So without further ado, here's our first go round!
Feel free to leave a comment and join in the conversation!
The DIRT Network Roundtable; Volume 1
I think Gravel proved last year he can compete with the Outlaws when he ran for Bill Rose. He is very talented and very deserving of that ride. He will get some more wins in 2014. The Larson/Marks racing team is going about their first season the right way. With starting a brand new team, I think running the limited schedule will be a positive thing for them going forward. I like their chances to compete in the major events this summer. The whole Kaeding thing is odd and I am not sure if we will ever know what exactly went on there. He and that team had been together for a few years and enjoyed a lot of success in a partial season with the WoO last year. I'm sure he'll do fine in the 59 if he stays on with them.-Jerin Steele
I must say I was shocked when I saw that Kaeding was leaving the Roth 83. It still doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but as they say, "that's racin'". I see Roth Motorsports as one of the more premier efforts on the WoO tour. TK and Roth had a good bit of success together, but apparently both decided it was a good time to turn the page. Insert one of the hottest young prospects in sprint car racing, David Gravel. I think he and Roth Motorsports could be a lethal combo. I'd say they pick up at least 3 more wins this season together. As far as Shane Stewart and Larson-Marks Racing, you really couldn't have asked for a better debut. Stewart had a tremendous 2013 and the racing industry wondered what his 2014 would have in store. Kyle Larson & Justin Marks will provide him with the best equipment possible. It's safe to they will have a very fruitful 2014 and be definite contenders for the 2015 WoO Championship.-Pat Miller
There are rumors a plenty about the reason TK is out of the 83, most of them not good. At all. Roth choosing Gravel as the new driver has quickly quieted the rumors by winning first weekend out. I firmly believe that David will make the most of his opportunity in the ride and win a bunch more races this year. TK should be fine in the Phoenix 59 as the season goes on, but his reputation has definitely taken a hit. I think Shane Stewart could very well be the dominant driver on the WoO tour next season in the Larson/Marks ride. The kid is definitely a shoe, and he's going to get incredible support. That's usually a recipe for success.-Josh Bayko
Gravel has gotten stronger as the season has progressed. And with no disrespect to any of his former teams, the Roth car will be the best equipment that he's driven yet. Irregardless of the reason that forced the separation of Tim Kaeding and Roth Motorsports, there is no doubt that he'll get everything he can out of the Phoenix Motorsports machine that he can.-Tyler Beichner
2. Let's talk about the Late Model elephant in the room. Bobby Pierce! This past week saw the 17 year old take his first ever 100 lap main event with a major tour. He's had a hot start to the season that has opened eyes and brought out some critics (some even bring up the old tire soaking argument). Here's what we want to know. 1. If he winds up in a Super Late Model career, are we looking at Moyer/Bloomquist numbers, relatively speaking. And. 2. Is he getting to a point that lower levels of NASCAR might come calling?
The kid has been awesome. I think it is way to early to say he will have Bloomquist/Moyer numbers. I mean there are quite a few excellent late model teams out there, but anytime Bloomquist shows up to a race he draws more buzz from fans than anyone. He is practically the favorite in every late model race he enters. I don't know if anyone will be as dominant a driver as he's been. I'd compare him to Tiger Woods pre sex scandal. Every time he showed up to a tournament it had more buzz and he was the favorite every time. I could definitely see NASCAR in Pierce's future if he wants to go that route and continues to impress. Tyler Reddick got a ride with Brad Keselowski Racing in the truck series. Josh Richards had a brief stay too, so there is precedent there.-Jerin Steele
Bobby is definitely on fire to start this season. He's shown flashes of brilliance the past couple years, and is putting it all together in a big way these days. I don't know that he'll end up with Bloomquist/Moyer type win totals, because I'd say NASCAR will come calling in the next couple years, taking him away from dirt late models for a while, or if he's successful on that level, forever. If he does end up in dirt late models for the rest of his driving career, he may end up with those Bloomer/Moyer numbers. It's going to be fun to see what happens with him. Brandon Sheppard too, Booby's main rival. Those two may very well end up the Bloomer/Moyer for the next generation.-Josh Bayko
All i could do was watch in amazement as I saw the "smooth operator" in person for the first time at Eldora Speedway's World 100 last season. The kid went wheel to wheel with Bloomquist for a good portion of the race and i could not stop watching. That race to me, cleared him of that "bullring" specialist that a lot of midwest drivers get tabbed with. I am ready to see him at the 2014's crown jewel races and without a doubt will be in his corner. Bobby's story is just beginning, and he is a great young man, and the sky is the limit. -Brian Compton
3. Turning our attention to area modifieds for a second. The Williamson/Swartzlander battle for Lernerville took an interesting turn this past Friday as both succumbed to mechanical failure for the first time this season. Is this a two man race to the finish this season, or will King Jr and Sr have something to say about the final standings this season. How wide is the door open for them this year?
The modified class will be very competitive this season. Williamson and Swartzlander should be considered the favorites, but the Kings, Dave Murdick and Jeremiah Shingledecker will all be there too. I don't think anyone will walk away from the other five contenders this year.-Jerin Steele
The big question here is will the Kings commit to running the entire season? Yes, Williamson and Swartzlander are the favorites but overall the points should be tighter this season The consistency of Williamson will be hard to overcome Bolland remains MIA, and it would be even more interesting with him in the mix. Nonetheless, you can easily argue that there is six or seven guys that could win on a given night.-Trev Steele
I've been extremely impressed with the early season success of all the Kings, including Russ in the Late Models. Still seems to me it's going to come down to Swartzlander and Williamson. Both drivers are so consistent and if last season was any indication, there won't be too many weeks that they have mechanical issues.-Pat Miller
Mat Williamson is still the clear cut favorite for the modified title at Lernerville. He has to be. I mean, first, he's defending track champion and has a year's experience at the track. He's only going to get better as time goes on. He's getting better everywhere he runs. He's taking what he's learned at Lernerville and applying it to Merritville and other tracks up that way. He's taking what he learns at Merrtiville and other tracks up that way and applying it at Lernerville. He's incredibly versatile. Swartzlander will have another solid year, though. I like that he plans on traveling a bunch more this year and testing his skills against the New York modified ringers more often. The only bad thing, is that his focus may divert a little bit. But racing with the Hearns, Sheppards, Phelps and Friesens of the world will make anybody a better driver. Ask Mat Williamson.-Josh Bayko
One thing the King's, Swartzlander, and Williamson have on the other Lernerville drivers are top notch equipment and the ability to keep it that way throughout a long Lernerville season. I would like to see Rex King Sr. end up on top, but that #6 of Mat Williamson is on his game and mastering the red clay at the ville more and more with each race. No one has more laps there than Swartzlander (Carl Murdick excluded) and his option of racing elsewhere for the big events hopefully does not end his chances. -Brian Compton
4. Alright, we've been asking this on our twitter side all last week and have some different answers.
So let's send this around the table. 1. Where do you go for eats after the races? 2. What do you order??
Since I live five minutes from Lernerville it is usually my house haha. I do enjoy Sheetz though, and I like most things on their MTO menu. Their cheddar filled pretzel, burgers, hot dogs, chicken cordon bleu sub and fries are all good choices.-Jerin Steele
I usually try to find a Sheetz to stop at. My go-to items from the menu are popcorn chicken tossed in old bay, a burger, or a couple hot dogs. Hits the spot after a nice evening at the races. Probably won't be long until I have to visit a cardiologist.-Pat Miller
I usually hit Sheetz on the way home from the races. When I do, I usually get a bottle of water and a fat guy Shmiscuit. What's that you ask? Two eggs, two pieces of sausage, double bacon and onions on a biscuit. You laugh, but I usually sleep like a baby when I get home. Digesting all that will make ya tired.-Josh Bayko
Sheetz is a no brainer for The Compton's on race night. whether we hit Lernerville, Roaring Knob, or Marion Center Speedway there is always a Sheetz to hit on the way home. I get the cheesesticks, and a 6" chicken and provolone w/ fries on it. I then wash it down with a 20 oz of mt dew. -Brian Compton
5. Back to racing for just a moment, I have no idea why we got off track just then... Dirt on Dirt just finished three straight Lucas LM Pay Per Views in three nights and the results have been fantastic. Is it time for a summer speedweeks to step up and have every race in the week on PPV and if so, which one would be a good starter? Ohio/PA sprint speedweeks? Appalachian Speedweek? Cook's Summernats?
I highly doubt that will happen. I can't see the All Stars doing it because, well I don't know if they've ever had a live race on television or the internet. I don't know if any of those series have the financial backing to pull something like that off. Maybe select races of the Summernationals, but probably not all of them.-Jerin Steele
I don't see it happening this year. I think we are close though. With the expanded efforts of Dirt on Dirt and XSAN, you'd have to think it's coming. Personally, I love to see both PA and Ohio Sprint Weeks on PPV. Business would be brisk for who ever decided to cover it.-Pat Miller
DirtonDirt has done great things for the world of late model racing with the live PPVs. XSANtv also is showing many of the IMCA races live on PPVs this year. I think there would be a market for showing some or maybe all of those speedweek races, with the most likely one being the UMP Summernationals.- Trev Steele
6. Lastly, it's All Star Sprint Weekend here in our neck of the woods as the ASCoC invades Lernerville on Friday and Mercer on Saturday. Out of the local competition, who stands the best chance of pulling out a win this Friday/Saturday? Bowser, Matus, Williams? Will Ed Lynch or Rod George play a factor?
The way Bowser ran last week at Lernerville it would be hard not to pick him to be a contender there. He had a 2nd place finish at Lernerville the first night out too. Jack Sodeman, Jr has been really strong at Mercer. The defending track champion has a win and a 2nd there this year. George has a win this year there too. If Lynch races of course he will be a contender. I'd say more so at Lernerville than Mercer.-Jerin Steele
You'd have to think Carl Bowser probably stands the best chance at Lernerville. He's put on two excellent performances in the first two weeks at The Action Track. At Mercer I'd put Rod George and Jack Sodeman at the top of my list. Have to think if Ed Lynch Jr decides to come out this weekend, he'll have a decent chance against the All-Stars at both facilities. Perhaps his limited schedule might have him a little rusty though.-Pat Miller
The All Stars use time trials to set up the heats, something that the local drivers seldom do. Ed Lynch Jr. is one of the drivers that can just show up and set fast time, so I think he will be a strong contender at either race if he shows. Out of the rest of the locals, I think Bowser probably has the best chance of scoring a top 5 or top 10, but again it really comes down to the qualifying efforts.-Trev Steele
I agree with the Bowser picks at Lernerville, so to add on to that I hope Rod George makes the short tow down because I believe that he could be a factor. Over to Mercer... if Sodeman can time in good he'll be a threat. I think Rod George has the best chance of starting a few rows deep and moving to the front. But the real question should be: Can anyone beat Holtgraver's streak?-Tyler Beichner