*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.
The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American Crate All-Star Series.
Name a driver, other than Jonathan Davenport, who has impressed you recently.
Richard: Dale McDowell doesn’t race as often as many Dirt Late Model stars nor does he follow a particular series but that hasn’t kept him from being highly effective recently. In the last nine races he has entered, he has scored three wins and three other podium finishes. And those runs have included a pair of third-place efforts in the last two crown jewel events(North-South 100 & Topless 100).
At 56-years-old, a person is supposed to be slowing down in life, but the opposite is proving to be true for ‘Mac Daddy’. And consider that it was just about one year ago that McDowell revealed he would have to end his season abruptly after having been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
It’s easy to get caught up in the Davenport domination but Dale McDowell has definitely impressed over the past few weeks.
And I’m going to cheat a bit here. I know the question asks for one driver but I’m going to add another. With us being based in east Tennessee, I feel like a mention of Maryville, Tennessee driver Jason Welshan is appropriate here. He won his third Crate Racin’ USA feature this weekend at Senoia (GA) Raceway and added to his lead with that series in the standings.
Jonathan Davenport is on a roll the likes of which have rarely been seen but there are others who are running well.
Michael: Hudson O’Neal has been turning his season around over the last month or so. He has 4 wins in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and a MARS race. He’s come close in a couple of other races including nearly winning Saturday’s Topless 100. One could argue he’s been the top Rocket Chassis driver over the last 6 weeks.
Another driver is Ashton Winger. Since departing the G.R. Smith team, he’s teamed up with Big Frog Motorsports and has already won two races – an Iron Man race at Talladega last week and a ULMS race at Lernerville.
Now that we are in the second half of the season, what is an improvement you would like to see made in dirt racing?
Richard: One aspect of dirt racing that I would like to see improved is getting race nights started at the advertised time. It seems to never fail that a track will advertise hot laps to begin at a certain time(say 6:30) and a look at the track at that time reveals that the racing surface is no where near ready for hot laps. Few other businesses could get away with that practice.
I understand that track preparation can not always be something that goes by a schedule, but this is not something that happens at just one track or is a rare thing. It happens at a majority of the tracks I go to and at a majority of events. It’s an industry wide issue.
If a track knows that the track cannot be made ready until 7:00 or 7:30 then don’t advertise that hot laps will begin at 6:00 or 6:30. It’s just my personality that I not only tend to be on time to most appointments, but early. It is an irritation to me when things don’t get started when they are supposed to.
Michael: I was involved in a Facebook discussion over the weekend where a group of people discussed drivers complaining about classes that do the hot laps/qualifying combo. More tracks are going to this using it as a reason to save time. I understand the issues on both sides. For a weekly show, this format should not be used unless things are running behind due to a rain delay.
In this discussion, many of us discussed how tracks in east Tennessee used to have heat races for these classes. Somewhere, a track changed this and now all of them qualify everyone. As we have discussed before, fans pay money to see racing, not 2-3 hours of hot laps and qualifying. Tracks really should change this, especially if they want to get more fans in the stands.
Preview an upcoming event for this weekend.
Richard: I’m interested to see how the Valvoline Iron-Man Late Model Series race goes this weekend at Lake Cumberland Speedway. In particular, I want to see how young Eli Beets performs in that race. The Knoxville driver has won multiple times there already this season on the clay surface located in Burnside, Kentucky but this event will be a bit different.
The Harold Hardgrove Memorial will pay $10,022 to its winner which is more than the races Beets has previously won. That, of course, means there is likely to be a stronger field on hand. Many drivers who have been successful in this sport will tell you that winning that first $10,000 Super Late Model feature is a big deal. I’m going to be watching to see whether or not Beets can accomplish that feat so early in his career.
Michael: Wartburg Speedway is hosting the Dylan Kennedy Memorial on Saturday. The race was rained out a couple of weeks ago. The Kennedy family put on this event and have increased the purse to $10,037 to win for the Limited Late Models. They have a lot of people putting up various bonuses. The race is a labor of love for the Kennedy family. I’ll be curious to see how many drivers race in this event.
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