Turn 2 Blog: East Tennessee’s biggest race coming this weekend

*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 disappointing was this past weekend?

Richard: I do not take rainouts very well. And more, when a race is called off for weather related reasons and I can look out my window and see blue skies, like many fans, it makes my attitude even worse. But we live in a technological era in which people base decisions on forecasts rather than reality.

I understand that many factors go into the decision to cancel a race and technology plays a role in some of that. Fans and competitors will look at a forecast days ahead and announce on social media that they are not going to a race, and thus, force the promoter’s hand.

Since the touring series schedules were announced, the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series had planned to pay a two-day visit to the Boyd’s Speedway in Ringgold, GA which is a literal stones throw away from the Tennessee-Georgia state line. When a previously scheduled weekend at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN was postponed due to weather, an additional race was added to the weekend creating a three-day affair.

Thursday had been predicted to be and in fact was a great weather day. Rain had been forecasted for Friday while Saturday was supposed to be clear but cool. Those predictions proved to be accurate as it rained much of the day on Friday then turned clear and cold on Saturday.

It was announced on Wednesday night by officials that the entire weekend was cancelled. The argument that teams would have had to travel and not have gotten in a full weekend won’t satisfy some as there were two clear days which is all the original schedule called for anyway.

I found the decision to be not only disappointing, but ultimately, understandable. As some on social media stated, perhaps the series should not schedule races outside of the deep south in March.

Michael: Most people only see the weather in these situations and according to that only. For the promoter and the race teams, there is more into it than just the weather.

For the promoter, they have to evaluate what their attendance will be like with rain in the forecast or even some really cool temperatures. I don’t know what the contract called for between World of Outlaws and Boyd’s. If the track was obligated to hold their $20,000 to win race on Saturday regardless if the Friday race was held or not, that’s a big purse to pay out over one night. In talking to Riley Hickman, who preps Boyd’s and knows the inside of the track’s operation, he told me they do better by having both of those races.

As for the race teams, I’m sure they didn’t like the option of driving a number of hours to only have one race for the weekend knowing Boyd’s was cancelling their races. Many of the series’ regulars had to drive 6 or more hours to get to Tennessee. Keep in mind, it wasn’t that long ago the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series was faced with a similar situation. They had to travel to the upper Midwest for a Thursday race at one venue and a doubleheader at another venue. The forecast for the weekend races was not good, but had not been cancelled. The Thursday race took place and the other two races were rained out. Team owners were not thrilled with the decision. I’m sure a lot of that played into last week’s decision. The real loser in all of this was Smoky Mountain Speedway who had a great night for a race, but no race to hold.

Volunteer Speedway will be the site of a $100,000 event

How important is it that the focus of the dirt racing world will be on east Tennessee this weekend?

Richard: From the disappointment of one weekend to the anticipation of another. East Tennessee has so many great tracks that there always seems to be something big going on around the region. This weekend (March 24 & 25), the XR Super Series will sanction an event that will culminate on Saturday night with a $100,000-to-win feature at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, TN. It will be the biggest race in the history of this area in terms of the winner’s payout.

Although there are now more high paying races than there were a few years ago, a feature offering this amount can never be taken lightly. Whoever wins on Saturday night at Bulls Gap will have gone a long way toward making his season no matter what else happens.

As a result of that, there will be much attention focused here which will allow for others in different parts of the country to be exposed to Volunteer Speedway and to drivers who may race almost exclusively in this area. For example, many have heard of Cory Hedgecock but may not have been to or watched races that he has been in so they may be paying attention to him for the first time.

So yes, with this type of payout not being common for east Tennessee, this race will be huge for the track itself and the region.

Michael: The second through fourth years of The Scorcher at Volunteer Speedway were some of the biggest races this area has seen in regards to the caliber of drivers that raced in those races. This year’s Spring Thaw should attract every big-name driver in the sport, if the weather cooperates.

It wasn’t long ago that Volunteer Speedway looked like it had seen its last race. Under the leadership of Vic Hill, the Spring Thaw looks to be THE biggest race this area has seen not to mention the Kyle Larson Challenge that took place last year and is coming up in a few weeks.

What are your feelings on the use of true double-file restarts vs the more common Delaware Double-File Restarts?

Richard: In the press release that announced the penalties for the issues that took place at Florida’s Southern Raceway, the Southern All-Stars Dirt Racing Series added a note that reaffirmed that regional series use of true double-file restarts in which the leader gets lane choice but the second-place driver is allowed to pull up alongside the front runner. This is a bit different from the so-called ‘Delaware Double-File Restart’ in which the leader restarts following a caution period on a row by himself with the second and third cars side-by-side just behind.

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series also uses true double-file restarts and, of course, all of NASCAR’s top divisions employ this method as well.

I think I like the move. In reality, one of the two second row cars seems to find its way very close to a side-by-side situation with the leader on many of the Delaware restarts anyway. I understand the argument that the leader deserves a bit of an advantage but lane choice for the restart provides some degree of that anyway.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see true double-file restarts to become more common over the next year or two.

Michael: I would have to see it in action in a Dirt Late Model race before I can form opinion. I see the benefits of it. But I also like the current format where the leader gets a row to himself.

I’m for anything that improves racing. If it takes getting some ideas from other forms of racing, I’m for it as long as it improves racing and isn’t a gimmick.

Please consider also reading:

Rico Abreu grabs WoO Sprints victory at chilly Lincoln Speedway

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