Sunday, February 18, 2018

Sunday Notebook: Pre-Daytona 500

It's a rare Sunday notebook here on the Back Stretch but after going dark for the past seventeen days I am jumping back in while I have a bit of time. We haven't been home much the past two weeks having attended a wedding in Denver and then spending a glorious three-day weekend in sunny Florida where the temperatures were setting record highs. That is unusual for us as it seems like whenever Christine and I do try to escape winter for a few days in February it usually follows us with below normal temperatures. That trend was broken last weekend though and even though I was less than an hour away from the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model series racing at East Bay Raceway I was more than happy to just soak up the rays and then watch the beautiful sunsets over the gulf for three nights. I turn 55 in a few weeks and the realization that I am now within my ten year plan for retirement gives me a sense of peace knowing that I will once again be able to fully enjoy all of the Speedweeks action in just a few years.

Race fans who did make the trek down to Florida this year also enjoyed those warmer than normal temperatures and from what I have seen and read the racing has been exceptional across the board. Just taking a look at some of the stats from the Super Late Model action proves that as the average car count over the fourteen nights of racing was 45.9, the average starting position of the feature winner was 7.6 and only two of the fourteen feature races had a driver go flag-to-flag for the win. Of course the average car count was bolstered when the World of Outlaws officials were forced to scrap their opening weekend at the Screven Motor Speedway in southern Georgia due to week long rains and that allowed anywhere from twelve to fifteen drivers to stay at East Bay for the Lucas series action. The average starting position of the winner was padded by some amazing runs by Josh Richards who came from 24th to win at Golden Isles, Brandon Sheppard's charge from 21st to win at East Bay and Dale McDowell's drive from 15th to win at Volusia. You also have to be impressed with hometown driver Kyle Bronson's win at East Bay's finale as he started in the tenth position. The only driver to post a flag-to-flag feature win during Speedweeks was Jonathan Davenport who did it at Tuesday's East Bay show and the Monday opener at Volusia. "Superman" also won from sixth on Friday night at East Bay and his three wins topped the charts.

The Wild West Shootout held in Arizona back in January was hailed as a grand success and to compare the stats the Shootout averaged 47 drivers per night, the average starting spot of the winner was 3.5 and three of the six races saw the winner go flag-to-flag. Yes, for Late Model fans it was a fantastic Georgia/Florida Speedweeks!

I am writing this before the Daytona 500 gets underway and if it is anything like yesterday's Xfinity race it is going to be something to see. I just hope that the Cup drivers can keep from turning the final five laps into a demolition derby though. Well wait a minute, those were the Cup drivers out front that were running into each other yesterday so I am guessing that we will be in for a repeat.

The most welcome news that I received this week came from the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa where it was announced that they will go ahead and present about ten Wednesday night races in 2018. After hearing that the prospects for racing were slim for this season, Stock Car driver Nathan Wood stepped up and worked with the fair board to get a plan in place to keep the track open. Mike Van Genderen who does a magnificent job of presenting the mid-week program will be back once again to run the show and you can bet that Wood will be ready to take on the challenges of the other Stock Car drivers as he looks to defend his 2017 All Iowa Points Championship.

When I read this story announcing the plans for racing at Osky I couldn't help but to laugh at the statement "There was some mis-communications that we were not going to be racing in 2018 and we want to put that to rest". Really? That is a completely different story than what was published here the week of January 8th complete with quotes from fair board members. You will note that their names do not appear in the more recent story.

Either way the news is good and there will be a meeting tomorrow night to finalize the plans including a sanctioning body, if any, as well as the schedule that I believe will start on April 18 and will run through June. And while some may question such an early "end" to the race season I am seeing more and more tracks scheduling their final race night for earlier in the year. Benton County Speedway promoter Mick Trier told me that it is a struggle to turn a profit in August and that is why Vinton's Season Championship is scheduled for July 29th. Other tracks, such as Lebanon Midway Speedway in Missouri and the Red Dirt Raceway in Oklahoma are running split schedules where they shut down for the dog days of summer and then come back with "second half" schedules that run well into October and even November. Anything they can do to make a buck or two and keep the track open!

The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series announced that each and every one of their race nights in 2018 will be available on a Pay Per View basis on their own brand DirtVision. That is spectacular news if you are a fan of the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, but not so great news if you are a track promoter who loses even one fan that decides to stay at home on your regular race night to spend his money on a PPV rather than the ticket that he used to purchase at your local track.

It is ironic that the same people who pissed, moaned and whined about how much it was going to hurt short track racing when NASCAR started running races on Saturday night not that many years ago are now the same people who just can't grasp the negative effect that the proliferation of Pay Per View broadcasts throughout the entire race season are having on the sport. No, the PPV broadcast does NOT hurt the attendance of the actual event being shown, but it does take away from the weekly show that is already struggling to make ends meet. A more specific example of this is illustrated here in #1 of the Three Things and isn't it ironic that the track mentioned at this point has no racing planned for 2018?

After the Super Bowl I saw a bunch of memes stating that now that Football is over that just means that it is two more weeks until Daytona. Well, today is Daytona and according the the Calendar page at Positively Racing it is only two more weeks before you can start finding some racing here in the Midwest. (One note as I see that the Webmistress has not uploaded the latest update yet is that the Winter Heat race at Plumerville AR was postponed to March 3rd and 4th) This schedule is by no means complete as there are still several tracks who have not yet announced their dates, but it should allow you to get an early start on mapping out your 2018 season!

Hope to see you out there on the Back Stretch!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Thursday Notebook: February 1, 2018

Just a short notebook this week as not really too much went on over the past seven days. Well, in short track racing at least.

The Deery schedule was released right on cue last Friday and, outside of the race at LaSalle now being part of the schedule, the rest was pretty much as expected, although at least one of those shows was in doubt right up until the last day. Now we wait for the Hawkeye Dirt Tour schedule from IMCA and clarification as to just how The Dirt Knights will be involved in 2018. Two tracks, Vinton and Park Jefferson currently show "Dirt Knights" events on their schedules as if they are in conjunction with the HDT.

I really enjoy watching the current version of Dirt Knights that chronicles a group of six drivers as they compete on last year's IMCA Dakota Modified Tour. Part of that tour included a trip into Canada for a race that Corey Dripps missed because he had to take care of motor issues, but in this week's episode Corey slyly admitted that wasn't the real reason that he did not make the border crossing. "Let's just say that I had a fun childhood," said Dripps who is one of the show's producers. I had the pleasure of getting to know Corey as he earned the first ever NKF Tour Modified Championship in 1998 and let's just say that he was still a lot of fun to be around as a young adult! You can catch the Dirt Knights on MavTV.

An appearance by the USMTS during the fair and Terry McCarl's two nights of Sprint Car action with the Front Row Challenge is all that is on the schedule as of now at Oskaloosa and down in Bloomfield it looks like the Sprint Invader show during the David County Fair might be the only race night on the 3/8th-mile oval. In east central Iowa there is no news out of West Liberty at this point, but just up the road in Tipton there are now eight nights of racing on the schedule.

Did you take a look at the results from the opening weekend of the 2018 Winter Nationals at East Bay where the Modifieds took center stage? The Florida drivers stood up and defended their home turf in the finale after Wisconsin's Kevin Adams and North Carolina's Kyle Strickler won preliminary features. With the big money up for grabs on Saturday it was Mark Whitener in victory lane, one of five Floridians in the top ten. Now granted, Whitener, Bryan Bernhardt, Mavrick Varnadore, and Kyle Bronson all likely race more in the Late Model division these days, but still it caught my eye to see that many "FLs" in the results. In all there were fifteen Sunshine State drivers in Saturday's main event.

Florida/Georgia Speedweeks swings into full gear tonight with racing action in one form or another all the way from now until the Daytona 500 on the 18th. And I just reminded myself on my way home from work that in just ten more years I will be there for all of it!!

Stay warm!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday Notebook: January 25, 2018

I didn't realize that it had been ten days since my last Notebook entry as that time period seemed to go by fast, especially for the off season when it seems like days go on forever as I map out my first potential races for the season. A successful business trip to Montana also made the time fly by as it was my first visit to Big Sky country and I hope to go back sometime this summer. Who knows, maybe even catch a dirt track race while enjoying the magnificent beauty of the state!

During my return trip I was tipped off to some news that was very tempting to share, but since it had not yet been confirmed I did not want to put it here on the Back Stretch. I do my best to NOT be a rumor mill, or someone who will put something out there just to be "first" with the news because more often than not that first look at something ends up changing in one form or another and that was the case with this tidbit. In fact, after a full week, it is not even resolved to a point where it can be reported and has even evolved back to a situation where it is not even that newsworthy. So how do you like that for a tease?

Bottom line, if you want rumors or other "gotcha" type scoops there are plenty of outlets around to find them other than the Back Stretch. I believe that the new term for it is "fake news"?

I could have scooped the announcement of the new promoters at the Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City as I knew a few days in advance of this well written introduction, but there was no reason to do so. While several will continue to look at this as a war between the USRA and IMCA, I stand by what I wrote here twenty days ago. This is the beginning of a trend where Fair boards are wanting to step back out of the business of promoting races, and the financial risks that go with them, and go back to leasing their facilities to promoters. It was no surprise that hometown boy Todd Staley presented the best proposal including a rules package that will allow each and every car that raced at the track in 2017 the opportunity to compete there again this year with minor changes at most. Of course the argument is that while no changes are needed to the IMCA cars to race, will they actually be competitive with a car running the actual USRA rules, or those rules with the restrictions required in the Modifieds. Well I guess that remains to be seen, but I want to remind those of you who will be paying close attention to this. If another driver beats your driver, it might not be because of the rules, it might be because that guy was a better driver or had a better prepared race car on that night.

I first found out that the Webster City track would be going to Staley while I was sitting in the Denver airport last Thursday. Shortly after that I saw the press release about the Sports Park Raceway in nearby Fort Dodge achieving their goal of becoming IMCA sanctioned. Coincidence? The timing of it, no, but from what I have seen through tracking their results in 2017 and the general buzz about the facility on social media I would say that Fort Dodge deserved to become an IMCA sanctioned facility after making that one of their goals last year. Congratulations to promoters Marty Pringle, Jason VanSickle and Dave Doughty.

Of course with Webster City having been a weekly track for IMCA Late Models, the change in promoter makes a change in rules (Staley will go with the SLMR rules originated by Joe Kosiski at I-80) and perhaps a ripple effect on other tracks that plan to have Late Models on the schedule at least part time in 2018. Fort Dodge ran the class unsanctioned weekly, or close to it, in 2017 but in their announcement last week there was no mention of the Late Model division. Some follow up questions on Facebook have the track answering that Late Models will not run weekly and that they are discussing when and what they will do with them. It will be interesting now to see what tracks like Marshalltown and Vinton will do in regard to the Late Model division as they now become the "western representation" of the IMCA sanctioning for the class with the Saturday night tracks that used to feed them, Independence and Webster City now going to the broader set of rules. Both had Deery Brothers Summer Series events on their schedules, June 5th at Marshalltown and June 28th at Vinton. History shows that the Deery schedule is released during the final days of January so it will be interesting to see if those two events are still included when the full schedule is released.

I guess my uninformed opinion would be this. If you make or keep your Late Model IMCA legal for 2018 it will give you the opportunity to race at all IMCA events plus any of the events that are staged under the SLMR or Farley Race Promotions rules package because after all, the advantage that those rules are touting is that your car will still be competitive with cars that have open motors, steel blocks, crates, etc. You can even run your car with some restrictions at Donnellson against the UMP Crates whereas if you do not make your Late Model where it can be IMCA legal, then you preclude yourself from any IMCA sanctioned races including the Deery Series events.

Anyway, I am sure that this has been a tumultuous off season at IMCA in regard to this division, but I must say that the whole thing intrigues me and, along with more MLRA and World of Outlaws shows in the state this year I am again excited when it comes to Late Model racing. Hope you are too!

Speaking of the World of Outlaws Late Models the tour has added yet another rookie-of-the-year hopeful in Georgia's Tyler Millwood. The 2017 Ultimate Southeast Series champion qualified well against stout competition at the Gateway Dirt Nationals, but then struggled during racing action. He will get a chance to kick things off in his home state on February 9th when the Outlaws open the season at Screven Motor Speedway. One driver that will not return to the tour on a full-time basis is Frank Heckenast Jr. who is still dealing with a concussion that he suffered last October.

Mega promoter Cody Somer made some big news again yesterday when he announced that Midgets would be added to the 2018 Gateway Dirt Nationals at the Dome in St. Louis. The press release stated that both the Midgets and the Modifieds would be on an invitation only basis for 2018 while the Late Model entries would be capped at 150. If I recall, it was about this time last year where it was announced that for the 2017 event Modified drivers would have to qualify through a series of designated events throughout that season. That never happened though as last month's Modified roster looked to be a list of whoever wanted to pay the Entry Fee and compete. It will be interesting to see how the invitation process works for 2018.

Florida/Georgia Speed Weeks action kicked off last night with the Modifieds taking center stage at East Bay Raceway as Wisconsin's Kevin "Buzzy" Adams scored the win over a field of 43 cars. Floridians Bryan Bernhardt and Mark Whitener joined Adams on the podium. If you are headed down that way you can pretty much go racing nearly every night through February 24th. Obviously that kind of schedule is very high on my list for my ten-year retirement plan.

I have noticed that there is one person on the forum boards who always seems to have a reason to be pessimistic about something. The "Debbie Downer of Racing" Is that you?

As I continue to build the Special Events schedule at Positively Racing I am amused by the tracks that will release a "Tentative Race Schedule" and state that a lot of things may change over the next few weeks. Really? It's January, why don't you just wait until all of those potential "changes" are nailed down and then release your schedule? That is why you see the disclaimer at the top because if a track makes a schedule change to their original release that we do not catch, well now whose fault is that?

The Monett Motor Speedway released their 2018 schedule this past week and much to the chagrin of many on Facebook it no longer includes weekly racing for Late Models and A-Modifieds. New owners took over the place in 2017 and obviously they found that the track could no longer support the purses for the two premier divisions so they are making a business decision that they feel will allow them to continue to put on races rather than just closing the place down. And in Missouri, where the tracks are fewer and farther between than they are here in our neck of the woods, I would hope that a real race fan would appreciate that. The new Cash Money Late Model Series will be there on opening night April 15th. Monett will host a showdown between the Southern Outlaw Late Model Series and the ULMA Late Models on May 27th and the MLRA Late Models will headline the 4-State Dirt Track Championships on September 2nd. As my Mother would often say, "Quit your bitching!"

Finally, after meeting many people whose lives were effected by kidney disease during my four year run as the director of the NKF Heartland Tour for a Cure, it really warms my heart to see that racer Chris Luloff was finally able to get a kidney transplant this week. The surgery went well and Chris is now going through the process of getting his new kidney to adapt to his body. You can wish him well on the Facebook page A Kidney for Chris.

Have a great weekend, the month of January is nearly in the books and we can start dreaming about possibly making a road trip or two to an early season special.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Notebook: January 15, 2018

Yes, in the middle of January, it was still a big weekend for dirt track racing as the open wheel fans had the mid-winter mega event, The Chili Bowl, while Late Model fans had the triple header conclusion to the Wild West Shootout.

I had the Tivo set up to record the Chili Bowl as I went to Burlington to watch third-ranked Indian Hills throttle Southeastern Community College (Tony Paris would be proud) and I watched the MavTV coverage once I returned home. It looked as though we were going to be treated to a showdown between two of the brightest stars in the sport, but when the engine on Kyle Larson's car went up in smoke that left Christopher Bell all alone out front to claim his second straight Golden Driller trophy.

It is amazing how the Chili Bowl just keeps on growing and that growth will now make it a six night event in 2019 as announced by promoter Emmett Hahn this week. The Wednesday through Saturday reserved seats are next to impossible to come by now and even Tuesday was nearing a sell out, so if you have never been to the Chili Bowl before now would be a good time to snap up tickets for Monday and Tuesday to get your midget fix. I know that it will be something that Morgan and I will consider for next year.

Of course that trip might get aced out by a return trip to Arizona to catch the 2019 edition of the Wild West Shootout. I have been to the event twice while it was held in Tucson, but after watching highlights from this year's racing at the Arizona Speedway in Queens Creek I am itching to go out west again next January, especially since I have friends who have offered me a place to stay! For some great reporting from all six nights in the desert please visit my Positively Racing colleague Ed Reichert's blog "One Fan's Travels" and he will give you the details while I offer up a few observations here.

Leading up to the mini-series the assumption seemed to be that Bobby Pierce would collect some Keyser Manufacturing bonus money, but the question was how much? Would he win all six nights? Five, four? Surely he would at least earn an extra $10,000 by winning three and so the expectations were high for the young driver from Illinois in his debut with the Dunn Benson team. After finishing twelfth on opening night Pierce was leading late on night number two only to be stunned by the defending WISSOTA National Champion Don Shaw who took advantage of a slight bobble by Pierce in the closing laps to take the win. That all came after a thrilling back and forth battle between Pierce and opening night winner Ricky Weiss where contact between the two sent Weiss sliding through the exit gate going into turn one.

Pierce would finish second to Shaw again on Wednesday night, take third behind Mike Marlar and Weiss on Friday before closing out the weekend with a twelfth place finish on Saturday and a seventh place run in Sunday's finale. While it wasn't the performance that many expected out of Pierce, the six days in Arizona will no doubt payoff as he gained experience with his new team before the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series gets underway in just under three weeks in southeast Georgia.

Nobody would have predicted that the drivers shooting for the Keyser bonus would have been Weiss and Shaw. Weiss too is a former WISSOTA Late Model National Champion and spent last year racing regionally in Tennessee. The young Canadian definitely turned heads with his consistently strong performances in Arizona and if not for the DNF after his scuffle with Pierce he would have likely been the mini-series point champion. It will be interesting to see what kind of schedule that he will now follow for 2018 as a check of his website shows it as blank for now. Shaw is a veteran driver form Minnesota whose trucking company even sponsored the finale and for the past several years he has raced in Arizona both before, and after the regular season back home with building success. Will this week encourage him to venture out on the road more in 2018, or will he be the odds on favorite to repeat his WISSOTA title?

Former USMTS Modified regular Cade Dillard had a solid week as it seemed like he was always in contention. In fact it looked as though he had Wednesday's race well in hand before a skirmish with a lapped car put him into the wall and ended his night. He came back strong though to finish second and fifth in the final two nights to propel him into his first full year of Late Model action. Now we wait to see what his plans are as well, but you can bet that you will see the young driver from Louisiana in victory lane soon.

Another name that caught my attention, mainly because I had never heard of him before was Mike Maresca who pulled all the way down from Potsdam, New York. A twenty-two year old big block Modified driver who, according to his website did not score a win last season, Maresca failed to qualify his first night out on Sunday and then steadily gained speed making the remaining four shows and posting his best finish in the finale where he finished eighth. Just a week or two earlier Maresca had wheeled a micro sprint indoors during the Tulsa Shootout.

Iowa was well represented as Chris Simpson, Justin Kay, Jason Rauen and Ryan Gustin were all in Late Model competition. Simpson had taken the lead from Weiss in the opener only to have Weiss find a better line late to regain the lead leaving Chris with a runner-up finish. Simpson would also finish fourth during the Friday night program. Kay qualified for five of the six main events, but his best finish was a 16th while Rauen made the main event in the finale where he finished 14th. Earl Pearson Jr. drove Jason's #98 during Friday night's program and he finished fifth. Gustin who has had success at this event before winning the big money finale in Tucson a few years back made a solid return to the seat of the Gressel Racing Late Model posting two top-fives in four feature starts.

Again I urge you to visit One Fan's Travels for more details and for news on the Modifieds and X-Mods as well. Dirt track racing will essentially take a two week break now before the Georgia/Florida Speed Weeks action gets underway.

I was disappointed to see this story online last night where essentially the Southern Iowa Fair Board has thrown in the towel on racing in Oskaloosa for 2018. The track has operated the last few seasons with the board taking the financial risk and they have every right to back away and state that they no longer want to do that if they feel that there is "no profit" in it. However, there is one line in the story that I don't understand where fair board member Shawn VanEngelenhoven is quoted as saying "we've not got anything on paper, except from our existing promoter gave us a written bid. Otherwise nobody's come forward with any bids"

So doesn't that mean that you have a written bid? That existing promoter is Mike VanGenderen who has been a paid employee for the past few years, but who has now put in a bid to lease the track and take the financial risk himself. So yes Mr. VanEngelenhoven, you do have a bid, but from what I have been told you have not even responded to that bid. I would think that for the racers and the fans as well as the community itself that benefits from the dollars that comes into Oskaloosa every Wednesday night during racing season, you would want to sit down with VanGenderen and try to negotiate an agreement that both parties would find beneficial.

Mr. VanEngelenhoven, Mr. VanGenderen. Mr. VanGenderen, Mr. VanEgelenhoven. There, I have made the introductions, now get together and discuss. I'll be happy to serve as a mediator if you will will allow somebody with only five letters in his name into the room.

Another track that has been operated by a fair board lately, the Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City had a January 15th deadline, today, to receive bids from interested promoters and my source tells me that at last check they only had one. And, since this is Martin Luther King Jr. Day there is no mail service, so......

I haven't mentioned the Open Trailer Nationals in the past few entries on the Back Stretch. Will we get enough of a ground swell to convince a promoter to take a chance? Send in a pic of your car on an Open Trailer today. Okay, well maybe not an actual picture from today, it's too damn cold to be outside, but soon!

Thanks for checking in!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Monday Notebook: January 8, 2018

It was an interesting weekend of racing, even with just two events on the schedule as there was enough action to dust off a Monday edition of the Notebook.

Let's start with the Ice Bowl first as, no surprise, the Super Late Model winner Michael Page went flag-to-flag for the win on Sunday evening at the Talladega Short Track. It was the second Ice Bowl win in a row for Page, the first time that anybody has done that since Kenny Merchant nearly two decades ago. Even though he went the distance hugging the bottom of the 1/3-mile oval there a appeared to be a second line to the track allowing for at least one driver to make a big run, but I am getting ahead of myself.

The notebook worthy items actually happened in each of the first two heat races on Saturday. The event uses the classic "time 'em and start the fast guys in front" format with the first heat race winner earning the pole for the feature and the second heat race winner lining up on the outside of row one for the finale so essentially this event is usually "won" during the first two heats on Saturday. In heat one Billy Ogle Jr. raced to the lead from the pole with John Ownbey chasing and on lap two as Ownbey tried to pass on the outside in turn four he hooked the right rear of Ogle and spun him sideways in front of the field. The caution waved, but when they came back for the restart neither driver, Ownbey or Ogle had been penalized. Things that make you go hmmmmm....

Ownbey would come back to complete the pass on the outside late in the race to take the win and sit on the pole for Sunday. In the second heat Michael Page had things well in hand leading from the drop of the green after starting from the pole position, but when a caution waved late in the race that brought the field back to him. On the restart veteran driver Ronnie Johnson got a big run on the high side and took the lead down the back stretch. His advantage was almost a full car length entering turn three where Page kept his foot on the gas, pushed up the race track and made hard contact with the right front of Johnson's car. Had RJ not been there to bank off of, Page likely would have driven over the top of turn four, but he was able to straighten it out, regain the lead and go on to win while Johnson faded to fourth in the final laps due to the damage sending him to a Last Chance race on Sunday.

Oh what might have been! Johnson advanced from his qualifier to start 20th on the feature grid and he would race his way all the way up to fifth at the checkers as Page took the win ahead of Jason Hiett, Ownbey and Ogle Jr. What surprised me was how mellow Johnson was regarding the incident on Saturday even congratulating Page with a smile in victory lane on Sunday. Johnson did get a $3,000 win in the Crate Late Model feature where, of course, he started on the pole and led every lap.

The reaction to a "that's racing" incident was not the same last night (Sunday) at the Wild West Shootout in Arizona where young talent Bobby Pierce and Ricky Weiss had a dust up while racing for the lead. The two were putting on an amazing show for several laps, throwing sliders at each other with no contact, but on lap 23 of the 40-lap main event Pierce stumbled just a bit on the cushion in turn four and that allowed Weiss to race under him coming down the front stretch. After several looks of the video on Dirt On Dirt it appears that Weiss came up the track before he had Pierce cleared and the contact sent Ricky for a spin down the rest of the straightaway and through the exit gate at the top of turn one. Weiss did make contact with an implement tire guarding the entrance ending his night and let's just say that he does not agree with my assessment of the incident vowing to pay back Pierce somewhere down the line.

On the restart Mike Marlar challenged Pierce for a few laps until Don Shaw made his way into second. The defending WISSOTA Late Model National Champion then chased Pierce over the closing laps as the track changed yet again to a line through the middle and when Pierce again stumbled in turn four with four laps remaining Shaw made the pass for the lead and the win. It was the second night in a row that a former WISSOTA National Champion had scored the win as Weiss was victorious in the Saturday opener taking the lead back from Chris Simpson after Simpson had snared it from him earlier.

Saying that a guy who won 34 features in 2017 is a "surprise" is kind of difficult, but Shaw does not yet have the star power that several of the drivers who finished behind him have. Most who are not familiar with the Ham Lake, Minnesota, driver might only remember him as the guy that Shane Clanton took out when this event was still held down in Tucson in 2016 and then blamed it on the passing points method of doing lineups. Sadly, that was the last year that the event used passing points. In Modified action from the desert Ricky Thornton Jr and Stormy Scott are your first two winners while Iowan Justin Kay finished fifth on Saturday night.

Don't forget that you can watch the remaining four events from Arizona, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday on a Pay Per View basis on Dirt On Dirt.

A couple of notes from 34 Raceway where they announced today that the Four Cylinder class will now be IMCA sanctioned Sport Compacts. The division has run non-sanctioned for the past several years. Also, the September 22nd Mod Lite Nationals event is also listed as the "Grand Daddy" where all five divisions that night (Mod Lites, Modifieds, Stock Cars, Sport Mods and Sport Compacts) will be racing for $1,000 or a "Grand" to win.

One week to have your proposal in to the Hamilton County Fair Board, one week remaining! And the Southern Iowa Fair Board in Oskaloosa meets tonight where hopefully they will at least discuss the possibility of racing.

That's all for now, my prediction for tonight: Alabama 21 and Georgia 10 in what for me at least is the most uninspiring National Championship game that I can remember. If it gets out of hand early I will be switching over to watch The Bachelor where twenty-five beautiful women are chasing one race car driver. Enjoy your week!