Wednesday, January 10, 2018

3rd Annual Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic Pick'Em Contest

It's that time of year, the Super Bowl of Australian Sprint Car racing is upon us! And now, it's time for us at TDN to share what we love to do over here in North America with all of you that we love!!

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Grand Australian Sprint Car Classic Pick'Em Contest! It's completely free to play, easy to play too, and has some great prizes for the winners. And more than that, it makes the racing more fun too! Have side bets with your friends, get some bragging rights going, see if you can put your country over the top, it's USA vs Australia time!

How To Play

You'll select drivers in three tiers once you click the entry page below, just follow the instructions. After that, we ask you some tiebreaker questions and collect your player name, email address (used only for prize purposes) and that's it, you're entered!  Your picks will be scored with a point value system. And we will keep tabs on the standings and report back on social media here at The Dirt Network! 


PSH Electrical in Australia and R and R Racewear in the USA have been involved in this contest since the start and we are very proud to have their support always! Be sure to thank them when you can for their help!

Good luck and thanks for playing as always!

Australian Podium Prizes:

1st Place: Custom Classic Autographed James McFadden Limited Edition Poster
2nd Place: Premier Speedway Tshirt
3rd Place: Premier Speedway Hat

US/North American Podium Prizes:

1st Place: $75 Visa Gift Card
2nd Place: Choice of Tshirts from R and R Enterprises
3rd Place: $15 Subway Gift Card

To start making selections in this year's game, simply CLICK HERE

2018 Wild West Shootout - Key Statistics

2018 Wild West Shootout - Key Statistics

Late Models (entering Saturday 1/13)

Entering Saturday night's racing action, 10 out of 50 Late Model drivers (20%) have made the feature event on all 4 nights.  Here is a breakdown of the average finish for those 10 Late Model drivers, including their best current finish in the 2018 Wild West Shootout:

Pos.   Car    Driver                      Average Finish (Best Finish)

1.      157   Mike Marlar               2.75 (1st - Fri 1/12)
2.      132   Bobby Pierce              4.75 (2nd - Twice)
3.      42s    Don Shaw                  5.00 (1st - Twice)
         B5     Brandon Sheppard    5.00 (3rd - Wed 1/10)
5.      32     Chris Simpson            8.50  (2nd - Sat 1/6)
6.      01     Garrett Alberson        10.25 (5th - Sat 1/6)
7.      89     Mike Spatola             11.75 (8th - Sun 1/7)
8.      18      Chase Junghans     14.25 (5th - Wed 1/10)
9.      37      Scott Ward              14.50 (7th - Fri 1/12)
10.    97     Cade Dillard            15.50  (6th - Fri 1/12)

As you can see, “The Winfield Warrior” Mike Marlar has been completely dominating the 2018 Wild West Shootout, as he enters the final 2 races with a staggering 2.75 average finish.  “The Smooth Operator” Bobby Pierce also has an impressive sub-5th place average finish through the first 4 races, though he has yet to crack the win column.  All 10 drivers on this list are a threat to win any night for the remainder of the weekend.

Not surprisingly, these 10 drivers sit high in the current Late Model points standings, entering Saturday:

Late Models Points (entering Saturday 1/13)

1. 157  Mike Marlar  (266)
2. 132  Bobby Pierce  (229)
3. 42s   Don Shaw  (221)
    B5   Brandon Sheppard  (221)
5. 32    Chris Simpson  (210)
6.  7     Ricky Weiss   (164)
    01    Garrett Alberson  (164)
8. 89    Mike Spatola  (142)
9. 97    Cade Dillard   (131)
10. 18  Chase Junghans  (130)
      37   Scott Ward   (130)
12. 75   Terry Phillips (118)
13. 54   David Breazeale (109)
      16   Austin Siebert  (109)
15. 86  Kyle Beard  (107)
16. 2T  Ryan Gustin  (102)
      20  Rodney Sanders  (102)
18. 96  RC Whitwell  (79)
19. 32B  Clay Daly   (78)
20. 44x  Clint Smith  (67)

As always, The Dirt Network will be posting live updates for every race at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway!  However, if you can't join us, we strongly encourage you to tune-in to Dirt on Dirt's live flag-to-flag coverage of the entire event!

Order Live Coverage of the 2018 Wild West Shootout in Arizona!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

2018 Useless Chili Bowl Preview

Why the hell can't they make the Golden Driller Trophy look like this...we have no idea! 

Chili anyone? Big deal you say? Well, yeah it is a big deal actually. It's one of the biggest weeks in the world of dirt racing from a business stand point. The annual meeting of the midgets in Tulsa, OK has become a transcendent event over the years and a can't miss one at that!

That means, that every year there's more eyes on it and many of them will be first time viewers or have only watched with passive interest for a few years.  And it's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of! But how can you know how it works, how to follow along and when?  No problem!

We're not Chili Bowl Experts here at TDN and have learned more and more as they years have gone on. We've learned enough that we can even tell you what to look for, how it all goes together and how to best enjoy the action of this years #UselessChiliBowl, yes that's an actual hashtag you will need to be aware of if you plan on following along.

How Does The Chili Bowl Work? 

Basically, it holds your chili so it's not too hot to eat or too messy. You can use your hands, but a bowl will be so much better.

Okay, here's the short of it. It's 350+ drivers and they're all divided equally into four qualifying nights held Tuesday through Friday night. Drivers draw numbers right around 3 PM Eastern time, 2 PM Central, so you might want to be on social media to see where your favorite driver will line up in their heat.

Next, there is no time trialing. Immediately disbelieve and be prepared to shame any of your friends that tell you their favorite driver just time trialed on the pole for the night. All drivers will be lined up into heat races consisting of 8 to 10 cars each.  From there on, it's all passing points! You probably now how these work, god help you if you didn't, but basically it's not where ya finish in a heat race, it's how many ya pass on the way there. Same goes for qualifying races which we'll talk about next.

So after they tally the passing points, they take the top 40 drivers and put them all into qualifying races, each with an invert of six pre-qualified cars.  The 16 drivers that make their way out of those with the highest total combined points in heats and qualifying races get starting spots in that night's Amain. The rest of the field move up through consolations....or don't, and the final two Bmains send four drivers each.

When the feature event is over with, the top three finishers have guaranteed starting spots in the finale on Saturday night.

On's an entire day and night. This is basically 12 hours of racing and potentially more depending on how cautions go.  The 12 guaranteed Amain starters from the qualifying races basically play "King of the Hill" to determine starting positions in the feature, but before that, have you ever eaten Alphabet Soup?

Starting with possibly an "O" Main, drivers not already guaranteed starting spots line up depending on their passing points on their qualifying nights in the biggest pot of Alphabet Soup in dirt racing. And it's Sprint Car Alphabet Soup, not Late Model or Modified variety, if you transfer from of the consi's, you go to the back of the next race, not the final race.  They do this until there are two BMains left and fill out the rest of the starting final field with six transfers from each Bmain. There may be an Champions Provisional added.

Official Qualifying Procedures

Qualfiing Night Roster (What Drivers Are Qualiftying on What Night) 

Okay, so who are some big names driving, and what are there Qualifying Night's?  Well, if you click the link above you can find that stuff out on your own. But if you're really lazy then we'll help you out. Here's some names you may have heard of (we hope to god you've heard of them!) and the night's they will roll.


Chase Briscoe
Kyle Larson
Brad Loyet
Zach Daum
Tyler Courtney
Matt Westfall
Justin Allgaier
RJ Johnon
Alex Bright
Spencer Bayston
Brad Sweet
Kyle Hirst


Sammy Swindell
Brian Shirley
Chad Boespflug
Parker Price-Miller
Donny Schatz
Bill Balog
Ryan Smith
Chris Windom
Jake Swanson
Sheldon Haudenschild
Brady Bacon
Billy Pauch Jr.
Rico Abreu


Paul McMahan
Jerry Coons Jr.
Chase Stockon
Sam Hafertepe Jr.
Shane Golobic
Danny Smith
Cory Kruseman
Tracy Hines
CJ Leary
Tanner Thorson
Shane Stewart
Hudson O'Neal
Jac Haudenschild
David Gravel
Ryan Bernal


Thomas Meseraull
Shane Cottle
JJ Yeley
Hunter Schuerenberg
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Daryn Pittman
Dave Darland
Kody Swanson
Justin Grant
Tim McCreadie
Robert Bell
Chad Boat
DJ Netto
Chris Andrews
Kasey Kahne
Damion Gardner

How Can You Watch? 

You can follow the action via Pay Per View on Racin Boys by paying $29.99 a night or get a five night package and save some dough. Racin Boys Network will broadcast the Qualifying Nights ONLY and NOT the Championship on Saturday.  Here's your link: Chili Bowl Preliminary Night Broadcasts 

For Saturday, you'll need MavTV. If you don't have it.....write your local cable or satellite provider an email and call them every name in the book. Use four letter words and do so with feeling and passion! We'd lobby for you, but we're kind of banned from emailing Comcast here in Pittsburgh after 38 unsuccessful attempts.

Who Should You Bet On

If we were making a Las Vegas line it would probably look similar to this.

Kyle Larson   3:2
Christopher Bell  3:2
Rico Abreu    4;1
Tanner Thorson 5:1
Tim McCreadie  7:1
Justin Grant 7:1
Spencer Bayston 10:1
Donny Schatz: 25:1

TDN Staff Predictions

Tyler Beichner: Rico Abreu
Josh Bayko: Donny Schatz
Gary Heeman: Spencer Bayston
Brian "Dobie" Compton: Tanner Thorson
Kyle Symons: Kyle Larson
Todd Nunes: Christopher Bell
Patrick Miller: Christopher Bell
Jerin Steele: Kyle Larson
Aaron Clay: Sammy Swindell
Frank Iudiciani: Christopher Bell
Caitie McFastlane: Kyle Larson

Larson makes sense, he's been close and might be due. Bell makes a great pick, these things have been won back to back and so on several times. Thorson was very close last year while Bayston is the reigning USAC Midget Champion.  Tim McCreadie always makes a good sleeper bet if you're playing in the pools as a non tier one driver as well.


1. Will Scott Bloomquist be there?

No, he won't be. Last time out he kind of sucked and is not really suited towards the style or the car. Give him a year to design a car and get familiar with it, and maybe he could contend, but it would be a waste of resources for him to do so. If you're a diehard Late Model fan, Brian Shirley, Hudson O'Neal and Tim McCreadie will be there.

2. What is a flip count?

The flip count is the running tally of how many cars have gone over during racing action and also a brilliant drinking game!

3. Will there be any illegal video feeds of Saturday night?

Of course there will be! They're unavoidable! However we at TDN are forbidden from sharing them.

4. Do they serve Chili there in Tulsa?

Okay, stop asking questions idiot! Of course they do and it's rumored to put a hole in the back of your pants with more than one bowl's consumption!

Friday, January 5, 2018

2018 Wild West Shootout Preview

When the first green flag waves in the 2018 Wild West Shootout, it will have been nearly 3 weeks since Bobby Pierce won the $30,000 Gateway Indoor Dirt Nationals and over 2 months since Dennis Erb Jr won the $12,000 finale at the Dirt Track World Finals, in Charlotte.

Arizona is beginning to assert itself as one of the major Dirt Late Model racing events across the country and 2018 is no exception!  For the third consecutive year, Keyser Manufacturing has stepped up to the plate and offered a staggering $250,000 bonus to any Late Model driver that can manage to win all 6 races of this mini-series.  There is also a $100,000 bonus to any driver that can win 5 races, $25,000 to any driver that can win 4 races and new to 2018, a $10,000 bonus to any Late Model driver that can win 3 of the main events.

Black Diamond and Club 29 Race Cars has teamed with M&W Transport to offer a total of $10,000 to the top-10 in Late Models points, with $3,000 going to the driver who accumulates the most points during the 6 race mini-series.  The points fund is in-addition-to the $5,000 payouts for each night of racing, with the Sunday finale on January 14th set to pay $13,000 to the winner, thanks to Don Shaw and Shaw Trucking. Overall, a Late Model driver could walk away with an incomprehensible $291,000, if they were to win all 6 races!

Mesilla Valley Transport/Border International Trucks and Arizona Differential have also stepped-up and given USRA Modified competitors plenty of reasons to be excited for the 2018 Wild West Shootout!  4 of the 6 USRA Modified races will pay $1,000 to the winner, while the winner of the two Sunday races will pocket $2,000.  This is in-addition-to the $3,000 total that is being paid to the top-5 in points, at the end of the 6 race mini-series.  Overall, any USRA Modified driver could walk away with nearly $10,000, if they were able to win all 6 of the races in Arizona!

Arizona Speedway is a small, high-banked 3/8th's mile Dirt Track in Queen Creek, Arizona


FK Rod Ends has stepped-up and purchased naming rights to Arizona Speedway, for the entire 2018 Wild West Shootout!  For those who aren't familiar, FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway is a small, high-banked 3/8th's mile Dirt oval located in Queen Creek, Arizona, near San Tan Valley and will host the Wild West Shootout for the second straight year!

Opened just a handful of years ago, Arizona Speedway has transformed into one of the best racing facilities in the Southwest, as it continues to host some of the biggest events of the year!  Its high banks and groomed surface offer plenty of side-by-side racing across all divisions.

Arizona Speedway on a typical racing night.  Notice the 3 distinct grooves in the racing surface

Purists and traditionalists may argue that the Wild West Shootout should remain in Casa Grande, where it resumed action after Manzanita closed.  Some may say that Tucson put on the best shows of the Wild West Shootout, at its large 3/8th's mile facility.  However, Arizona Speedway offers some of the best of both facilities.  Its high banks allow drivers to attempt daring slide jobs and also help ensure that the fast line remains near the top of the track.  Also, the outer guard rail helps increase the likeliness that a berm, or cushion, may develop and bring the excitement level up a notch!

Putting aside history and taking away bias towards geographical location, it would be difficult to argue that Arizona Speedway shouldn't host the Wild West Shootout.  The Track's location and size are nearly perfect and I expect that the 2018 Wild West Shootout will offer plenty of exciting racing action!


I briefly touched-upon the history of the Wild West Shootout in the previous paragraph and I will expand upon it further.  While Dirt Late Model racing certainly took place at Manzanita Speedway, before the famed half-mile closed, 2001 was really the inaugural year for what was then known as the Early Thaw. Central Arizona Speedway, in Casa Grande, hosted the big racing events from 2001 - 2008, then made a brief return in 2013 as it hosted 2 races on the weekend prior to Tucson hosting its 6 race mini-series. Tucson officially began hosting the Wild West Shootout in 2010 and continued until 2016, when it handed-over the reins to the current host, Arizona Speedway.

When looking back at results of past events, three names really stand-out: Billy Moyer Sr, Terry Phillips and Jimmy Mars.  Naturally, these three drivers lead the all-time win list for Dirt Late Model racing in Arizona, during the big events in January, as Moyer currently has 13 career wins, Phillips has 10 and Mars has 5!  All three driver's names grace the record books in dominating fashion from 2004 - 2013.  It wasn't until 2014 that the competition level really spiked, as 6 different drivers each won 1 event that year.

2015 really marked a dramatic turning-point for the Wild West Shootout, as one driver has really dominated each year, since then.  The 2015 edition saw Darrell Lanigan and Jimmy Owens flex their muscles and trade blows like a couple of heavyweight boxers, as they each won 2 events that year.  However, Owens got the last laugh, as he took the hefty $10,000 payday that year!  2016 proved to be Superman's playground, as Jonathan Davenport won 3 of the 6 events, including the $11,000 finale.  As you may likely recall, last year's event was rain-shortened to only 4 races, of which Bobby Pierce won 3 of them and finished third in the other.

Overall, the Wild West Shootout acts as a great "warmup" for drivers to kick-off their racing seasons.  It's also a great way for most drivers to escape the near-freezing temperatures at their hometowns and come enjoy the 70-degree weather in Arizona.  However, more recently, with "silly season" starting so early, the Wild West Shootout offers a perfect venue for drivers to become acquainted with new teams, new chassis and new crew members.  2018 is no exception, as "The Smooth Operator" Bobby Pierce will be back in Arizona to defend his Wild West Shootout championship while also becoming acquainted with his new Dunn Benson Motorsports Team!

For those interested in seeing the entire history of all Dirt Late Model races in Arizona, during January, here is a link to Dirt on Dirt's website, where all winners have etched their names into the record books:

Dirt on Dirt Arizona Late Model Racing History


"The Smooth Operator" Bobby Pierce returns to Arizona in 2018, set to defend his Wild West Shootout title!

We may be forced to turn-in our Dirt Racing man cards, if we didn't start with last year's Wild West Shootout Champion, Bobby Pierce.  However, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, "The Smooth Operator" returns to Arizona in 2018 partnered with Dunn Benson Motorsports, who will field Rocket XR1 Chassis for Pierce.  Don't let the new team and chassis fool you, though.  If we were gamblers, we would be "all in" on Pierce continuing right where he left-off in 2017 and thoroughly dominate this year's event.  With Keyser Manufacturing offering bonus money to any driver that can win 3 of the 6 races, we think 2018 marks the first year that a driver takes home some of their bonus cash!

Chris Simpson returns to Arizona in 2018, looking to build upon his excellent effort in 2017!

A native of Oxford, Iowa, Chris Simpson has started his racing season in Arizona for as long as I can remember.  While he didn't win a Wild West Shootout event during 2017, he came pretty damn close, as he posted finishes of 3rd, 2nd, 2nd and 2nd during the 4 events!  While visiting victory lane during the Wild West Shootout would be nothing new for Simpson, as he claimed his lone Arizona feature in 2013, Chris hopes to add hardware to his collection during the 2018 edition.  While it's tough to back-up his 2017 effort, we won't be surprised if Chris Simpson visits Hoker Trucking victory lane in the 2018 Wild West Shootout!

"The Winfield Warrior" Mike Marlar returns to Arizona in 2018!

Mike Marlar is certainly no stranger to victory lane at big Dirt Late Model events, which lands him in our list of favorites.  While the Winfield, Tennessee native will readily admit that his 2017 Wild West Shootout was below expectations, as he made the main event in 3 of the 4 nights with finishes of 9th, 19th and 16th, Marlar will always be a name synonymous with hoisting big trophies and cashing big checks.  Don't be surprised if you see Marlar crack a top-5 finish during the 2018 Wild West Shootout, or even pay a visit to Hoker Trucking Victory Lane!

2017 World of Outlaws Late Model Champion, Brandon Sheppard kicks-off his 2018 racing season in Arizona!

I believe 2018 will mark the first year that the previous season's World of Outlaws Late Model Champion will kick-off his racing season in Arizona.  Of course, we're referring to "B-Shepp" Brandon Sheppard! However, he won't be racing in the familiar #1 Rocket Chassis House Car, but rather his family-owned B5 entry, as pictured above.  The Berlin, Illinois native is known for "ripping the lip" which we believe we play right into his favor during the 2018 Wild West Shootout.  Don't be surprised if you see Sheppard "bang the boards" on his way to victory in this year's event!

Dark Horses

"The Reaper" Ryan Gustin returns to the seat of the Gressel Racing machine for the 2018 Wild West Shootout!

For those who may not be aware, Ryan Gustin pocketed a cool $10,000 when he won the 2014 Wild West Shootout finale, in Tucson!  Since then, Gustin was able to find some success in USRA Modified competition in Arizona, but he has yet to return to victory lane in a Late Model.  However, 2018 marks a very special occasion for "The Reaper", as he will return to the seat of the Gressel Racing machine for the Wild West Shootout.  We expect Gustin to compete for wins nightly in USRA Modified competition and don't be surprised if he cracks a top-5 finish in the Late Model!

Cade Dillard has his MB Customs Chassis ready for action in the 2018 Wild West Shootout!

Cade Dillard dominated USRA Modified competition in 2016, when the Wild West Shootout was held in Tucson, as he won 2 of the first 3 races.  However, Dillard suffered a major crash later in the week, which ended his weekend early.  Dillard loaded-up the next day and returned to Louisiana, as his car sustained too much damage to continue.  2018 marks Dillard's return to the Wild West Shootout, this time competing in one of his new MB Customs Late Model Chassis.  Obviously, Dillard is still getting accustomed to the full-bodied Late Models, but don't be surprised if he contends for top-5 finishes during this year's event!

Russ King & Mike Maresca help ensure the upper Midwest and Northeast will be well-represented in Arizona!

Bristolville, Ohio's Russ King and Potsdam, New York's Mike Maresca will each make their Wild West Shootout debuts in 2018!  Both of these young drivers come equipped with plenty of experience racing Big Block Modifieds in the Northeast.  However, with this being especially true for Maresca, their Dirt Late Model experience is still being groomed.  Russ King regularly competes in Pennsylvania and isn't afraid to try his hand at several big Dirt Late Model events, throughout the year.  He has helped apply his knowledge to Mike Maresca's team and hopes that both drivers can be competitive during the 2018 Wild West Shootout. We are very anxious to see how each driver does and how many feature events they will make!

USRA Modifieds

Ricky Thornton Jr has his new JET Racing Modified ready for the 2018 Wild West Shootout!

Chandler, Arizona is listed as Ricky Thornton Jr's hometown, but he has traveled and raced in the Midwest for the last two years, winning some of the biggest races in Dirt Modified competition.  Oh, did we mention he is the defending Wild West Shootout Champion in USRA Modified competition, as he won 3 out of 4 races last year and finished 6th in the other.  Much like last year, Ricky will also be racing a Late Model and is liable to contend for top-5 finishes in that division, as well.  We are confident that Thornton Jr will compete for wins in the 2018 edition of the Wild West Shootout!

Dustin Strand will be racing for wins in USRA Modified competition during the 2018 Wild West Shootout!

Dustin Strand isn't necessarily a household name, as he primarily competes in WISSOTA Late Model and Modified competition across the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Strand was a fixture at the front of USRA Modified competition during last year's Wild West Shootout, as he enjoyed finishes of 16th, 1st, 10th and 5th in the four feature races.  He was the only driver not named Ricky Thornton Jr to win in Modified competition last year.  With his focus completely directed on his Modified, don't be surprised if you see Strand competing for wins in this year's Wild West Shootout!

Montevideo, Minnesota's Matt Gilbertson has his USRA Modified ready to compete for wins in Arizona!

Matt Gilbertson has been competing for USRA Modified wins at Wild West Shootout racing events since 2016.  Not only did he impress in Tucson two years ago, but he overcame some bad luck last year and posted solid finishes of 4th, 17th and 12th, after missing the show on the first night. Don't let those results fool you, "The Monte Madman" had a much faster car than those results show.  We expect Gilbertson to compete for top-5 finishes and possibly wins on a nightly basis, during the 2018 Wild West Shootout!


In summary, there are many reasons to be excited for the 2018 Wild West Shootout!  If seeing some of the best dirt racing drivers in the country slug-it-out on a small, high-banked 3/8th's mile oval isn't enough to get you excited, maybe the 70-degree weather or high-dollar paydays are.  Regardless of who you'll be cheering for this year, there are plenty of reasons to watch every lap of action in Arizona!  As usual, The Dirt Network will be posting live racing updates each night.  However, we strongly recommend that you tune-in to Dirt on Dirt's live flag-to-flag coverage of this big event!