasn’t a single repeat winner.
The 16-winner mark will likely be tough to break as there have only been 16 or more Speedweeks races seven times in history. Here’s a breakdown of the last 19 Speedweeks, according to DirtonDirt.com records:
1996: 8 winners in 10 races (Billy Moyer)
Turn 1: Other Speedweeks morsels
A few other interesting morsels from Speedweeks:
• This year marked the first time two Florida-based drivers have captured more than one Florida Speedweeks event since 1997 when Keith Nosbisch of Valrico won at East Bay and Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville won the Volusia finale.
• This year marked the first since 2010, and only the second in the last seven seasons, without a repeat winner at Volusia.
• Billy Moyer had a multiple-victory week at East Bay for a Winternationals-leading fifth time. He broke a tie of four multiple-victory weeks with Don O’Neal.
Turn 2: Speedweeks stock market
Drivers who raised their stock during Georgia-Florida Speedweeks, or saw their fortunes fall:
Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.: Reeling off five consecutive finishes of third or better is tough anytime, anywhere, but especially against the rigorous competition of Speedweeks. The driver who has been selective about long trips from home in recent seasons might be encouraged to venture out more in 2014.
Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.: His four top-five finishes in six starts was best percentage-wise of any Speedweeks driver. He’s been the lone national touring driver in a Longhorn Chassis for years, but the addition of the Moyers and Davenport — and more to come? — has clearly boosted the Bobby Labonte Racing piece.
Kyle Bronson, Brandon, Fla.: The 23-year-old's first World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory in Volusia’s finale put the spotlight on him, but he’d been fast all week. Look for more success out of Bronson in the regular season and, next February, let’s see what he can do at East Bay, too.
Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.: The three-time Lucas Oil Series champion has had slow starts before, but this one feels different. His test-drive of Darrell Lanigan’s Club 29 Race Car hints that his eighth year in a Bloomquist Race Car could be his last.
Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.: The 17-year-old’s East Bay victory salvaged what was otherwise a struggling trip to Florida for a driver who appeared to be on the cusp of becoming a Speedweeks star. Likely just a blip for a driver who heightened expectations with his impressive 2013 season.
Dennis Franklin, Gaffney, S.C.: The three-time and reigning Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series champion was never a factor at Golden Isles or East Bay, diminishing the chances of a considered rookie run on the Lucas Oil Series.
Backstretch: By the numbers (director’s cut)
We crunched the Speedweeks numbers on Monday. Here are a few that didn’t make the first cut:
0: Successful burnouts Kyle Bronson completed after his career-best victory at Volusia (hopefully he’ll get another shot at it).
1: World of Outlaws Late Model Series races before the rival crews of Brandon Sheppard’s Rocket Chassis house car team and Darrell Lanigan Autosports squared off in a postrace scrape.
2: Maximum number of Ice cream cones one driver should attempt to carry through the Volusia pits.
5.5: Crew members potentially covered by North Florida Speedway’s gigantic checkered flag if they huddled together in victory lane.
6: First-time winners between Volusia (4) and East Bay (2), the most combined since 2004 when Volusia (4) and East Bay (2) also combined for six first-timers. Of the six first-time winners in 2004, only Shannon Babb and Tim McCreadie have gone on to win more Speedweeks features.
Turn 3: Tweet of the week
@Kenny_Wallace: MY choice for @NASCARHall is "Larry Phillips" who is a BIG TIME WINNER out of Springfield MO and Taught @RustyWallace and @markmartin.
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
Feb. 27, 1993: Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., wins at Waycross (Ga.) Speedway for the first of his series-leading 100 career victories on the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series.
Feb. 24, 1996: Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla., became the second first-time winner in a row with a career-high $10,500 payday at Waycross (Ga.) Speedway. Home-state drivers Rex Richey, Stan Massey and Clint Smith chased him to the finish.
Feb. 26, 2000: Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., notched his biggest career victory, leading 71 of 75 laps at Waycross (Ga.) Motor Speedway for a $5,000 payday on the Southeast Motorsports Dirt Racing Series. Ronnie Johnson led the first four laps and settled for second with Earl Pearson Jr. third.
Feb. 26, 2006: Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla., after his team made an engine swap following his heat race, earned $5,000 at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., for his first National Late Model Series victory. Whitener overtook Alex Vickers midway through the feature and beat Brett Carlton to the checkers.
Feb. 28, 2008: Driving a Jess Anderson-owned car, Jimmy Mars of Menomonie, Wis., earned $3,000 for a victory on the opening night of the Las Vegas Dirt Classic at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Mars took the checkers ahead of Scott James (in Oregon driver Rick Wyatt’s car) and Tim McCreadie (in Chris Sivesind's Victory Circle house car).
Checkered flag: Five fearless Bama Bash predictions
• Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., will set fast time.
• At least two Longhorn Chassis drivers will finish in the top 10.
• The winner won’t come from the list of winners from NDRL’s nine non-points events in January at Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas.
• At least three drivers will accept provisionals available to competitors with perfect attendance from NDRL’s January action.
• A single home-state driver will crack the starting field.
Editor’s note: This is the first Quick Time edition of 2014. The weekly feature will continue through early November.