Quick Time: Biggest upsets on Hell Tour
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Take a quick lap around the proverbial dirt track with managing editor Todd Turner for roundup of Dirt Late Model racing through the latest weekend of action along with some other quirks of racing (along with occasional ax-grinding). Quick Time, one of the newest features of our website, will appear every Wednesday at DirtonDirt.com:
Frontstretch: Drivers of the week
National: Don O’Neal of Martinsville, Ind., lapped all but three competitors July 7 at Magnolia Motor Speedway for his tour-leading ninth Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory of the season, earning $20,000 in Columbus, Miss.
Regional: Terry Phillips continued a hot streak of six victories in eight starts, a stretch that included July 7’s Showdown victory at the Great American Dirt Track in Jetmore, Kan., for a $12,000 payday.
Weekly: Kenny Moreland of Waldorf, Md., clicked off holiday week victories at Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Md., and Winchester (Va.) Speedway.
Crate: Dale Caswell of Central Square, N.Y., won July 6 on the Go Nuclear Late Model Challenge Series at Mohawk International Raceway in Hogansburg, N.Y., then followed that up with a victory the next night at Can-Am Motorsports Park in La Fargeville, N.Y.
Turn 1: Biggest Summernationals upsets
Unheralded Scott Weber’s victory Sunday at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Ind., thrusts him into the conversation of the biggest all-time upsets on UMP DIRTcar Summernationals history. Here’s my top five:
Scott Weber: The Festus, Mo., drivers victory tops the list as he’s likely the first driver to win on the series in his first-ever feature start. He went from fourth to first in the final four laps for a career-richest $5,000 payday.
Matt Taylor: The second-generation driver from Springfield, Ill., captured Macon’s Herald & Review 100 in 2000, overtaking Kevin Weaver with five laps remaining for the biggest victory of his career.
Billy Faust: Overtaking polesitter Jeep Van Wormer in the waning laps, the 22-year-old Lebanon, Ill., driver won $6,000 at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway in Calvert City, Ky., the fifth feature victory of his career and first paying more than $1,000. He was fourth on a lap-32 restart before rallying to win the 40-lapper.
Joe Ross Jr.: Although he would go on to win another Herald & Review at Macon, the 28-year-old Springfield, Ill., racer scored a career-best victory in 1995, outrunning Bob Pierce, Billy Moyer, Billy Drake and Ed Dixon, who Ross took the lead from for good on lap 81.
Tony Izzo Jr.: He’d go on to win two more series events, but the young driver from Bridgeview, Ill., shocked Scott Bloomquist, Bob Pierce and other series heavy-hitters with his 1993 victory at Southlake Speedway in Crown Point, Ind.
Turn 2: Never-ending Summernationals
The seasons with the most points races completed in UMP DIRTcar Summernationals history (points are only counted through the original tour conclusion date; rain makeups later in the season are non-points events) This year’s tour is on track to tie the all-time record:
2010 (28 point races): Jason Feger’s championship season was highlighted by a stretch of 19 straight nights of racing. The only rainout on the tour? Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway. Pox on the track as it also broke this season’s streak of a perfect points season with a cancellation for heat (although the track raced the next weekend when it was even hotter).
2005 (27 points races): Shannon Babb won a series-record 15 races in 26 starts on the 27-race tour (two raced rained out and most series regulars skipped the the everything-but-rained out race in Macon, Ill.).
2006 (26 points races): Babb won 13 of 26 points races over a 31-day stretch for his second consecutive championship. The tour suffered a single rainout.
2007 (25 points races): Dennis Erb Jr. won the first of three straight championships with four victories and 14 top-five finishes in 25 races. The year’s tour is infamous in that Erb and series runner-up Don O’Neal were among drivers skipping the Oakshade Raceway finale that lasted until the wee hours after a rainstorm following time trials.
2002 (25 points races): Scott Bloomquist’s unprecedented $100,000 championship over Billy Moyer came over 25 points races. Series regulars won’t forget the overnight 500-mile hike from Owatonna, Minn., to Hartford, Mich., for the second-to-last series event. Two rainouts were made up in the two days immediately following the points finale.
As a race promoter, what’s one way to ensure getting a ton of phone calls before your $5,000-to-win race? Don’t post the complete payout on the track website or Facebook page.
While that might be a clever way to gauging interest from drivers who call, transparency about anything regarding money is the best policy in the auto racing. Run a weekly program? Have the complete purse listed on the website. Hosting a special event? Provide the purse and tow money. Changing admission prices for a special event? Detail costs for fans so there’ll be no surprises at the gate.
Transparency and forthrightness with money is the best way to develop trust and confidence with racers and fans.
Turn 3: Tweets of the week:
From World of Outlaws Late Model Series rookie Kent Robinson (@K_Rob7) during July 10 preliminaries at Black Hills Speedway in Rapid City, S.D.:
• "Yep. That's the fire truck watering the track. After hot laps! So dusty on the front you couldn't see. #nice”
• “ ‘Look Kovac, the race track is on fire.’ — Pat Doar”
• “OK, they got the regular water truck out there now.”
Turn 4: Turn back the clock
Five items from this week in Dirt Late Model history:
July 14, 1979: Buck Simmons of Baldwin, Ga., captured the second-season opener on the National Dirt Racing Association at Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va.
July 11, 1990: Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., captured a NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour victory at Viking Speedway in Alexandria, Minn.
July 10, 1997: Ed Bauman of New Berlin, Ill., won the 17th annual Herald & Review 100 after Shannon Babb is disqualified at the scales after coming up light in Virgil Bilbrey’s borrowed car.
July 13, 2001: Rodney Phillips of Punxsatawney, Pa., took the lead from Dave Satterlee on the 24th lap and rolled to a caution-free, 40-lap victory at Dog Hollow Speedway for his lone career Mid-Atlantic Championship Series victory.
July 11, 2008: Hall of Famer Freddy Smith, 61, won his lone career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory at North Alabama Speedway. Smith survived a first-lap accident that sent him into the infield and went on to his 784th career feature victory.
Checkered flag: Five fearless weekend predictions
• Three different drivers will lead laps in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series feature at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, N.D.
• An off-the-wall incident will highlight the 25th annual Sunoco Race Fuels Butterball Wooldridge Memorial at Richmond (Ky.) Raceway.
• Butch McGill will capture the $7,500 winner’s check at Elkins (W.Va.) Raceway’s Richard Skidmore Memorial.
• Home-state driver Kyle Berck will capture NCRA’s visit to Mid-Nebraska Speedway in Doniphan.
• The $25,000 UMP DIRTcar Summernationals title will be decided by 20 points or fewer.
(Last week: One out of five predictions correct)