Overview: "It's just a deeper pool of talent in 2014"
What does it really mean? Well, it pretty much means that what used to be a win, might now be a top 5, and so on. Whoever comes out on top in 2014 will have to be consistent against more drivers that area more capable of jamming the top of the results. To be sure, we'll still see the odd wins by the non tour drivers that open our eyes, we'll probably just see less of them. We'll still see some familiar names in the top 5, but they'll be having to race harder to get there.
In other words, Matt Sheppard and Brett Hearn will not be running away from the pack over the course of a 16 race schedule. They'll have to be better than several top shelf drivers that haven't run the tour in some time, and a pack of young guns that are getting better all the time over the course of 22 races.
Unlike the other major sanctions of dirt racing, for those new to it or who didn't know, the SDS Modified tour is a mix of not only tour finishes, but home track results as well. Though the effect of home track points is kind of exaggerated among many people, the additional points earned for weekly racing can and most likely will make a difference in the standings. It does pay to win your weekly track championship, and it might just be the points that put a driver over the top at year's end.
We won't be able to tell you who's running where weekly in 2014. Not at this time anyway because things can still change with a month before some of the weekly tracks start revving up. We'll do our best to compile a list for everyone later on in April when that picture starts to become clear. Right now all that exists are intentions and a few good bets based on history.
But as of right now, here's a link to the current list of DIRTcar Home tracks in 2014:
DIRTCar Sanctioned weekly tracks in 2014
The list doesn't include a few who will be DIRTcar sanctioned in 2014 that will not be hosting an SDS tour event such as Lernerville, Sharon and Brewerton. And a few of these on the list are 358 modified tracks as well. We'll have the complete full list with weekly competitors posted later on in April.
2014 Schedule:For the most part, the series takes place in all the old familiar places in 2014. But, the newly purchased and re-opened Weedsport Speedway (without that annoying concert stage) makes it's return to the SDS schedule as well as tour stops at Fonda and Fulton Speedways which haven't seen tour action in a while. Glen Ridge and Big Diamond also make an appearance in 2014, and the Alex Friesen Memorial at Ransomville makes it's way back onto the series this year, replacing the I-96 races of the past two seasons.
You can find the full schedule here:
2014 Super DIRTcar Series Schedule
2013: Brett Hearn
2012: Matt Sheppard
2011: Matt Sheppard
2010: Matt Sheppard
2009: Brett Hearn
2008: Billy Decker
2007: Brett Hearn
2006: Alan Johnson
2005: Tim Fuller
2004: Gary Tomkins
2003: Alan Johnson
2002: Alan Johnson
2001: Brett Hearn
2000: Steve Paine
1999: Danny Johnson
1998: Billy Decker
1997: Danny Johnson
1996: Brett Hearn
1995: Bob McCreadie
1994: Bob McCreadie
1993: Brett Hearn
1992: Danny Johnson
1991: Doug Hoffman
1990: Brett Hearn
1989: Danny Johnson
1988: Jack Johnson
1987: Jack Johnson
1986: Charlie Rudolph
1985: Jack Johnson
1984: Jack Johnson
1983: Alan Johnson
1982: Jack Johnson
1981: Alan Johnson
1980: Jack Johnson
1979: Will Cagle
1978: Will Cagle
1977: Dave Lape
1976: Will Cagle
2014 Tour Drivers:We're basically going to break this down into 3 groups of drivers based on likelihood of running the greatest number of tour races. These are somewhat contingent on drivers that will most assuredly start the season but may drop after a few races depending on how well the first few events go.
Definites: (They'll be at all of them)Jimmy Phelps
High Percentage: (They'll run most if not all, depending on sponsor support or early results)
Here and There: (Probably not at all of them, but definitely some of them)Larry Wight
Tom Sears Jr
Bold Predictions:2014 Final Standings:
This is a hard year to peg. Especially in mid March. But what's life without taking a few chances? Don't bet the farm or your kid's college fund on these. What we have here is the best guess at this time, for entertainment purposes only! Before we start though we'd like to add a Friesen disclaimer. At this time Stew Friesen is probably not doing the full tour for a number of reasons. This could change though. and if it does let it be said here that the top 5 as predicted would be jumbled to say the least.
1. Matt Sheppard- New team and new car (Troyer) will help him get back on top in 2014. It could fall by the wayside though if he succumbs to any prolonged slump. There's simply too much competition to pull yourself out of it against.
2. Billy Decker- Could and will challenge for championship, Sheppard will have to get wins when he's in position to stay ahead of him.
3. Brett Hearn- Probably primed for a tiny step back (don't bash me Hearn fans, he's probably due). Hearn will still get on top of the podium a couple of times and be a major factor as always.
4. Justin Haers- This is a reach, but he's got the goods. He'll need everything to go just right. It was only one track and a couple of races at Volusia, but he acquitted himself VERY well and looks to be ready for a breakout season.
5. Jimmy Phelps-Not to be captain obvious, but if luck goes his way he could finish in the top 3 with an outside chance of a title. Is this the year he takes Syracuse?
6. Peter Britten- Another reach, but he's more experienced on the big tracks and more than that probably starving for the results he's been working for the last three years. Look for his first SDS win this year.
7. Billy Dunn- Surprise Syracuse winner may take a step back before taking major steps forward in the coming years.
8. Dale Planck- Had a really good 2013 and a top 5 finish. We're not saying he's not good enough to get back into that area here, but with more competition in the mix, it'll be harder perhaps.
9. Gary Tomkins- Overcoming obstacles for years, and still ends up in the top 10 year after year. We'd love to see him get the financial support he deserves. He was in the mix for a win or two in a few races last year and will continue to do so in 2014. If he can make it happen, it would probably be the most popular win in recent SDS memory
10. (tie) Danny Johnson and Rich Scagliotta wind up in a tie for 10th place. We're hoping to see the Doctor at all tour events in 2014. It just wouldn't seem right without him. Scagliotta has more top 5's this year and even though he finished 10th in 2013, this would be a much tougher task in 2014.
Big Show: Matt Sheppard takes home the large payday
Syracuse: Stew Friesen wins another 200, this time he keeps all $50,000
Charlotte: Decker and Britten split the year end shows at the World Finals
Follow the tour at the following places:
Audio for all, and Video for some of the 2014 SDS Tour Races:
Follow on Twitter:
@NYVoice13 (Shane Andrews, official voice of the SDS Modifieds)