Ah Florida, it's that time of year. Time for beaches, beer, bikini's and fresh oranges out of one of those machines that squeezes it fresh into your glass for $10 a glass, just so you can say you've had "fresh squeezed orange juice" once in your life!
|Daylon Barr Photo|
Oh...and also, DIRT!! (Yes, it's about damn time for some of that since most of us are having withdrawal symptoms!)
Hopefully fans and drivers that go down to attend the festivities don't meet up with this guy..
Anyhow, there's a lot to look forward to, this is the start of a years long journey and we've been chomping at the bit here at TDN to watch and see what happens, to find the stories we'll be reading about for years. The Kenny Pettyjohn or Davey Johnson or Neal Williams upsets, the budding rivalries....remember Richards versus Casey Roberts? And the moments than can get a season off to a a championship start. So here's some things to chew on before the action begins! And after your done chewing, wash it down with somefinesh squeezed oj......or a beer! Yes...a beer!
The driver changes are winding down, plans are being fortified as we speak. So, which driver in new surroundings do you expect to come out of the gate and put up eye opening results in Florida and why?
Obviously, Brandon Sheppard and Josh Richards will pull some wins, but eye opening to me screams Devin Moran. New team, new chassis, and new opportunity to shine. The 99m gets my vote here. - Dobie Compton
If Dale Blaney and the 1z travel to Florida they will be a sprint team to keep eyes on.
After notching his first win of 2017 at Bubba Raceway Park this past weekend, Brandon Sheppard is fitting in just fine with his new surroundings as the Rocket house car pilot. I expect to see at least three more wins during Florida's speedweeks. - Frank Iudiciani
I'm "going out on a limb" when I say that I'll have my eyes on "B-Shepp" Brandon Sheppard, in Florida. Obviously, he's going to be dangerous all year, wheeling the #1 Rocket House Car, plus he already got some seat time in a Crate Late Model Rocket Chassis, at Bubba! Not new seats, but fresh starts for "Pauls To The Wall" Paul McMahan and Brent Marks. McMahan is still with Destiny Motorsports, re-branded #4 this year. 2017 is a "make or break" for Destiny, after struggling much of 2016. I think that I speak for most Dirt Racing fans, when I say that we hope they find improved performance in '17! Brent Marks is also not in a new seat, but he will be competing on the full WoO tour for the first time. Look for Marks to get a "jump" on 2017 and perform surprisingly well in Florida! - Aaron Clay
|Pat Miller Photo|
Josh Richards is going to have the most success with a new team in my opinion. He's gotten a bad rep in the past for the team he was with and people saying that if he wasn't driving his Dad's car he wouldn't win as much as he did. Richards is going to prove just how good he is this season on the Lucas Oil tour and win many features. Also I think the Blaney/Zemco combination is going to be stout. Don't be surprised to see him in victory lane in Central Pennsylvania quite a bit during time trial shows this season. - Kyle Symons
The guy I see making a big splash through speedweeks in a new ride is Steve Francis. He's always been at his best in his own stuff, and he's back in his own stuff. after a handful of years driving for other folks. I also think the switch to Capital race cars was a solid move and I believe he''l be motivated. He'll also get the chance to race a bunch of times in Florida and Georgia with the Capital Race Cars brain trust of Shane Clanton and Marshall Green. - Josh Bayko
|From National SpeedSport News|
The All Stars open up in Ocala to start off the 410 winged sprint action this year. And they've undergone a metamorphosis of sorts with regard to the roster. Name one driver on the new roster that will show some immediate flashes of potential at Bubba Raceway Park and Volusia....
TJ Michael has one year with the All Stars under his belt and I think with that experience he will be one to watch on the road. I think he will start off very strong in Florida this year.
Although Ryan Linder is skipping the Volusia Speedway Park portion of Speedweeks next month, I believe Ryan will show some potential with the All Stars at Bubba Raceway Park and he will be a strong competitor to battle with all season long. - Frank Iudiciani
In Ryan Smith we trust! Speaking for a number of Dirt Racing fans, we hope Ryan Smith can contend for wins and possibly contend for the 2017 Championship, but speaking as a West Coast guy, I hope he can share knowledge, resources and advice to RoTY contender, Ryan Linder! - Aaron Clay
I also have to go with Ryan Smith. With some new backing from the Leidig clan, he will have a good season. He was fast a couple years ago the last time he followed the All Stars, and with Dale Blaney not running the series, and possibly Sheldon Haudenschild doing other things as well, I think that Smith will have a good season on the tour. - Kyle Symons
Last one here on Sprints. Tell us every non WoO or ASCoC full time driver that wins a feature in Florida, and where and when. Guess the correct driver, track and date and win a free beer from the TDN administrator and a hand shake and maybe one of those elephant ears at the concession stand, or at the very least some steak on a stick at Lernerville.
Wow this is harder than the SAT's were for me! Cap Henry wins on 2/10/2017 at Bubba's raceway. - Dobie Compton
I'm going to bet that Greg Hodnett takes at least one night in Florida. 2/16 at Volusia.
Since he is supposed to run more mid-week sprint car races in 2017, I will pick Kyle Larson to get a W at Volusia Speedway Park on February 17th - Frank Iudiciani
Umm, Donny Schatz. Where are they racing and when? It doesn't matter, Schatz is the man to beat! Don't get me wrong, I prefer SHOTS over Schatz, but you have to give the man the respect he is due. I'm saying Donny wins the majority in Florida, getting a "head start" on the 2017 crown! - Aaron Clay
Greg Hodnett has been fast the past several years at Volusia, he gets the job done against the WoO on night two. - Kyle Symons
I'll go with Dale Blaney taking one at Volusia if the Zemco team makes the trip. Their equipment is always top notch and Dale is always a threat, no matter where he races. - Josh Bayko
Dave Blaney will squeak one out at Volusia. -- Daylon Barr
|Pat Miller Photo|
How long will it take for Bloomquist and Richards to have an on track altercation during speedweeks? Or do you think they'll start off being fairly civil? Do you expect any rivalry to develop between the two at all during the year?
Rivalry, yes please! Its the perfect storm for a good vs evil scenario. The first race at Eastbay where Richards shows Bloomer the nose or a little fender bump, its on! I don't see Josh feeding into anything because thats not his style, but Scott has enough ammo to start said battles all season. It seems Bloomquist feeds off these "rivalries" each year with a new competitor and it feeds his fire to do better. And he gets better each season it seems. - Dobie Compton
I would love to see a rivalry between the "Dirt Trax Dominator" and "Kid Rocket". Only time will tell. I'm thinking they will keep it (mostly) clean in Florida, but look I forward to these two Heavyweights "slugging it out" during most of the 2017 season! - Aaron Clay
I would expect a rivalry to develop naturally between the two, as they should be the favorites to win the Lucas Oil championship. Perhaps the addition of Richards to the series will force Bloomquist to show up to the track on time and not skip time trials on certain occasions. Not much on track though I wouldn't think. - Kyle Symons
Bloomer and Richards have really always run each other pretty cleanly. I think there's a lot of respect between those two, especially now. They're the two best dirt late model drivers in the country and almost all of the races they raced against each other ended up coming down to one of them winning. I wouldn't look or the rivalry to get all that physical, because they both understand you're not going to win if you're tearing your stuff up. That's not that it won't get heated sometimes. There will be questionable sliders and the like, but none of it will end up with trashed equipment. - Josh Bayko
We'll see good hard clean battles. Two seasoned vets that know better than to tear up equipment. -- Daylon Barr
World of Outlaws begin a new era in Florida (actually in Georgia, but we digress). Who comes out of speedweeks with the points lead and why, and will they have so much of a point lead that they won't be able to be caught?
This will not be decided until the last 4 races in my opinion, Bshepp will be out front early on. The team has the experience and equipment, and Brandon has the driving skill and youth to go balls to the wall in Florida. - Dobie Compton
I am banking on Shane Clanton to have a strong trip down south, Clanton usually has success down there and he should have the WoO points lead coming out of Florida, but I do not think his points lead will be enough to keep him up there all season long. - Frank Iudiciani
|Daylon Barr Photo|
I'm not really sure why, but I'm feeling "Squirrley" Brian Shirley! With a WoO Late Model season under his belt, look for him to be a "dark horse" and get an early jump on the 2017 season. I would also love to see "Kid Smooth" Billy Moyer Jr get started-off on the right foot in Florida, after skipping Arizona! - Aaron Clay
Shane Clanton has ran very well at Volusia in the past and I would expect that trend to continue. Clanton will leave Florida with the points lead, but he won't win the championship. - Kyle Symons
And again, a challenge set forth from the administrator! Tell us every non Lucas or WoO full time driver that wins a feature in speedweeks and where and when!
Dale McDowell wins the opener at Volusia, and Gregg Satterlee notches a Friday victory at Volusia! Dobie Compton
These administrator challenges are tough haha, I'll go with Austin Hubbard with a win at East Bay raceway Park on Thursday February 16th - Frank Iudiciani
I have to second Dobie's thoughts, with "The Truth" Gregg Satterlee competing for wins early in 2017, in Florida! #FreeTheTruth - Aaron Clay
Dale McDowell will pick up at win at Volusia, and I'm going out on a limb and saying Dale Hollidge wins at Screven - Kyle Symons
I think Richards will come out of Speedweeks with the Lucas lead, and I think Sheppard comes out with the WoO points lead. With that, I predict that Rocket will sell a sh*tload of new XR1s and 4M will reach levels of salt never seen before. - Josh Bayko
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Brett Hearn went without a win last year in SDS action! Still can't believe I typed that, but it's true. What went wrong with him, and will he get on the win list in Florida?
I don't see him getting a win at Florida. And I have no idea how he missed SDS victory lane last year! - Dobie Compton
No Super Dirt Series wins and only 10 wins in 76 races entered in 2016, I am sure the Hearn camp went home for Christmas break scratching their heads, however I do not see the Corporate Jet repeating that performance in 2017, I think he will get another gator trophy at Volusia next month. - Frank Iudiciani
Hearn will rebound this year and win two features at Volusia - Kyle Symons
I doubt Brett gets a win in Florida. Just like last year, he will struggle unless it's Malta or LV. -- Daylon Barr
|Daylon Barr Photo|
Matt Sheppard steps in as the unquestioned favorite to win it all in 2017 with Friesen not able to compete full time, not that he could get the job done full time last year, but anyhow. Is there any driver that may be able to at least provide a reasonably stiff challenge for him this year?
Larry Wight? I am not sure really, just think he has good cars and backing. I don't see anyone challenging Matt for the title as he will have it wrapped up 3 races before Charlotte. - Dobie Compton
Larry Wight hands down, I hope to see Larry in a tight points battle with Super Matt on the SDS tour. - Frank Iudiciani
Larry Wight will be his toughest competitor, but Sheppard is the man and he will finish off the season in Charlotte with the championship once again. - Kyle Symons
|Daylon Barr Photo|
Brett is getting old, and he has a really bad back. He'll always be competitive, but I'm not sure if any wins in Florida are in the cards for him. I do think he'll win an SDS race this year, and that the win should be celebrated in a big way, because it very may well be the last one he has. I've heard from a very good source that retirement isn't as far away as you might think. - Josh Bayko
Only driver that comes to mind for me is Tim Fuller. But, if the rumors I have heard come true, we will be missing a few of the "expected" regulars on the tour. -- Daylon Barr
We love seeing the big blocks at Volusia. But should they be on the card at East Bay, or Bubba for at least two shows as well as Volusia? They could fill up the racing budget a little bit more before heading home. What are your thoughts?
Maybe to help fill in a full week I would not mind seeing the SDS make a two day stop at Bubba Raceway Park, that would give teams six nights of racing in the Sunshine State, however we seem to forget that this is the Super Dirt Series, what's their payouts again? - Frank Iudiciani
|Daylon Barr Photo|
I'm not sure that East Bay, Screven or Bubba's would be good tracks for big blocks based on the configuration for each. Golden Isles is a defnitely good track for em, but they have a relationship with Lucas, so that makes it unlikely that we'd ever see the SDS there. - Dobie Compton
We once again extend the administrator's challenge here. Name one non SDS touring regular that comes home with a feature win at Volusia and where and when do they get the win. Get them all correct, and win a free horses head from TDN home office!
Neal Williams wins the opener at Volusia! - Dobie Compton
Mat Williamson at Volusia on Saturday February 25th - Frank Iudiciani
Rick Laubach wins two at Volusia. - Josh Bayko
Maybe Pauch? Is he going? -- Daylon Barr
Last question here: Design your own Speedweeks schedule as a fan. Where would you go? What would you see. Assume you've got money coming out your backside and could potentially do two weeks in the sunshine state!
I would hit the Thursday thru Saturday deal at Eastbay and the opening night at Volusia. East Bay usually has more passing and a great atmosphere, so i would head there for the majority of the races. - Dobie Compton
I would hit all five nights of winged sprints at Volusia (which I've done and highly recommend) then on to Bubba for a good dose of USAC non wing sprints.
I would hit Volusia for the WoO Sprints shows, and also hit Bubba for the Lucas Oil show. Hit East Bay early in the week, and finish up with all the Late Model shows at Volusia - Kyle Symons
I'd hit Golden Isles, Some East Bay, then Screven and Volusia for the late model stuff. I've never heard anything positive about Bubbas, so I'd leave that one off. - Josh Bayko
Using the 2017 speedweek schedule, as a fan and assuming I have money coming from my backside, especially American greenbacks, seeing as our Canadian dollar sucks right now in comparison lol.
I would head down to Georgia for Lucas Oil Late Models @ Golden Isles then drive to Ocala, Florida for some Arctic Cat All Star Circuit Of Champions @ Bubba Raceway Park, from there, spend four days in Tampa, Florida @ East Bay Raceway for some more Lucas Oil Latemodel series, head back up North to Volusia Raceway Park for three days of Craftsman World Of Outlaws Sprint Car series racing, have two days off to be a Canadian tourist abroad (usually Cocoa Beach, love the pier) then head back to Volusia County for three more days of Super Dirt Series big block modified action, then, just for the heck of it head back to Ocala, Florida to watch the last night of wingless USAC sprint car racing.What a blast that would be, now wake up Frank. - Frank Iudiciani
I should admit that I'm not entirely familiar with the full Florida schedule, being a "Left Coast guy". However, I know one thing: I would see A LOT of racing! Definitely have to catch the action at Volusia, Ocala and Golden Isles! Call me crazy, but I gotta see the "big dry slick track" at Daytona, as well. All I know is there is plenty of racing in Florida and I would see as much as I can! - Aaron Clay