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Madden rises to No. 3 spot in power rankings

March 11, 2014, 7:26 am
By Andy Savary
DirtonDirt.com

For the second consecutive week, Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., is on the move up DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 driver rankings. Following a $12,500 victory and a runner-up finish in Smoky Mountain's National Dirt Racing League doubleheader, Madden (pictured) received a poll-high 11 first-place votes to climb four spots to No. 3 overall in the power poll presented by JRi Shocks.

Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, Ga., and Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., join Madden on the move this week. McDowell, who earned $7,500 in Friday’s NDRL opener at the Maryville, Tenn., oval, also ascended four spots before settling at No. 8 in the rankings, while Moyer climbed three spots to No. 18 after leading the first 43 circuits of Smoky Mountain’s finale won by Madden.

Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., sits atop the poll for the third consecutive week after gathering 10 first-place votes and 717 total points. Lanigan, who was idle once again, is followed by Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, Tenn., while the white-hot Madden, Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill, and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., complete the top five.

New to the power rankings this week are Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., and Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn. Robinson makes his first appearance of the season at No. 24, while Marlar debuts at No. 25.

DirtonDirt.com invited more than 30 media members and drivers along with track and series representatives to vote in this season’s rankings. Thirty 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: Runs up front all weekend at Smoky Mountain but can’t quite keep up with Team Zero mate Chris Madden. Series points: 2nd (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 2nd (nc)

3. Chris Madden, Gray Court, S.C.

Comment: Saturday’s $12,500 triumph at Smoky Mountain marks his third five-figure win of the young 2014 season. Series points: 1st (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 7th (+4)

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: 4th (nc)

5. Billy Moyer, Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Starting to cool off after a hot start to his 2014; plans to enter Ark-La-Tex’s Pelican 100 this weekend. Series points: 16th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 3rd (-2)

6. John Blankenship, Williamson, W.Va.

Comment: Will take a rare weekend off before Brownstown’s Indiana Icebreaker after finishing 9th and 18th at Smoky Mountain. Series points: 5th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 5th (-1)

7. Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Ga.

Comment: Turns in a solid weekend at Smoky Mountain, capped by a fourth-place finish in Saturday’s 60-lap finale.  Series points: 3rd (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 8th (+1)

8. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Ga.

Comment: Runs away and hides from the field in Smoky Mountain’s opener, ultimately winning by over six seconds. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 12th (+4)

9. Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.

Comment: Mired in the middle of the pack both nights at Smoky Mountain and buried in the NDRL point standings. Series points: 2nd (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 6th (-3)

10. Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tenn.

Comment: Set to return to the track (and debut a new race car, perhaps?) at Volunteer’s Spring Thaw this weekend. Series points: 6th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 8th (-2)

11. Brady Smith, Solon Springs, Wis.

Comment: Unsure when or where he’ll return to the track next after a strong Speedweeks start in his new Rockets. Series points: 3rd (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 9th (-2)

12. Don O’Neal, Martinsville, Ind.

Comment: Notches a pair of seventh-place runs at Smoky Mountain, but unlike himself with no victories in 17 starts thus far. Series points: 3rd (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 11th (-1)

13. Eddie Carrier Jr., Salt Rock, W.Va.

Comment: The Salt Rock Express will remain parked until Brownstown's Indiana Icebreaker on March 22. Series points: 4th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 13th (nc)

14. Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.

Comment: Lucas Oil points leader will take another week off leading up to the tour’s March 22 stop at Brownstown. Series points: 1st (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 15th (+1)

15. Shane Clanton, Zebulon, Ga.

Comment: Georgia veteran will step away for a couple weeks after more early-season struggles at Smoky Mountain. Series points: 6th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 14th (-1)

16. Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, Pa.

Comment: The busiest of all Speedweeks drivers is taking some time off to begin the month of March. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 16th (nc)

17. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, Ill.

Comment: Mother Nature ruins upcoming weekend plans to enter Highland's Lucky 40 with postponement until March 22. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 16th (-1)

18. Billy Moyer Jr., Batesville, Ark.

Comment: Leads 43 laps of Smoky Mountain’s finale before giving way to eventual winner Chris Madden. Series points: 7th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: 21st (+3)

19. Rick Eckert, York, Pa.

Comment: New grandpa makes an uneventful guest appearance in the Warrior house car at Smoky Mountain. Series points: 4th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 18th (-1)

20. Ray Cook, Brasstown, N.C.

Comment: Will hop out from behind the wheel to promote this weekend’s Spring Nationals doubleheader at Volunteer. Series points: 8th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 22nd (+2)

21. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, N.Y.

Comment: Takes a week off following a busy February; former WoO champion’s next event is to be determined. Series points: 8th (World of Outlaws). Last week's ranking: 19th (-2)

22. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, Ill.

Comment: In early points holes on both the Lucas Oil and NDRL circuits after an abysmal weekend at Smoky Mountain. Series points: 11th (Lucas Oil). Last week's ranking: 20th (-2)

23. Casey Roberts, Toccoa, Ga.

Comment: Not the weekend he hoped for at Smoky Mountain, but does qualify for both NDRL features. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: 23rd (nc)

24. Kent Robinson, Bloomington, Ind.

Comment: Continues his solid start to 2014 with a pair of top-10 finishes during Smoky Mountain’s NDRL twinbill. Series points: 6th (NDRL). Last week's ranking: Unranked

25. Mike Marlar, Winfield, Tenn.

Comment: Zigs and zags his way from 10th to score a runner-up finish in Saturday’s NDRL event at Smoky Mountain. Series points: None. Last week's ranking: Unranked

Dropped out: Jimmy Mars, Brian Birkhofer

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.

DirtonDirt Top 25

Driver (pts.) (1st place)
1. Darrell Lanigan (717) (10)
2. Scott Bloomquist (688) (4)
3. Chris Madden (684) (11)
4. Brandon Sheppard (603) (3)
5. Billy Moyer (578) (1)
6. John Blankenship (568)
7. Jonathan Davenport (557)
8. Dale McDowell (516)
9. Steve Francis (513)
10. Jimmy Owens (467) (1)
11. Brady Smith (461)
12. Don O’Neal (448)
13. Eddie Carrier Jr. (316)
14. Earl Pearson Jr. (285)
15. Shane Clanton (266)
16. Gregg Satterlee (224)
17. Bobby Pierce (202)
18. Billy Moyer Jr. (199)
19. Rick Eckert (197)
20. Ray Cook (182)
21. Tim McCreadie (158)
22. Dennis Erb Jr. (139)
23. Casey Roberts (111)
24. Kent Robinson (106)
25. Mike Marlar (67)
Others receiving votes: Jimmy Mars (62), Brian Shirley (62), Brian Birkhofer (56), Terry Phillips (35), Ryan Gustin (33), Tim Fuller (32), Riley Hickman (31), Davey Johnson (30), Shannon Babb (23), Jason Feger (22), Morgan Bagley (14), Tony Jackson Jr. (13), Eric Wells (12), Chad Simpson (10), Randy Weaver (10), Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (9), Josh Richards (8), Mason Zeigler (8), Clint Smith (7), Kenny Pettyjohn (6), Chase Junghans (5), Jason Hiett (5), Kyle Bronson (4), Max Blair (1).
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