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 All-Star Pro Late Models Presented by PPM Racing Products
What stood to you from this busy Labor Day racing weekend?
Richard: I am going to begin with the race you and I attended this weekend which was the Hunt the Front Dirt Racing Series show at Rome Speedway on Saturday night. Up until the halfway point, the feature was going pretty much the way most follows of the sport would have expected which was Dale McDowell leading and appearing to be on his way to a dominant $15,000 victory. However, things turned a bit crazy when his car suddenly slowed allowing Ashton Winger and Zack Mitchell to pass.
As was reported in our follow-up story from that race, there was confusion as to exactly why the caution had come out and where to position the leaders for the restart. But it wasn’t the unusual circumstances that stood out to me. Rather, the fact that McDowell was able to compose himself and still drive back the lead(aided by Winger’s flat tire) to score the win that got my attention.
Apart from that, the post heat race interview given by Logan Roberson after he beat out Hudson O’Neal and Ricky Thornton Jr. to get the win in a Hillbilly Hundred preliminary was one I will remember for a while. He told the FloRacing cameras that, “We can load up and we could go home right now, my dreams are fulfilled. I just hope everybody gets to live for this moment when it comes in their life.” That was a great interview.
Michael: A couple of things stood out to me.
One, the Hunt The Front race was one of the stranger things I have seen in a while. Not being able to hear the P.A. system, I wasn’t sure what was going on at the time. Then, hearing McDowell’s post-race comments and others in victory lane cleared up what had happened but didn’t make the situation clear. They say if you’re involved in something for a long period of time that you’ll see almost anything. I can say that was a first for me.
Two, it looks like Brandon Sheppard is coming back to form with his recent wins. While Bobby Pierce continues to lead the World of Outlaws points, Sheppard is going to make it interesting these last two months.
Is Jonathan Davenport on his way to being the Jonathan Davenport we have grown accustomed to?
Richard: I know the Hillbilly Hundred was just one race but in a season in which we have heard so much about Ricky Thornton Jr. and Bobby Pierce, it was easy to kind of forget other top stars like Jonathan Davenport. Yes, he won the Dirt Late Model Dream earlier this season at Eldora Speedway, but other than that, we have not seen him tally the number of big money wins we have been used to seeing from the Lance Landers-owned No. 49 team.
Had there not been a couple of late-race cautions in the Hillbilly, he might have lapped up through the top-5. It was one of the most dominate performances we have seen this season in a big race, including those by the drivers mentioned above.
With Eldora and the World 100 on the docket for this weekend, momentum may have swung back in Davenport’s favor at just the right time. And that’s not to mention the stretch drive for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series that will take the championship hopefuls to the finale in the Dirt Track World Championship at Eldora.
I don’t know if Davenport is “back” but I know if I were one of the other drivers I would have taken notice at Tyler County.
Michael: Thornton and Pierce have had the two best seasons with probably Hudson O’Neal just behind them. But I think Davenport is on the verge of surpassing O’Neal. Davenport has more bigger wins and seems to be getting closer to where he was last year. With two marquee events coming up at Eldora, Davenport might catch the top two.
What is your prediction for the World 100?
Richard: Whenever you think of a big race at Eldora the names of Jonathan Davenport and Brandon Overton have to come to mind. And with good reason as those two have had quite a run on Dirt Late Model racing’s most well known track over the past few years. However, I am going to look in a different direction for a winner.
Of course, drivers such as Tim McCreadie, Bobby Pierce, Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hudson O’Neal will be in the mix but I am predicting that Dale McDowell will claim the Globe Trophy in the end.
McDowell is always good at Eldora and he has been very steady all season, coming up big in some of the higher paying races. He was very strong in winning the recent Topless 100 at Batesville Motor Speedway and that is the same Team Zero Race Car his Shane McDowell Racing team will be employing at ‘The Big E’.
Michael: I’m always going to pick Davenport as long as he has the firm grip on the place he has now. When he isn’t winning, Overton is usually the guy. The way Pierce and Thornton have run this season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see either one of them win. I’m sticking with Davenport to win with Mike Marlar as my dark horse pick.
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