Tuesday, November 6, 2018

2018 Western World Recap

"Sunshine" Tyler Courtney strapped-in and ready to go 30 laps in the Clauson-Marshall machine on Saturday night!

Friday, November 2nd

Eighty degrees and not a cloud in the sky in Queen Creek, Arizona on Friday, November 2nd.  Perfect weather for night 1 of the Western World!  After talking with race promoter, Jonah Trussel, I discovered they had a huge turnout for practice night on Thursday, resulting in a little drier track conditions than were initially anticipated, on Friday.

Arizona Speedway track crew wet the surface heavily on Friday, for night 1 of the Western World

Friday Qualifying

The track surface was damp and tacky during hot laps.  However, the surface begin to widen and dry by the start of qualifying.  The surface began to take rubber near the mid-point of qualifying, making the bottom quicker.  8 of the top-10 qualifiers hit the track in the latter-half of the 30 cars who made the call on Friday, with "T-MEZ" Thomas Meseraull ripping a 15.204 second lap around the 3/8th's mile high-banked Arizona Speedway surface, to claim Quick Time honors!

T-MEZ sailed around the 3/8th's mile surface in 15.204 seconds on Friday, grabbing Quick Time!

Friday Qualifying Results

1. Thomas Meseraull - 15.204
2. Logan Seavey -        15.257
3. Kevin Thomas Jr -   15.279
4. Jason McDougal -    15.305
5. Tyler Courtney -     15.309
6. Austin Williams -    15.358
7. CJ Leary -              15.362
8. Justin Grant -        15.377
9. Damion Gardner -  15.390
10. Chris Windom -    15.422

Friday Heat Races

USAC National/CRA 410 Sprint Cars prepare to battle during Heat Racing action on Friday night!

The Arizona Speedway track crew completed extensive work on the surface following Qualifying, ensuring there were multiple grooves and plenty of side-by-side racing action on Friday.  Heat Races were completed without major incident, with Ryan Bernal, Colton Maroney, Jake Swanson and RJ Johnson all claiming victories in USAC Southwest 360 competition! 

Brody Roa, Chris Windom, RJ Johnson & Dave Darland also earned Heat Race victories on Friday night, in USAC National/CRA 410 competition!  The track crew continued to focus on servicing the Arizona Speedway surface, spending upwards of 2 total hours to ensure fans saw the best racing possible.  This attention-to-detail carried-over into the feature events, producing exciting racing and lead changes!

Friday 360 Feature

The stars of the USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Cars give fans the 4-wide salute on Friday night!

The USAC Southwest 360 feature was nothing short of spectacular on Friday, with two distinct racing grooves at Arizona Speedway allowing for plenty of passing!  The first 18 laps were completed without incident, as 6th place-starting Jake Swanson charged on the outside line to grab the lead early, only to be chased-down and passed by 10th place-starting Brady Bacon.  Bacon grabbed the lead from Swanson just past the halfway mark of the 30 lap race, only to lose it back to Swanson in lapped traffic, just before the caution on lap 18.  The last 12 laps were a little sloppy, as a couple more incidents slowed the race, most notably one ending Ryan Bernal's night with 5 laps to go.  Swanson proved unbeatable running the cushion on Friday, as he rimmed the outside perfectly to claim the USAC Southwest 360 feature on night 1 of the Western World!  This was Jake's 2nd victory at Arizona Speedway in 2018, as he won a USAC/CRA race just a little over a month ago.  Bacon held-on to finish 2nd, while RJ Johnson charged to finish 3rd, just ahead of Stevie Sussex.  19th place-starting Kevin Thomas Jr, 17th-place starting Chris Windom and 18th place-starting CJ Leary put on a hell of a show charging to finish 5th, 7th and 8th, respectively!

Jake Swanson wins the USAC Southwest 360 feature on Friday, his 2nd win at Arizona Speedway in 2018!
Jake Swanson is interviewed by local announcer, Jason Carter, in victory lane on Friday!
As was the case with all winners during the 2018 Western World, Swanson was joined by livestock in victory lane
10th place-starting Brady Bacon settled for 2nd place in 360 competition on Friday night
Arizona's RJ Johnson charged to finish 3rd in his USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Car on Friday night!
Another Arizona native, Stevie Sussex, is interviewed by Jason Carter after finishing 4th on Friday night!

Friday 360 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)

1. Jake Swanson (6)  2. Brady Bacon (10)  3. RJ Johnson (9)  4. Stevie Sussex (3)  5. Kevin Thomas Jr (19)  6. Charles Davis Jr (5)  7. Chris Windom (17)  8. CJ Leary (18)  9. Dave Darland (12)  10. Tye Mihocko (7)  11. Shon Deskins (1)  12. Chase Stockon (13)  13. Austin Kuehl (2)  14. Matt Lundy (22)  15. Colton Hardy (15)  16. Sterling Cling (20)  17. Asa Kesterson (16)  18. Randy Nelson (14)  19. Ryan Bernal (8)  20. Caleb Saiz (11)  21. Nick Aiuto (21)  22. Colton Maroney (4)

Friday 410 Feature

The USAC AMS Oil National Sprint Cars give the fans the 4-wide salute on Friday night!

Justin Grant started on the pole position Friday and used the outside line to fire-off to a commanding lead.  The first 16 laps went green and it was all Grant up-front.  "Sunshine" Tyler Courtney was a distant 2nd followed by "The Demon" Damion Gardner, Kevin Thomas Jr, CJ Leary and Chris Windom were your top-6 when Jason McDougal spun off of turn 2 to bring out the first caution of the race.  Courtney rimmed the cushion perfectly on the ensuing restart and slipped by Grant to take the lead.  Sunshine led up until lap 25, when Grant utilized the high line to sneak back by him while Courtney got held-up by lapped traffic.  Grant ran the outside perfectly the last 5 laps, as Courtney remained in hot pursuit of the lead.  Sunshine threw a last-stab slider at the entry of turn 1, on the last lap, but Grant kept his foot in the gas on the outside and he was able to hold on for the win!  Courtney settled for 2nd place, while Gardner, Windom and Thomas Jr rounded-out the top-5.

Justin Grant holds-off the former TOPP Motorsports driver, Tyler Courtney, to claim night 1 of the Western World! 
Justin Grant is interviewed by Jason Carter in victory lane on Friday, after claiming night 1 of the Western World!
"Sunshine" Tyler Courtney gave Grant all he had in the closing laps on Friday, but bad timing relegated Courtney to 2nd
"The Demon" Damion Gardner continues to flex his muscle amongst USAC/CRA competitors, he finished 3rd on Friday!
"Big Daddy" Chris Windom looks-on after finishing 4th on night 1 of the Western World, on Friday
Justin Grant is joined by the rest of the podium finishers on Friday; Tyler Courtney and Damion Gardner
The Arizona Speedway track surface was wide and slick on Friday night, offering drivers with multiple grooves!

Friday 410 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)

1. Justin Grant (1)  2. Tyler Courtney (7)  3. Damion Gardner (9)  4. Chris Windom (10)  5. Kevin Thomas Jr (4)  6. CJ Leary (2)  7. Brody Roa (15)  8. Brady Bacon (13)  9. Dave Darland (12)  10. Logan Seavey (5)  11. RJ Johnson (17)  12. Chase Stockon (11)  13. Thomas Meseraull (6)  14. Isaac Chapple (18)  15. Matt Rossi (19)  16. Austin Williams (8)  17. Josh Hodges (20)  18. Cody Williams (23)  19. Danny Faria Jr (14)  20. Tye Mihocko (22)  21. Ryan Bernal (16)  22. Joel Rayborne (24)  23. Logan Williams (21)  24. Jason McDougal (3)

Saturday, November 3rd

Another perfect day in the mid-80's in Queen Creek, Arizona on Saturday, November 3rd

Not only did Saturday mark the last night of the 2018 Western World, it also marked the last chance for drivers to pick-up a win or reduce the points lead of their competitors, before heading to Perris, California next week for the Budweiser Oval Nationals.  This also marked just 4 races left on the 2018 USAC National Tour, along with the USAC/CRA Tour.  Weather was very similar on Saturday, than it was on Friday, with consistent sunshine in the mid-80's and a faint breeze.  Unfortunately, two straight nights of 40+ cars began to take its toll on Arizona Speedway, as the track crew seemed challenged with keeping moisture within the surface.

A beautiful Arizona sunset graced the sky as hot laps drew to a close on Saturday night!

Saturday Qualifying

For the second consecutive night, speeds and lap times were blistering in hot laps.  However, the track surface quickly began to cave after having 60+ cars on it, as the surface began to dry during qualifying.  It seemed that having a fast car could overcome the track conditions during qualifying, but having a fast car during the perfect track conditions guaranteed a fast lap.  Wheeling Robert Ballou's machine, "The People's Champ" Dave Darland, sped-around Arizona Speedway in 15.235 seconds on Saturday, earning Quick Time on the evening!

"The People's Champ" Dave Darland earned Quick Time Saturday, speeding around Arizona Speedway in 15.235 seconds!

Saturday Qualifying Results

1. Dave Darland -       15.235
2. Tyler Courtney -     15.277
3. Logan Seavey -       15.298
4. CJ Leary -               15.375
5. Thomas Meseraull - 15.434
6. Justin Grant -         15.473
7. Chris Windom -       15.503
8. Damion Gardner -   15.534
9. Jake Swanson -       15.551
10. Danny Sheridan -  15.575

Saturday Heat Races

Saturday's Heat Races reflected the confines that a dry surface provides.  The Arizona Speedway track crew opted to not spend nearly as much time working the racing surface on Saturday, knowing there were pre-race events to be held later in the evening and with the hopes that racing would end before 11:00pm.  This made passing very challenging, as most races were ran on a one-groove surface.  While there were a few minor incidents on Saturday, Dave Darland, Colton Hardy, Kevin Thomas Jr and Ryan Bernal all claimed USAC Southwest 360 Heat Race victories!  Unfortunately for Darland, he forgot to go to the scales after his heat win, causing him to start in the 23rd and final position in Saturday's feature, after being opted-in as a promoter's choice.

Isaac Chapple, Tyler Courtney, Kevin Thomas Jr and Chase Stockon all claimed Heat Race triumphs in USAC National/CRA competition on Saturday!  "T-MEZ" Thomas Meseraull made easy work of the B-main feature that was held later in the evening, transferring to Saturday night's main event along with Josh Hodges, Logan Seavey, Austin Williams, Stevie Sussex and Logan Williams.  The stage was now set for the 51st annual Western World!

Saturday 360 Feature

Another perfect 4-wide salute to the fans executed by the stars of the USAC Southwest 360 Sprint Cars on Saturday!

As we mentioned earlier, track conditions were a bit more challenging on Saturday, than they were on Friday.  The narrow groove made passing more challenging and made it treacherous to run the cushion.  Unfortunately, last night's big winner, Jake Swanson, discovered just how treacherous it was to run the outside, as he hooked the cushion wrong on lap 7, sending him on a soft tumble.  Thankfully, Jake was okay, but it ended his night in 360 competition.  The red flag also erased Ryan Bernal's big lead, as he had led from the pole position.  5th place-starting Brady Bacon smelled blood in the water and it didn't take him long to work by Bernal on the bottom, on the ensuing restart!  A few more cautions slowed the pace in the second-half of the race, but no one had anything for Brady Bacon, as he cruised to win the USAC Southwest 360 feature, claiming 2018 Western World Championship honors in that division! Bernal barely held-off a charging RJ Johnson, who recovered from an early spin, as the two finished 2nd and 3rd on Saturday with Kevin Thomas Jr and 16th place-starting Stevie Sussex rounding-out the top-5 finishers!

Brady Bacon cruises to win the USAC Southwest 360 feature Saturday, claiming the 2018 Western World Championship!
Ryan Bernal gave the Josh Ford Motorsports machine a strong run on Saturday, finishing 2nd after leading early 
Arizona's RJ Johnson overcame an early spin on Saturday, charging back to finish 3rd! 
It was another solid run for Kevin Thomas Jr, as he brought JT Imperial's Sprint Car home in 4th place on Saturday!
Here's your podium in USAC Southwest 360 competition on Saturday. 1) Brady Bacon  2) Ryan Bernal  3) RJ Johnson
Charles Davis Jr finished 13th on Saturday, clinching the 2018 USAC Southwest 360 Championship!

Saturday 360 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)

1. Brady Bacon (5)  2. Ryan Bernal (1)  3. RJ Johnson (10)  4. Kevin Thomas Jr (4)  5. Stevie Sussex (16)  6. Colton Hardy (7)  7. Tye Mihocko (12)  8. CJ Leary (6)  9. Dave Darland (23)  10. Mike Martin (18)  11. Shon Deskins (19)  12. Matt Lundy (2)  13. Charles Davis Jr (3)  14. Michael Fanelli (21)  15. Nick Aiuto (9)  16. Spencer Hill (22)  17. Travis Oldfield (20)  18. Asa Kesterson (15)  19. Sterling Cling (14)  20. JR Bonesteel (11)  21. Chase Stockon (13)  22. Bruce St. James (17)  23. Jake Swanson (8)

Saturday 410 Feature

"Big Daddy" Chris Windom started alongside "The Demon" Damion Gardner on the front row, Saturday night!

"Big Daddy" Chris Windom shared the front row with "The Demon" Damion Gardner on Saturday, as both had aspirations of claiming the 2018 Western World Championship!  Windom fired-off to the early lead and led by nearly a straightaway by lap 4, but his lead was erased by a caution that flew for Matt Rossi's spin.  Dave Darland and Tyler Courtney had already worked their way up to 2nd and 3rd place respectively, from their 6th and 5th place starting positions, by lap 4.  Windom had a terrible restart, surrendering 1st, 2nd and 3rd place to Darland, Courtney and CJ Leary in turns 1 and 2.  Only 1 lap was completed before the field was slowed by another caution for a spin, but it was enough to mire Windom back in 4th place.

Darland led from lap 5 to lap 17, as the track begin to take rubber in the high line, making it a one-groove surface.  "Sunshine" Tyler Courtney slipped past Darland on lap 17, as "The People's Champ" got held-up in lapped traffic.  Caution was thrown on lap 18, as Austin Williams got extremely sideways in turns 1 and 2, drawing the yellow flag.  Darland remained in hot pursuit of Courtney on the ensuring restart, with CJ Leary, Chris Windom and Damion Gardner rounding-out the top-5.  Matt Rossi's right rear tire expired, due to the rubber-down conditions, just as the leaders took the white flag.  USAC officials were forced to throw the caution on lap 29, as Rossi stopped just below the flagstand, with the leaders getting ready to come flying off of turn 4.

The green-white-checkered finish was no challenge for Courtney, as he cruised to win for the first time in his career in Arizona, crowning himself the 2018 Western World Champion!  Darland gave Robert Ballou's machine a hell of a run on Saturday night, finishing 2nd to Courtney after leading early and claiming Quick Time earlier.  CJ Leary finished a quietly-impressive 3rd place on Saturday, followed by Windom and Logan Seavey rounding-out the top-5 finishers!

"Sunshine" Tyler Courtney wins on Saturday, claiming the 2018 Western World Championship!
Tyler Courtney gets interviewed by Jason Carter in victory lane on Saturday!
"The People's Champ" Dave Darland gave Robert Ballou's car a great run on Saturday, finishing 2nd after leading early!
CJ Leary enjoyed a quietly-impressive 3rd place finish on Saturday, night 2 of the Western World!
For the second consecutive night, the cushion was right along the wall at Arizona Speedway!

Saturday 410 Results

(starting position in parenthesis)

1. Tyler Courtney (5)  2. Dave Darland (6)  3. CJ Leary (4)  4. Chris Windom (2)  5. Logan Seavey (7)  6. Justin Grant (3)  7. Damion Gardner (1)  8. Kevin Thomas Jr (13)  9. Chase Stockon (14)  10. Thomas Meseraull (8)  11. Ryan Bernal (16)  12. Jake Swanson (9)  13. Brody Roa (17)  14. Isaac Chapple (11)  15. Brady Bacon (20)  16. Josh Hodges (18)  17. RJ Johnson (15)  18. Danny Sheridan (10)  19. Matt Rossi (19)  20. Austin Williams (12)  21. Stevie Sussex (21)  22. Logan Williams (22) 23. Joel Rayborne (24)  24. Cody Williams (23) 

Updated Point Standings

USAC National

1. Kevin Thomas Jr - 2,521
2. Tyler Courtney -   2,519
3. Chris Windom -    2,471
4. Dave Darland -     2,195
5. CJ Leary -            2,178
6. Brady Bacon -      2,175
7. Chase Stockon -   2,138
8. Justin Grant -      2,084
9. Robert Ballou -    1,771
10. Isaac Chapple -  1,467


1. Damion Gardner - 1,470
2. Brody Roa -          1,465
3. Austin Williams -  1,235
4. Cody Williams -    1,115
5. Jake Swanson -    1,068
6. RJ Johnson -        1,030
7. Max Adams -          943
8. Danny Faria Jr -     900
9. Logan Williams -    882
10. Chris Gansen -     803

2018 Pennsylvania Super Late Model Power Rankings: Final Standings

Hey there race fans, now that the super late model racing season is officially over due to Dog Hollow cancelling it's show scheduled for November 16th and 17th, I can go final with these here rankings.

I'd write a bunch of words here, but I think it's best described in song form...

Besides, you're about to read huge pile of names anyways, and I didn't want to tire you out with a bunch of words that aren't the rankings and I figure a sweet tune might might make that reading exercise just a touch easier.

So let's go ahead and get to that final countdown of drivers, and this time, instead of just the top ten, it'll be every driver that scored points in Pennsylvania this year. The number in parenthesis after the driver's names is the number of wins on the year.

1. Jeff Rine (10), 133 points. 

2. Max Blair (10), 111 points. 

3.  Dylan Yoder (5), 98 points. 

4. Jared Miley (5), Jon Lee (5), 69 points. 

6. Michael Norris (10), 66 points. 

7.  Coleby Frye (5), 63 points. 

8. Gene Knaub (1), 58 points.

9. Andy Haus (2), 55 points.

10. Mike Maresca (3), Mike Marlar (1), 52 points. 

12. Alex Ferree, Chris Madden (3), 51 points. 

14. Boom Briggs (5), Chris Farrell (5), 50 Points. 

16. Dave Hess Jr. (2), Greg  Oakes (3), 49 points. 

18. Bryan Bernheisel (4), 47 points. 

19. Doug Eck (1), Charles Powell Jr. (2), 44 points.

21. Dave Blazavich (5), Devin Moran, 43 points. 

23. Tyler Bare (2), 41 points. 

24. Jason Covert (2), 37 points. 

25. Michael Lake (6), 35 points. 

26. Colton Flinner (1), 32 points. 

27.  Wyatt Scott (1), 31 points. 

28. Ross Robinson, 29 points. 

29. Paul Kot (2), Brandon Sheppard, 28 points. 

31. Earl Pearson Jr., 26 points. 

32. Chub Frank (1), Josh Richards, 25 points. 

34.  Kyle Hardy (3), Chad Wright (1), Tyler Erb, Matt Cosner, 24 points. 

38. Rick Eckert (2), Dan Angelicchio, 22 points. 

40. Dave Scott (2), Levi Sikora (2), 21 points. 

42.  Bobby Pierce (1), Mike Pegher Jr., 20 points. 

44. Doug Glessner (1), Robbie Black (1), Derek Rodkey (1), Jimmy Owens, 19 points.  

48. Brett Schadel, 18 points. 

49. Austin Hubbard (1), Jonathan Davenport, Matt Urban,  17 points. 

52. Dale McDowell, Kyle Lee, 16 points. 

54. Joe Petyak, Scott Alvetro, Tim Smith, 15 points. 

57. Scott Bloomquist (1), 14 points. 

58. Tim Wilson, 12 points. 

59. Clate Copeman (1), Matt Sponaugle (1), Doug Drown (1), Mike Wonderling, Gale Huey, Jim Yoder, Jim Bernheisel, Kenny Schaltenbrand, 11 points. 

67. Dave Troutman (2), Chase Jughans (1), Bump Hedman, Brandon Groters, Mike Lupfer, Randy Christine Jr., Dan Stone, Chad McLellan, Bob Dorman, 10 points. 

76. Jake Gunn (1), Ralph Morgan Jr, (1), Russ King, Chad Ruhlman, Bryce Davis, Chuck Clise, John Lobb, 9 points. 

83. Breyton Santee (1), Shawn Claar, Hayes Mattern, Tommy Beck, 8 points. 

87. Custis Teats, Donny Schatz, Tim McCreadie, Andrew Wylie, Ryan Montgormery, Chris Hackett, 7 points. 

93. Roy Deese Jr., Marvin Winters, Gary Stuhler, Darrell Lanigan, Jerry Redden, Ken Trevitz, Shawn Jones, John Britsky, Nathan Hill,  6 points. 

102. Rance Garlock (1), Kyle Lear, Shane McLoughlin, Mike Knight, DJ Troutman, Scott Stein, Jared Hawkins, Andy Fries, Trent Brenneman, John Wayne Weaver, Kyle Knapp, Darrell Bossard, 5 points. 

114. Zack Carley, Joshua Powell, Walker Arthur, Jackie Boggs, Chad Myers, Johnny Lindenpitz, Dan Smeal Jr., Nate Smith, Andy Boozel, 4 points. 

123. Matt Parks, Matt Cochran, Tyler Carpenter, Ryan Christoff, Natahn Lasalle, Billy Dickson, Tony Mussolino, Jamie Lathroum, 3 points. 

131. Clayton Kennedy, Jerry bard, Christian Schneider, Meade Hahn, Larry Hollenbaugh, Ryan Claycomb, Andrew Yoder, Kenny Shaffer, Jermey Ohl, Skip Lindenmuth, 2 pints. 

141. Rick Lias, John Oakes, Allen Brannon, Jake Finnerty, Garrett Mott, Wendell Pinckney, 1 point.

And there you have it, all 146 drivers that scored at least a point this year, and I gotta say, it's a pretty diverse list. Names from all corners of the state and beyond, and even the best sprint car driver on the planet is in there.

So that's all for this year folks. Look for pretty much the same type of scoring as this year for next year, and I'll see ya the Monday after the first super late model race in the state of Pennsylvania in 2019

Monday, November 5, 2018

Commentary: Hashbrown Reflections-2018 World Finals Delivers Once Again

Garry Ferguson Photo

And then it was over. Just like that. The 2018 racing season for a lot of us has come to an end.  I sit in a Waffle House outside of Charlotte in reflection, after an action packed weekend that completely delighted me, kept me entertained and provided thrilling racing. I've been able to say that for each of the nine years I've attended and that's perhaps the ultimate compliment to pay an event like this.  It contained over 160 cars and saw a tremendous event staff that is totally underrated, run off a three division, 160 plus car show with Swiss watch like precision, despite weather obstacles.

It's midnight now and as I put my fork into my double order of hash browns (Scattered, Covered and Smothered) which is the best way to consume one of the cornerstones of the menu at any Waffle House, it starts to hit me, 'This weekend had a little bit of everything', and it truly did. Everything from a young and talented female driver that set a group quick time in Sprint Car action and then proceeded to win a heat. It saw a class guy who had deserved more than he's ever received in his racing career, work his way forward, towards the most dynamic driver in Northeast Modified racing in ninja-like fashion and overtake him for a popular win. It saw a legend show us one more reason why he's one of the best of all time in a performance that was textbook and dominant.

Gary Heeman Photo
It saw a truly dreadful afternoon race, followed by one of the best afternoon races I have seen in recent memory. There were two Sprint Car races that looked basically to be locked away by their leader halfway through that ended in heartbreak for that particular leader. There were free souvenirs if you consider pieces of an exploded tire that amazingly flung themselves over a fairly tall catch fence.  There was a breathtaking sunset for the ages.  There was rain, but not weekend-killing rain. And like most years at the World Finals, bone chilling cold, prompting the 14,000 fans in the stands to don hoodies and tough it out for the greatest shows on dirt.

One More Tennessee Ass Whoopin'

He wasn't late to the show. And there was nothing in the way of petty dramatics in the works. Scott Bloomquist simply raced and simply delivered as dominant performance as there has been in the history of the event. Starting at the front of the 50-lap World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model on Saturday night was no guarantee for Bloomquist. He'd already let a race slip through his fingers earlier in the day from a front row starting spot. But not in the nightcap. It was classic Bloomquist in terms of performance and it was great to see whether you're a fan of his or not. By the way, booing him won't bother him in the slightest, he's just happy you bought a ticket to watch the race if the truth is to be told.

It had been years since Bloomquist had tasted victory lane at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, 2009 to be exact and one had to wonder if or when he'd be back. Perhaps that's a testament to the fields the event attracts. There are typically around 65-75 plus cars a year during this particular weekend and the level of stoutness is near a World or Dream 100 level. It's simply a hard race to win for any driver. 

But on Saturday night, Bloomquist hit all the marks, every single time while building up an insurmountable lead which he maintained through the lapped traffic. It was a performance that had his fans standing and screaming when all was said and done, and had non fans racing for the exits with 20 laps to go. It was a Tennessee Ass Whoopin' to remember and worth watching every lap. 

Garry Ferguson Photo

Fuller Reminds Us He's Still Got The Goods

Was anybody actually not rooting for Tim Fuller halfway through the Super DIRTcar Series main event on Saturday night? Well, perhaps not Matt Sheppard fans in attendance. They'd be rewarded at the end of the night as he finished yet another championship season atop the podium. But not before they watched a masterful performance from Fuller. The former World of Outlaw Craftsman Late Model driver had been returned to being a fixture back behind the wheel of a Big Block Modified and had achieved some good results, including some SDS tour main event wins earlier this season. 

However, those who knew him for being a solid driver in both types of cars and didn't get chances to see him since his Late Model tour departure got a chance to watch him yet again in Charlotte. And they got to see his return to victory lane. Fuller ran Sheppard down through a maze of lapped traffic after the leader had amassed a near straightaway advantage over him. Fuller was patient, and timed his final ninja like assault perfectly as he waited for the opportune moment for Sheppard to get hung on a pair of lapped cars. Fuller wasted no time when the time came to strike for the lead. 

It was a great win for a driver that had been so underappreciated over the years. He'd won at Charlotte before years ago. But this win felt completely different. It had to feel more rewarding for Fuller who showed a packed grandstand that he's alive and doing well....and even better than that perhaps following a season that saw him return to contending form. It was a welcome sight for a class guy that drives clean, hard and with precision. 

Garry Ferguson Photo

Ironic Endings In Sprints

In World of Outlaw Sprint Car action, it looked as if Shane Stewart and Carson Macedo were destined for victory lane on the big stage. Stewart looked dominant in the early feature on Saturday afternoon, only to succumb to an exploded tire (see more below) while Macedo suffered a flat with 23 laps down while leading during the nightcap. The wins would have been perfect for either driver as Stewart will be moving on from Kyle Larson Racing this off season while Macedo who turned heads on a nightly basis with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars was making his second start for Larson on Saturday night. 

Ian Madsen and Donny Schatz inherited the wins, in Schatz's case after he'd thwarted a last minute effort from a strong running Logan Schuchart who charged from 20th to second and held the lead for a brief second in the waning laps before Schatz put him to his tail tank for good.  Their wins were deserved, but if there were ever a time I'd like to turn back the clock and watch things play out differently, this weekend would have been the time. Take nothing away from Madsen and Schatz, but Stewart and Macedo deserved better fates. 

Gary Heeman Photo

Don't Forget Your Rubber

Just a quick side note. When Stewart's tire exploded, it flew into a good many pieces which I alluded to before. I just have to say, I'd much rather have caught a piece of a tire than say a foul ball at Wrigley field or a puck out of the rink at Boston Garden. Lots of folks have those kinds of things. But nobody has a tire piece that they caught with their own bare hands. 

Afternoon Delight

And finally, the Super DIRTcar Series got things started on Saturday afternoon with quite possibly one of the hardest to watch races of 2018. Sun and temperatures in the 60's plus 2500 plus pounds on a chassis designed to roll on the right rear sets the stage for tires to pop at will. And that's exactly what happened as a steady pit parade was the norm on caution laps throughout the 40 lap feature. Brett Hearn eventually won by keeping the field behind him, surviving more restarts than any driver in recent memory and by keeping the right rear tire on his car intact. 

However, the Super Late Model feature that followed more than made up for it. There was passing, forward movement and a nip and tuck battle for the lead by Tim McCreadie and Brandon Sheppard who had the grandstands virtually standing at times. Sheppard made his way around, but there was probably more action on display in the 50 lap main event than virtually all 100 lap afternoon races in the last few years combined. Kudos to the track prep team and the drivers. It was the first time I stood and cheered at the end of an afternoon show.

And then, the hash browns in front of me were gone, just like the World Finals. Was it me, or did they simply flash by? Either way, I'd have loved one more night of them, or 100 more nights if I'm truly honest. Great job to all involved. And congrats to Donny Schatz, Mike Marlar and Matt Sheppard on amazing seasons. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

2018 World Finals Pick'Em - Final Standings

Phew...writing this after spending a long 12-hour day at the track. I think I speak for all of us at that were in the stands, pits, and everyone at TDN when I say kudos to the entire staff at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, World Racing Group, and all three premier series that made this weekend happen. Every year seems it seems to grow in one form or another, and this year's edition was by no means easy to get in. But alas, we were provided with a great track and great racing by the end of the weekend and I hope that's something that we don't take for granted.

Now to the Pick'Em standings....

Bringing home the 1st place crown and $200 top prize was Shawn Brink (@Sbrink7524) as he came one point shy of hitting the 500-pt mark! Brink's win is the first TDN Pick'Em win to my knowledge, and what better way to hit it big than in our highest paying contest to date! His winning driver selections were Donny Schatz, David Gravel, Tim Shaffer, Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist, Dale McDowell, Brett Hearn and Matt Sheppard. Congrats Shawn on a great performance!

Finishing runner-up was Brian Shane (@shanegangracn) who fell 6 points shy of the winner's total. He'll receive a $50 Visa gift card for his efforts. Like Brink, I believe this is his first appearance on the podium of one of our major contests. Shane's driver's roster was comprised of Brad Sweet, Donny Schatz, Tim Shaffer, Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan, Brett Hearn and Tim Fuller.

Rounding out the World Finals Pick'Em podium is Ryan Smith (@smith_ryan8). Smith is a regular entrant in our special event contests and was able to utilize his prior experience en route to his Top 3 finish. He'll receive the awesome prize of his choice of any R&R Racewear t-shirt! His driver picks were Brad Sweet, Donny Schatz, Tim Shaffer, Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist, Rick Eckert, Brett Hearn and Matt Sheppard.

For those keeping score at home, the best combination of picks would have been Logan Schuchart, Donny Schatz, Tim Shaffer, Brandon Sheppard, Scott Bloomquist, Chase Junghans, Brett Hearn and Matt Sheppard. They would have yielded the highest possible total of 542 points!

Pos. 1-60

Pos. 61-120

Pos. 121-180

Pos. 181-240

Pos. 241-300

Pos. 301-360

Pos. 361-376

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

World Finals Sprint Car Preview: Stout Field Looking For One More Win In 2018

John Stivason Photo

Okay, so Donny Schatz has wrapped up another title before the season comes to an end at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. Donny Schatz gonna Donny Schatz! However, there's some good news to help keep your Sprint Car viewing intriguing and engaging this weekend. As it turns out, there's so much talent on hand, that it's kind of a wide open affair at the Annual World of Outlaws World Finals.

Sure enough, both Schatz and Jason Meyers (we miss thee), each swept the feature wins in previous years, and Schatz is coming fresh off a 51,000 win in the Tuscarora 50 at Port Royal on Sunday. But his dominance can be mitigated by track conditions, pill draw and the fact that there's always a stout field on hand. Plus, this track has been one that normally lends itself to racy conditions that are not always topside dominant.

Remember the 2012 Saturday night battle between Paul McMahan and Dale Blaney as the two drivers traded slide jobs on seemingly every lap in the waning moments with Blaney emerging as the victor (riding the topside nonetheless). It's a tough field that presents itself to fans this weekend and the fact that Time Trials occur one and two days before the racing programs, it's an easy setup to miss. Fans can pretty much tell who made anticipated adjustments better from the moment the heats take the green flag on Friday and Saturday.

But the bottom line for this weekend, is that there's at least 30 drivers out there in a 50 plus car field that are looking for at least one more win in 2018 and can get the job done, and they're hungry for it. Whether it's to look good for a potential new ride, to finish the year on a high note, or simply for pride's sake

So, who should you be looking out for in Victory Lane this coming weekend? Here's a small sampling of drivers that should surprise nobody if they should be holding trophies when all is said and done in the Queen City.

John Stivason Photo

Logan Schuchart

He's got a feature win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and has stalked the leaders through the field in recent years. Schuchart definitely knows his way around the place, it's a track that suits his style and he's going to be a tough out here. 

Brian Brown

Brown struck pay dirt at Charlotte in 2014 and has been fast of late, setting a track record at Port Royal on Sunday afternoon. There's nothing in the field he hasn't seen or overcome and the timing could be perfect for another victory this weekend. 

Gio Scelzi

Don't look at us like that. It can be done by a 16 year old. It was done by a 16 year old at Williams Grove with just as stout a field on hand. Scelzi's the goods. And speed might be all that he needs here should he time well and be able to avoid being bogged down in lapped traffic with the lead. 

David Gravel

This would be the Connecticut Yankee in the Outlaw Court's swan song with CJB Motorsports, and you can bet that Gravel will be looking to go out on a winning note. He muscled his way to the win over Schatz last year and fans know that he's more than capable. 2018 hasn't gone his way and has been a struggle at times, and that happens in the best of relationships between drivers, crew and ownership. But there's a pride factor at work with this being his final two races with this team. Don't count him out. 

Brad Sweet

"The Big Cat" has had a very nice second half to 2018 to say the least and has been in the hunt for the top spot on the podium in almost every race lately it seems. He led the 2017 Memorial Day weekend until Schuchart ran him down in lapped traffic and knows his way around the place. Expect him to figure into the podium on both nights perhaps.

Rick Rarer Photo

Tim Shaffer

Okay, looking for a dark horse? Look no further. And no, we're not just saying that because we're pretty much from the Pittsburgh, PA vicinity. Shaffer's record at The Dirt Track over the years has not been as legendary as others. But, it's been that kind of year for "The Steel City Outlaw".  The kind of year where he's at his best when there's a lot at stake. Okay, so there's only $12,000 on the line each night, but there's a ton of eyes on it in the stands and on pay per view. It's a big stage and on big stages, he's been at his best in 2018. 

Keep Eyes On These Guys

Paul McMahan- Has numerous wins at The Dirt Track including a World Finals win and would love to finish the year on a good note. 

Joey Saldana- See Paul McMahan. They both love this place. 

Greg Wilson- He's got a win at Charlotte on his portfolio. 

Okay, so if you're going to place bets in Vegas, put some bucks on Schatz, not much of a return, but it's hard to resist. But when you spread it around, put some on these guys above. They're more than capable of taking the win on either night. Enjoy the shows!!

Check out our World Finals Late Model Preview Here

Put your picks in to our World Finals Pick'Em Contest Here

Current World of Outlaw Point Standings (Top 10)

1. Donny Schatz- 9574
2. Brad Sweet- 9296 (-278)
3. David Gravel- 9028 (-546)
4. Daryn Pittman- 9004 (-570)
5. Shane Stewart- 8892 (-682)
6. Logan Schuchart- 8738 (-836)
7. Sheldon Haudenschild- 8694 (-880)
8. Ian Madsen- 8444 (-1130)
9. Brent Marks- 8244 (-1330)
10.  Kraig Kinser- 7976 (-1598)

World Finals Sprint Car Feature Winners

2017: Donny Schatz and David Gravel
2016: Jason Johnson and Donny Schatz
2015: Dusty Zomer and Joey Saldana
2014: Daryn Pittman and Brian Brown
2013: Donny Schatz and Paul McMahan
2012: Sammy Swindell and Dale Blaney
2011: Donny Schatz won both Friday and Saturday features
2010: Jason Meyers won both Friday and Saturday features
2009: Jason Meyers and Joey Saldana
2008: Brooke Tatnell and Donny Schatz
2007: Jason Meyers and Steve Kinser