Turn 2 Blog: Are there too many SpeedWeeks races? & Who deserved more attention?

*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

How potent does the Hudson O’Neal/Rocket 1 combination have the potential to be?

Richard: To answer that question with one simple word- very.

Everyone knows what this Mark Richards-led team can do. Their track record with drivers Josh Richards and Brandon Sheppard speaks for itself. The No. 1 Rocket Chassis house car has piled up scores of wins and championships over the years. And based on early returns, that type of success could very well continue for this operation with Hudson O’Neal.

O’Neal’s run from 23rd to the win in Saturday night’s World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series feature at Volusia Speedway Park was something to behold.

The only thing that could prevent O’Neal from putting up similar numbers as Richards and Sheppard could be the current level of competition in Dirt Late Model racing. There has never been a time in this sport in which there are so many drivers and teams capable of winning major races on any given night. That said, this combination has the potential to be one that could separate itself from the pack.

I don’t think what happened during Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks was some sort of fluke.

Hudson O’Neal

Michael: We knew the Rocket team would not sit idly by and let Longhorn dominate the sport. They race to win and to sell more cars. Adding a young driver like O’Neal, and somebody who has primarily driven a Rocket car, is something that already had loads of potential.

I think the speed at which things have come together is something that has been a bit of a surprise to some. Once O’Neal got that first win, they have become the team to beat once again.

Like you said, the competition is stout and there will be some hiccups, especially once they get into the grind of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.

Name a driver or team who should have gotten more attention during SpeedWeeks than they did?

Richard: I am going to pick two drivers who showed flashes of speed during qualifying and/or heat races but were never quite able to make things work out during the features. There were times early in race nights in which Brian Shirley, driving a Team Zero Race Car, was very fast. The driver perhaps most known for his prowess on the DIRTcar Summer Nationals posted some very good qualifying efforts and preliminary race runs. Unfortunately, that speed did carry over to the features as often as the Chatham, Illinois native and his team would have liked.

Chris Ferguson was involved in the move to put Shirley in the No. 8 Team Zero ride and the potential for success appeared to be there. Often times, finding speed is more difficult than getting that early speed to translate to the feature so they have conquered the more difficult aspect if there are to be more runs in this ride.

The other driver I will mention here is young Blair Nothdurft. South Dakota is not a location one might commonly think of as the home for a Late Model driver but he made a good account of himself during Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks, like Shirley, during the early parts of the evening on several occasions. And that seemed to be more and more true as SpeedWeeks rolled along. I would like to see how this young man can do in a more extended time period against top competition.

Blair Nothdurft

Michael: I think Wil Herrington had a good showing for himself. He didn’t run Volusia, but ran well considering he doesn’t have a lot of experience racing against the biggest names in the sport. The young Georgia driver has been steadily improving.

Are there too many races during Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks?

Richard: As anyone who knows me can attest, I could watch racing 365 days per year. The more, the better as far as I am concerned. Granted, I do not work for a race team and I do not cover every race in person so my opinion on the matter may be different than that of those who in fact do those things. However, I do not believe there are too many races during SpeedWeeks.

As far as the teams are concerned, no one forces them to race every night. For those who plan to run the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, they only have to run those races so they can choose not to run the others or pick-and-choose as they like. The same is true for those who plan on tackling the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series as they only have to run those events and the rest are optional.

As for those with secondary roles, there are other lines of work besides those related to racing.

Michael: Yes, I think there are too many races. The January races at Volusia are not really needed since teams go there for a few nights knowing they’ll be back there in another month. It doesn’t make a lot of financial sense to go there in January. Since when is Dirt Late Model racing based in financial success?!?

The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series continues to add races, part of which is them trying to figure out which tracks would be a suitable replacement for East Bay when that track closes for good. The question there is once East Bay is closed, will the schedule be scaled down a bit.

Please consider also reading:

Hudson O’Neal charges to Volusia finale victory

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