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Archive for January, 2013

Two Days In A Row. I Suppose You Are Going To Start Expecting A Post Everyday

January 31, 2013 2 comments

As I mentioned yesterday, I will be one of the panelists choosing the www.DirtonDirt.com Top 25 late model drivers this year.  Below is my first ranking of the season, along with reasons for my placement.

01/31/13

Top 25 Drivers Comments
     

1

Jimmy Owens Best of 2012, hasn’t raced in 2013

2

Darrell Lanigan Owens 1, Lanigan 1A in 2012

3

Tim Fuller Great January in Arizona

4

Don O’Neal Has to be in top five in any list

5

Terry Phillips Win + several good finishes in AZ

6

Will Vaught Win + several good finishes in AZ

7

Billy Moyer Jr. running for Lucas Oil ROY-will dad tour?

8

Scott Bloomquist How will Bloomer do without Tommy Hicks?

9

Jimmy Mars Solid Arizona

10

Shane Clanton Solid Arizona

11

Chris Simpson Picked up AZ win in new MB Custom chassis

12

Brian Birkhofer Probably lowest I will rank him all year

13

Tyler Reddick Break through year for youngster?

14

Pat Doar Strictly on AZ showing

15

Don Shaw Who?  Win + strong AZ finishes

16

Tim McCreadie I like him

17

Steve Francis Will 2012 Knoxville win mean good 2012?

18

Rick Eckert 2nd best in WoO to Lanigan ain’t bad

19

Chub Frank Anyone named Chub gets my vote

20

Shannon Babb Probably too low for Hell Tour perennial

21

Brian Shirley Yeah, he was 2012 Summernationals champ

22

Mike Marlar One big win in 2012, how many in 2013?

23

Jared Landers My Lucas Oil bias showing

24

John Anderson My home state bias showing

25

Eric Wells I needed a 25th driver

For the first time in a decade, Scott Bloomquist will be racing without crew chief Tommy Hicks, at least for the Florida Speedweeks events.  Will this be another tough to overcome problem for one of dirt late model racing’s all time greats?  Bloomquist is in his late 40’s, though his rival for best late model driver Billy Moyer is showing that 40, even 50 is just a number.  I think Bloomquist’s chassis building business takes a toll on his racing and without Hicks I wonder how he will do.  There is a chance that Hicks might return after Speedweeks, but I wonder.

Oh well.  Just one more occasion where I do not understand how the racer’s mind works.  Or as Winston Churchill said about the Russian mind-“it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”  Maybe all racers are descended from Russian immigrants.  I already have plenty of races on my 2013 schedule, so one fewer is not going to make it a shambles; it is just a sad situation.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Nebraska Man Abducted By Aliens; Spent Much Of January Roaming The Milky Way

January 30, 2013 2 comments

There is no need to put my photo on a milk carton, nor do you have to check the local jails to see if I have been arrested-it was someone else that the Fremont police wrongfully stuck in a jail last weekend. I was not kidnapped by aliens and flown to some distant galaxy. I am still here, I just have not been writing as much. Yes, I do know there has been at least some auto racing topics I could have written on almost everyday in January. 

 

January is always the month I dread most.  Like most of you, I hate the cold weather, but my dread comes from the fact that it is my busiest month of the year on my “real” job.  Taking three days off to go to the NMX in Las Vegas put me behind at work, and I have been struggling trying to catch up.  I did not have time to think about a blog post at work, and between the stress and simply being tired from a constant battle all day, I simply did not get blogs written.  This morning I finally got caught up, so cross your fingers my posts should be more frequent.

 

I also should be better informed on all that is happening in the late model world in 2013.  Todd Turner of www.DirtonDirt.com has invited me to be on the panel of the website’s weekly Top 25 drivers, so I have to do more research than I have in the past few years.  I don’t feel like I let things slide, but being an informed voter on this panel should help me do a better job blogging for my readers.

 

If anyone would like to give me advice on how I should vote, please feel free to email me at brutonnb@yahoo.com

 

And, I no longer have the every other week payroll job I had been doing for the past five years.  I was spending 80 hours a month on this with most of it occurring over 6 days.  With my day job and blogging this became too much.  While I hate to lose that money, keeping what little of my sanity I have left is more important.  Not doing this should give me the opportunity to do some articles again for Dirt Late Model and Dirt Modified magazines, something I did not do at all in 2012.

 

Thanks to all of you for your patience, and thanks for making your way back to The Rest of the Dirt.

 

Oh, note to Dr. David Hayward.  No, I am not at another blogger’s convention.  I enjoyed finally meeting you when I was in Las Vegas and apologize that conference activities kept me from going with you to Crazy Horse III.  From what our mutual friend Tony told me it sounds like you made quite the scene.

 

 

 

 

Was Ben Franklin A Turkey?

January 26, 2013 3 comments

If Benjamin Franklin had his way, the bald eagle would not have been America’s symbol.  Franklin wanted the symbol to be a turkey.  While I admire much about Franklin, after reading this I figure if they had been around in Franklin’s time he would have been a fan of B-mods.  Ah, you laughed, but the first time I typed that sentence it said Franklin would have been a fan of 305 sprint cars.  I changed it so I didn’t say anything controversial.

Recently divorced Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  have admitted they are “dating.”  My first thought on this was not only is she dating a Roush Fenway driver, but a driver who still races a sprint car on occasion.  I thought she might do better.  The second thought I had was wondering how the relationship might suffer the first time Stenhouse bumped her out of his way to make a pass.  I meant on the track Randy.

My morning started off with a bit of humor provided by my friend, auditor and voodoo practitioner Tony Anville.  In an email he suggested that Roush drivers would win 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this year-Edwards 7, Biffle 3, and Stenhouse 2.  To me Mr. Anville was just spreading b.s. around his Auburn ranch.

Matt pointed out that in the time it took Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win two races, Jimmie Johnson won four Sprint Cup championships.  Unlike Anville who believes Edwards will be the Sprint Cup king in 2013, I think Johnson will be tough to beat.  I would like to see Jeff Gordon capture another title, but I am not sure he has the crew chief or team to do so. I will make my first prediction of the year though-I think Gordon will win at least one of the Daytona Speedweek races.  I hope it will be the Daytona 500, but I think he will have a good finish in that race to start his season right.

Counting practice nights, a fan could park his motor home in the East Bay Raceway Park lot and see 19 nights of racing in 25 days from January 30th-February 23rd.  Fasttrak late models and World Street Stocks start the action next weekend.  Check out the track’s website or xsantv for information on PPV of every night of the Winternationals. Add this to my “if I win the lottery” bucket list.

The Nebraska 360 Sprints series now has a Facebook page, and will have its 2013 schedule out in the next few weeks.  Good luck to my friend Randy Palmer and this series.  I am sure that I will be harassed to attend a race or two of series. 

 Thanks for stopping by.

 

Oh My Aching Back

January 23, 2013 3 comments

No, I am not suffering from a Las Vegas hangover.  Like I said before I left, I am the most boring person to ever visit there.  I went to seminars, ate meals in the hotel, didn’t go to a show, threw away $20 in a slot machine, and came home.

 

That was two weeks ago.  The last two days, well, let’s just say I was outside the state of Nebraska.  On Monday I journeyed to the state of agony.  Yesterday I visited the state of misery.  Today, after three visits to the chiropractor, icing my back at least a dozen times, and swallowing half a bottle of ibuprofen I am here with a sore back.

 

Other than being terribly out of shape I have no idea what happened, but it was bad, really the worst my back has heard in years.  I was just sitting down to email my friend Tony a snarky email laughing at how on his day off he couldn’t watch the TV shows he liked because of the inauguration.  I had not typed 10 words when my back started hurting and I could barely move.  I am not saying there is voodoo being practiced in Auburn, but I have no logical explanation for what happened.

 

I am not a shill for a site like www.DirtonDirt.com, nor am I one for National Speed Sport News.  For $24.95 you get 12 issues mailed to you, and that is especially nice when not much is going on in the winter.  The magazine covers all types of racing, even sprint cars.

 

Without NSSN I would never have known that Jeff Swindell is going to run the entire ASCS National Series.  Or that Travis Pastrana is going to run all 33 Nationwide Series races for Roush Fenway Racing.

 

To me there are many drivers more talented in a race car than Travis Pastrana, and most will not get a shot at a big time ride.  NASCAR’s big three series have become so expensive that unless a driver brings money with him, he is not going to get a shot at a ride.  That is a sad situation.

 

If you don’t think it is a cash intense sport, here is what Forrest Lucas had to say when questioned about his investment in obtaining the naming rights for Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis: “What it cost me to sponsor Lucas Oil Stadium would have cost me the same to do a mid-pack Nationwide car.  I get a lot more out of the stadium.”

 

Not an up front car in the Sprint Cup series, but a mid-pack car in the Nationwide Series.  Wow.  Or, per car owner Tommy Baldwin, it is costing him $28,000 per car to switch his stable of Sprint Cup cars to the new 2013 body style.  Multiply that by 14 cars for Baldwin, and many teams build more than 14 cars per season.

 

Baldwin also mentioned that running for 30th place in a Sprint Cup race can cost him $30,000 in additional expenses over just starting and parking one of his race cars. Again, money, money, money.  The cost of fielding a competitive car is so high that 5-6 cars a race become start and parkers and I think fans deserve better for the hefty sum they pay for tickets.

 

A column in NSSN called High Groove and written by Keith Waltz suggested that an award be given to the Short Track Announcer of the Year.  I think that is a good idea.  It could be given when the ARPY awards are handed out during Speedweeks in Daytona.

 

Finally, Ken Schrader is going to do 10 Sprint Cup Series races in 2013.  I wouldn’t argue that Schrader is past his prime as a race car driver, but if there is a better ambassador for the sport than this man, I don’t know who it would be.  Hopefully he will continue to visit short tracks around the US for years to come.

 

Now, if you don’t think you should subscribe to National Speed Sports News, most of the ideas I wrote about today originated in the current issue of the magazine.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Arizona Promoters Not Unlike Midwest Promoters

January 17, 2013 3 comments

Another guest post from Tom McLaughlin.

 

Extreme (Disappointment) Wednesday in Tucson

 

After a couple of days of sightseeing in places like downtown Nogales and its duty-free shops and southwestern New Mexico, including the anti-terrorism training camp in the former mining company town of Playas, it was back to Tucson for the Wednesday night installment of the Winter Extreme series.

 

Fortunately, the extremely cold weather finally left the area, and sunny skies and 60-degree temperatures returned, and the prospect of not freezing my tail off sounded pretty exciting. 

 

Unfortunately, the late starts that have plagued the series this year continued.  The scheduled 6:15 start was delayed by an “extreme” 80 minutes due to an “extreme” over-watering of the track.  And once the race program got started, the lollygagging around continued, which was a source of frustration for many of the fans in the stands.

 

42 late models and 23 modifieds checked in – the Wednesday shows usually draw a smaller turnout of cars as many of the local and regional drivers skip this show so they can go home during the week.  In past years, this has been a quick night at the track and the track conditions have usually been very good due to the night-time start.

 

The excess moisture resulted in a hammer-down race track with very little passing and a slew of overheated and expired engines.  Sunday’s feature winner Chris Simpson struggled to finish 5th in his heat, which would put him in the front row of a B feature.  Several drivers chose to park early rather than languish around in the back of the pack with no hope of moving up.  Heat race winner Billy Moyer nearly lapped Brad Looney, who was a feature-winner contender on Saturday.  Moyer turned a 15.6 second lap on the lightning-fast and smooth 3/8 mile oval, which is more of a circle than an oval with its long, sweeping turns and short straights.

 

Jesse Stovall again drove a local car and door-slammed Pennsylvania driver Ron Davies in a bid for second place.  Davies didn’t seem too happy – I wonder if he’ll put out a hit with the infamous Amish Mafia of Pennsylvania…

 

Only 19 modifieds started the three heat races, but all 23 entrants started the feature although several were parked by the race’s midway point. 

 

Seven heat races took slightly over an hour, and rather than keeping the show moving, track officials took a 25-minute intermission before the first late model B took to the track, causing a bit of grumbling among the fans in the stands.  25 minutes is enough for a lot of tracks to run 3 heats and an A feature of damn near anything with a starter.  I once saw Fairmont run a 180-car show in four hours.  Granted, you didn’t want to leave your seat because you’d miss something but four hours to run a two-hour show won’t attract any new fans.

 

Eight of a scheduled 11 started the first B, and 6 of 11 started the second B.  Both events were ho-hum affairs, with cars in non-qualifying positions dropping out early.  After winning the first B from the pole, Chris Simpson bagged the track prep in his victory lane interview, saying the track was too fast and wasn’t widening out, it was too hard on equipment and that he would start-and-park in the A feature. 

 

After a few minutes of water truck laps in an effort to widen the groove, the modified feature lined up and at the midway point Rodney Sanders took the lead and won his third straight feature of the series.  He apologized to the fans in victory lane, saying it was probably a boring race.  Eleven cars finished, including perennial low-speed hazard Terry Haven who caused several anxious moments as the pack tried to maneuver around him.  Terry can be as wide as anyone in the turns, his problem is that he’s doing it about 30 mph slower than the lead cars.

 

A few more water truck parade laps later and the crowd (can you call 150 people a crowd?) was finally treated to the late model feature.  Justin Kay and Jimmy Mars started on the front row, and Mars took off and appeared to be headed toward victory.  Only one caution, on lap ten, slowed the field.  Again, several cars pulled in when it appeared that they weren’t going to move forward.  Mars had trouble negotiating lapped traffic late in the race, allowing Will Vaught to catch him and pass him with 2 laps to go.  So at least there was some drama in an otherwise dull feature.

 

Justin Kay had another good run, despite falling back from his front row start.  Considering who he was racing against and the track conditions, it was a nice showing.  California driver Clay Daly is another driver who is probably not one of the best-funded, but he’s not afraid to mix it up with the big dogs and has had some nice runs in Arizona in the last few years.

 

In talking with some of the fine folks in the stands, there was quite a bit of disappointment in the continual late starts and lack of urgency in keeping the show rolling, especially with the cold weather conditions.  The previous promoter certainly had some issues, but failing to start on time and move the show along at a nice clip certainly wasn’t one of them.  Hopefully the TIR staff can recognize and address this and put on a better show next year.

On A Long And Lonesome Highway East Of Omaha-Oh, Wait, I Am In Fremont

January 16, 2013 1 comment

Matt and I went to the FremontHigh School versus Elkhorn South basketball game last night.  Let me preface my comments with the fact that I have not liked Elkhorn since 1976 when I was president of the North Bend Jaycees and Elkhorn was a rival chapter-North Bend was named best chapter in our population division and Elkhorn wasn’t, so eat it Elkhorn.

 

Anyway, Elkhorn fans were rude and obnoxious as their team was losing to Fremont 64-57.  Elkhorn fans reminded me of-you got it-sprint car fans.  I haven’t said anything bad about sprint car fans since I emailed Randy Palmer last night, and this was too good to resist.

 

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers say the new car has been unstable during tests at Daytona and that there will be crashes because of it.  So it was the car and not Dale Earnhardt Jr. eating some of his Junior brand potato chips that caused “the big one” during testing earlier in January.  Unstable cars plus a few unstable drivers should equal an interesting Daytona 500.

 

Super late models are back in action tonight at Tucson International Raceway in the third night of the Tucson Winter Extreme.  Support class modifieds will also take to the track tonight.  The series concludes with races on Friday and Saturday.

 

Yes, you can get the Tucson races on PPV. No, I am not a shill for www.DirtonDirt.com.  I pay for my subscription and for any PPV’s I choose to watch.  I just think they do an outstanding job, plus with no other races to watch, it is worth a few bucks to take in some good racing action.  Also, Tom McLaughlin-TMC-will is doing another guest blog on tonight’s racing.

 

Be sure to check out xsantv too.  In a few weeks they will be providing PPV of all of the Winternationals from EastBayRacewayPark near Tampa. I still remember the year I went to Tampa for the Winternationals.  It rained off and on during the day and I debated even going to the track.  I went and had to park far away by what to me was a swampy area.  I fretted the entire walk back to my rental car, figuring if an alligator came out of the swamp there was no way my legs could move fast enough to escape.  I wish Chris Wall would have been there. I was going to say Tony Anville because I could run faster, but no doubt in my mind he would have tripped me.

 

I hate winter.  I don’t have much to write about and some of what I do I can’t for I would compromise sources.  Ah well.  Spring is just around the corner-in about 10 weeks.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

Is This Nebraska in November? No, It’s the Winter Extreme in Tucson…

January 14, 2013 Leave a comment

Tom McLaughlin has been traveling to Tucson in January the past few years to watch the late model racing we can’t get in Nebraska this time of year, and he decided to blog about his experience. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse-he is doing it for free.  Thank you Tom, and thanks to all my readers for stopping by.

P.S. You don’t have to tell me he is better than the regular blogger on this site.  I already know that.

Is This Nebraska in November?  No, It’s the Winter Extreme in Tucson…

The first weekend of the Winter Extreme races at Tucson International Raceway is in the books.  A solid field of late models greeted the fans both nights, as did an extended cold snap that kept a lot of fans away.  You can easily find the results on the web – here are a few observations from the stands.

Tucson – and much of the southwest – was experiencing its longest and coldest cold snap since the 1940’s, according to a local television weatherman.  With race-time temperatures in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s, it definitely had an effect on the crowd as attendance was very light both days.  While the sun helped warm things up on Sunday (ever so slightly), a persistent northerly breeze turned the stands into a Carhartt fashion show on both days.  The track had a few patio heaters set up to warm the fans and wisely added event sweatshirts at the souvenir stand – and was planning to order more on Monday because of demand.

Chris Simpson drove to a convincing $5,000 win on Sunday, easily outdistancing Jimmy Mars, the “M” in MB Customs, which built Simpson’s Car.  The “B” in MB Customs, Brian Birkhofer, enjoyed a frosty one while serving as Simpson’s spotter from the stands in turn one, and was as excited as anyone with the win.  In fact, Birky was about as fun to watch as the race itself, especially when Simpson took an ill-advised trip to the high side and lost a lot of ground on Mars.  Sunday’s feature turned into an uncharacteristic one-lane affair after the midway point.

And the fun didn’t stop there for MB Customs – Rodney Sanders, the pride of Happy, Texas, won his second straight modified feature in his new MB Customs chassis.  Saskatchewan’s Aaron Turnbull came from deep in the field and hoped to catch Sanders napping, but ran out of laps.  The modified feature was definitely the more entertaining feature on Sunday, with lots of passing and jockeying for position throughout the field.

Tim Fuller won his second race in Arizona on Saturday in a humdinger of a feature.  Brad Looney jumped out to an early lead and was “off to the races”.  John Anderson began to close ground but suddenly dropped out with mechanical issues.  Jimmy Mars then closed the gap and worked Looney for several laps before the two tangled on the front stretch as Looney crossed down in front of Mars, spun and stopped, bringing out a controversial yellow which sent Looney to the rear.  Mars inherited the lead, but jumped the cushion on the restart giving the lead to Fuller with Will Vaught hot on his tail.  Vaught tried to close the gap but Fuller was too strong and one of the few drivers who could make up ground on the high side.

Local ace R.C. Whitwell had a couple of solid finishes in a car that’s probably not quite on par with the Moyers and Mars of the world.  Whitwell is smooth, patient and gets every ounce of whatever he drives.  He’s a guy I’d sure like to see more often.

Jesse Stovall and car owner Al Humphrey aren’t having a good start to their 2013 season.  Stovall was a spectator at Friday’s practice, as Humphrey was stuck in Dodge City getting a trailer axle repaired and was unable to make it to Tucson in time for practice.  Then on Saturday, Stovall parked his car due to engine woes in hot laps.  On Sunday, Stovall drove local driver Anthony Madrid’s car to a solid 8th place finish.  Hopefully this team can shake off their bad luck streak because Stovall is a heads-up driver and this team can really make some noise this year.

Seemingly half the modified field came from WISSOTA country – Minnesota, the Dakotas and Canada.  The northern contingent also produced a few late models, including Don Shaw, who won one of the features at Casa Grande the previous weekend.

While the late models had solid 50-car fields both days, the modified car count was a little light.  Perhaps the IMCA modified program at Casa Grande may have kept a few locals away, but the Las Cruces contingent of drivers like Stormy and Johnny Scott, Fito and Jacob Gallardo, Jimmy Ray and several others were conspicuously absent.  Additionally, several drivers from “up north” were stuck in a blizzard and unable to make it for the first weekend.  Hopefully the car count picks up a bit for the upcoming shows.

Two of my favorite aspects of this series are the tire rule and the passing point qualifying system.  No soft tires, no time trials, no heads-up starts – everyone is on hard rubber and everyone earns their feature starting spot.  We all know that Billy Moyer complains about the qualifying system every time someone gives him the opportunity, but it is a great equalizer and I doubt that the racing (or the field of cars) would be anywhere near as good with an open tire rule.  World of Outlaws star Shane Clanton struggled on Saturday and after two wins in three Arizona starts this year, Tim Fuller had to come out of the B on Sunday. 

Tucson International Raceway is a great facility, with a fast 3/8 mile track with sweeping turns and short straights.  The staff is always friendly but the pace is a little more laid-back.  If you go there, you just have to remember that the weekend races never start on time, there will be a long intermission or two, and the restarts and pace between races aren’t quite as snappy as a lot of tracks.  But the excellent fields of cars and on-track action more than makes up for the occasionally lackadaisical pace of the program.  I know a lot of fans make the trip to Florida for the racing in February, but airfares and hotel rooms are considerably cheaper in Tucson, the weather is probably as agreeable (on average) and with the airport and hotels just a couple of minutes away from the track and none of the typical Florida overcharging, every fan wanting a winter getaway should give Tucson a shot.  There’s a lot to do in and around Tucson on the off days as well.  This is my sixth trip and I’m already looking forward to 2014.  I just hope the weather is a bit warmer!