Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Notebook: February 20, 2017

When our sport has coverage on ABC's Good Morning America it is never a good thing. Robin Roberts introduced the story including the video of Dale Blaney's Sprint Car vaulting the fence outside of turn two at Volusia Raceway Park and reporter Gio Benitez gave some details stating that three spectators in the area of the pit grandstand had been injured, two of them critically during Sunday night's World of Outlaws main event. Updates today have one of the injured still in critical condition, another in stable condition and the third has been treated and released. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved, including Blaney who was described as being very distraught.

Just a few days earlier disaster was avoided when Joey Saldana also flipped over and through the fencing off of turn two and down the back stretch as nobody was struck by the flipping car. Going back and watching Saldana's crash it would appear that the fencing down the back stretch at Volusia, and in front of the pit grandstands is a tall chain link fence meant more to serve as a boundary rather than a traditional catch fence. Not that it would have mattered in Saldana's crash as his car clipped the top of it on its way over, whether or not that was the case with Blaney's crash I do not know, nor do I want to look at it again.

The World Racing Group that owns both the Outlaws and the track itself has announced that this grandstand has been removed and that pit crews and spectators will not be allowed into this area as racing resumes this week for the Late Models and Modifieds and you can bet that new fencing will be in place down the back stretch at this high speed oval very soon.

As race fans we all must know that no matter how extensive the precautions a track takes there is still a level of danger that exists as I have seen many instances over the years of parts and pieces being thrown over the fence. Myself, I am very conscious of where I sit at every race taking into account the physics as to what the direction the momentum of any debris might be, but that is not fail proof by any means. Just last year at the Knoxville Nationals a woman sitting about twenty feet to my right, in a section midway down the front stretch and twenty rows up, was hit in the cheek by a bolt during a heat race. No wreck, no warning, just a metal missile smacking her in the face as she enjoyed the action. Thankfully her injury was minor and after being checked out by medical personnel she returned to her seat obviously a believer in the theory that lightning never strikes twice.

Be vigilant when you go to the track.

It was a long Sunday at Volusia as the Outlaws made up Saturday's rained out program during the afternoon followed by Sunday night's finale that concluded after an hour and fifteen minute delay to treat the injured. Donny Schatz won both feature races, the first during the day where surprisingly the racing was pretty good and then at night when he out dueled David Gravel in a thriller. No doubt that Schatz remains the man to beat with the Outlaws again this year and his early point lead is even bigger when you consider that All Stars regular Chad Kemenah ranks second in the standings as the Outlaws leave Florida.

Forty miles to the west the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series entertained a near capacity crowd at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala Sunday night and nearly everybody was on their feet as Brandon Sheppard swept around the outside of Scott Bloomquist on the final lap to steal the win. That battle may have been for third if not for the lapped car of Bob Gardner that had spun off of turn four collecting then leader Josh Richards and challenger Don O'Neal on lap twenty. O'Neal nearly turned over as he slammed into Richards ending his night while Richards was able to salvage a tenth place finish after a trip to the pit area for repairs.

With Richards coming over to Lucas from the Outlaws in 2017 his battle with Bloomquist for the championship is much anticipated even though there are so many other talented drivers and former National series champions on the roster. Leaving Florida it is Richards on top of Bloomquist by a mere fifteen points.

Several drivers from our region made the trip down to Abilene, Texas, this weekend to compete in the annual IMCA Icebreaker with a couple of them finding victory lane in the Hobby Stock features. Shannon Anderson of Des Moines was Friday's winner while Greg Gilbert of Osceola captured Saturday night's main event. William Gould of Calera, Oklahoma, swept the Modified features while Stanton, Iowa's Jeff James was the runner-up on Friday and finished fifth on Saturday. Nebraska native Adam Armstrong who went from the Hobby Stocks to the Sport Mods in 2016 has now advanced to the Modified ranks as he was third and sixth on the weekend. Other Iowa Modified competitors were Clint Luellen and Tad Reutzel who were both in the top ten on Saturday.

Super Late Models were also in action this past Saturday during the annual Winterfest at Tennessee's Winchester Speedway and there was an interesting bit of officiating that helped decide the winner of the $3,000 top prize. Defending champion of the event John Ownbey was the race leader, but under pressure from Jason Welshan when Welshan threw a slider at the leader in turns three and four. The two cars collided door-to-door and while it appeared that both were then trying to wreck the other as the thrird-place car raced by, the caution waved with both drivers allowed to return to their first and second positions for the restart. Welshan grabbed the lead at the drop of the green and then raced on to what would have been a controversial victory around here at least.

I am hoping to, weather permitting, get a look at some of the Tennessee talent when the MARS East and West tours convene at the Clarksville Speedway in a couple of weeks as the combination should make for an interesting driver roster.

There are still a few tracks in the region that have not yet released their schedule for 2017, but the majority have and our Specials calendar at Positively Racing has over 1,150 events listed as of the last update provided to the Webmistress. If this recent run of warm weather doesn't have you pumped up for racing yet, perhaps a check of that calendar will help.

The "Back Stretch"
Dirt Late Model Points
Pos. Driver Hometown Points
1 . Brandon Overton Appling GA 19
2 . Josh Richards Shinnston WV 19
3 . Brandon Sheppard New Berlin IL 17
4 . Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg TN 16
5 . Bobby Pierce Oakwood IL 14
6 . Tim McCreadie Watertown NY 14
7 . Chris Simpson Marion IA 11
8 . Tyler Erb Magnolia TX 11
9 . Chris Madden Gray Court SC 10
10 . Jonathan Davenport Blairsville GA 8
11 . Billy Moyer Batesville AR 6
12 . Don O'Neal Martinsville IN 6
13 . Earl Pearson Jr. Jacksonville FL 6
14 . Jimmy Owens Newport TN 6
15 . Frank Heckenast Jr. Orland Park IL 5
16 . Rick Eckert York PA 5
17 . Billy Moyer Jr. Batesville AR 4
18 . Dennis Erb Jr. Carpentersville IL 4
19 . Kyle Bronson Brandon FL 4
20 . Michael Page Douglasville GA 4
21 . Austin Hubbard Seaford DE 3
22 . Brian Shirley Chatham IL 3
23 . Devin Moran Dresden OH 3
24 . Donald McIntosh Dawsonville GA 3
25 . Garrett Lloyd 3
26 . Jason Welshan Maryville TN 3
27 . Jimmy Mars Elk Mound WI 3
28 . Ray Cook Brasstown NC 3
29 . Scott Johnson Brunswick GA 3
30 . Shanon Buckingham Morristown TN 3
31 . Tim Dohm Cross Lanes WV 3
32 . Billy Ogle Jr. Knoxville TN 2
33 . Jason Hiett Lincoln AL 2
34 . John Ownbey Cleveland TN 2
35 . Mike Marlar Winfield TN 2
36 . Ruben Mayfield 2
37 . Brad Skinner Spring Hill TN 1
38 . Brian Smith Barbourville KY 1
39 . Cole Exum Valdosta GA 1
40 . David Breazeale Four Corners MS 1
41 . Doug Drown Wooster OH 1
42 . Garrett Alberson Las Cruces NM 1
43 . Jake O'Neil Tucson AZ 1
44 . Jason Cardwell Knoxville TN 1
45 . Joseph Brown Columbus GA 1
46 . Justin Litchford 1
47 . Ricky Thornton Jr. Chandler AZ 1
48 . Steve Francis Ashland KY 1
49 . Tod Hernandez Chattanooga TN 1

Friday, February 17, 2017

McCreadie, Gravel, Ruhlman and Thornton Are Thursday Winners

I have to start off this entry with this; if you are a Dirt Late Model fan and do not already subscribe to Dirt On Dirt, you need to do so. Especially if you are unable to make the trip down to Florida for Speed Weeks, but still want to enjoy the racing action either the next morning, or live on a pay per view basis like they will be doing next week at Volusia.

I logged on this morning doing my best to keep my eyes off of the lead story photo in hopes that I could go to the video of Thursday night's racing without knowing who had actually won. Mission accomplished. First I watched the heat race highlights and it was obvious that the East Bay Raceway was in prime condition for racing on this night as despite the format, where the fast guys start up front, there was plenty of action with drivers using the entire width of the Clay by the Bay.

Heat race two was a fantastic battle between two youngsters as fifteen-year-old Michael Lake and sixteen-year-old Hudson O'Neal swapped the lead back and forth in thrilling fashion with Lake prevailing to earn the third starting spot for the night's feature race. Dennis Erb Jr. slipped by young O'Neal in the closing laps to take second. The third heat was a wild one as well with drivers going three-wide battling for the final transfer spot with Ricky Weiss being the prime catalyst. Announcer James Essex flat out stated "they're going to wreck," twice before Weiss spun across the race track in turn four with no contact.

The feature race was a thriller as well, something that may not have been expected with Josh Richards starting on the pole. The large crowd on hand had to be going out of their minds when Michael Lake drove around the World of Outlaws champion to take the lead following a restart and the kid showed it was no fluke as he paced the field for several laps before Don O'Neal raced by him. Lake's night came to an early end though when he and Dennis Erb Jr. tangled while racing for fourth relegating him to a DNF status.

On the restart hometown driver Kyle Bronson made a charge at O'Neal for second into turn three, but with door slammed shut he spun the car doing a 360 before being hit by Hudson O'Neal ending his night too early as well. Bronson however was given his spot back on the restart since he never stopped, another rule the the Lucas Oil series should reconsider.

In the closing laps it would be Tim McCreadie going to the front to take the win after starting in 18th while Scott Bloomquist showed that he is ready for the two Lucas Oil series point races to come here on Friday and Saturday by moving from 22nd to 7th at the checkers.

I have seen many nights like this at East Bay when I used to make the trip south annually and it was great to see one of my favorite tracks deliver in grand style once again on Thursday. For the story from one of my colleagues who is in Florida this year, check out Ed Reichert's "One Fan's Travels"

The Sprint Cars are the headliners at Volusia County this week and in Thursday's Acrtic Cat All Stars show it was David Gravel taking the win over Donny Schatz. The track looked racy early, but a line of rubber right through the middle groove developed and the drivers settled into position through the last half of the race. Have you seen the video of Joey Saldana's crash from Wednesday night? Check out the 1:53 mark of this and you will see why we are all thankful that nobody, including Saldana was injured.

The UMP Modifieds are also racing at Volusia this week with Brian Ruhlman edging out Ken Schrder for Thursday's win. And, down in Texas, the United States Modified Touring Series kicked off another tripleheader weekend with Ricky Thornton Jr. showing why he should have been the first choice at Gressel Racing.

More dirt racing down south plus Daytona swings into action this weekend.......and it will be seventy degrees here in Iowa. Amazing!

Monday, February 13, 2017

First Weekend of SpeedWeeks.....Finally!

With everything down in Florida, including the Daytona 500, pushed back a week this year we had to wait until the second weekend in February to really get the action underway down south and not only with the traditional Speed Weeks events, but also with USMTS action in Texas and IMCA racing in Arizona.

To say that the dirt late model racing over the weekend lacked some action would be a kind description as the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series opened its season at the Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Georgia, on Friday and Saturday while the North Florida Speedway in Lake City closed out the weekend with a UMP sanctioned event on Sunday.

The biggest news from the Lucas weekend is the announcement of a new rule that has the intent of making sure that Scott Bloomquist starts showing up on time for races. The defending series champion once again arrived late, skipped pre-race tech, hot laps, qualifying and the heat races, ran a couple of hot laps during the B-Main and was then given a series provisional to start the feature. Bloomquist then raced around in the back before playing a major role in the outcome, but more on that later. Apparently the complaints were numerous, including a tweet from Clint Bowyer who owns the cars driven by Don O'Neal and Darrell Lanigan, and enough was enough as series officials immediately adopted a new rule stating that a driver must have gone through pre-race tech in order to be eligible for a provisional.

The comical aspect of this was that earlier in the week while talking with Dirt On Dirt's Michael Rigsby during Late Model Live, Bloomquist stated that his New Year's resolution was to be on time for all of the races in 2017. Heck, my weight loss resolution makes it much longer than this each year!

Now back to how Bloomquist, as a backmarker, played a major role in determining the outcome of Friday night's race. With the track locked down on the bottom race leader Billy Moyer Jr. settled in behind Bloomquist and showed good patience trying to pick his way under the veteran driver. With thirteen laps remaining though, and with Brandon Overton applying some pressure on the leader, Bloomquist appeared to check up just a bit exiting turn two with Moyer hitting him and spinning the lapped car down the back stretch. The contact damaged the radiator on Moyer's car forcing him to retire to the pit area during the caution and what had looked to be young Moyer's first career Lucas Oil series victory now ended in bitter fashion.

Overton went on to secure the win in a race that even the normally vibrant series announcer James Essex gave up on trying to make it seem exciting with the entire field settling in on the bottom. The racing wasn't much different on Saturday night either as Josh Richards won his first main event as the driver of the Best Motorsports car and while the forum jockeys complained about track prep, the drivers seemed to point more to a change in the track configuration from last year as the cause for the one-lane racing at Golden Isles. I am still waiting though for people to realize that the main reason is still the race format because if you start the fast guys up front all night long you don't widen out the track since everybody just settles into the preferred groove during the heats. There is a reason that I usually only go to one Lucas Oil race a year, and that is at Knoxville where, with the invert and the points system, they make them actually "race".

That same format was also used on Sunday night at Lake City where an event record of twenty Late Models also saw a flag-to-flag winner in young Texan Tyler Erb. Brian Shirley was able to pull alongside the leader after Erb bounced through a hole in turn three, but the kid recovered and fought off Shirley to retain the lead and take the win. With Shirley dropping out of the race two laps from the checkers it was Floridian Kyle Bronson taking the runner-up honors.

The Arctic Cat All Stars Circuit of Champions had a three-night run at Bubba Raceway Park where Donny Schatz won the first two nights and Kerry Madsen took the finale. Madsen, now driving the Muddy #2 previously driven by Danny Lasoski, appeared to have the opener in hand as well before his right rear tire blew coming to the white flag. Tim Shaffer was running second at the time, but as Madsen limped around the high side the green light stayed on and Schatz made the pass to steal the win.

The Sunshine State Modified Tour had a thrilling conclusion on Saturday night at East Bay Raceway as Kevin Adams and Jeff Mathews swapped the lead back and forth on the final lap with Mathews from nearby Seffner defending his home turf in the 75-lap finale. Adams who is from Cameron, Wisconsin, did win the Tour point championship for the second time though with his runner-up finish. Iowa's own Mike Van Genderen finished in the third spot in Saturday's grind with Kewanee, Illinois, driver Ray Bollinger in fourth. Two more Iowans were in action last week at East Bay in Burlington's Dugan Thye and Des Moines' Todd Shute who was driving Jessie Hoskins' back up car out of Oklahoma. For detailed reports of the Mod Tour check in with Ed Reichert's "One Fan's Travels" at Positively Racing.

Moving west the United States Modified Touring Series kicked off another busy schedule this past weekend with a tripleheader from the Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, and the weekend saw three different winners in Ryan Gustin, Jason Hughes and Chris Brown. Hughes leads the Southern Region point standings as the Mod stars now move over to the Shady Oaks Speedway in Goliad, Texas, for another triple bill this coming weekend.

Sioux City's Bob Moore held off Missouri's Hunter Marriott to win the opener of the Arizona Modified Tour at the Cocopah Speedway on Friday night. There was a huge field of 85 IMCA Modifieds on hand for the event. Kansas City driver Mike Tanner was the Sport Mod winner.

The race track in Flora, Illinois, that most recently operated as the Route 45 Speedway has, at least on Facebook, gone back to its old name of the Clay County Speedway and I noticed today that they are advertising for a new promoter. How bad do they want to get back to racing? The ad read "PROMOTER WANTED, the Lease is FREE", serious inquiries only.

Waiting to hear more on the reopening of the Lake Ozark Speedway in Missouri. Sounds like a gentleman from Marshall, Missouri, has purchased the facility.

The Knoxville Raceway and the entire Sprint Car racing family in Iowa lost another pillar of its history today with the passing of Gil Sonner. My colleague Bill Wright posted this tribute.

The Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series now moves down to one of my favorite tracks, the East Bay Raceway. This is one place that can more often than not overcome the "I'm Fast, Start Me Up Front" format and provide muli-grooved action. We will see if that is the case this year.

The "Back Stretch"
Dirt Late Model Points
Pos. Driver Hometown Points
1 . Bobby Pierce Oakwood IL 14
2 . Brandon Overton Appling GA 14
3 . Chris Simpson Marion IA 11
4 . Josh Richards Shinnston WV 7
5 . Billy Moyer Batesville AR 6
6 . Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg TN 5
7 . Tim McCreadie Watertown NY 5
8 . Jimmy Owens Newport TN 4
9 . Jonathan Davenport Blairsville GA 4
10 . Michael Page Douglasville GA 4
11 . Tyler Erb Magnolia TX 4
12 . Brandon Sheppard New Berlin IL 3
13 . Brian Shirley Chatham IL 3
14 . Donald McIntosh Dawsonville GA 3
15 . Garrett Lloyd 3
16 . Jimmy Mars Elk Mound WI 3
17 . Kyle Bronson Brandon FL 3
18 . Ray Cook Brasstown NC 3
19 . Scott Johnson Brunswick GA 3
20 . Shanon Buckingham Morristown TN 3
21 . Billy Ogle Jr. Knoxville TN 2
22 . Frank Heckenast Jr. Orland Park IL 2
23 . Jason Hiett Lincoln AL 2
24 . Mike Marlar Winfield TN 2
25 . Ruben Mayfield 2
26 . Austin Hubbard Seaford DE 1
27 . Brian Smith Barbourville KY 1
28 . Cole Exum Valdosta GA 1
29 . Doug Drown Wooster OH 1
30 . Garrett Alberson Las Cruces NM 1
31 . Jake O'Neil Tucson AZ 1
32 . Jason Cardwell Knoxville TN 1
33 . Joseph Brown Columbus GA 1
34 . Justin Litchford 1
35 . Ricky Thornton Jr. Chandler AZ 1
36 . Tod Hernandez Chattanooga TN 1

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Deery Series Schedule Is Released

It has been nearly two weeks since I was last on here and, while there was definitely some interesting and exciting news in my life, none of it was racing related and I know that is the reason that you come to visit the Back Stretch. So it was better to just wait for some racing news to share, besides there was no way that I was going to top the massive number of page views that the Cumulative All Iowa Points brought in over a one week period anyway!

Last night IMCA released the 2017 schedule for the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models and early reviews show some concern. It has already been pointed out that last year's schedule had 18 events while this year's calendar has only 13 events with races at Algona, Webster City, Davenport and Tipton missing from the schedule. Benton County Speedway promoter Mick Trier told me this morning that he would have scheduled a Deery show if he had been able to run it on his regular race night, Sunday. However to do so all other sanctioned tracks would have had to give the Late Models the night off. Some promoters were willing to cooperate, others were not.

What the schedule, and Trier's comments tell me is that the mid-week shows during the regular season have not been successful and, if we all take a moment to think about it, that makes sense. These are not professional race car drivers that run this series, they have full time jobs that they need to be at in order to fund their hobby and asking them to take a Tuesday off four or five times during the summer was not a popular thing resulting in a shrinking number of drivers competing in the full series. I remember ten years ago when the J&J Steel Ironman race would have fourteen or fifteen drivers in it at the end of the year. If I remember properly, last year only seven or eight drivers had perfect attendance.

So in a series that relies nearly 100% on weekly racers, is it a bad thing if the number of races is now thirteen with all but three of them to be contested either before or after the regular season? In my opinion, no, because if the point fund remains the same the drivers now have to compete in 28% fewer events to earn the money.

Just a few years ago the Sprint Invaders dropped from a sixteen event schedule one season to a ten event season the next. The result? The average car count per event increased by 30% because more drivers figured that they could commit to a ten event schedule, one where they wouldn't have to be taking five or six days off during the summer to compete in mid-week events. Don't be surprised if the same thing happens here.

The full press release from IMCA along with the 2017 schedule follows and, oh yeah, that same guy that was the announcer at the first-ever Summer Series race at 34 Raceway will be on the mic once again for this year's opener. Hope to see you there!

WEST BURLINGTON, Iowa – The Deery Brothers Summer Series returns to a very familiar venue for its 31st opening night and ends with a Month of More Money in September.
Touring IMCA Late Models start their 2017 campaign on Saturday, April 1 at 34 Raceway. That event marks the series’ 49th appearance – more than at any other track – at West Burlington and its first there since 2013.

“The first-ever series race was held at 34 Raceway so we’ve got a lot of history there,” noted Tour Director Kevin Yoder. “I know a lot of our drivers as well as fans that follow the Deery Series have been looking forward to returning.”

The Sept. 2 Yankee Dirt Classic main event at Farley Speedway pays $7,500 to win while a bonus of as much as $1,500 awaits the winner of the Sept. 7 show during the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Ca­sey’s at Boone Speedway.

Dates April 8 at West Liberty Raceway, April 14 at Farley, April 15 at Independence Motor Speed­way and April 23 at Dubuque Speedway precede the start of the track point season.

The series is at Quad City Speedway on May 14 and at Boone Speedway for the traditional Memo­rial Day show on May 29.

Doubleheaders with the Arnold Motor Supply Hawkeye Dirt Tour for IMCA Modifieds follow June 6 at Marshalltown Speedway and June 13 at West Liberty.

Completing the schedule are Farley’s Sept. 1-2 Yankee, the Su­per Nationals event at Boone and the Sept. 22-23 Liberty 100 at West Liberty, which wraps up with both points and pay-only features.
All features pay a minimum of $2,000 to win and $300 to start.

“The sponsorship from the Deery Brothers Automotive Group really steers this ship and entering a 26th year working with them is very significant,” Yoder said.

“Casey’s General Store is back as sponsor on the nightly redraw program and Sunoco Race Fuels will give $250 to a random feature qualifier with perfect attendance each night,” he continued. “This schedule is very travel-friendly and I anticipate very competitive races on the track and in the point standings.”

Champion of the 2016 series was Tyler Bruening of Decorah. Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown has competed at all 467 events in series history.

2017 Deery Brothers Summer Series Schedule – Saturday, April 1 at 34 Raceway, West Burling­ton; Saturday, April 8 at West Liberty Raceway; Friday, April 14 at Farley Speedway; Satur­day, April 15 at Independence Motor Speedway; Sunday, April 23 at Dubuque Speedway; Sunday, May 14 at Quad City Speedway, East Moline, Ill.; Monday, May 29 at Boone Speedway; Tuesday, June 6 at Marshalltown Speedway; Tuesday, June 13 at West Liberty Raceway; Friday and Saturday, Sept. 1 and 2 at Farley Speedway; Thursday, Sept. 7 at Boone Speedway; Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22 and 23 at West Liberty Raceway.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Notebook: January 27, 2017

Other than several more tracks releasing their race schedules for 2017 this was a pretty slow week for racing news, at least that was of interest to me, so today's Notebook will be short and sweet.

The biggest news actually came last Saturday morning when former driver and prospective promoter Al Purkey announced suddenly that the planned reopening of the Mid America Speedway in South Coffeyville, Kansas, would not happen as planned in 2017. The track had two big $10,000-to-win weekends on the MLRA schedule, plus had scheduled a big money Modified show to open the season in March, but apparently the new track owner John Fiore pulled the plug last Friday stating that the facility would not be ready to present racing in 2017. Okay, so that made some sense since this track has been sitting idle for several years now, but another track that was recently purchased by Fiore, the Outlaw Motor Speedway near Muskogee was also deemed to be in no shape to hold racing in 2017 and will be dark this season. The difference is that Outlaw is not very old and raced weekly in 2016 leaving many to wonder what the actual story might be. Fiore has stated that he intends to open them both again in 2018, but well I guess that remains to be seen.

I must admit that I was a bit surprised when it was announced that the Gateway Dirt Nationals will return to the Dome at the America's Center in St. Louis in December. Some of the comments that had been made by the promoter in recent weeks seemed to be setting us up for a soft landing, but instead it is good news that perhaps the most unique event in Dirt Late Model racing will have an encore. Some key changes have been made to the event with only one round of qualifying instead of two. The Modified field will be capped at 100 cars and half of those will essentially be an Invitational in that you will have to earn your way into the event through designated races throughout the season or by a fan vote while the other half will be "first come, first serve" in regard to paying an entry fee. Even though there were fewer than 100 Late Models at the inaugural event, the Late Model entry list will be capped at 150 and this time around instead of just saying what the features will pay to win, they are also stating what it will pay to start in 2017.

Sprint Car fans along the Mississippi River area will be torn on June 9th and 10th as the World of Outlaws will be at Knoxville at the same time that the All Star Circuit of Champions will be battling on the bullrings of Lincoln and Macon, Illinois. On Sunday the 11th though all of the fans can converge on 34 Raceway near Burlington where the All Stars will close out their three-day weekend.

Tanner Thorson who was the 2016 Midget Driver of the Year will take the same steps as did Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu recently and give pavement Late Model racing a try to see if he can earn his way into NASCAR.

Florida and Georgia Speedweeks officially kicked off last night as the Nesmith Crate Late Models raced at the Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala where Brandon Sheppard set quick time in group one, started from the pole (they don't run heats) in the feature and led every lap to take the win. It's bad enough when you qualify and start the fast guys up front in any division, but in a Crate Late Model it is even my humble opinion.

Getting closer and closer to the 2017 racing season here in the Midwest and the Specials Calendar continues to grow as tracks and series release their schedules. Still waiting on one from the Deery Brothers Summer Series!

Enjoy your weekend!