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The Bad, The Ugly, And FINALLY The Good of Knoxville 2018

September 16, 2018 1 comment

I got home from Knoxville, Iowa about 2:30 a.m. I took notes all three days of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals to do this blog. So—–

First a bitch. This applies to not just the Marion County Fair Board, but to all venues. People start lying up to enter the facility long before the announced opening time for the gate. On a day when it is very hot-or in the case of the Boys State Basketball Tournament, very cold, what would it hurt to allow people to enter the place? Concessions don’t have to be open, just allow them to enter and sit down.

Knoxville provides a service I do appreciate-an elevator to the upper grandstand level for those who would have difficulty climbing steps. Before I had my knee replacement surgery, it would have been impossible for me to handle the steps. Now it is just not a lot of fun. I took the elevator up all three days of the Nationals, so I did not have to walk up 71, 73, or 65 steps. I did not particularly enjoy walking down the steps, though I did. So, I do appreciate the service.

HOWEVER, there is a limited number of people who can ride each trip on the one and only elevator, and there are many who want to ride it. Matt kept a place for me in line for 45 minutes each day-thank you Matt, standing that long on the cement surface under the grandstands would not have been kind to my knee that hasn’t been replaced. Matt handled that, BUT there were people standing in line with him that should not have been kept waiting that long. When I got in line on Saturday, there were two people in wheel chairs, one man on crutches, and many people with canes standing in line. What would it possibly hurt to allow these people early entry into the facility? And if the line was lengthy for the Late Model Nationals, it must be far longer for the 410 Sprint Car Nationals.

Second bitch. The Knoxville hotels do a mini-NASCAR re’ room rates. I checked the rates at the hotel we stayed at. On a weekend with no race at the big track, the nightly rates were $50 cheaper than what we paid. Maybe we need to get a hotel somewhere else-Pella is a lovely place, only 14 miles away, though the road in between the towns is not great for late night driving.

Now, a miracle. For my birthday, my friend Tony-not at all known for his generosity-took Matt and me for lunch at the Sports Page Bar & Grill in Pella. Yeah, Lee Ackerman, he really did. And after we ate he drove us downtown to the famous Jaarsma Bakery, parked right in front, and proceeded to buy us whatever we wanted-for me, that was a Pecan Roll, and a Red Velvet Birthday Cup Cake. I was shocked. And want everyone to know that the auditor in Lincoln being written about in the Omaha World-Herald, the one with long bar lunches and short work days is NOT Tony. That is State Auditor Charlie Janssen and in any other state he would already have been forced to resign.

Now, odds and ends from my notes. Two comments I made before any races on Thursday. First was that Josh Richards was going to win Saturday’s feature. Second was that the place reeks of professionalism that about 95% of the dirt tracks in America don’t have. By late Friday I was sorry I made either of those statements. Richards struggled on both preliminary nights, having to run the B feature each night. And like Bobby Pierce, I was NOT overwhelmed with track prep on either Thursday or Friday.

On a heavy track that is very difficult to pass on, the Knoxville qualifying procedure penalizes fast cars and greatly benefits drivers who put up a mediocre time in time trials-in this case read Iowa IMCA drivers. The fast drivers start 7th or 8th in heats, the slower drivers 1st or 2nd because of the qualifying invert. It becomes terribly difficult for these drivers to pass the 3 or 4 cars they need to pass to make the A feature and they end up running in a B, and if they manage to be one of the drivers from the B who do qualify for the feature, they start at the back of the grid. One big thumbs down. I can’t say it makes me very happy to spend over $100 for reserved seats to watch Iowa IMCA drivers start in the front of features and national drivers further back. If I wanted to watch Iowa IMCA drivers that bad, I could go to Marshalltown-no knock on that track, it is actually one I still hope to visit. Just saying I don’t like the qualifying format, which is far too much like the one used for sprint cars.

I am not the only one who didn’t like track conditions for the preliminaries. Bobby Pierce openly complained about how wet the track was on Friday night. Yeah, I know that Brandon Sheppard won the B on Friday night, started 19th in the A and won it too. The exception that proves the rule. If the format has to be time trials and inverted heats, I would rather see the top 6 inverted instead of the top 8. Actually, I would rather see them do away with time trials and go to the two heat format used in the Silver Dollar Nationals and North-South 100. I do like that points from the two preliminary nights are not combined, rather the best night of points determines who is locked into Saturday’s feature.

Random thoughts:

-The economic impact this track has on Knoxville has to be unreal. Hy-Vee and the two Casey’s have to be thrilled when the big shows come to Knoxville Raceway. Same with the hotels, camp ground, and nearby restaurants.

-We saw at least 20 Nebraskans at the track, and that was before the first race on Thursday.

-I like Casey’s pizza. To me it tastes a lot like North Beach Pizza in San Francisco, and that is my favorite.

-Thanks to my son Matt for all he did Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. He is the logistics KING and all I have to do is show up.

-Hall of Famer Jimmy Mars is the only driver who made all 14 previous Saturday night features at the Nationals. And he made it 15 in a row this year.

-9 past winners were on hand, though 2016 and 2017 winner Mike Marlar was not, apparently due to mechanical issues on his car from the previous week.

-Brian Birkhofer was on hand, running the #30 car owned by Jason Rauen. Hopefully we will see more of Birky in 2019-like at the Silver Dollar Nationals.

-There were 57 late models on had Thursday and 56 late models signed in for Friday racing.

-Scott Bloomquist set fast time on both preliminary nights.

-Matt toured the Bryan Clauson Suites on Thursday. For a mere $25,000 you can lease a suite for an entire season. Oh wait, no you can’t. They are sold out.

-We went to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame on Friday, mainly for the Josh Richards session, but also to see the Bryan Clauson display. The display was fantastic, especially the videos.

-Sexagenarian Billy Moyer had a fast car on Thursday. He was looking good in his heat, had moved into second place, and then blew a brand new motor. He was able to replace it on Friday and did well enough that night to lock into a starting position in Saturday’s feature. It seems like the “retired’ Moyer has run more this year than he did before he “retired.”

-Josh Richards is well-spoken and his program at the NSCHoF was really good. I think that more and more the top dirt late model drivers are as well-spoken as 99% of the NASCAR drivers, and are certainly more approachable.

I no longer have any desire to go to weekly shows, something I did week after week, season after season for many years. I now only want to go to specials, and then only to ones I truly consider to be special-and regular weekly classes with a raised purse is not special to me.

I only went to a track 10 times this season. I did watch many events on the computer, especially the USAC Midget and Sprint Car shows on Speed Shift TV. I am not sitting in the heat or cold, not eating dust, not getting rained on, and can leave the computer any time I want to do something else. Many times I watched hot laps, time trials, and heats and then turned off the computer and did something else. I enjoyed the time I spent watching races from track I will never visit, but just as much enjoyed that I could leave at any time.

Plus when I am at home watching, I do not have to listen to drunk, stupid, foul-mouthed “fans” like I do at the track. I can handle drunk, I can handle stupid, I can handle foul-mouthed, it is when it is all three that I start wanting to do an Anville on those people.

Back to the track:

-Yes, Brandon Sheppard won both the B and A features on Saturday, but without plenty of cautions, I don’t think he would have won the A. If it was hockey, Austin Rettig would have been credited with at least two assists helping Sheppard reach his goal. Maybe three.

-Darrell Lanigan and Dennis Erb Jr. did not have good weekends. Neither qualified for a preliminary A feature. Both had to run the Saturday B feature to qualify for the 100 lap main event. Erb finished 12th and Lanigan 16th in the feature.

-Bobby Pierce is worth the price of admission. He seems to get himself in qualifying jams and ends up starting far back on the feature grid, but then moves to the front plenty fast. He started 22nd on Saturday, briefly led, jumped the cushion coming out of turn two and dropped back to second, got involved in a racing deal with Don O’Neal and ended up 7th. After struggling all weekend, Josh Richards ended with a podium finish in the big money feature. To me it was great seeing veterans finish first and second in Knoxville, with O’Neal claiming the runner-up spot and Jimmy Owens getting the win.

-The SLMR invitational was a success. I was afraid it might not work out well, but the racing was good, and the finish between Kyle Berck and Todd Pospisil was outstanding. It has been a LONG time since I saw cars bump 4 times coming out of the final turn, heading for the checkered flag. Definitely invite the series back next year. Maybe they were used to fill out an otherwise short evening of racing, but they were darn good filling.  I enjoyed watching Andrew Kosiski finish 3rd in the SLMR feature. There were laps he ran so well it reminded me of his dad in the 53 car.

-Saturday’s 100 lapper was great, with the best dirt late model drivers in the country doing what they do best. Yes, I do want this on Thursday and Friday too-like I said with 3 nights reserved tickets costing more than $100 I believe it is up to the speedway to prepare a track where this happens. I would give Thursday night a C-. Friday was a C. Saturday was a B+. So, while I was disappointed in the prelims, Saturday will get me to go back again in 2019.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

P.S. While I enjoyed the trip to Knoxville, especially Saturday night, I did miss my grandson’s second ever flag football game. As he did last week, he ran 50 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the game. He followed that up running 10 yards for a 2 point conversion. Later he threw a pass to his buddy Dane for another 2 point conversion, and late in the game intercepted a pass and ran it back for another touchdown. Yeah, WOW.

 

 

 

 

 

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Knoxville? I’ll Go With Bloomquist Again

September 14, 2017 Leave a comment

In a few hours Matt and I will be heading east to Knoxville for 14th Annual Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals. The Thursday and Friday preliminary nights will include time trials, 6 heats, a D Main, C Main, B Main, and the A Feature.

The invert is a key at Knoxville. The fastest cars in time trials will start heat races 8th on the starting grid. Only four will qualify for the A feature from the heats. The rest will have to go through consolation races. And no, it is not easy at Knoxville to move up that many spots in a heat race.

If a driver has to race in a consolation race, the best he can start in the feature is 25th.  The preliminary features are just 25 laps, so achieving a good finish in the A feature would be very difficult. And since Saturday’s starting grid is determined by points, a bad night on Thursday puts a lot of pressure on the entire team to have a good Friday night.

Even if you time trial well and qualify well in the heats you can end up with a mediocre point night because the top 8 qualifiers are inverted in the feature. To start on the pole for Saturday’s 100 lap feature is quite an achievement.

So, who am I going to predict to finish first this weekend-aka who will I jinx this weekend? I did a good job of jinxing Bloomquist last weekend as he had a poor-for him-World 100. Since I am not a big fan of the Zero car and driver, and since I enjoy irritating my friend Tony, I will put the jinx on Bloomquist again this weekend. You can bet the Hall of Famer will not want two mediocre weekends in a row. I am betting his best preliminary night will be Friday though.

Other possibilities? The Rocketeers Brandon Sheppard and Josh Richards can’t be counted out. Darrell Lanigan had a great World 100 weekend with two preliminary feature wins and a top five in the Saturday race. Will Jonathan Davenport be Clark Kent or Superman this weekend? Mike Marlar had a good World 100 weekend with top five finishes in all three races, plus he is the defending Knoxville Nationals champion. Bobby Pierce? I am thinking not, but he has won other races where I thought he didn’t have a chance. A sentimental favorite would have to be 60 year old Iowa native Billy Moyer. Like many fans, I wonder if this will be his last Knoxville event.

So who will it be? Of all those I mentioned, I would most like Davenport to win Saturday’s 100 lapper. But I will go with Bloomquist. If he wins I can say I picked him. If he does badly, half the fans will thank me for jinxing him.

Again, if you can’t head to Knoxville, www.DirtonDirt.com will show the Thursday and Friday preliminary nights and Lucas Oil Racing TV will show Saturday’s racing. Go to their sites for details.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

It’s Eldora. 3 Guesses Who Was The Big News In Thursday World 100 Prelims

September 8, 2017 Leave a comment

The B-I-G news from night one of the World 100 weekend? It wasn’t that Mike Marlar set fast time. It wasn’t that race leader Dale McDowell was wrecked by a lapped car during the second heat. It wasn’t that Josh Richards was back at Eldora and won a heat race. No, it wasn’t that Darrell Lanigan and Brandon Overton both won heats and their respective feature races. And it wasn’t that some lucky fan took home $10,721 as his portion of the 50-50 drawing, which was $721 more than each of the feature winners received.

It is Eldora. It was controversial. Yes, the big news involved Scott Bloomquist. The Tennessee driver did not go through tech in time to draw a qualifying pill and was not allowed to time trial-meaning he received no time trial points and had to start 11th and last in his heat. The Zero car finished 7th in heat 4, meaning Bloomquist was forced to run a consolation race, which he won, garnering a 22nd starting spot in the feature.

It being Eldora that was not enough controversy for Bloomquist. The Zero had moved from 22nd to 11th when it tangled with the car of past WoO champion Shane Clanton. Literally tangled, as the right front of Clanton’s car was hung up on the left rear of Bloomquist’s car, sending both to the rear of the feature. Clanton came back to finish 9th, while Bloomquist ended up 12th.

Other than hot laps, the World 100 format is drivers receive points every time they are on the track-time trials, heat races, consolations, and features. Accumulated points will determine the starting grid in Saturday’s heat races, which will determine the 20 starting positions in the 100 lap feature. Provisionals go to the two drivers with the most points who do not qualify through Saturday heats or consolations.

So, that was about 300 words saying that Bloomquist dug himself a hole by not going through tech in a timely fashion Thursday night. It is Eldora, it is Bloomquist who thrives on controversy, so I am not ready to pick anyone else as a favorite in the 47th running of the World 100.

Hopefully I said “Bloomquist” enough to please his biggest Nebraska fan. And add Lanigan and Overton to the list of potential $50,000 winner’s tomorrow night. Both were fast and both looked strong.

Hot laps started at 5:00 p.m. Central time, and it took an hour to complete warm-ups. Time trials took a little over an hour. 10 heats, 4 consolations, and 2 features followed, with the last checkered flag flying well after 10:00 p.m. Fortunately TROTD Speedway had plenty of pizza and Diet Coke on hand, and the track’s restroom was just steps away from my reserved seat. And I didn’t need a coat or blanket either.

Two thumbs up for the www.DirtonDirt.com coverage. Prerace driver interviews was a good way to start the evening. Dustin Jarrett and James Essex did a good job from the booth-better than the NASCAR boobs do. An up to the minute listing of driver times and position during time trials was night. Live scoring during all the races was good. Interviews with heat race winners and the top three finishers in each feature was a nice touch. And multiple camera shots added to the production quality. On track action was good, coverage was good, and I am not complaining about the cost, even though the track makes us pay just a nickel less than what fans in the stands pay.

Yes, I will be watching again tonight. Sorry Ivan, Eldora on PPV is more attractive than live where you are going to be.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

Who Will Hoist The Globe On Saturday Night?

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

Did everyone see the new Scott Bloomquist hauler and trailer? Matt sent me a link:

https://racingnews.co/2017/09/05/scott-bloomquist-hauler-debut/

When I saw it, I was reminded of some demonic truck from an old horror film. I suppose that given it is Bloomquist that thought is fitting.

I envy my friend Steve “Belleville 100” Basch. Tomorrow Steve will be heading to the Mecca of Dirt Late Model racing, Eldora Speedway for the sport’s Super Bowl, the World 100.

There is a great video on www.DirtonDirt.com today. This type of video is something Michael Rigsby is totally adept at. On track action and interviews with drivers who have come so close to winning the big one at Eldora, only to have their dream shattered. Really good stuff.

And if you don’t subscribe to www.DirtonDirt.com, why don’t you? If you are reading this and not named Palmer or Tracy, you are a Late Model fan. And if you enjoy Late Model racing as much as I do, well, DOD is like a Bible.

DOD also has an article giving driver odds for the World 100. Yes, Scott Bloomquist is the favorite. Who else could be? Only a Batesville, Arkansas driver named Moyer has had the Eldora success Bloomquist has had and while a win by the 21 would be the feel good story of 2017 racing, I just don’t see it happening. I would like to see Moyer make the race and even get a top ten finish, but that is asking a lot of a 60-something “retired” driver.

Oh yeah, I was talking about Bloomquist. DOD has him at even money, and love or hate the driver from Tennessee that is where he should be. If anyone says he would be surprised to see the Zero car in Victory Lane on Saturday, he just hasn’t been paying attention.

Other drivers I think have a decent shot at winning this iconic clash: Bobby Pierce, Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard, Don O’Neal, and yes, Superman Jonathan Davenport.

Pierce is so incredibly talented it seems almost unfair. I am not a big fan of the young Illinois driver, but Matt tells me that has more to do with his dad than with Bobby. Maybe so. I would prefer someone else take home the globe on Saturday, but probably would not shed tears if it was Pierce. I didn’t when he won the 2016 World 100. Back to back World 100 wins is the dirt equivalent of back to back Daytona 500 wins. Could happen, but as Three Dog Night sang “it ain’t easy.”

Tim McCreadie has already won two $50,000 + events this season, and has been as hot as any other driver in the past couple months. To say a T-Mac win would be popular with fans is quite an understatement. Me? OK. I am one who would love to see the New Yorker climb out of his car, pound on its roof, wave the checkered flag, and thank all the fans for yet another $50,000 win this season.

Brandon Sheppard? How can you ever count out the Rocket house car? I remember Sheppard starting dead last in the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway and passing something like 30 cars to finish 2nd to McCreadie. The next week he plowed through the field at Fairbury American Legion Speedway to win the Prairie Dirt Classic. He has a ton of WoO wins this season. He has only three World 100 starts and no top five finishes in this event, but again, he is driving the Rocket house car.

Now if an Illinois driver is going to make it to Victory Lane on Saturday night, I would rather it NOT be Pierce or Sheppard. I write a Dirt Late Model article on Dennis Erb Jr., so of course I would like him to do well. And Eldora owes Shannon Babb. Babb finished the 2005 World 100 first, but was DQ’ed for weighing 10 pounds light.

Don O’Neal also has a $50,000 dollar win to his credit this season, the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin. O’Neal has 14 career World 100 starts, and has finished in the top ten on eight occasions. I like O’Neal-his cranky and doesn’t take much crap from anyone. I do want a McCreadie win, but an O’Neal victory would be almost as good.

This has not been a great season for Jonathan Davenport, but he is coming off a win in the Hillbilly 100, and does have a World victory too, in 2015. Still, if Superman flies to an Eldora win on Saturday, count it as an upset.

So, who is my pick to win Saturday night at the legendary half-mile track? I will go with Bloomquist. And yes, I do know my picks are usually jinxed.

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.

 

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.