*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.
Richard: I have to admit that when I first heard about Blount Motorsports considering young Donald McIntosh as the driver to replace Billy Ogle, Jr. in their car, I was a bit pessimistic. I had seen the Dawsonville, GA native drive in several races for his family team and believed he had talent. But at the same time, I thought he was a bit young and inexperienced for one of the better regional rides around.
Boy, have I been proven wrong. After a few less than stellar starts in the car during the fall of 2014, McIntosh closed that season in the Larry Garner owned machine with a commanding win at Boyd’s Speedway. And that seems to have provided the confidence boost he needed.
The soon to be 22-year-old has become a Dirt Late Model force in the southeast. He won ‘The Hangover’ at 411 Motor Speedway on New Year’s Day, ran in the top-5 at the ‘Ice Bowl’ at Talladega Short Track and the ‘Cabin Fever’ at Boyd’s Speedway.
But perhaps McIntosh’s most impressive performances to date in the BMS car came against the toughest Late Model competition in the country when he scored two top-10 results during the opening weekend for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at Golden Isles Speedway.
Now, the young sensation has added another victory to his resume with an Ultimate Super Late Model Series conquest at North Georgia Speedway.
Did you see any of this success coming so soon?
Michael: I thought McIntosh would see some success, but I thought it would be a bit down the road. I was really impressed with his ability when he ran in the Spring Nationals last year. He followed that up with a good campaign in the Southern Nationals.
I didn’t know how long it would take for him to gel with that team. David Bryant told me as much in the fall when they picked him for the ride. He struggled a bit when he first took over, but they also got a new car. That may have something to do with their current success. Last year’s car didn’t produce many good results regardless of who was driving it.
Richard: I believe you hit on one key in the team’s recent success, and that is crew chief David Bryant. He, along with crew member B.J. Hillman, are as good as any you will find on any team, whether it be a regional operation or one of the big national touring series outfits.
Those guys enjoyed great success with Ogle, who won a Lucas Oil event in Bulls Gap as well as multiple other features during his time in the ride. They have also kept BMS’s other driver, Tommy Kerr, running near the front of most fields, even in only a limited number of starts each year.
Like you, I thought that wins were in McIntosh’s future, but just not quite this soon. That combination of crew talent with a this young driver has certainly shown that Mr. Garner did a good job in choosing his new pilot.
And speaking of this team, the time has come for the Spring Nationals. BMS won this title last season with Ogle and now will look to do it again with McIntosh. The Ray Cook promoted series is scheduled to kick off this weekend at the Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn. with a pair of races on Friday and Saturday nights.
Cook’s Southern Nationals has made itself into a must see event each summer, and now the Spring version of the mini-tour seems to be in the process of doing the same with a strong event lineup that is likely to draw the talents of some of the region’s and the nation’s top names.
Cook has really hit on something with these short mini-series setups, hasn’t he?
Michael: Ray has done a great job of putting together both series and making each one unique enough to have interest in both. The Southern Nationals is great because of 10 races packed into a two-week period. But I also like the Spring Nationals because all races are on weekends that are spread out over two months.
When Ray started the Spring Nationals two years ago, I really thought it would take away from the Southern Nationals. That hasn’t been the case so far. I know a number of drivers run both, and that helps a lot. But there are a few that will run one or the other for various reasons.
One improvement has been adding a dash race for the fast qualifiers. That mixes things up a bit to get it away from what most fans hate and that’s straight up starts. Personally, I’d like to see Delaware restarts used just to keep things from getting so strung out so quickly, especially on the bigger tracks.
Richard: In cases of Donald McIntosh as a driver and the Spring Nationals as a series, I think it is safe to say that both are exceeding the expectations many initially held for them.