Monday, January 23, 2012

Wild West Wraps Up; Knoxville's Friday Night Improves

It is not often that I will tell you to keep an eye out for a certain driver and then they actually go out and win, so I do have to applaud Morgan Bagley on his victory in the finale of the Wild West Shootout on Sunday. The Longview, Texas, driver inherited the lead when Billy Moyer broke a rear end and then outran Tim McCreadie and John Anderson to take the win, his first on a “big stage” and likely not his last.

After making the feature the first two nights, the rest of the week did not go well for Justin Kay although he did just come up one spot short of making Sunday’s main event out of the third B-Main. Iowan Chris Simpson won that race and advanced along with Will Vaught, Steve Isenberg and Terry Phillips while Kay was fifth ahead of Shannon Babb. Look for Justin to parlay this pre-season experience into some big things back home this season!

Simpson was solid in the A-Main on Sunday15th and advancing to seventh at the checkers.

Kudos to Modified driver Brad Dierks who snared a fourth-place finish in Wednesday night’s show racing against some of the top drivers in the country.

Action now shifts to the southeast part of the country with a pair of non-sanctioned Late Model events this coming Saturday at North Florida Speedway in Lake City and at Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, Georgia. Then “Speedweeks” kicks into high gear on February 10th with Late Model racing just about every night in Georgia and then Florida through the 25th.

No trip south for me again this year due to one last tuition payment, but hopefully a return to Florida in 2013 will fit into the budget. The Lee County Speedway will be as far south as I go for a race in February with their race on the 11th and then in March a trip down to Springfield, Missouri, for the rescheduled Turkey Classic on the 10th is on the table. However, a run to the state championship game by the Mount Pleasant Panthers would just have to take precedence over that one if it happens!

I love the changes that have been made to the Friday night program at the Knoxville Nationals. The revised format will make a night that has in the past seen the feature winner earning the 11th starting spot in Saturday’s C-Main so much more exciting as now the top four in the Friday feature will start 17th through 20th in the Championship A-Main on Saturday. I do however wonder how a night of adverse weather will be handled as, in the past, a rainout on Wednesday, Thursday or even Friday would result in the “Friday” program being run during the day on Saturday, or in at least one case being run on a Sunday night after the Championship night was completed on Saturday. I would guess that the day race on Saturday would still be an option, but it would carry so much more significance now than it has in the past. And, either way, that is a good thing!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Notebook: January 15, 2012

Has the Wild West Shootout now pulled even with Speedweeks in Florida? Saturday night's opener in Tucson Arizona drew 69 Late Models and 57 Modifieds with plenty of marquee names sprinkled throughout. That car count for the Late Models just might be the highest you'll see in January and February this year especially with the Lucas Oil Late Model series and the World of Outlaws going head-to-head at East Bay and Bubba Raceway Park in Florida.

Billy Moyer parlayed a pole position start to take the Late Model victory followed by Will Vaught, Shannon Babb, Jimmy Mars and Tim McCreadie. Iowa drivers Chris Simpson and Justin Kay started on the front row of the sixth heat race, but Simpson was bumped from behind by another driver on the opening lap and had to restart from the rear. Kay then paced the field for the first few laps before Moyer muscled past him for the win and while Kay finished second his passing points put him into one of three B-Mains. Simpson fought his way back to fifth and he came from tenth to fifth in the third B to just miss the finale. Kay's third-place finish in the first B-Main started him 19th on the grid for the main event and he finished 11th in what I believe is his first venture to the south during Iowa's traditional offseason. Kay put on one of the best performances that I witnessed in 2011 when he rode the cushion from the back toward the front at Tipton and I am sure that he was thrilled with running so well on the first night in Tucson. Hopefully that will continue during this trip to Arizona and he can use this jump on the season to tally some wins back here in Iowa in 2012.

Terry Phillips made his debut in a Bloomquist chassis Saturday night, transferred from a B-Main, started 20th and finished 17th.

Keep an eye out for Morgan Bagley this year. The youngster out of Texas had a stellar rookie year in a Late Model in 2011 and he appears to be headed for bigger and better things quickly. Last night he finished eighth in the feature event.

Brad Diercks towed his Modified down to Arizona as well for the Shootout and he did not have a good opening night finishing 18th in the first B-Main. The Modified feature was won by Jason Hughes followed by Stormy Scott and Rodney Sanders. There are five more nights of action here on the schedule through Sunday January 22nd and if you would like to watch it live on pay per view visit

The Swindell family did it again at the Chili Bowl finishing one-two for the second straight year, an absolutely amazing accomplishment given that there were more than 260 entrants in Tulsa. Kevin Swindell was the first ever back-to-back winner when he edged out his papa Sammy last year and he made it three wins in a row last night when he went flag to flag for the victory. Kevin's streak of three in a row will be difficult for any driver to match in the future, but even less likely will be the streak of a son and his father finishing first and second two years in a row. That one, I predict, will never be matched.

The California phenom Kyle Larson was considered to be the only driver capable of beating the Swindells as he started next to Kevin in the front row, but the "NorCal Ninja" had to settle for third on this night. NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart both returned to their open wheel dirt track racing roots finishing ninth and tenth respectively. A.J. Fike of Galesburg Illinois who wheeled an IMCA Modified around the local tracks in southeast Iowa in 2011 made the show and finished 23rd.

The Chili Bowl feature was changed from 50-laps to 55 in honor of driver Donnie Ray Crawford. A preliminary night feature winner in 2011 from nearby Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Crawford was in competition again this week but was murdered by his grandfather on Saturday morning. His car number was 55.

I made the trip up to Cedar Rapids Saturday morning for the Simmons Promotions Racer's Auction and Trade Show and enjoyed catching up with some old friends and making a few new ones. We have had a bunch of people checking out the old racing photos that we have posted on the PositivelyRacing Facebook page this offseason, but if you want to check out a fantastic collection of old photos you need to visit with Doug Haack and or check out his website. It was also nice to see Kyle Ealy again who was thumbing through those photos with great interest as he does a spectacular job of keeping the history of our sport alive with his Midwest Racing Archives.

Four cylinder drivers and hobby stock drivers don't forget that you could be racing in just four more weeks on February 11th at the Lee County Speedway's "Break Ice, Not Hearts 50". Get your entries in early and you diehard race fans need to gather up your winter gear and get ready to tally that first race on your 2012 list!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

News Out of Bloomfield and Memphis and an Orange Bowl Beat Down

News out of two tracks in the tri-state area surfaced this morning on the forums at Heartland Motorsports. Former Modified driver Chris Eggers and his wife Cindy announced that they will be promoting weekly Saturday night races at the Bloomfield Speedway in 2012 beginning on April 14th. Modifieds, Sport Mods, Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks and Sport Compacts will compete weekly while the Knoxville rules 305 Sprint cars will make a few appearances during the season as well.

Chris gave me a call this morning and, after coming close to securing the reigns at Bloomfield before, you can tell that he is very excited to now have the opportunity to bring weekly racing back to the 3/8-mile oval on the Davis County Fairgrounds. He plans to run the IMCA-type rules and is looking forward to speaking with Brett Root about possibly sanctioning at least some of the weekly classes. With Oskaloosa running on Wednesday nights and Donnellson on Fridays, an IMCA sanction would give the Ottumwa/Bloomfield area drivers the opportunity to run for points three nights a week without traveling more than 75 miles one-way. It will be interesting to see what develops there.

There is also a post in the Scotland County Speedway forum this morning by Brandon Savage asking what kind of driver support he would get if the track would run a four to six night schedule in 2012. A Spring Special, the Fair race, the Fall Nationals and perhaps a couple more events would be contested on the 3/8-mile oval on the historic fairgrounds in Memphis, Missouri, if Savage receives positive feedback on the plan. The young Modified driver from Keokuk put on the promoter’s hat for the first time this past October and wore it well for the two night Fall Nationals program. He would plan on running a rules package similar to that event that allowed “open” and IMCA legal Modifieds to compete together. And in fact it was an IMCA car that swept both nights with J.D. Auringer taking the wins.

It was interesting that news from both tracks broke on the same day and it will be fun to watch the forums as everybody weighs in. I have enjoyed the racing over the years at both tracks and it is good to see that they won’t be pushing up weeds all year!

The 2012 dirt track season officially kicks off this weekend with the Annual Ice Bowl at the Talladega Short Track in Alabama. It looks like the unseasonably warm temps that we are seeing today will stick around down there as well, but it may be a little wet around the edges. This is an event that I have been able to attend five times and it is amazing the number of cars that it will draw in no matter what the conditions.

And speaking of drawing in cars no matter what the conditions, I am looking forward to seeing how the first ever “Break Ice, Not Hearts 50” goes at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson. The Four Cylinders will be running for $1,000-to-win on Saturday February 11th in the southeast corner of Iowa and you just never know, it might be sixty degrees and sunny just like it is here on January 5th. Hobby Stocks will run as well if they get enough entries.

Did you watch the Orange Bowl last night? West Virginia had 63 points on the board with more than nine minutes left in the third quarter! Coach Dana Holgorsen took the foot off the gas but a fourth quarter touchdown allowed the Mountaineers to set a new all-time bowl scoring record in their 70-33 win over Clemson. Since Holgorsen started learning his spread-style of offense in my huddle as the kids of Linden Heights played football in the vacant lot behind my parents home here in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, I took great pride in my contribution to the sport. Actually, since Dana was only about four or five at the time we would just send him deep on every play so that he would be out of the way. But the big kids had a heart, so the little guys would get to carry it once in awhile and we would always act like we couldn’t tackle them so they could score every time. It almost looked like Clemson was doing the same last night.

The first draft of the Special Events schedule is up on the Calendar page. Happy New Year, racing is only a few weeks away!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Racing Photos from the 1990's

Thanks to my partner Barry Johnson taking some time to scan in some more prints, we have just added 30 more pictures from the 1990's to the page on Facebook.

Happy New Year!