Madden, Davenport on the rise in Top 25 poll
By Andy SavaryDirtonDirt.com
Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., and Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., are surging in DirtonDirt.com’s latest Top 25 power rankings presented by JRi Shocks following special event victories over the weekend at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, Ala., and Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C.
Madden, who collected $17,017 for his victory in East Alabama’s NDRL-sanctioned 17th annual Bama Bash, rose eight spots in the weekly poll to No. 7, while Davenport, who dominated Sunday’s March Madness finale at Cherokee, climbed nine positions to settle one spot back of Madden at No. 8.
Club 29 boss Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., remains atop the poll for the second consecutive week, earning 19 out of a possible 29 first-place votes and 707 total points. Lanigan is joined by Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill, and John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va., in the top five of the rankings.
Sheppard’s five first-place votes are second best among all drivers, with Bloomquist’s two first-place votes third. Moyer, Blankenship and Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., who has fallen to No. 10 in the rankings after being No. 1 to open the preseason, gathered one first-place vote each.
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: Likely off until the end of March when the World of Outlaws venture south to Lone Star and I-30. Series points: 1st (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 1st (nc)
2. Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tenn.
Comment: Cards (or tires, perhaps) don’t fall his way at EAMS, where he was among the quickest cars in the main event. Series points: 4th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 4th (+2)
3. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Has a fairly uneventful trip to East Alabama; he’ll look to get back in victory lane this weekend at Smoky Mountain. Series points: 10th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 2nd (-1)
4. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill.
Comment: Like Lanigan, the Rocket house car driver likely won’t return to the track until Lone Star and I-30. Series points: 2nd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 3rd (-1)
5. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.
Comment: He’ll be among the busiest drivers this year in chasing both the Lucas Oil and NDRL championships. Series points: 5th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 3rd (-2)
6. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.
Comment: Front-row starter part of tangle on the initial start of Saturday’s Bama Bash that spurs a near-disastrous pileup. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (-1)
7. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.
Comment: Regional standout continues his red hot start to 2014 with a $17,017 Bama Bash victory at EAMS. Series points: 1st (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 15th (+8)
8. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.
Comment: The transition to Longhorn Chassis has proved to be a smooth and profitable one for the March Madness winner. Series points: 2nd (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 17th (+9)
9. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.
Comment: Unsure when or where he’ll return to the track next after getting off to a strong Speedweeks start. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 7th (-2)
10. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.
Comment: As of Monday night, the Tennessean lists no plans to enter home-state events at Smoky Mountain this weekend. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 8th (-2)
11. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.
Comment: One of only a handful of drivers who doesn’t pit for tires at East Alabama but still makes it to the finish. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 9th (-2)
12. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.
Comment: Fourth on Saturday at Cherokee before tangling with a lapped car in Sunday’s March Madness action. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 10th (-2)
13. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.
Comment: Goes on a warm-weather vacation to celebrate his 43rd birthday and tweets a racy (leg) photo. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 12th (-1)
14. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.
Comment: Early mover retires suddenly on the 19th lap of East Alabama’s Bama Bash while running in the top five. Series points: 6th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 11th (-3)
15. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.
Comment: Lucas Oil points leader will likely take a few weeks off leading up to Brownstown’s Indiana Icebreaker. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 14th (-1)
16. Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, Pa.
Comment: The busiest of Speedweeks drivers will take some time off to begin the month of March. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 13th (-3)
17. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.
Comment: Set to kick off March with a race party this weekend; he hopes to be back on the track March 15 at Highland. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 16th (-1)
18. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.
Comment: New grandpa enjoys time back home with his family and newborn granddaughter, Lona. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 18th (nc)
19. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.
Comment: Runs up front early at East Alabama before becoming one of the many victims of a flat tire. Series points: 8th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 19th (nc)
20. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.
Comment: Has a single top-five finish — a victory in front of the live TV cameras at East Bay — in 15 starts thus far in 2014. Series points: 8th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 20th (nc)
21. Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, Ark.
Comment: Travels to North Carolina headquarters to pick up a new Longhorn Chassis before competing at East Alabama. Series points: 16th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 22nd (+1)
22. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.
Comment: Sixth-finishing MasterSbilt house car team turns in one of its strongest performances of the season at EAMS. Series points: 8th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 21st (-1)
23. Casey Roberts, Toccoa, Ga.
Comment: Runner-up in Cherokee's March Madness opener after an early move to take the lead is negated by a caution. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 24th (+1)
24. Jimmy Mars, Menomonie, Wis.
Comment: Pilots Jason Krohn’s backup car at EAMS, where he is the first retiree after being caught up in an early caution. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 25th (+1)
25. Brian Birkhofer, Muscatine, Iowa
Comment: Tentatively plans to debut his new Rocket Chassis on March 28-29 during La Salle’s Thaw Brawl. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: Unranked
Dropped out: Terry Phillips
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.