Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Notebook: February 28, 2015

Brrrr......that will be the common thought for all that who will be in Atlanta for the NASCAR weekend. Look for more empty seats than those that are filled as instead of heading west after Daytona, the teams got their wish and went back to the old days when Atlanta soon followed the 500. Young Iowa drivers Brett Moffitt and Landon Cassill are in the field for Sunday's Sprint Cup race.

Aaron Reutzel continued his strong early season performances by winning the ASCS National Series event at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala last night. Johnny Herrera finished second while last week's big winner at East Bay, Mark Smith was third. Check out this photo as Reutzel takes the checkers and you will see that the crowd was a little on the light side at BRP. The temps were chilly and the event was available live on pay-per-view. Draw your own conclusions and you too can watch tonight's Speedweek finale on RacinBoys.

Robert Ballou bounced off the wall entering turn one on the final lap, but he held on to win the USAC National Sprint Car event at East Bay Friday night. Iowa's Robert Bell got upside down during the semi-main. The current Back Stretch National Sprint Car points can be found at the bottom of this entry.

One of the strongest group of rookies in years have taken the USMTS by storm in the early stages of 2015 and North Dakota's Austin Arneson won his second feature of the young season last night in El Paso. The 23-year-old Arneson started seventeenth on the grid and stormed through the stellar field of drivers to take the lead from Dereck Ramirez with two laps to go. Ramirez leads the Gulf Coast Region points standings over Jason Hughes with Arneson and another RoY contender Jesse Sobbing close behind. Ben Kates from suburban Kansas City has posted a couple of top-five finishes already and Arneson's brother Casey is also chasing the series for the first time in 2015. Action continues tonight and you can watch it live on SpeedShiftTV.

Great to see some of the friendly faces that we enjoy seeing at the track often making the top ten of Ron Hedger's annual SuperFan standings. It is always fun to catch up with Gary Lee, Kevin Babcock, Jack Miles and Bob Litton as they are all very knowledgeable and very passionate about the sport. And speaking of super fans, our own Dick and Joyce Eisele have their first 4dFan Report of the season up after a visit to Cocopah Speedway last weekend.

There is a good possibility that somebody from northwest Iowa will crack the top ten in next year's SuperFan listings as during the summer months fans from that area can now go racing six straight nights a week, each and every week with the announcement that the Nobles County Speedway in Worthington, Minneosta, will spring back to action after sitting idle in 2014. The folks that run the track in Redwood Falls will put on the show at the facility that is just a few miles north of the Iowa border. So now you have Tuesdays in Worthington, Wednesdays in Alta, Thursdays in Algona, Fridays in Rock Rapids, Spencer or Fairmont, Saturdays in Jackson or Britt and Sundays at Husets or Mason City. Take a rest on Monday.

I tried and failed to get to my first official race of 2015 last weekend when the show at Winchester, Tennessee, was snowed out so my next target will be the Friday opener of the IMCA Spring Nationals at Beatrice, Nebraska, especially since their snow cover is minimal right now. Looking out my window it is hard to believe that local racing is only three or four weeks away. After some more snow tonight the extended forecast shows a warming trend. Let's hope it holds true!

The "Back Stretch"
Winged 410 Sprint Points Through 2/14
Pos. Driver Hometown Points
1 . Danny Lasoski Dover MO 21
2 . Paul McMahan Memphis TN 16
3 . Donny Schatz Minot ND 13
4 . Joey Saldana Brownsburg IN 13
5 . Steve Kinser Bloomington IN 12
6 . Greg Hodnett Thomasville PA 10
7 . Daryn Pittman Owasso OK 9
8 . Kerry Madsen Knoxville IA 9
9 . Aaron Reutzel Clue TX 8
10 . Stevie Smith Broken Arrow OK 8
11 . Dale Blaney Fowler OH 7
12 . David Gravel Watertown CT 7
13 . Brad Sweet Grass Valley CA 6
14 . Kyle Larson Elk Grove CA 6
15 . Brian Brown Grain Valley MO 5
16 . Roger Crockett Medford OR 5
17 . Craig Dollansky Elk River MN 4
18 . Logan Schuchart Hanover PA 3
19 . Sam Hafertepe Jr. Sunnyvale TX 3
20 . Chad Kemenah Findlay OH 2
21 . Henry Van Dam Enumclaw WA 2
22 . Kasey Kahne Enumclaw WA 2
23 . Kraig Kinser Bloomington IN 2
24 . Christopher Bell Norman OK 1
25 . Ryan Smith Kunkletown PA 1
26 . Tim Shaffer Aliquippa PA 1
27 . Shane Stewart Bixby OK 1

The "Back Stretch"
Winged 360 Sprint Points Through 2/27
Pos. Driver Hometown Points
1 . Aaron Reutzel Clute TX 10
2 . Mark Smith Tower City PA 8
3 . Johnny Herrera Albuquerque NM 6
4 . Brad Loyet Sunset Hills MO 3
5 . Jason Sides Bartlett TN 3
6 . Terry McCarl Altoona IA 3
7 . Matt Kurtz Jacksonville Beach FL 2
8 . A.J. Maddox Tampa FL 1
9 . Mark Ruel Jr. Jacksonville FL 1
10 . Rick Ziehl Las Cruces NM 1

The "Back Stretch"
Non Wing Sprint Points Through 2/27
Pos. Driver Hometown Points
1 . Dave Darland Lincoln IN 10
2 . Brady Bacon Broken Arrow OK 7
3 . Robert Ballou Rocklin CA 6
4 . Ryan Bernal Hollister CA 5
5 . Chase Stockon Elizabethtown IN 4
6 . Kevin Thomas Jr. Cullman AL 4
7 . Chris Windom Canton IL 3
8 . Charles Davis Jr. Buckeye AZ 1
9 . Jon Stanbrough Avon IN 1
10 . R.J. Johnson Phoenix AZ 1

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Clanton Dominant In Late Model Action; Mark Smith King of the 360's At East Bay

My original plan for today was to get up early, write the story from my first attended race in 2015 and then make the nine hour drive home to then watch the Daytona 500 on the DVR. That was how I was going to wrap up a week long business trip that saw me log more than 1,700 miles going from Indiana to Ohio to Kentucky and I was then going to go to Winterfest at the Winchester Speedway in Tennessee on Saturday. But obviously Mother Nature wiped out those plans well in advance with some of the coldest and snowiest conditions ever for that area.

Instead I got caught up with the Friday ice and snow storm trying to get back home early and when the conditions became just too treacherous I wound up in a motel in rural Missouri that was definitely a step back in time. But I was safe and warm for the night which was all that mattered. Now that first race of 2015 will likely be the weekend of March 20th and hopefully fairly close to home in Memphis, Missouri. Check out the Calendar page at Positively Racing to plan you racing trips for 2105.

There was actually a thread on the forum where people were saying where their first race of 2015 was going to be, however it looks like that forum is down for the second time in the past four months. Hopefully it will bounce back again soon!

Who would have predicted the resurgence of Shane Clanton?? The veteran driver from Georgia had not won a World of Outlaws Late Model race since the summer of 2013 before breaking that string at Screven and he then dominated the WoO events at Volusia County winning all three points-paying races. Clanton emerges from Speedweeks solidly on top of our National Late Model point standings that you will find at the bottom of this entry.

The annual King of the 360's Ronald Laney Memorial event at East Bay Raceway was definitely bolstered by making it an ASCS National Series event this year with around seventy drivers taking aim at the $10,000 top prize. Pennsylvania's Mark Smith was a bit of a surprise winner over a much improved Aaron Reutzel. Johnny Herrera finished third, Brad Loyet was fourth and Terry McCarl took fifth. The ASCS will spend the week in Florida before next weekend's doubleheader at Bubba Raceway Park that can be seen on a pay-per-view basis with The Racin' Boys.

Open wheel ace Christopher Bell won the 100-lap Super Late Model feature on the pavement at New Smyrna Speedway Saturday night. Rico Abreu finished tenth in the 27-car field. Bobby Pierce ran the asphalt on Thursday night finishing 16th in the 50-lap feature that was won by Dave Garbo Jr. Bell finished second and Abreu was 14th in that one.

Okay, the Daytona 500 should be about an hour ahead now on the DVR, time to start watching!

The "Back Stretch"
Dirt Late Model Points Through 2/21
Pos. Driver Hometown Points
1 . Shane Clanton Locust Grove GA 42
2 . Billy Moyer Batesville AR 29
3 . Darrell Lanigan Union KY 27
4 . Josh Richards Shinnston WV 24
5 . Jimmy Owens Newport TN 22
6 . Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg TN 20
7 . Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville FL 16
8 . Jonathan Davenport Blairsville GA 16
9 . Steve Casebolt Richmond IN 15
10 . Frank Heckenast Jr. Orland Park IL 13
11 . Brandon Sheppard New Berlin IL 12
12 . Dale McDowell Chickamauga GA 11
13 . Don O'Neal Martinsville IN 11
14 . Jared Landers Batesville AR 11
15 . Brandon Overton Appling GA 10
16 . Eddie Carrier Jr. Salt Rock WV 10
17 . Morgan Bagley Longview TX 10
18 . Donald McIntosh Dawsonville GA 9
19 . Mark Whitener Middleburg FL 9
20 . Chub Frank Sugar Grove PA 8
21 . Tim McCreadie Watertown NY 8
22 . Stormy Scott Las Cruces NM 7
23 . Jimmy Mars Elk Mound WI 6
24 . Rodney Sanders Happy TX 6
25 . Tony Jackson Jr. Lebanon MO 6
26 . Dennis Erb Jr. Carpentersville IL 5
27 . Devin Moran Dresden OH 5
28 . Riley Hickman Ooletwah TN 5
29 . Steve Francis Ashland KY 5
30 . Casey Roberts Toccoa GA 4
31 . Chris Simpson Marion IA 4
32 . Jason Papich Santa Maria CA 4
33 . Mike Benedum Bristol WV 4
34 . Tim Roszell Coldwater AL 4
35 . Adam Hensel Barron WI 3
36 . Jason Fitzgerald Jacksonville FL 3
37 . Kent Robinson Bloomington IN 3
38 . Russell Brown Jr. Valdosta GA 3
39 . William Thomas Phenix City AL 3
40 . Billy Moyer Jr. Batesville AR 2
41 . Jeremy Faircloth Swainsboro GA 2
42 . Ross Bailes Clover SC 2
43 . Walker Arthur Forest VA 2
44 . Aaron Ridley Chatsworth GA 1
45 . Billy Ogle Jr. Knoxville TN 1
46 . Bo Allen Jacksonville FL 1
47 . Bobby Pierce Oakwood IL 1
48 . Chase Junghans Manhattan KS 1
49 . Chris Madden Gray Court SC 1
50 . Gregg Satterlee Rochester Mills PA 1
51 . Joe Kump Hollywood FL 1
52 . Kyle Bronson Brandon FL 1
53 . Larry Damitz Vallejo CA 1
54 . Pierce McCarter Gatlinburg TN 1
55 . Richard Papenhausen Chico CA 1
56 . Scott Johnson Brunswick GA 1
57 . Stephen Breeding Isom KY 1

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fifth-Place Or Last, Either Way I'll Take It!

Ron Hedger's annual SuperFans contest results for the "Pro" division came out today on National Speed Sport News and yours truly finished in the fifth position with my entry of 66 nights of racing in 2014. Of course my race total was 35 nights fewer than fourth-place, so I was nearly a lap behind and since he usually lists the top ten in the Pros and the top twenty in the Amateurs, or more appropriately the ticket buyers, it is likely that my entry was also the lowest of all submitted for my division.

Either way I will take it and I appreciate the manner in which Ron summed up my comments.

I did notice however that somehow I went from being identified as one of the principals of the website Positively Racing, something that I do 365 days a year, to being one of the announcers for the Sprint Invaders, something that I am very proud to be, but only for ten to twelve nights a year.

So am I am just wondering why that would have happened. The champ, good friend Ed Reichert, was properly identified as a writer for All The Dirt and Hawkeye Racing News while the other three place-winners were with and, or Hawkeye Racing News. Hearkens me back to a press release a couple of months ago where announcing the new position for our own Ryan Clark it was mentioned that he penned the popular "In Staging" blog, but made no mention of where you might find that popular blog.

I am sure that both instances were just innocent oversights, but who knows maybe we are considered outlaws here at Positively Racing. You will notice that all of the other fine sources for racing information are linked above.

Speaking of Mr. SuperFan, I was proud to have Ed Reichert tell me last October that he ended up at the Darkside Fall Bash in Maquoketa on a Sunday afternoon after checking out the Calendar page at that unmentionable website. In the update that I just sent out today to the webmistress there are now 802 special events listed.

We have a webmistress......hmmmm, maybe that's why we are Outlaws?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Am Not A Good Announcer

I am not a good announcer anymore, well at least by the standards and expectations in today's dirt track racing world as expressed by a racing media personality that I enjoy listening to on a weekly basis. On his show this past Saturday he stated that he wanted an announcer that does his homework, has the ability to whip the crowd up into a frenzy, provides sharp play-by-play throughout every race and doesn't just set the microphone down during intermission.

Okay, so I'd like to think that I can still satisfy two of those requirements, but frankly this old dog is not willing to make the changes to compete the new requirements. Let's review each of the four.

I'd like to think that my "homework" allows me to speak pretty intelligently about the drivers, their hometowns and their past accomplishments. Can I discuss details about setups, chassis types and engines? No but I can cover the basics and that is all that most of the crowd cares about anyway. With my Sprint Invaders gig I have the advantage of being able to lean on and listen to my partner Bill Wright who knows more about Sprint Car racing than anybody you will meet, but with him perhaps missing a date or two this summer due to his involvement with the National Sprint League I will have to pick up my game a bit.

Whipping the crowd up into a frenzy. I'm not sure exactly to what extent the radio personality expects from this but I do know that one of his colleagues is very well known for hyping the crowd. One night at a track in central Missouri that colleague was one of two announcers working a Sprint Car show and Morgan and I decided to make a tally mark for each time that he either asked the crowd "Are you having fun tonight?" or "Make some noise." We stopped making the marks when we reached seventy-five and we still hadn't made it to feature time. And that was with the guy sharing the microphone with an announcer that perhaps leans more toward my way of thinking. Oh yeah, and when he was busy hyping the crowd he also failed to get the full starting lineup announced before the drop of the green every time but once.

An announcer has to know when to "hype" the crowd, otherwise it is just forced enthusiasm. If you are making hot laps sound like the last lap of the feature, then you are overdoing it. If a six-car heat race has the cars spaced out by mid-race and you are still raising the tone of your voice, or even talking at all, you are overdoing it. I believe that you let the racing create the excitement and then you add to that with your own voice inflection. If anybody thinks that an announcer is going to make a boring race sound exciting to those who are actually watching that race, they are nuts.

Sharp play-by-play throughout every race. Okay, even I see the need for this if the track's PA announcer is being piped through to either a live internet audio or video feed, but if we are talking about an announcer who is only serving the crowd that is actually at the track watching, why in the world do I need to run a constant description of the action to that crowd?? First of all, especially during feature time, the announcer can only barely be heard over the noise in the first place. Yes, those folks who have shelled out the extra cash to sit in the booths can hear you, but that brings me to my second point. If they are actually watching the race, why in the world do I need to provide a play-by-play for it? Watch a college basketball game on TV sometime and notice that there is very little actual description of the play-by-pay action, and the PA announcer is not describing every pass, dribble, shot and rebound are they? Heck no they aren't!

Trying to provide constant play-by-play leads to overhyping and overuse of phrases that eventually go from annoying to comical. Hey, let's face it, it is not easy to provide a constant play-by-play of a six car heat race where nobody passes anybody, so it is no wonder that the same things get said again and again and again and again. I swear that if I hear the phrase "are you kidding me?" one more time I may puke.

If you want to pay me a little extra I will provide a radio-type play-by-play "broadcast" for your live audio or video stream on the internet (you are making money on that aren't you?), but otherwise I will continue to do as I always have. I will sneak in comments while the cars are on the back stretch during heat races and I will always provide you with interesting information during a caution period, but otherwise I am going to do the same thing that the fans should be doing; watching the race.

Ever wonder why those announcers set the microphone down during intermission? They are worn out from hyping the crowd and talking non-stop while the green flag racing is going on. No wonder they need a break!! I have always used intermission and caution periods (I prefer no intermissions) to tell the crowd about the sponsors, upcoming events and other items of interest.

It used to make me feel very good to have people tell me what a good announcer that I was, but I guess those days have passed me by. Oh well, it was a good ride.....

Monday, February 16, 2015

Richards Returns To Victory Lane For the 50th Time With The Outlaws; Sweet's Victory Make Him The Point Leader

Josh Richards continued his impressive return to the sport after sitting out nearly a full season by winning the World of Outlaws main event at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala Sunday night. It was the 50th career World of Outlaws win for the driver now known as "The Rocket Man" and his first since nerve damage in his hands required a sabbatical in 2014. Richards win a little over a week ago at Screven, Georgia, came in a non-points paying event for the Outlaws.

Two three-time Outlaws champions, Richards and Darrell Lanigan battled for the lead in the opening laps of the 50-lap headliner before Richards took control . Brandon Overton and Shane Clanton shuffled Lanigan back to fourth, but when Overton caught an inside turn marker on lap six, damage to his nose piece sent him pitside.

Tim McCreadie then became the primary challenger passing Richards for the lead two laps past the mid-race mark, but when McCreadie tried to use the high line in turn four to lap Eric Wells, Richards used the opening to regain the lead on lap thirty-five. Lanigan drew a caution three laps later when he too clipped an inside marker and with clear track ahead of him now Richards cruised the final twelve laps to secure the victory. Shane Clanton's runner-up finish vaulted him into the series point lead headed over to Volusia, McCreadie finished in third while the point leader coming into the night Steve Casebolt came home fourth. Morgan Bagley finished in the fifth position and Billy Ogle Jr. rode the cushion all the way from 21st to sixth.

Six nights of racing now follows at Volusia County Speedway with the first three nights under UMP sanction and the final three counting toward the World of Outlaws season points standings.

Brad Sweet capped off a solid week by winning the Winged 410 Sprint Car finale of Speedweeks, the World of Outlaws show at Volusia County Speedway. Swapping the lead back and forth with Paul McMahan in the first ten laps, Sweet then established himself as the leader and, eventually the race winner cashing the $10,000 top prize. McMahan was second followed by Daryn Pittman, Jason Sides and Kerry Madsen. Iowa's Terry McCarl had his best showing of the week finishing in the ninth position.

With the win Sweet will take the World of Outlaws point lead to Las Vegas for a March 4th and 5th doubleheader.

After qualifying for the Daytona 500 during the afternoon, Austin Dillon made the short trip west to VCS and won the UMP Modified qualifying feature for Monday night's $5,000-to-win Gator Championship. Ken Schrader was the runner-up and Burlington, Iowa's Dugan Thye finished 21st.

In what must have been a thriller at New Smyrna Speedway Austin Hill led all 151 laps in the K&N East Series event to win the season opener. Open wheel star Rico Abreu's debut was not as successful as many hoped as he finished one lap down in seventeenth after starting sixth on the grid. He will get another shot at pounding the pavement on April 4th at Greenville.

I know that a lot of my racing friends hated the new qualifying format for the Daytona 500, but I have to say that it is the first time where I have EVER sat and watched the entire qualifying process for the event. Do you realize that if Martin Truex Jr. would have waited about two more seconds before taking off that the other eleven cars would not have made it back to the start-finish line in time to start a lap? Love it or hate it, it definitely made for some good television! And for you conspiracy theorists out there trying to draw lines from Earnhardt Jr. to Patrick to Jeff Gordon winning the pole position for his final Daytona 500, put your tin foil hat on and think about the logistics of pulling that off and keeping everyone involved, drivers, crews, officials from leaking "the master plan".

Don't forget that you can stay warm by watching the action from Volusia on a pay-per-view basis all week long at Dirt On Dirt!