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How Many Sprint Car Races Can Hold My Attention, Plus NASCAR Ratings Tank

September 25, 2017 Leave a comment

Though I didn’t leave home, I watched plenty of races this weekend. I watched sprint cars from Wheatland, Missouri and two Pennsylvania tracks, and five different IMCA divisions from Beatrice, Nebraska. Yes, I did do a lot of switching around-whenever there was a break in the action at one track I clicked on another. And yes, I got enough sprint car viewing to last me for the rest of 2017.

I have watched very little NASCAR this season. I simply have not been interested. Apparently I am not the only one. The Chicagoland race-first in the NASCAR play-offs-was down 14% in viewership from 2016, and 28% from 2015. It was the lowest rated Cup race at Chicagoland since the race was first televised in 2001.

Of the 26 Cup races through Chicago, 22 have posted declines in ratings and viewership. 21 of those races were at either an all-time or decades long low.  I am not enthused about Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., or Joey Logano winning races. I once thought Kyle Busch might be someone I could cheer for, especially after his terrible Daytona wreck. He seemed a changed man, more mature being married and having a son. Now it appears the old Kyle has regained control, and that is not someone I like. I am OK with Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Jimmy Johnson, and Kevin Harvick, but not so big a fan as to bother watching. In the end, like millions of others I tune out.

Not that long ago I never missed a NASCAR race, went every Sunday night to races at Sunset Speedway and then Nebraska Raceway Park, and when the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour or the WDRL was not too far away, I went to specials too. Now, as I said, I don’t watch NASCAR. I try to avoid weekly shows as much as possible. I still enjoy going to specials, but I admit that it is the crown jewel events like the Silver Dollar Nationals, the Prairie Dirt Classic, and the Knoxville Late Model Nationals that really capture my attention.

I am sure this trend will continue in years to come as more and more of family free time will be taken up attending activities of my grandson Henry. We haven’t taken him to any races yet, and we really haven’t even considered it much. Baseball, basketball, swim lessons, running club all are time consumers. Would I rather watch a B-Mod B-Feature or watch Henry play ball? Yeah, that is a no-brainer for sure.

I suppose NASCAR can change and once again pique my interest. Of course it seems like they try a dozen new things every year and none of them work. Dirt track promoters could actually start on time, run fewer classes, get done at a reasonable hour, but I don’t see that happening either. So big time features it will be, along with remembering what once was. Sometimes change isn’t for the better.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Prep For The Silver Dollar Nationals

July 16, 2017 Leave a comment

I prepared for the coming Silver Dollar Nationals by tuning into Lucas Oil Racing TV this weekend. LORTV showed two nights of Lucas Oil Late Models in action-Friday from Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois and last night from Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri. Yeah, this paragraph is full of Lucas Oil. I ought to get some kind of stipend.

Friday’s racing was OK. It was neither outstanding, nor was it poor. Still, it was late model racing and that isn’t a bad way to spend a few hours. Josh Richards had the field covered. Tim McCreadie finished second, and Don O’Neal came home third. Keeping in line with what TROTD is supposed to be about, here are a few random thoughts:

-I am not much of a Darrell Lanigan fan, but I do like his new car. It is white and really nice looking. Lanigan was running well but broke a j-bar and had to drop out.

-Dave Argabright was the pit reporter and interviewed 16 year old Hudson O’Neal before the start of the race. The New Deal gave a good interview. I like him, actually better than I do Bobby Pierce. A lot better. Probably has something to do with liking his dad the Real Deal Don O’Neal, and not really liking Bob Pierce.

-for someone who is “mostly retired,” Billy Moyer has been doing a lot of racing. He followed the start of the UMP Summernationals Hell Tour, and was at Tri-City on Friday. His site had nothing about being in Nebraska this week.

-Scott Bloomquist arrived late, after hot laps, after time trials. He really was not a factor at all, finishing 5th in his heat, running a B-feature, and ending 20th in the A-feature.

They call Lucas Oil Speedway the diamond of dirt tracks and that is a fact. Everything at the track is first class. Matt and I went to the July race a few years ago and it was like 147 in the shade that day. I spent much of the afternoon in the air-conditioned pit shack, and then more of the afternoon in the air-conditioned bar. The racing was not great that night, but that has greatly improved in the past years.

Concrete pits, a car wash, and a back stretch grandstand that is better than most track’s front stretch grandstands make things nice for drivers and crews. The infield is grass-not weeds, with several hard surfaced roads for cars to exit off the track after time trials or during races. There is also a big screen high above turn three, and I suspect drivers do take a glance at it while going down the backstretch.

The concessions are good-I remember a BBQ sandwich similar to that of I-80 Speedway, and are well organized. The midway area is behind the grandstands, and I like the fact that a first-aid tent is part of the midway. Behind the track is a go-kart facility that keeps youngsters and not so young-sters busy. And, there are two levels of suites as well.  Like I said before, no question this is the diamond of dirt tracks.

Random thoughts:

-the modified feature seemed to take forever. It was just a weekly show paying a little extra, and I think that a time limit should have been placed on this feature.

-Scott Bloomquist was actually on time for hot laps and time trials, but wasn’t a factor in the race. He finished 12th and lost more ground to Josh Richards in the Lucas Oil point battle. Matt mentioned something about the driver of the Zero car having a torn rotator cuff. Been there, done that, and it was painful. I am sure bouncing around a dirt track would be much more painful than sitting in an easy chair, but I can’t see Bloomquist having surgery until after the season. The first two weeks after my surgery I had to sleep in a recliner, not a bed. My arm was in a sling and it was terribly unhandy to do anything. I did not skimp on pain meds so couldn’t drive at first. I had four weeks of rehab that was not fun either. SO, for once perhaps Bloomquist really does have a good excuse for not doing well.

-The heat races were good, but the battle between Hudson O’Neal and dad Don was great. The youngster edged his father at the finish line and garnered a front row starting spot for the feature. To do that racing against the best in the business, most of whom have years and years of experience and do this to put food on the table and a roof overhead says a lot about the New Deal’s talent.

-Jimmy Owens started on the pole and led the first 50+ laps. Wow, Owens leading at Wheatland, some surprise. The first 56 laps were caution free, and here is the surprise, Owens jumped the cushion and spun out on lap 57. He was running 2nd to Josh Richards at the time, and the spin out cost him lots of points and dollars as he finished 15th.

-Hudson O’Neal finished 4th in the 60 lap A-feature behind Richards, dad Don O’Neal, and Darrell Lanigan.

-I always enjoy listening to James Essex announce the Lucas Oil races, and I have to admit that Trenton Berry does a very good job from the booth as well.

So, that was my preliminary prep for the Silver Dollar Nationals. I will be writing more as the week goes on, so please check back every day.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

I Covered The Show-Me 100 Almost Like A Real Reporter Would

May 29, 2017 2 comments

I covered last night’s Show-Me 100 like a reporter. Well, like a reporter who is not at the event but is watching it on his computer. And like CNN, ABC, and the New York Times, my reporting is truthful, nothing at all is fake.

Somewhat orderly thoughts from last night’s races:

-After a day of severe weather in Missouri, the sun shone brightly on dirt track racing’s finest facility.

-I wasn’t really overwhelmed by any of the three B-features or the Last Chance Race. Yes, drivers did qualify for the big race but it seemed these races filled time more than spots on the race grid and none were terribly exciting.

-Although my friend “Big Show” was not in the house, Saturday’s race must have been a really big show because Dave and Dave were-Despain and Argabright.

-The race had just three leaders. Tim McCreadie led the first two laps, Earl Pearson Jr. led laps 3-86, and Bobby Pierce led the remaining 14 laps.

-There have been complaints about how many cars start the Silver Dollar Nationals, including from me. 30 cars started the Show Me 100, and the Lucas Oil Speedway track is neither as long nor as wide as I-80 Speedway.

-Peyton Looney’s magical weekend came to an early end. After two good preliminary nights of racing, the 19 year old Missouri native brought out the first caution at lap 12 when his engine blew.

-Right before Chris Simpson brought out the second caution flag of the evening, Jimmy Owens, Scott Bloomquist, and Mason Zeigler were running three wide battling for third place. Simpson’s brother Chad did not make the 100 lap feature and no, that did not break my heart.

-Darrell Lanigan broke on the restart from the Simpson caution.

-On lap 30 Mike Marlar was spun out by young Mason Zeigler. Marlar took offense at this outrage and ran into Zeigler during the caution, garnering a black flag for his efforts. Dave Argabright interviewed the driver of the 157 car after this incident, and guess what-he was not happy. His comments were along the line of “rich kid spun me out for no reason.”

-Jonathan Davenport had to use a past winner provisional to even get in the 100 lap race. He started in 30th place on the grid, dead last, but after just 33 laps he had moved up 21 spots. And he was not done moving.

-Like many minor league ballparks, Lucas Oil Speedway has grassy berm areas and people were sitting in them. No foul ball souvenirs for kids to take home though.

-Cautions came out on lap 42 for Hudson O’Neal, lap 47 for Billy Moyer Jr., and lap 58 for Rodney Sanders. The lap 58 caution was a big break for Jimmy Owens as he had jumped the cushion and was passed by several cars, but got his spot back because the yellow flag flew before that lap was completed.

-Hall of Famer Billy Moyer slowed on the front stretch on lap 76, and Jimmy Owens hit the wall on lap 77. Owens was able to continue but he dropped back to 19th at the finish of the race.

-Jonathan Davenport was not the only driver moving forward. Bobby Pierce started 14th and passed some stout competition on his move to the front. Pearson had not been challenged after gaining the lead on lap 3, but late in the race young Pierce was right on his tail and one mistake in turn 4 was all the Illinois driver needed to get by the Florida driver.

-Jonathan Davenport had not looked good all weekend. I said in a previous post that Superman was driving more like Clark Kent. Whatever he was missing on Thursday and Friday he found on Sunday as only four drivers finished ahead of him.

-I was never a fan of Bob Pierce and let my feelings about father carry over to son. I am not ready to jump on the Bobby Pierce bandwagon yet, but this was his third crown jewel victory in less than 12 months (North/South 100 and World 100 were the other two) and he is just 20 years old. He also gave a good post-race interview. As of now Pierce does have the Silver Dollar Nationals on his schedule and I hope he does make the journey to Nebraska. He has 53,000 reason to do so.

Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Mike Marlar would definitely call Dillon a spoiled rich kid. One of Dillon’s trademarks is wearing a cowboy hat. Sorry, wearing a cowboy hat does not make you a cowboy. My friend Ron Lee is a cowboy, Austin Dillon is not. And driving grandpa’s #3 car and finally getting his first win does not make him Dale Earnhardt.

It is a rather strange year in the NASCAR Monster Energy Series. First Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets a win at Talladega and now Dillon wins NASCAR’s longest race. Weird.

Very scary incidents occurred at two of auto racing’s iconic tracks this weekend. If you are on Facebook you probably have seen each one dozens of times. The first happened during a B-feature at the sprint car mecca, Knoxville. There is a wall around turns 1-2 that is at least 15’ high and sponsor billboards sit on top of the wall. Two of the winged wonders got together and both looked like pole vaulters going up, up, up. One of the cars cleared the 15’ high fence, knocked out a billboard and ended up outside the track. There is a sidewalk and then a highway running beside the track-I’ve been on both many times. Someone said the car ended up on the highway, though I can’t confirm that. The driver was OK though.

The other horrifying wreck took place during the Indy 500. Jay Howard hit a wall and came down in front of Scott Dixon. Dixon had nowhere to go and did not hit Howard so much as he used Howard’s car as a launching pad. Jets take off at slower speeds than Dixon was going, and his car seemed to fly forever before hitting a catch fence and landing on a SAFER barrier. The car literally came apart-yes, that is what it is supposed to do, but tub surrounding Dixon protected him. He walked away from what could have been a deadly crash.

Jesse Sobbing won his second Malvern Bank SLMR feature of the year at Raceway Park in Jefferson, South Dakota. Kyle Berck finished second. The SLMR drivers will be back in action on Friday at I-80 Speedway along with B-Mods and USAC wingless sprint cars. Yes, I do plan on being there.

Four days in a row of blogging and close to 4,000 words written. Wow. I’ll have to try this more often.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

A Show Me Night Off And Highway 275 Leads To Off Road

May 28, 2017 1 comment

The prospect of severe weather-tornados and large hail-caused Lucas Oil Speedway promoters to postpone the Show-Me 100 to tonight at 6:00 p.m. Central time. This change also changed the Meyer family race viewing for the weekend.

Matt and I had planned on watching the Show-Me 100 last night but when it was postponed we decided to go to the SLMR race at Off Road Speedway in Norfolk and skip tonight’s SLMR show at Raceway Park in Jefferson, South Dakota. Actually for my old bones not having to climb up Raceway Park’s rickety, old grandstand was a good thing.

Random thoughts about the show:

-There were 36 late models, 18 hobby stocks, 11 stock cars, 11 sport mods, and 11 sport compacts on hand. That is a number I can live with-I like 87 far better than 150 these days.

-Last year when the SLMR series visited it was breezy in Norfolk. OK, it was downright windy that night. The track became dusty early then, and I went home with dirt in every uncovered orifice. It was calm last night, the track was well watered, and sitting in a different area of the grandstands it was not dusty at all.

-If I am correct, the area the track is located is called the Off Road Ranch, and provides a big area for motorcycles to run “off road.” Last night, lining the road leading to the track were dozens of trailers and RV’s, each with at least one motorcycle.

-If you have ever visited US 30 Speedway in Columbus, Off Road Speedway is like a new version of that facility. The track is similar in size to US 30 Speedway, and pits are located outside of the track. As at the Columbus track you climb a path to the grandstands which are located on the side of the hill-you come in at the top and walk down to your seats, and there is a large concourse area where many people stand during the races.

-Perhaps the one fault I could find with last night’s show was the intermission. I am not a big fan of lengthy intermissions, and 30 minutes is far too long, especially when no work is being done on the track.

-For me, stock cars are usually the best racing of the night, and the sport mods aka B mods are the worst. That wasn’t the case last night. Just 10 cars started the feature and it took forever to finish. The sport mod feature also started 10 cars, but went green the entire distance.

-Kyle Berck has to be the favorite in every SLMR feature, but last night he started 6th and finished 6th. Brian Kosiski started on the pole and led the first few laps. Corey Zeitner took over the lead, but Jesse Sobbing managed to pass him in traffic. A Sobbing win would have been OK with me, but Bill Leighton Jr. got around the 99 car when Sobbing had just a slight bobble in turn one. It was Leighton’s 12th SLMR victory and was worth $2,500.

-The SLMR series is turning into a really good regional series. Promoter Joe Kosiski has come up with rules that allow drivers to run almost any engine, and the car count at most series events this season has been around 30. Two thumbs up to all involved.

I attended my first Prairie Dirt Classic last year, and am a BIG fan of the event. The town of Fairbury, Illinois and the Fairbury American Legion Speedway make this special event very special. The racing is simply outstanding, and reminds me of the good old days at the now gone but never to be forgotten Sunset Speedway. The track has made a format change for the 28th Annual PDC that should make it even more exciting-not sure how that is possible, but I do like the format change. After hot laps and time trials, the late model field will be divided into four groups and each group will run a 25 lap, $2,500 to win semi feature. The top four finishers in each race will make up the first eight rows of Saturday’s 100 lap event.

If you are a dirt late model fan, FALS for the PDC should be on your bucket list. It is a long drive from Nebraska, but it is well worth the effort.

Today I will be watching the Indy 500 and the Show-Me 100 and plan on skipping the NASCAR race from Charlotte. NASCAR admits there needs to be more passing at Charlotte-hint to NASCAR big shots, there needs to be more passing at EVERY NASCAR race-and apparently has laid some kind of sticky substance in the top groove at the track to give more traction there to help with passing.

Yesterday I was only guessing at some of the drivers who have already made the Show-Me 100 field. Below is the starting grid for rows 1-8.

Row 1 – Tim McCreadie, Jimmy Owens
Row 2 – Earl Pearson Jr., Scott Bloomquist
Row 3 – Mike Marlar, Payton Looney
Row 4 – Darrell Lanigan, Mason Zeigler

Jimmy Owens starting on the front row at Lucas Oil Speedway has to make him the favorite to capture the $30,000 first place prize. However, McCreadie, Pearson, and Marlar have shown speed and you can never, never, never count out Bloomquist. I don’t want to, but I will say you’ll see Bloomquist in Victory Lane tonight in Wheatland.

Thanks for stopping by.

 


Row 5 – Don O’Neal, Chris Simpson
Row 6 – Steve Francis, Rodney Sanders
Row 7 – Josh Richards, Bobby Pierce
Row 8 – Dennis Erb Jr. Greg Saterlee
Row 9 – Billy Moyer, Billy Moyer Jr.

 

 

 

Night 2 Of Show-Me Weekend, Plus Mike Duvall

May 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Back to back blog posts. What’s wrong with me? And likely another post tomorrow. I must be sick. Or maybe it is actually having something to write about.

I watched much of night two of the three night Show-Me 100 weekend from Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri. The Lucas Oil Racing TV telecast started shortly after 7:00 p.m. but it was long after that when time trials finally happened. The delay appeared to be all about getting the racing surface in condition to actually race on. And yes, starting late, even during a crown jewel weekend is one of my bugaboos about dirt track racing.

I get that sometimes weather throws a wrench into a track’s plans, but it was sunny and warm in Wheatland. I have said many times I do not like time trials, but if a series insists on running them, the Lucas Oil format is the best-split the cars into two groups that only time against their own group, and put three cars on the track at the same time. Darrell Lanigan was fastest in group two, and Peyton Looney ended up quickest in group one and overall.

Looney won his heat, as did Dennis Erb Jr., Don O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Darrell Lanigan, and Mike Marlar. Mason Zeigler won the first of three B-features, and this was one of the best B-mains I have ever watched. On the last lap, anyone of six cars could have finished in one of the two qualifying spots.

Austin Rettig finished first in B-feature #2, and Pennsylvanian Gregg Satterlee won B feature #3. Two drivers who are having surprisingly poor weekends are Jonathan Davenport and Terry Phillips. Davenport, aka Superman, is driving more like Clark Kent this weekend, and neither Davenport nor Phillips has come close to making one of the preliminary A-features at Wheatland. With points from both preliminaries determining starting positions in the 100 lapper or B-features tonight, both will start far back in a B tonight and will have to show much more than they have to even hope to qualify for tonight’s crown jewel.

Tim McCreadie won the Tribute to Don and Billie Gibson feature, collecting $6,000 for his efforts. Jimmy Owens finished second, with Don O’Neal, Scott Bloomquist, and Josh Richards rounding out the top five finishers.

I have tried to find which 18 drivers have already qualified for the tonight’s A feature, but have been unable to do so. I think McCreadie, Earl Pearson Jr., Bloomquist, Owens, Erb, and Mike Marlar are definitely in. I am not sure on others, whether they made the A or will start near the front of one of tonight’s B features.

The Malvern Bank SLMR series has a big weekend scheduled with stops in three states-Rock Rapids, Iowa; Norfolk, Nebraska; and Jefferson, South Dakota. Tad Pospisil won the opener, with Kyle Berck and Jesse Sobbing following. 30 cars made the trek to northwest Iowa.

My plans for this evening include both the Little 500 on Speed Shift TV and the Show-Me 100 on Lucas Oil Racing TV. I will be switching between the two, though once the Show-Me feature starts I will stick with it. Tomorrow I intend to watch the Indy 500 and Matt has been talking about going to the SLMR race at Raceway Park in Jefferson, South Dakota.

Subscribers to www.DirtonDirt.com should take a few minutes to read Kelly Carlton’s blog on legendary late model driver Mike Duvall. Duvall is suffering from complications of dementia and other medical issues and has been in and out of the hospital for several months.

Matt and I met Duvall when we attended his driving school for an article I did in Dirt Late Model magazine. He may have had a wild streak in his younger days, but later in life he became quite serious in his faith. When we met, he was a gentle, caring person and I enjoyed the few days we spent with him. I learned a lot about car set-up and very much enjoyed a day spent at Carolina Raceway in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Duvall’s medical condition has been very expensive for his family. And the bills will continue to accumulate. A Go Fund Me account has been set up for people to donate to help with the medical bills. The man provided a lot of enjoyment to race fans while driving the F-1 Flintstone Flyer. The late model Hall of Famer and his family really need your help. I encourage you to go to

https://www.gofundme.com/flintstone-flyer-mike-duvall-fans 

and make a donation. It doesn’t have to be much. Any donation will be appreciated, and so will your prayers.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cowboy Classic

May 26, 2017 Leave a comment

For those of you who didn’t see my note on Facebook, I renewed my website domain yesterday. So, The Rest of the Dirt will be around until at least June, 2019. I am not sure if that is good or bad, just that I still own it.

I was going to watch the Hoosier 100 on Speed Shift TV last night, alternating with the Cowboy Classic on Lucas Oil Racing TV. Rainy weather in Indiana caused the Hoosier 100 to be postponed, so I spent the entire evening in Wheatland, Missouri instead.

There were 67 late models on hand for night one of the three day Show-Me 100 weekend. The track has a unique way of getting all the cars on the track on the preliminary nights. No championship points are given, but the drivers earn points that could earn a spot in Saturday’s big race.

Unlike Tuesday at I-80 Speedway, time trials took forever last night. According to Lucas Oil announcers there was a problem with track scales. Mason Zeigler set fast time for group one, while Mike Marlar came back from misfortune on Tuesday to set the pace for group two. Zeigler was overall fastest.

Heat winners were Scott Bloomquist, Darrell Lanigan, Peyton Looney, Jesse Stovall, Earl Pearson Jr., and Jimmy Owens. The top three in each heat qualified for the feature, or another way to say that was 49 cars did not qualify through the heats. That meant three B features with at least 16 cars running, and only the top two making the A main.

Normally I do not pay much attention to B features. To me they are just another race to get through before the final race of the night. However, last night was different. There were plenty of Lucas Oil regulars having to run a B feature, and with no provisionals be awarded (none tonight either), it was balls to the wall-an old railroad term, nothing nasty-from the drop of the green flag in each B.

The drivers not making last night’s A feature would be welcomed at most tracks around the country. Shannon Babb finished third in his B feature and was done for the night. Chad Simpson, Hudson O’Neal, and Boom Briggs also saw their night ended early finishing well back in B Feature #1.

Will Vaught, Jonathan Davenport, Terry Phillips, Jared Landers, Josh Richards, and Wendell Wallace were also sidelined after the B feature. Like I said, most promoters would not mind having A feature races that included these drivers.

Earl Pearson Jr. won the Cowboy Classic A feature, and collected $6,000 in doing so. If I don’t seem too excited about that, well, I am almost as big a fan of Pearson as I am of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing drivers. Scott Bloomquist finished second, with Owens, Tim McCreadie, and Mike Marlar rounding out the top five. That was the 9th time in a row that McCreadie had a top five finish.

Here is a sales pitch for Lucas Oil Racing TV. Annual subscription is $99, and I think the value of the subscription is much more than that. There are 8 more Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series races scheduled among the 30 remaining televised events in 2017. Your subscription would also include Lucas Oil races from East Bay Raceway Park in February, 2018. The production quality is excellent.

Between Lucas Oil Racing TV and Speed Shift TV there is no question I will watch more events on my computer than I watch at the track. I like that-I can watch as much or as little of an event as I want, and my bedroom is just a few steps away from the “track,” not miles and miles. If you are a race fan you ought to subscribe to both.

I am watching Husker baseball at 12:30 p.m. today-hopefully soundly defeating an Iowa Hawkeye team that deserves a loss-and tonight I will tune in to Lucas Oil Racing TV to watch late models from Wheatland again, in the Tribute to Don and Billie Gibson, promoters who first started the Show-Me 100 25 years ago.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

Finally-The Week Of Silver Dollar Nationals VI Plus Much More

July 17, 2016 Leave a comment

After two nights of watching the best dirt drivers in America do their thing, I am not so sure I want to bother with watching today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race from New Hampshire. I suspect there will be some nap time during at least part of the race at a track I simply do not enjoy. Anyway, I am not NASCAR’s big worry today-the legion of Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans not tuning in as their hero is sidelined has to be a big worry to NASCAR and NBC.

Once again Earnhardt is out of the race car due to concussion like symptoms. This certainly shows concern on his part for his health-in the short term, but what about the long run? Will he continue strapping in to a race car? He is past 40, though still in his prime as a driver. Perhaps the real question is should he continue racing? I suspect he will for now, but I also think his latest bout with concussions will shave years off his racing career.

It is a different NASCAR than 15-20 years ago when Gordon, Stewart, and Earnhardt Jr. first came on the scene. The fan base is older and smaller than it once was. TV ratings seem to drop every year. Even with creative camera angles, rows and rows of empty seats at the track are visible every week. Gordon is gone-OK, I know he may substitute for Earnhardt Jr. at Indianapolis-Stewart is leaving, and if Earnhardt leaves, I just don’t see any young drivers having the star power to replace them. And I am including Chase Elliott in that group of young drivers.

Oh well, NASCAR has its long term TV contract and will be raking in hundreds of millions of dollars even if no one is watching at the track or at home.

Forrest Lucas built the dirt track I would build if I were as wealthy as he is. Lucas Oil Speedway in the southwest Missouri town of Wheatland is simply the best in everything-except racing and that is getting better. Paved parking for fans and in the pits. A manicured grass infield with a paved road for safety vehicles. Comfortable grandstand seating, and suites for those with a few extra bucks. Good concessions and an air-conditioned bar (that I remember well from the extremely hot day Matt and I visited). And even a go-kart track, kind of like Knoxville’s Slideways Karting but part of the racing facility. Everything is cool. And people flock there for the Lucas Oil late model races, with 7,000 fans filling the grandstands last night.

There are racier tracks, but no other track comes close to the total package of Lucas Oil Speedway. Maybe another visit is in order.

After a violent flip and a strong Top Ten finish in a back-up car at Tri-City Speedway on Friday, Saturday was a much better night for Jared Landers. The Arkansas driver won his heat and led all but one lap of the 60 lap Diamond Nationals A-feature. He survived challenges from Scott Bloomquist and Jimmy Owens to collect $12,000 for his second series victory of 2016. Owens finished a strong second, followed by Jonathan Davenport, Tim McCreadie, and Bloomquist.

One driver not on hand for Saturday’s race was Steve Francis. Debris-possibly a weight falling off another car-hit his helmet, knocked him out, broke his nose, and sent his car careening into the wall at Tri-City Speedway. As a result, Lucas Oil officials changed the location where weights can be bolted on the race cars.

Next up for the Lucas Oil series is the biggest race ever in the state of Nebraska, Silver Dollar Nationals VI. There are plenty of intriguing story lines to follow. Will Bloomquist win his third straight SDN? Does Landers have momentum on his side after a good finish at Granite City and a win at Wheatland? When the weather gets hot, so does Jimmy Owens? Can the Newport Nightmare visit Victory Lane at I-80 Speedway? Jonathan Davenport has not won a race since Memorial Day weekend. He looked good in Missouri last night. Will Superman put on his cape again? Will what may be Billy Moyer’s final Nebraska appearance be one fans will remember for years to come? Will Tad Pospisil or Kyle Berck be the highest finishing local on Saturday night? Will a Nebraska driver crack the top ten? Lots of questions, be there for all the answers.

Tomorrow is day one of my new full-time permanent job. Yes, I am looking forward to going to work. My only regret is that I found the job when I was 65. I wish I had found it when I was 35.

Thanks for stopping by.