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DirtonDirt.com exclusive

Best of 2012: Southern state-by-state capsules

December 18, 2012, 6:06 am
By Joshua Joiner and Todd Turner
DirtonDirt.com

Dirt Late Model racing’s 2012 superlatives of the United states (individually for states with at least five weekly Late Model tracks; other states combined), primarily focusing on local and regional events:

Alabama

Top performer: Competing in a mix of Super, Crate and Limited Late Model events, Phenix City’s William Thomas scored 10 overall victories including three NeSmith Crate Series wins, one Southern All Stars victory and one Southern Nationals win. | Best of 2012 coverage index

Best national driver: None.

Best regional drivers: William Thomas; Northport’s Ronny Lee Hollingsworth (seven overall victories, including a $5,000 MSCCS payday at Columbus); Florence’s Josh Putnam (five overall victories, second in SRRS points)

Best weekly drivers: Decatur’s Brandon King (nine victories in claiming Super and Limited Late Model titles at Moulton Speedway); Boaz’s Tim Busha (seven wins between TST and Tennessee's Winchester Speedway); Millport’s Jeremy Shaw (eight NeSmith weekly wins and two NeSmith touring series victories); Phenix City’s Joey Thomas (nine wins en route to EAMS Crate title); Cottondale’s Justin McRee (12 total Crate victories including three on NeSmith’s touring series).

Best homegrown performance: William Thomas scored a pair of $5,000 victories in Limited Late Model and Crate Late Model action on East Alabama’s National 100 weekend.

Most improved driver: In his first full season of Super Late Models, Lincoln’s Jason Hiett had two victories, including a $3,500 David Hare Memorial at Green Valley. At Talladega, he lowered the track record and had two top-three finishes in Southern All Star action. He had 18-top-five finishes in 36 starts overall.

Best newcomer: Talledga’s Adam Martin with four Talladega Short Track victories in stepping up to Supers from Crates.

Most memorable moment: Jimmy Owens outdueling Shane Clanton and Scott Bloomquist for a $25,000 victory at East Alabama’s National 100.

Biggest news: Huntsville’s Matt Wagner purchases Southern All Stars from Tennesseans Charles Roberts and David Miller, bringing back the nation’s longest-running regional tour to its native state. ... Green Valley Speedway goes up for sale or lease following 2012 season. ... William Thomas lands Baird Transport ride for 2013. ... Four drivers, including fast qualifier Mike Marlar, are penalized at East Alabama’s National 100 for illegal tires based on portable gas detector testing. ... East Alabama moves up 2013 National 100 to Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Arkansas-Texas-Louisiana

Top performer: Batesville, Ark.’s Billy Moyer scores 16 victories, including three at Tucson’s Wild West Shootout, two at Volusia’s Florida Speedweeks action, two at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., and a Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway preliminary feature.

Best national drivers: Billy Moyer; Greenbrier’s Jack Sullivan (runs WoO most of season with best finish of ninth at Eriez Speedway; SUPR victory at Texas Motor Speedway and three Comp Cams Series wins); Longview, Texas’s Morgan Bagley ($10,000 at Tucson’s Wild West Shootout; $3,000 non-qualifiers’ win at Lernerville’s Firecracker 100).

Best regional drivers: Batesville’s Billy Moyer Jr. (seven special event victories including $10,000 UMP DIRTcar Summernationals at Cedar Lake); Batesville’s Wendell Wallace (five victories, three on Comp Cams Series); Holden, La.’s Chris Wall (five special event victories, including $5,000 at Jackson, Miss.); Haughton, La.’s Ray Moore (five SUPR victories, including three in a row); Texarkana, Texas’s Jon Mitchell (Comp Cams champ); Alexandria, La.’s Rob Litton (third SUPR title).

Best weekly drivers: Luling, La.’s Mickey Trosclair (34 victories in 52 Crate starts; second in NeSmith Chevrolet weekly points); Wills Point, Texas’s Patrik Daniels (Devil’s Bowl champ; five victories at Devil’s Bowl with additional wins at Cowtown, Mountain Creek); Victoria, Texas’s Kevin Migura (eight victories at Shady Oaks); Edinburg, Texas’s Jensen Pray (winningest driver en route to South Texas Speedway title); Batesville, Ark.’s Roger Witt (winningest West Plains driver en route to track’s Crate title).

Best homegrown performance: Billy Moyer Jr. catches lightning in a bottle with three Summernationals victories in the first four events at Brownstown, Cedar Lake.

Most improved drivers: Mickey Trosclair; Baytown, Texas’s Kevin Sitton (career-high four SUPR victories, third in series points after missing a double-points event).

Best newcomers: Bryant, Ark.’s Robert Baker (Comp Cams Rookie of Year; victory at Diamond Park); Lafayette, La.’s Shane Hebert (SUPR victory at Boothill); West Monroe, La.’s Bud Mullins (SUPR victory at I-30; unsanctioned win at Chatham, La.); Magnolia, Texas’s Tyler Erb (15-year-old scores victory at Chatham in fourth career start; top 10 in SUPR points). Also promising performances by West Monroe, La.’s Chris Huckabay; Gladewater, Texas’s Zach McMillan; and Corpus Christi, Texas’s Steven Whiteaker Jr.

Most memorable moment: Steve Francis captures $40,000 Topless 100 at Batesville, Ark., for first time.

Biggest news: Texas veteran Doug Ingalls enters National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. ... John Lovas of Forest Hill, La., long ago a popular dirt racer known as the Racing Schoolteacher, died July 6. He was 74. ... Chris Brown of Spring, Texas, dissolves Late Model team, returns to modifieds. ... Beebe (Ark.) Speedway closes in July after disagreement between owners, promoter. ... Larry Campbell of Van Buren, Ark., cites financial considerations in taking an indefinite break from racing. ... Chris Wall of Holden, La., joins Childress Racing. ... Jones Motor Speedway closes midseason, but Chatham, La., track to run under Rickey Henderson’s promotions in 2013. ... Batesville (Ark.) Motor Speedway to resume NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series division for Crate Late Models in 2013. ... Battleground Speedway in Highlands, Texas, also adding NeSmith-sanctioned Crates next season.

Florida

Top performer: After suffering a serious back injury in modified action early in the season, Middleburg’s Mark Whitener quickly recovered to put together another great season. He claimed 14 Late Model victories in earning his second UDLMCS championship and the Bubba Raceway Park track title.

Best national driver: Jacksonville’s Earl Pearson Jr., seventh in Lucas Oil Series points, but winless for the second straight season.

Best regional drivers: Mark Whitener; Ocala’s Ivedent Lloyd Jr. (seven victories including the $10,000 NeSmith finale at Ocala); Valrico’s Keith Nosbisch (six victories and UDLMCS points runner-up); Tallahassee’s Tyler Ivey (five victories including specials at Ocala and 441 Speedway in Dublin, Ga., and East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, Ala.); Riverview’s Jack Nosbisch Jr. (NeSmith, UDLMCS victories among wins); Christian Augspurger of Palm Beach Gardens (claimed first UDLMCS win at Hendry County and a $3,000 special at Ocala).

Best weekly drivers: Milton’s Joseph Joiner (eight overall victories); Harold’s Randy Polk (three victories in claiming second track title at Southern Raceway); Plant City’s Roger Crouse (two victories in claiming East Bay Super Late Model crown).

Best homegrown performance: Ivedent Lloyd Jr. sweeps Bubba Raceway Park’s Mike Peters Open doubleheader for a $6,000 weekend.

Most improved drivers: Christian Augspurger; New Smyrna Beach’s Dillon Wood ($3,000 victory at Tri-County Racetrack in Brasstown, N.C.; sixth in Southern Nationals points)

Best newcomer: Brandon’s Kyle Bronson, a 15-race modified winner and mod champ at Bubba Raceway Park, jumped into a Wayne and Shirlene Hammond-owned Late Model late in the season and scored a weekly victory at East Bay.

Most memorable moment: Steve Francis sweeping past Austin Hubbard in the final corner to win the fourth round of East Bay’s Dart Winternationals in a photo finish.

Biggest news: Bubba Raceway Park schedules the inaugural $20,000-to-win Super Sunday Showdown for WoO Late Models that will close out 2013’s second annual Bubba Army Late Model Winter Nationals on Feb. 15-17. ... North Florida Speedway in Lake City, Fla., squeezes into 2013 Speedweeks schedule with a $5,000-to-win UMP event Sunday, Feb. 10. ... NeSmith Series moves 2012 season finale and 2013 Speedweeks events from East Bay to Bubba Raceway Park while East Bay adds rival Crate tour, Fastrak, for three Speedweeks events. ... A merger of the Performance Racing Industry trade show and the International Motorsports Industry Show sends PRI back to Indianapolis, Ind., in 2013 after a multi-year run in Orlando. … Dillon Wood announces plans to chase World of Outlaws rookie title in 2013.

Georgia

Top performer: Rebounding from a disappointing 2011 season, Fayetteville’s Shane Clanton claimed seven overall victories including a $100,000 payday in Eldora Speedway’s Dream XVIII, the sport’s highest paying annual event, and finished third in the WoO championship chase with one series victory. Clanton spent all but two weeks in the DirtonDirt.com Top 25, finishing the year ranked 14th.

Best national drivers: Clanton; Rossville’s Dale McDowell (eight overall victories including a sweep of Winchester (Va.) Speedway’s Winchester 200 weekend worth $15,000); Senoia’s Clint Smith (three overall victories, sixth in WoO standings); Blairsville’s Jonathan Davenport (seventh in Lucas Oil standings in claiming top Rookie honors, two unsanctioned home-state victories in February).

Best regional drivers: Toccoa’s Casey Roberts (six overall victories in claiming Ultimate and BEAST championships); Dawsonville’s Matthew Turner ($20,000 NeSmith Series title); Valdosta’s Evan Becton (never worse than seventh in securing NLMS title); Morven’s Brandon Dewitt (two NLMS victories; second in Oglethorpe’s Showdown); Tyrone’s Tony Knowles (four victories; $2,000 Dixie Spring championships); Tyrone’s Jake Knowles (three victories; $2,500 Jerry Goodwin Challenge at Talladega).

Best weekly drivers: Douglasville’s Michael Page (seven victories and Dixie Speedway Super Late Model championship; captured Crate portion of Green Valley Speedway’s Bama Bash); Sharpsburg’s Joe Armistead Jr. (eight victories including $3,000 Limited Late Model special at North Georgia and Green Valley Speedway track title); Nahunta’s J.O. Nobles (12 victories in 22 starts in claiming Limited Late Model title at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.); Hartwell’s Frankie Beard (14 total Crate victories and Hartwell’s Crate title); Valdosta’s Russell Brown Jr. (nine overall victories including two on NLMS tour); Hartwell’s Brandon Haley (five wins and Hartwell title); Franklin’s Roger Cassel (13 Crate victories en route to West Georgia title).

Best homegrown performance: Jonathan Davenport sweeping a pair of $10,000 Speedweeks events at Waycross and Golden Isles.

Most improved drivers: Joe Armistead Jr.; Kingston’s Tyler Millwood ($3,000 victory at Alabama’s Fort Payne; three Dixie victories); LaGrange’s Chad Wallace (three victories en route to Crate title at Alabama's Penton Raceway).

Best newcomer: Hunter Jones finished second in Crate Late Model points at Dixie Speedway and won his first race in the division on championship night.

Most memorable moment: Eventual WoO champion Darrell Lanigan dominating Screven’s Winter Freeze for a $20,000 victory in the national tour’s season opener.

Biggest news: Hall of Famer Buck Simmons of Baldwin, the winningest driver in National Dirt Racing Association and a dirt racing pioneer called “the Living Legend,” dies at 66 on Aug. 12. ... Jimmy Mosteller, the Hall of Fame racing announcer and co-founder of the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series, dies at 85 on July 4. ... Needmore Speedway in Norman Park, Ga., reopens. ... After losing his ride with Clint Bowyer Racing after just one season, Jonathan Davenport lands at North Carolina-based AES Racing as a teammate to Dennis Franklin. ... Fastrak owner Stan Lester and businessman Max King announce plans to reopen Lavonia Speedway in 2013 after the track sat idle two seasons. ... New promoter Jason Jones of Dalton reopens North Georgia Speedway in July after previous promoters closed the track earlier in the season. ... Douglasville-based Bryson Motorsports and driver Chip Brindle of Chatsworth part ways after a solid 2011 season. ... Hall of Fame driver Rance Phillips, winner of more than 700 dirt races racing out of Waycross, dies in December at his Hamilton County, Fla., home.

Kentucky

Top performer: Union’s Darrell Lanigan, who piled up a record-setting 15 series victories in route to his second World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship. The 42-year-old had 33 top-five finishes in 40 series starts and was the first driver to lead series points from start to finish.

Best national drivers: Lanigan; Ashland’s Steve Francis (fourth in Lucas Oil points; $40,000 Topless 100, Knoxville Nationals victories; Hazard’s Eric Wells (10th in Lucas Oil points).

Best regional drivers: Grayson’s Jackie Boggs (Lucas Oil Series victory at Portsmouth); Dunnville’s Brad Neat (World of Outlaws victory at North Alabama and special event victories at Ponderosa, Lake Cumberland); Dunnville’s Dustin Neat ($7,500 victory at Ponderosa); Grayson’s Josh McGuire (Richmond’s Butterball Wooldridge Memorial; 10 victories overall); Benton’s Terry English ($5,000 MARS and MSCCS victories, 12 weekly victories); Isom’s Chris Combs (USDCS victory at Lucky 7 and $5,000 Mayabb Memorial at 191 Speedway).

Best weekly drivers: Elkton’s Clayton Miller (15 UMP Crate victories, mostly at Clarksville, Tenn.); Oscar McCown (Lucky 7 champion and double-figures in total victories); Stephen Breeding (multiple victories at Mountain Motor, Lucky 7, 201 Speedway); Jamie Ferguson (191 Speedway champion).

Best homegrown performances: All four of Kentucky’s World 100 starters (Brad Neat, Lanigan, Steve Francis and Michael Chilton) score top-10 finishes; Brad Neat rallies from 23rd to third. ... Michael Chilton’s $8,000 weekend sweep Oct. 12-13 at Lake Cumberland. ... Crofton’s Dillan White swept Aug. 24-25 weekend at Ohio’s Moler Raceway Park and Lake Cumberland.

Most improved drivers: Walton’s Robby Hensley (Florence Speedway champion won first-ever Late Model feature May 26); Benton’s Tanner English (seven victories in 37 starts, including top-five finishes in four October specials).

Best newcomer: Calvert City’s Cameron Brown (Paducah Crate champ in first full season).

Most memorable moment: Don O’Neal rubbing past Jimmy Owens to win Florence Speedway’s $50,000-to-win Sunoco Race Fuels North-South 100.

Biggest news: Eddie Carrier Sr. to be inducted into National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame next year. ... 201 Speedway in Sitka reopens in September after Jarrod Breeding purchases track from Chuckie May. ... Revelution Race Cars adds first out-of-state dealer in Alabama. ... 191 Speedway tests Limited Late Model division. ... Last-season back surgery keeps Terry English out six weeks, but he wins Nov. 3 return at Clarksville (Tenn.) Speedway. ... Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway remains dark for third straight season.

Mississippi

Top performer: Vicksburg’s Bub McCool, who earned his first World of Outlaws victory in claiming the tour’s Rookie of the Year honors. McCool also added four regional victories, including Greenville Speedway’s MSCCS-sanctioned Gumbo Nationals.

Best national driver: McCool.

Best regional drivers: Fulton’s Eric Cooley (three Crate victories including a $10,000 payday at Alabama’s Green Valley Speedway; claimed first Super Late Model victory at Tennessee’s Thunderhill Speedway); Carrollton’s Klint Byars (only Mississippi driver to qualify for Eldora’s Dream); Vossburg’s Scott Dedwylder (claimed first MSCCS title)

Best weekly drivers: Houlka’s Chase Washington (15 weekly NeSmith Crate victories between seven tracks in earning NeSmith’s $10,000 national weekly title); Indianola’s Doug Showah (six total victories including a SUPR event at Greenville in claiming the track’s Super Late Model title); Lumberton’s Shannon Lee (five victories and track titles at Jackson and Hattiesburg in weekly NeSmith Crate action); Leland’s Duke Palasini (nine NeSmith weekly victories in claiming Greenville’s NeSmith track title and finishing fourth in final NeSmith national standings); Meridian’s Jim McDuffie (five wins en route to Whynot’s Crate title).

Best homegrown performances: Bub McCool tops World of Outlaws at Tazewell (Tenn.) Speedway. ... Scott Dedwylder posts solid third-place finish in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series-sanctioned Clash at the Mag.

Most improved driver: Clarksdale’s Ross Camponovo shows flashes of promise in part-time season; makes USA Nationals field in Cedar Lake debut and makes the first night of WoO’s World Finals in his first Charlotte appearance.

Best newcomer: None

Most memorable moment: Jimmy Owens outdueling Mike Marlar and Billy Moyer late in Magnolia's Cotton Pickin’ 100 for his first victory in the late-season special.

Biggest news: Citing health concerns and a crowded September schedule for major races, race promoter Dewitt Singleton cancels the 23rd annual Magnolia State 100, one of the state’s most prestigious and longest running annual events. ... MSCCS expands in 2012 with return to Columbus (first time since 2008) and Magnolia (first time since 2009), while adding Greenville’s $7,000-to-win Gumbo Nationals as its richest event of the season. ... Early-season upgrades to Greenville Speedway’s facility included construction of a concrete wall all the way around the quarter-mile oval. ... Car owner Bill Stephens shut down his Speedway Collectibles race team in January, displacing MSCCS regulars Steve Bryan of Collinsville and Brooks Strength of Jackson.

North Carolina

Top performer: In dropping off the Lucas Oil tour, Brasstown’s Ray Cook competed in a mix of regional and national events, scoring a total of 10 victories. Highlights of Cook’s season include his second victory in Talladega Short Track’s Ice Bowl, a Lucas Oil victory during East Bay Raceway Park’s Dart Winternationals and a $20,000 Crate victory in Swainsboro Raceway’s Turkey 100. Cook was one of just 10 drivers to spend the entire season ranked in DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25. He finished the year ranked 22nd.

Best national driver: Ray Cook.

Best regional drivers: Concord’s Luke Roffers (five Carolina Clash victories in claiming first series title); Fayetteville’s Scott Autry (career-high $20,000 victory in Lancaster Speedway’s Carolina Crown, Carolina Clash win at 311 Speedway); Murphy’s David Payne (11 victories, including first Southern All Stars win at Toccoa Speedway); Franklin’s David McCoy (never worse than third in winning Southeastern Late Model Sportsman Series title; double-digit victories overall, Toccoa title); Dallas’s Jeff Smith (two Carolina Clash victories, series runner-up); Rutherfordton’s Ricky Weeks (two Clash victories); Mount Holly’s Chris Ferguson (three Fastrak touring victories).

Best weekly drivers: Lawndale’s Ron Parker (NDRA weekly title; victories at Carolina, I-77, Lancaster); Mount Airy’s Mitchell Coble (311 Crate title; 10 victories in 35 starts, $2,500 victory at Friendship); Raeford’s Shaun Harrell (multiple victories at Fayetteville, County Line, and Carolina in Lakeview, S.C.); Concord’s G.R. Smith (half-dozen victories at 311); Pine Level’s Dustin Mitchell (five County Line victories); Ronda’s Matthew Nance (half-dozen victories at Friendship).

Best homegrown performance: Scott Autry’s final-lap pass of Jeff Smith to win the Carolina Clash finale at 311.

Most improved drivers: David McCoy; Scott Autry.

Best newcomer: Charlotte’s Corey Gordon had 15 top-fives in 26 starts in rookie Crate Late Model season in three chassis for three teams; 17-year-old legends car grad had three runner-up finishes.

Most memorable moment: Jimmy Owens dominating the World of Outlaws World Finals at Charlotte to complete an unprecedented sweep of WoO’s season-ending doubleheader.

Biggest news: Clint Bowyer Racing absorbs the Barry Wright house car program and driver Steve Francis, displacing Jonathan Davenport after just one year with the team. ... Bobby Labonte Racing hires engineer Kevin Rumley to help fledging Longhorn Chassis program and partners with K&L Rumley Enterprises to pair Earl Pearson Jr. and Steve Shaver as teammates for 2013. ... Former racer Buddy Isles Sr. of Littleton reopens Clary’s Speedway in Brinkleyville for two late-season events and plans weekly racing in 2013. ... Brad Neat leaves Bobby Labonte Motorsports before the 2012 season after two seasons with the team.

South Carolina

Top performer: Gray Court’s Chris Madden continued his long reign as the Palmetto State’s top traveler with a nine-win season highlighted by a World of Outlaws victory at Swainsboro (Ga.) Raceway. Madden won four of 10 Southern Nationals races in claiming his fourth title on the 8-year-old tour. He peaked among the top 10 of DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 before ending the year ranked 13th.

Best national driver: Chris Madden.

Best regional drivers: Gaffney’s Dennis Franklin (12 victories among Super and Crate including three Carolina Clash victories; third in series points); Johnny Pursley (two BEAST victories, second in points after losing tiebreaker with Georgia’s Casey Roberts); Inman’s David Smith (Fastrak City Chevrolet Tour champ, 15 victories overall including $7,500 victory at Wythe); Clover’s Ross Bailes (won on BEAST, NDRA tours).

Best weekly drivers: Greenwood’s Billy Rushton (dominated Laurens County’s Late Model division with eight victories; second track title in four years); Lancaster’s Brandy Baker (six Crate wins in claiming Lancaster title); Sugar Tit’s Hot Rod Lamance (double-digit victories in claiming titles at Westminster and Georgia’s Toccoa Speedway); Hodges’s Larry Timms (four victories at Laurens County); Manning’s Gib Gibbons (Georgia victories at Screven, Gordon Park).

Best homegrown performances: Chris Madden’s finishing third or better in nine of 10 Southern Nationals events. ... Dennis Franklin’s flag-to-flag Rock Gault Memorial victory at Cherokee Speedway in the inaugural BEAST series event. ... Sumter’s Donnie Austin and Lancaster’s Brandy Baker claiming NDRA Crate specials at Lancaster.

Most improved drivers: Union’s Trent Ivey (son of veteran Petey Ivey had two Cherokee victories; top 10 in Fastrak City Chevrolet Tour points); Cowpens’s Jonathan Duvall (son of Hall of Famer Mike Duvall multiple winner at Cherokee).

Best newcomer: Hodges’s Dale Timms (Fastrak City Chevrolet Tour Rookie of the Year); Gaffney’s Taylor Hicks (successful move up from four-cylinders).

Most memorable moment: Scott Autry’s surprise $20,000 victory in the inaugural Carolina Crown at Lancaster Motor Speedway. He was later disqualified — then reinstated after it was discovered initial tire tests were faulty.

Biggest news: Laurens County Speedway announces it will drop Super Late Models in 2013, leaving the state without a weekly Super Late Model track. Laurens County will run Limiteds and Crates. ... Race promoter Cody Sommer increases Carolina Crown payout to $30,000 to win and at least $1,200 to every starter for the second running of the unsanctioned special event at Lancaster in March. ... Cherokee Speedway owner and promoter Lennie Buff launches the Battle of Eastern All Stars Tour in 2012 with nine events at five tracks. ... Westminster Speedway owner Roy Holbrooks dies on Nov. 25. He was 67.

Tennessee

Top performer: Jimmy Owens, who was fast and consistent on the Lucas Oil Series, scoring seven victories and 11 runner-up finishes in cruising to his second straight series title. Owens scored a total of 12 victories including a late-season streak of five straight with the $50,000 Dirt Track World Championship, Cotton Pickin’ 100, both World Finals features and National 100. Owens consistently ranked among the top drivers in DirtonDirt.com’s Top 25 and finished the year at No. 1.

Best national drivers: Owens; Mooresburg’s Scott Bloomquist (third in Lucas Oil points with three series victories; captured WoO’s $30,000 Firecracker 100); Winfield’s Mike Marlar (eight victories overall including the $25,000 Hillbilly 100; second in Southern Nationals points with two series wins).

Best regional drivers: Crossville’s Randy Weaver (nine wins in 31 starts en route to third SAS title in four years); Knoxville’s Billy Ogle Jr. (seven victories highlighted by Volunteer Speedway’s Lucas Oil event); Mosheim’s Vic Hill (eight-win season capped off by $10,000 victory in Duck River’s inaugural Deep Fried 75); Riley Hickman (SRRS champ with one win, five runner-up finishes; other victories at Boyd’s, Cleveland).

Best weekly drivers: Madisonville's Jason Welshan (22 victories in earning Crate titles at Boyd’s and Cleveland); Lynchburg’s Daniel Miller (Duck River Super Late Model title; double-digit victories among three tracks); Seymour’s Ryan King (16 total wins in Crate and Limited action at three tracks; third in NeSmith national weekly points and 411 Crate champ); Petersburg’s Corey Posey (solid season kicked off with a $3,000 win in Winchester’s Winterfest); Jason Trammell (seven victories en route to Tazewell title).

Best homegrown performances: Vic Hill turning back Ray Cook and Walker Arthur in an exciting finish to Duck River’s Deep Fried 75. ... Todd Morrow sweeping the first two nights the SRRS tour’s five-race Showdown miniseries at Duck River. ... Chad Ogle of Sevierville, Tenn., outdueling Ray Cook and Casey Roberts in Volunteer’s Ultimate Series event. ... Daniel Miller’s final-lap pass of Todd Morrow to win a $3,000 special at Duck River.

Most improved driver: Ryan King.

Best newcomer: Chattanooga's Booger Brooks, a multitime hobby division champ, won twice in Cleveland Speedway in his rookie season in the track’s Limited-Crate division.

Most memorable moment: Billy Ogle Jr. outdueling Scott Bloomquist at Volunteer Speedway for his first Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory.

Biggest news: Former 411 Motor Speedway and Crossville Raceway owner Doug Sopha plans construction of new Atomic Speedway on land neighboring the site of the original historic Atomic track. ... Centralia, Ill., driver Nick Lyons and passenger Nick Geiseking were uninjured in a plane crash on Oct. 17 while landing at Maryville’s Smoky Mountain Speedway for a test session at the track. ... Knoxville native and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne makes select Dirt Late Model starts in second half of 2012. ... Long-time Dirt Late Model sponsor and team owner Bob Harris of Shelbyville purchases Duck River Speedway and hosts a number of special events in the second half of the season. ... Jimmy Owens adds a Barry Wright Race Car to his stable in April but only enters the car in one event at Charlotte’s WoO Late Model showdown in October. ... Ronnie Willkomm retains control of Cleveland Speedway and keeps the historic track open after it was nearly sold in a foreclosure auction during the offseason.

Capsule contributors: Kelley Carlton, Thomas Pope, Richard Pearson, Richard Cunningham, Bryan Wimberley and Steve Hixson

About the capsules

It’s a daunting task to try and cover Dirt Late Model racing state-by-state, and there’s no doubt it’s an imperfect science. We did our best to include everyone deserving through gathering info from news reports, tracks, series, driver websites, contributors and other sources, but surely there are some feats and accomplishments we missed. Know of a deserving driver? Go to DirtonDirt.com’s Facebook page and let us know.

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