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Prairie Dirt Classic-Nothing Like It

July 31, 2017 1 comment

After riding in the Illinois 491 yesterday-the distance between our hotel in Bloomington and home, my mind rebelled at the thought of posting a blog. Instead I took a well-deserved nap.

I am not one who would tell someone he isn’t a race fan because he has never been to Daytona or Charlotte, Knoxville or Eldora. If you are reading this blog you are a race fan no matter where you have or have not been. BUT, since you are a race fan you do yourself an injustice if you never make a pilgrimage to the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois.

Perhaps the Meyer family endorsement means little to you, but we made the trek last year, returned this year, and on the way home yesterday Matt and I started planning our trip for 2018. AND, I believe for the first time-I can’t remember for sure if I bought a Final Sunset t-shirt, I bought a race event t-shirt. Yes, I did. And I’ll be wearing it in the future. The 28th Annual Prairie Dirt Classic. That is a very big statement from me.

In the best possible context, the PDC at FALS is insane, utter chaos, extreme motorsports, total excitement, and there is nothing else like it in dirt track racing. Heck, make it all of racing.

Start with a staff-mostly volunteers-that want to make fans happy. Add concessions that are reasonably priced. And a midway selling more souvenirs than anyone could possibly want. Throw in a well-prepared track and some great racing and you will see a sight rarely seen at any race track these days-signs reading “SOLD OUT.” I almost forgot-“Welcome Race Fans” signs on nearly every business in town.

Year after year people make the trip to central Illinois from all over the U.S. For three blocks-on both sides of the street, and outside of turns 1 and 2 and the back stretch are hundreds of campers and RV’s. There is a line waiting when campgrounds open, and the 300 available spots are gone long before any racer fires an engine. And golf carts-there are more golf carts driving around the track AND on city streets than you will find at any golf course in the country.

I need to add something to my endorsement. Our seats are 7 rows up on the backstretch grandstands where cars enter turn three. I was hit by mud clods during hot laps on both Saturday and Sunday. That is not a complaint-the last time I remember getting hit with mud at a race track was at Sunset Speedway and you know how I feel about that place.

Our seats not only give us a perfect view of turns 3 and 4, but also a great view of the entire backstretch. I have always defined good racing as side by side racing, but when 29 cars are racing around a 1/4th mile oval that is automatic. How about three wide for second place? Even better, how about three wide for first place? Or the first six cars in a pack so tight that barely a tick of your watch passes as the cars do? That is the PDC at FALS. A fan has to really concentrate to figure out just who is leading the race with cars all over the place.

OK, before I continue on with this love song, I did have one problem this weekend. No, thank you Lord, there were no B-mods on hand. But there were 72 UMP Modifieds signed in. And, my friend Big Show would be thrilled by this-71 of the Modifieds time trialed. That was 40 minutes of my life wasted. I am of the belief that NO support class should ever time trial. Actually I am not a big fan of the feature class time trialing, but that is an argument for another time.

Since UMP does not race in Nebraska I have no clue if time trials for Modifieds running the Summer Nationals is standard procedure. To me, it doesn’t matter if it is. If I-80 Speedway can get the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series to change its format for the Silver Dollar Nationals, FALS can get UMP to agree to no time trials. If they won’t agree, well, “hasta la vista baby.” Don’t let the pit gate hit you on the butt on the way out. The track could do unsanctioned Modifieds as a support class. Make the race open to drivers that have ran a weekly show at FALS at least twice in the season. Pay $3,000 to win and there would easily be 50 Modifieds in the pits.

Yes I do know that UMP and the WoO are owned by the same people. The WoO is NOT going to pull out of the PDC if the track says n Modified time trials. The WoO needs the PDC more than the PDC needs the WoO. The WoO has few crown jewel events, and if they pulled out, the Lucas Oil series would be there in the blink of an eye.

And, change the race order both nights. On Friday, run two of the Modified qualifiers first, then run all the Late Model qualifiers, and end the night with the final two Modified qualifiers. On Saturday, run the 40 lap Modified feature after the 100 laps Late Model feature. People are not coming to Fairbury from all over the country to watch Modifieds race. They want to see the Late Models. I am guessing no more than 10% of the crowd is there because of Modifieds-hey, they do have family and friends so 10% sounds about right. After the final Last Chance Race for Late Models ended, the backstretch grandstands almost emptied before the start of the Modified feature and stayed that way until the Late Models returned.

Kyle Bronson, Scott Bloomquist, and Shannon Babb finished 3rd-4th-5th in the Silver Dollar Nationals feature. Not one of them made the PDC feature in Friday night qualifiers. Neither did Billy Moyer, Don O’Neal, or Earl Pearson. Bronson, Bloomquist, Babb, and Moyer did not qualify in the Last Chance Races either. Amazing.

If you subscribe to www.DirtonDirt.com, you can go to the website and watch a 20 minute video of the 100 lap feature. It will be 20 minutes well spent if you do. So, I’ll skip a race recap and go right to my Random Thoughts:  

-I thought my friend Big Show was a PDC no show, but the track announcer kept on talking about “fat heads” in the backstretch grandstands. Made me wonder if he made it after all.

-Matt keeps telling me that Chris Simpson is the good brother and that Chad is bad. Well, the good brother put on a great show. Late in the race he was second and trying to pass Brandon Sheppard for the lead. He faded some at the end, but still ended up with a 7th place finish.

-I was the first person to write about Devin Moran, in an article for Dirt Late Model magazine some years ago. I think many more people will be writing about the son of Million Dollar Man Donnie Moran. The young Moran set fast time and won his qualifier on Friday, and ended up 3rd in the 100 lapper. Two thumbs up for the WoO Rookie of the Year contender.

-Ryan Unzicker is a solid Late Model driver from El Paso-the El Paso down the road from Fairbury, not the one in Texas. Unzicker vied for the lead early, faded, and then came back strong to finish second in the feature.

-Brandon Sheppard has my vote for driver of the year. Well, he would if I had a vote. Winning the PDC isn’t easy, though the Rocket house car pilot made it look that way. What a week B-Shepp had. From 32nd to 2nd at the Silver Dollar Nationals (that is what garnered my DOY vote), a WoO win at Fayette County Speedway in Illinois on Wednesday, a PDC qualifier win on Friday, and the big win on Saturday. Rocket Shepp has seven WoO feature wins, earlier this summer won five straight UMP Summernationals features, and his earning in the eight days through Saturday amounted to nearly $65,000. His season earning on the WoO circuit are $159,950. Not quite the year Jonathan Davenport had a few years ago, but still a super one.

-I like the farming done by the track prep crew at various times during both Friday and Saturday. Yes, it does at to the length of the show, but it also leads to incredibly competitive racing as well.

-I would like to thank a number of people for a very enjoyable weekend. First and foremost, my son Matt. All I had to do was show up, get in the car to ride, and he did all the rest. I appreciate all he did and his patience with me too. My g.d. left knee is going to be replaced sometime in the next six months, but right now I am terribly afraid it is going to lead me to a fall and far more damage than I need. He really did do so much for me this weekend and I can’t tell him enough how much I appreciate him and all he did.

-I would also like to thank Michael Rigsby for his hospitality. Michael is a class act and yes, he does a fantastic job with www.DirtonDirt.com. Matt counts Michael as a good racing friend, and loves to talk racing with Michael and the rest of the Rigsby Mafia at events like this.

-I would also like to thank Barry Rigsby for two outstanding pork chop sandwiches. Last time I had pork chops sandwiches at a race track was year’s ago at Fairmont Speedway in Minnesota. Those were good, Barry’s were great.

-I would also like to thank Matt Curl, FALS race director and promoter. First for the amazing job he does with this event, but also for the media pit pass. I don’t avail myself of this type of pass often, but then again I don’t do 1700 word blogs very often either. So thank you Matt. I know my Sprint Car fans will disagree and say the best two straight weeks of dirt track racing are the Knoxville 360 and 410 Nationals. Sorry, I think the best two straight weeks of dirt track racing are the Silver Dollar Nationals and the Prairie Dirt Classic.

Tomorrow I am going to post comments from a few people who wrote me about the Silver Dollar Nationals. I am also going to talk about the quality of fields in what I consider to be the top five Late Model events of the year.

For now, once again, if you are a Late Model fan you owe it to yourself to make at least one pilgrimage to FALS for the Prairie Dirt Classic. And yes, it is almost a religious experience. And yes tickets are incredibly difficult to come by, so plan early and watch for when they go on sale. There is nothing like the PDC.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Silver Dollar Nationals VII

July 23, 2017 Leave a comment

No, this isn’t my post on Silver Dollar Nationals VII. I actually did two posts already and they are shown below. I would like to share what others experienced this weekend, as it might by totally different than what I did. So, if you would like to tell everyone about SDN VII from your perspective, please email me your thoughts and I will publish them this week. Email to:

 

brutonnb@yahoo.com

 

Thanks.

Categories: July 2017

Gustin, McCreadie Take Home The BIG $$

July 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Mother Nature cut race fans at the Silver Dollar Nationals a break on Saturday. No, I am not talking about rain. I am talking about the heat index. On Friday this weather indicator stood at 113 degrees. Not just hot, but damn lucky there were no heat strokes hot. But Saturday was a different story. The temperature was in the low 90’s, the sky was partly to mostly cloudy, and there was a nice breeze as well. All in all it was not uncomfortable.

There were few empty grandstand seats and the bleachers appeared full as well on the final night of Silver Dollar Nationals VII. There were 43 USMTS Modifieds and 51 Lucas Oil Dirt Late Models filling the pits. As I mentioned yesterday, drivers from 23 states were on hand, including Hall of Famers, past national tour champions, and if wins shown on resumes were added up it would number many thousands. The best dirt drivers in the nation were on hand to entertain the crowd.

Random thoughts:

-I was not overwhelmed by any of the B-feature races. By biggest take from these races was who had not qualified for the A-feature. Lucas Oil regulars Gregg Satterlee and Jimmy Owens (a past champion) had to take provisional starting spots. Brandon Sheppard (current World of Outlaws Late Model point leader) and Jimmy Mars (a former Dream winner) were forced to run in the Belt Dash non-qualifiers race.

-The first three finishers in the Belt Dash are offered the opportunity to take their winnings and be done for the night, or forfeit the winnings and garner a spot in the 80 lap A-feature. Brandon Sheppard won the Belt Dash and gave up a $3,000 payday to race again-a wise decision. Jimmy Mars finished second with an engine that was overheating and decided to keep his winnings and not risk blowing an engine in the main event. Kyle Berck ended up third and decided to race.

-My predictions as always sucked. I said Steve Francis would not lead a lap in the feature. He led the first 10. I thought the big money would go to either Don O’Neal or Scott Bloomquist. Neither was much of a factor in the race. O’Neal led for about 10 laps but tangled with Brian Shirley and the back stretch wall and dropped back, finally finishing 10th. A Bloomquist pit stop sent him to the back of the field, and for much of the race he was running mid-pack. A late charge took him to a 4th place finish.

-O’Neal’s 16 year old son Hudson energized the crowd with a run to third. Kyle Bronson managed to get around the “New Deal” and on the last lap the 71 car climbed the turn one wall and looked like it was going to roll over. Somehow the youngster was able to save the car but dropped to 9th place.

-Brandon Sheppard showed why driving the Rocket house car is not a bad gig. He started 32nd and roared past 30 other cars to come home second. He gave up $3,000 in Belt Dash earnings, but second place in the 80 lap A-feature paid $20,000, a pretty good trade.

-Tim McCreadie started 15th and moved to the front of the pack early in the race. When Shirley and Don O’Neal bumped, McCreadie passed both drivers and led the rest of the race. Several cautions and one red flag bunched the field, but McCreadie pulled away each time. This was McCreadie’s biggest win and was very popular with fans.

-Rodney Sanders in not invincible in a USMTS Modified at I-80 Speedway. The Happy, Texas driver was going after his 8th straight feature win at the Greenwood, Nebraska track, but it was Ryan Gustin who took the checkered flags for another 2017 big money win. Sanders finished second. Sanders also finished 20th in the Late Model feature.

-No one went crazy on lap one of the three wide start of the USMTS feature. It was lap two when the first caution flew.

-Like Sanders, Terry Phillips did double duty, finishing 8th in the USMTS feature and 32nd in the Lucas Oil Late Model feature. So did Chase Junghans who finished 13th in the Modified feature and 23rd in his Late Model.

-Ben Schaller was the highest finishing Nebraska driver, coming home 14th. Tad Pospisil was 18th, Corey Zeitner was 22nd, and Kyle Berck finished 26th.

-The Late Model A feature was completed before 11:00 p.m. Last year it did not even begin until 11:50 p.m. A finish before 11:00 p.m. should be the goal every year, not just on Saturday night, but on Thursday and Friday as well.

-Was this Billy Moyer’s last SDN? The “retired” Batesville, Arkansas Hall of Famer spun on lap 13 and backed into the turn two pit fence. Moyer finished a disappointing 30th.

-There will be no increase in the first place prize money for the Late Models at SDN VIII. Good. I would like to see more money put in positions from mid-pack to the back of the field. 53 is a number long associated with the Kosiski family and $53,000 is a great first place prize.

-Lucas Oil announcer said “I-80 Speedway never disappoints.” That is not quite true, but there was more than enough excitement on Saturday night to keep people coming back for more and to enhance the Silver Dollar Nationals crown jewel status.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals-Thursday and Friday

July 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.
Been down, isn’t it a pity,
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city.

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.

Thank you Lovin’ Spoonful for a great description of the heat this week at the small city of I-80 Speedway during the Silver Dollar Nationals. Thursday was damn hot. Friday was sickening hot, hotter than a match head. I guess I didn’t feel half dead, but I did feel half sick. And 100% crazy for being there instead of sitting in my air conditioned home.

Day One of the SDN

-Sport Mods, how I loathe thee. Even less than a full field is too many of this creature. I do have to admit there was some artistry to the B-Mod feature presentation. Call it ‘synchronized spinning.’ Turn three seemed to be difficult for cars near the back to journey through. Several times the yellow flag flew as multiple cars spun, including one amazing effort in which four cars spun. Blows my mind.

-41 Malvern Banks SLMR late models and 19 Carpetland Nebraska 360 Sprint Cars were on hand.

-Danny Lasoski could not get his car fired until the Sprint Car feature. He moved from the back of the starting grid to third place before an ill-timed caution set him back to fifth. He ended up finishing fourth. Without this caution I think he might have won the race.

-Hall of Famer Terry McCarl won the Sprint Car A-feature, but if the race had been 26 laps instead of 25 laps, he might not have. With two laps remaining in the race, Cody Ledger took the lead from McCarl, but McCarl took it back on the last lap and won by about a half car length.

-I thought the $5300 winner’s share of the SLMR purse might entice a few MLRA drivers to race instead of just practice. It didn’t. I also thought that with that much money on the line, no one but Kyle Berck would come home first. I was right. Well, sort of right. Berck had won the last SLMR feature and claimed the Home Pride $777 bonus for winning two features in a row.

-Some people might not enjoy watching race cars practice. When drivers are of national caliber like the Lucas Oil series drives, it is a pleasure to watch them test. Certainly a heckuva lot more fun than watching Sports Mods.

-Just my opinion, well probably the opinion of a lot of fans, Sports Mods have not business racing at the SDN.

I would call Day One of the SDN “OK.” Not great, not bad, just OK. I give it a B-. Without the Sports Mods, it would have been a solid B. And as hot as it was I wish I had stayed home at paid $11.99 to watch the races on the www.DirtonDirt.com PPV.

 

Day Two of the SDN

I call the SDN “Christmas In July.” Santa must have me on his naughty list this year, because unlike previous SDN’s, Friday’s show was simply NOT exciting to me. Yes, there was “some” passing, but the qualifying races simply lacked drama. That is my opinion and I am sticking to it. A B-, maybe.

-If I counted right, drivers from 22 states were on hand. California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Florida were represented.

-With 8 cars less than the Lucas Oil Late Models, the USMTS Modifieds got the same number of heats. I don’t quite understand that. I also do not quite follow Late Models qualifying 18 cars for their Saturday feature, but the USMTS Modifieds qualifying only 12 cars for tonight’s A-main.

-It was great to see veteran Steve Francis finishing 1st and 2nd in his two qualifiers. His point total for the two races should garner a front row starting spot for the $53,000 to win main event.

-Don O’Neal was 1st and 2nd in his qualifiers and should start Saturday’s feature on the front row as well.

-In addition to Francis and O’Neal, other qualifier winners were Chad Simpson, Darrell Lanigan, Dennis Erb Jr., Brian Shirley, Tim McCreadie, Rodney Sanders, and Brandon Sheppard. Unlike most events, SDN qualifiers actually have a pay-out, $250 to the winner, $150 to the runner-up, and $100 to the 3rd place finisher-all paid in Silver Dollars.

-Scott Bloomquist did not bother to hot lap, but not warming up had no effect on his qualifying efforts. Bloomquist finished 3rd in his first heat and won his second qualifier. He will start on the outside of row 2 in tonight’s feature. Oh-oh.

-Drivers who will have to race in last chance qualifiers tonight include Josh Richards, Terry Phillips, Mike Marlar, Gregg Satterlee, Chris Simpson, Jimmy Mars, Jimmy Owens, Brandon Sheppard, Jesse Stovall, and Kyle Berck. Tell me one promoter who would not love having these drivers in a feature.

-Nebraska drivers did not fare well on Friday night. Corey Zeitner grabbed the most qualifying points, and he was 25th in the overall standings. Tad Pospisil was 27th, Ben Schaller was 31st, Berck was 34th, Al Humphrey was 38th, Matt Buller was 47th, Brian Kosiski was 49th, and Bill Leighton Jr. was 51st, suffering a fiery blown engine in his second heat.

-For me the most memorable moment of the evening was heat 3 of the second round of qualifiers. FIVE past national tour champions were entered. Perhaps this happened somewhere in the past, but I don’t think so. Until a late lap caution the five champs were running 1-2-3-4-5 as you would expect. Bloomquist won this race, followed by Earl Pearson Jr., Billy Moyer, and Darrell Lanigan. Jimmy Owens dropped out at the caution.

-I wonder how many feature races those five past champs have won. Bloomquist and Moyer have won close to 1400 features, so it would be no surprise to me if the total W’s was close to 2000.

-“Retired” Hall of Famer Billy Moyer will start next to Hudson O’Neal in tonight’s feature. Moyer is 59, and the New Deal is 16.

-My friend “Big Show” was on hand for the big show, but I did not see him during the second round of heats. Interesting.

-Johnny Scott, Cade Dillard, and Ryan Gustin finished 1-2-3 in the USMTS pole dash and will make up the front row of tonight’s $10,000 to win Modified feature. No, I did not lose count, the USMTS A-main will feature a 3-wide starting grid.

-The non-qualifier race tonight pays $3,000 to win. The first place finisher has the option to take the cash or tag on to the back of the Late Model feature. If Kyle Berck should win, I think he ought to take the money and run. That would bring his winnings for the weekend to $9,077 and only the first three Late Model A-main finishers and the winner of the USMTS feature will take home more money.

-Bloomquist won The Dream at Eldora in June. That race paid $100,000 to win. A win tonight by the 0 car would give the Tennessee driver victories in at least two of the season’s three top paying events. The Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth Raceway Park in October pays $100,000 like The Dream.

-My predictions for winners tonight. NO question that Ryan Gustin will add another big USMTS win to his resume. Dr. Evil has reared his long-haired head in the 0 Late Model. Scott Bloomquist is the only driver with two SDN wins, and I fear a third is on the horizon. Don O’Neal may disagree-perhaps he will be Austin Powers to Bloomquist’s Dr. Evil and he has an SDN win. Brian Shirley has won a crown jewel event in the past. Earl Pearson Jr. looked stout in his qualifiers. My sentimental favorite would be Francis, but I don’t really see him leading a lap. All I am hoping for is a racy track.

Matt and I always enjoy seeing our friends at the races-Tom, Scott, Tony, Steve, Tom (another one), Don, and Charley the first two nights.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals-Need I Say More?

July 19, 2017 1 comment

Yeah, I do need to say more. Lots more.

What do Matt and Scott Bloomquist have in common?  Well, both have been to an orthopedic doctor about one of their shoulders. One supposedly has a torn rotator cuff and the other may have the same affliction. I hope Matt’s problem is just tendonitis or bursitis-both hurt, but rotator cuff surgery is not fun. I had a pain block when I had my rotator cuff surgery. For about 18 hours I was yacking it up, telling how everyone who had complained about that surgery was a wimp. Then the pain block wore off. Major whoa. Pain pills galore, two weeks of sleeping in a recliner, and a month of rehab followed.

The USMTS mods will start their Saturday night feature three wide. These guys are talented and I am sure they will make it through the start, but think of B-Mods starting three wide. Half of the field would be taken out when the green flag flew and it would take 30 minutes to clean up the mess. The track would line them up single file after the carnage, but there would still be numerous cautions, even with a lot of cars out of the race. Promoters love the B-mods, I don’t.

Scott Bloomquist went out of his way to do some testing on Monday morning. Way out of his way-to Mason City, Iowa. That is a few hundred miles in the opposite direction of Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen, South Dakota for last night’s race.  However, it paid off. Bloomquist won his heat, but most important, he captured the feature as well and has some positive momentum heading into this weekend’s big dollar event. Josh Richards finished second, followed by Tim McCreadie, Hudson O’Neal, and Brandon Sheppard. I’ll stick with my prediction of Richards to win the $53,000 on Saturday though.

I haven’t followed the USMTS closely this year, but with a nice payout I expect a full field of modifieds. While Rodney Sanders has been racing a late model regularly this season, I would expect him to do double duty this weekend, running with both the Lucas Oil late models and the USMTS modifieds. Why? Well, Sanders has won 7 of the last 8 USMTS features at I-80 Speedway and $10,000 in his bank account would make the weekend a good one no matter how he does in his late model. Will Ryan Gustin be there in a mod? Can anyone challenge Sanders?

I have no idea what the order of events will be on Saturday night. I do hope that track officials have a Plan B in place if the night turns into a long, drawn-out affair. I do not think the late model feature finishing after midnight is good at all. If need be, run the late model feature before the USMTS feature. Ha, as far as I am concerned, run the Belt Clash non-qualifiers race after the late model feature too. Will any of this happen? Probably not.

At least 15 of the www.DirtonDirt.com Top 25 late model drivers will be on hand for the Silver Dollar Nationals. 8 past national tour champions will take to the track. 4 Hall of Fame racers will be in action. World 100 winners, Dream winners, Show-Me 100 winners, USA Nationals winners, Knoxville Nationals winners-the crème de la crème of dirt will be in Nebraska this weekend.

I am looking forward to a pork tenderloin sandwich or two this weekend. Maybe a BBQ sandwich too. Some popcorn. A Diet Coke or three. AND, plenty of water. Be sure to stay hydrated-it is going to be hot in the stands and on the track.

I am probably forgetting something. Maybe I will remember tomorrow. Tomorrow night is opening night of the hit Silver Dollar Nationals. Be there or miss out on incredible racing. Thanks for stopping by.

 

I Love Typing “Silver Dollar Nationals”

July 18, 2017 1 comment

Only two nights until the Silver Dollar Nationals. What the Knoxville Nationals are to Sprint Car fans, the SDN is to Nebraska Late Model fans. And, for those of you who can’t make it to the track, ALL three nights will have LIVE Pay per View on www.DirtonDirt.com. For several years the Friday and Saturday programs have been shown, but for the first time an SLMR race will be made available on LIVE Pay per View on Dirt on Dirt. Thursday’s $5300 to win SLMR sanctioned race is $11.99 by itself or it can be purchased as part of the three day Silver Dollar Nationals package.

“Retired” Hall of Famer Billy Moyer has the SDN listed on his website. Shannon Babb will be there. Jimmy Mars is scheduled to race. So is Mike Marlar. And all of the Lucas Oil regulars. What an incredible field. Nothing else like it west of the Missouri River for sure.

Before I make my predictions, here are Matt’s observations:

The chance of a first time SDN winner are high especially given how Tim McCreadie and Josh Richards are racing coming into the SDN.

Don O’Neal just turned 53 and has a new car with two top 3’s in 2 outings.  Can O’Neal, winner of the inaugural SDN, make 53 his lucky number and take home $53,000?

Local Ben Schaller earned a top 10 starting spot in the I-80’s GO50 Lucas Oil race.  Can he back it up again?

Mike Marlar HAS to be a lock for a top 5 this weekend right?

** NOTE** Public Service Announcement – The middle grandstand at I-80 Speedway is reserved seating for the SDN.  PLEASE be courteous to those who have purchased reserved seats and do not sit in them if you don’t have that reserved seat.  I know are row is full – no open seats – and a good number of aisle and end aisle seats have been purchased.  Contact the Speedway by PHONE for your best luck to avoid long lines through Wednesday.

OK, my thoughts on a Saturday night winner:

-Scott Bloomquist looked terrible last weekend at Granite City and Wheatland. Purportedly he has a torn rotator cuff, any activity can be painful. Driving around a bumpy dirt track cannot be an easy task with such an injury. Still, I-80 Speedway is one of his favorite tracks and he has won big money in the past. The winner’s $53,000 share of the purse coupled with his win in The Dream would pretty much make his season. Don’t count out the Zero car yet.

-The hottest driver on the Lucas Oil circuit is Josh Richards. Two wins last weekend vaulted Richards to a 220 point lead in series standing over Bloomquist. If this was a horse race, Richards would be the odds-on favorite.

-Don O’Neal brought a new car to the track for the first time last Friday at Granite City, Illinois. He finished 3rd. The second night out he finished 2nd. Does that mean a 1st place finish tonight in South Dakota? O’Neal is a past SDN winner and knows his way around the I-80 Speedway high banks. It would not surprise me to see the Indiana driver in Victory Lane on Saturday, holding a big, big check.

-Tim McCreadie has been very consistent on the Lucas Oil circuit this season and is currently 3rd in series points. His biggest win was a few years ago in the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake in Wisconsin, but this would be even a bigger win for the New York hot shoe. And fans would love a McCreadie win.

-Darrell Lanigan. I am not a big Lanigan fan, but I have to admit his new white car is good looking. Lanigan finished 3rd at Wheatland on Saturday, one spot behind teammate Don O’Neal. I can see a top ten, even a top five for Lanigan, but I don’t think he will head back to Kentucky $53,000 richer.

-Jimmy Owens. If last Saturday’s race at Wheatland had been just 50 laps instead of 60 laps, Owens would have won the race. But I-80 is not Lucas Oil Speedway. For sure a top ten for the Newport Nightmare, but no cigar.

-Billy Moyer. A win for the Batesville, Arkansas Hall of Famer would be perfect to all of us old timers. He’ll sell a lot of t-shirts this weekend, but as much as I would like to see him there, I don’t see even a podium finish for Moyer.

-Earl Pearson Jr. I hope not. Steve Francis? Like Moyer it would certainly be a sentimental win, but not likely. Hudson O’Neal? It would certainly energize racing for this 16 year old to win, but 80 laps is a lot of left turns at I-80 Speedway. I think a top ten is likely though.

-Nebraskans? With seemingly endless provisionals a number of local drivers will make Saturday’s A feature. Kyle Berck is still the king of Nebraska late models, but has never done particularly well in the SDN. Tad Pospisil is crown prince of locals, and Ben Schaller qualified for the Lucas Oil Go 50 at the track in May. A top ten finish by any local driver would be a major accomplishment.

My dark horse? Shannon Babb. Last year’s SDN was Babb’s first visit to Nebraska and he loved the track. Some would call a Babb SDN win an upset, but not me.

One driver who will not win on Saturday is Jonathan Davenport. Davenport has been much more mild-mannered Clark Kent than Superman this season, and after trouble this past weekend, will not be making the trip to the Cornhusker State.

So, who am I going to jinx by picking a winner? Out of West Virginia in a Rocket Chassis it will be Josh Richards.

I honestly don’t care who wins, what I am hoping for is a memorable race, one that will make the DirtonDirt.com boys forget about the Prairie Dirt Classic and say the “Silver Dollar Nationals was the best race of 2017.”

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Silver Dollar Nationals AKA Christmas In July

July 17, 2017 Leave a comment

This year’s Silver Dollar Nationals starts off with a bang. Matt and I have never been big on the Thursday night program, but we will be at I-80 Speedway three nights from now. Yes, it is the same program as in the past, but this year the Malvern Bank SLMR is paying $5,300 to win and $400 to start. That is better any regional tour pays and may make for a record field for the series on night one of Nebraska’s biggest race event ever.

I don’t see many of the Lucas Oil regulars doing anything but practice Thursday night, but I can see this as being an attractive alternative to just practicing to MLRA and other non-Lucas Oil regulars. Instead of running laps for nothing other than gaining some knowledge of the track, they could be gaining that knowledge AND make some money too. The SLMR rules accommodate a variety of engines. According to someone who knows more than me, any of the late models there could run by doing the following:

Tires: 40 or 55 uncut

 

30 pound weight on motor plate

 

Restrictor for carburetor

 

No, I am not going to speculate on specific drivers. I’ve never really liked the forum comments “I saw Bloomquist’s hauler pulling into the pits at Crawford County Speedway.” No proof, just a gut feeling. Yes, Randy, that would be quite a feeling. Anyway, I am hoping for a good SLMR show.

And a good rest of the night too. Obviously I like Owens, Richards, McCreadie, O’Neal, and Lanigan, etal hot lapping. And with a $10,000 to win USMTS payout, I believe there will be plenty of hot rod A-mods on hand too. I can even tolerate the 360 sprints-I know they will add to the crowd and help make some money for the track. No, I do NOT like B-mods being a part of the show though. I suppose someone actually likes this division, but 99% of the people in the stands aren’t going to be there to watch B-mods.

The Omaha World-Herald stated the hot days we have been having are going to continue for the foreseeable future. Just what Joe K. ordered-lots more beer sold. I am just hoping that track prep crews will guess right and we will have three nights of great racing, making this weekend Christmas in July.

I wish all promoters could see Lucas Oil Speedway first hand. No, most do not have the finances to do all this track does, but does not mean other tracks can’t have their facility in top shape for big events. No dusty parking lot, grass mowed, weed pulled, grandstands cleaned, restrooms clean, and concessions adequately manned. Maybe that sounds picky, but all of those things help to create the aura and make an even feel big time.

One thing I wish I-80 Speedway would do a better job of during the SDN is keep people without reserved tickets out of the reserved ticket area. Last year I watched a group of four redneck drunks get moved three times because they did not have reserved seats and were sitting in seats others paid for. Picky? Maybe. Grouchy? You already know I am grouchy. And a sign at the bottom of the main grandstands doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on squatters.

Will this be the year I break down and buy a racing t-shirt? I mean even Mr. Elite Race Fan, Tony Anville, has a Bloomquist shirt. I didn’t get a Brian Birkhofer shirt when I should have. Maybe I should get a Hudson O’Neal t-shirt. Yeah, I do like this 16 year old kid. He is racing against the best of the best and holding his own this year. I liked his interview with Dave Argabright last Friday at Tri-City Speedway. Very talented and well-spoken too. No, I don’t see him claiming Saturday’s $53,000 big prize, but I don’t see a top-five as being out of the question for the New Deal.

So, who is going to be the big winner this weekend? Well, you will have to tune in again tomorrow. I need to ponder just who I am going to jinx by picking them to finish first.

Thanks for stopping by.