Those who are intrigued by close points battles have been a bit spoiled over the past two seasons by the national touring series that sanction Dirt Late Model races.
In 2017 the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series came down to a tight three-way battle that was decided when Josh Richards beat out Tim McCreadie and Scott Bloomquist to secure the championship in the Dirt Track World Championship at the final race of the season. Last year Mike Marlar claimed the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series crown after he, Brandon Sheppard and Chris Madden entered the final weekend of the campaign at the World Finals with each having a shot at emerging from that two-day event with the title.
No such drama awaits either series as the 2019 season winds toward a conclusion.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series heads into Georgia this weekend for a two-race set at Dixie Speedway and Rome Speedway before the season ending Dirt Track World Championship takes place on the clay surface of Portsmouth Raceway Park in Ohio on October 19th. Jonathan Davenport holds a 445 point advantage over second place Tim McCreadie with those three races remaining.
With the the LOLMDS doling out 200 points to the winner of each feature, the ‘Fast 49’ would still hold the lead in the standings going into the DTWC if he were to take this weekend completely off and McCreadie were to win at both Dixie and Rome. So for all intents and purposes, Davenport has essentially assured himself of a third Lucas Oil title.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series has two features remaining on its schedule which will be played out at The Dirt Track in Charlotte on November 8th & 9th in the World Finals. As the result of a dominating season that has seen him score 18 feature wins on this series alone, Brandon Sheppard has mathematically secured his second championship.
So with the points battles basically decided, is there any reason to continue paying attention to either national tour?
In the opinion of this writer, there are plenty of reasons to continue paying attention. With the titles in both series pretty much decided, all emphasis can now be placed solely on the races themselves. Everyone can go on track without the bother of racing for points and can instead focus on earning the biggest paycheck available for that night rather than a season-long situation that might cause a driver to conservatively ride around only with the intention of finishing 10th or 12th or some such position. There is no reason to be conservative or just ride.
It is never a bad thing for the events themselves to be at the center of attention.
Further, these final few races give those who are not winning a championship the opportunity to serve notice to those who will be crowned that next year will not be so easy. Building momentum by winning races now can carry over through the winter and lead to a successful Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks that will set the tone for 2020.
And of course, some drivers may be wanting to show potential new sponsors and/or teams that they can run up front and win races. While some may have plans for next season already finalized, others are still working on landing in the best possible situation for themselves going forward. That can provide extra incentive to go all out in these remaining events.
While the championships may be all but decided, there is still plenty to race for in 2019.