Turn 2 Blog: Evaluating the Droop Rule & the Stature of the World 100

*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.

During the past week’s racing action at Eldora Speedway there was a feature winner who was disqualified after his victory lane celebration. Is this something that shouldn’t happen?

Richard: I personally do not like hearing of a disqualification being handed down following a victory lane celebration and this applies to dirt racing, NASCAR and other forms of motorsports. I am opposed to this for a number of reasons- it’s confusing to fans, media and competitors; it’s embarrassing to the supposed winner; and it just gives an overall bad look.

In the case of the Ricky Weiss disqualification on Friday night at Eldora, his car should have never been rolled onto the victory lane stage without having had the droop check done first. One of the selling points of the droop rule when it was first introduced was that it would be a relatively quick and easy check. If that’s the case, then why not check the car before sending him to be interviewed?

And as far as the droop rule goes, I’m not sure if it is achieving its intended goal. When Ray Cook first introduced it for his Schaeffer’s Oil family of racing series, it was meant to prevent cars from rolling over. That’s definitely a good thing. But it seems to have grown into more than that.

Drivers and teams complain that it has helped bring about more aero dependency for the Dirt Late Models which has impacted the racing. If that is in fact the case, there needs to be some sort of revision to help improve the competition so that all races don’t turn into a contest of follow the leader. If that is not actually the case, then everyone needs to stop complaining about it and make sure the cars fit specs.

I am not going to pretend that I am mechanically inclined enough to fully understand the droop rule or any other rule. But what I do understand is that disqualifying a driver well after victory lane when the check could have been done before hand doesn’t look good.

If the droop rule is improving safety, I am in favor of it staying in place. If it is not and it is hurting competition and is just serving as a means for disqualifying winners, I would be in favor of it going away. I have never been one in favor of too many rules.

The Southern Nationals Series was among the first to use the Droop Rule

Michael: As far as disqualifications go, my thinking is if a driver is wrong, the win shouldn’t stand even if it’s discovered after all the celebrations. The rules are there for a reason. I understand the thinking behind how it looks but I have seen instances where drivers have been found to be wrong, the track or the series doesn’t stand behind the rule, and the driver(s) that could have benefited decided not to race at that track or with that series again. I believe the competition side should be more important than whether fans leave thinking they saw the winner when they did not.

I understand the thinking behind the droop rule. I have not seen anything that tells me it’s better for racing. We have seen some uncompetitive racing this year, especially when it comes to racing for the lead. I don’t know how much of that is because of the droop rule or other factors. I’d much rather see those that are in charge of these unified rules work on the bodies and the shock packages to get the aero dependency out of the sport. These cars are starting to resemble the old wedge cars. Those cars weren’t exactly competitive.

I’m surprised there isn’t a tolerance in the droop rule. These cars go through some violent conditions on the track. I’m not sure a 1/4″ difference is a real competitive advantage.

Evaluate Jonathan Davenport’s place in the history of Dirt Late Model racing.

Richard: If Jonathan Davenport announced tomorrow that he is retiring from racing, he would go down in history as one of the sport’s all-time greats. His accomplishments since 2015 are almost without parallel. His five World 100 triumphs leave him just one behind the record held by Billy Moyer and ahead of Scott Bloomquist. And there have been many other crown jewel trophies to be taken away from tracks in the back of his hauler.

Considering that he likely has several more competitive seasons remaining, there could be quite a few records to fall his way before he is done.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about his achievements is that they are coming in what is the most competitive era in history. There have always been great drivers and teams but there has never been a time in which there were so many drivers and teams capable of winning a feature race every time they roll through the pit gate.

Davenport is not far from reaching the status of the Dirt Late Model racing greatest of all time. The only thing that might be lacking is a bit more longevity because drivers like Bloomquist and Moyer were on top for decades, not years.

Michael: As you said, Bloomquist and Moyer have raced for a really long time. Taking them out of the equation, I would have to put Davenport in there with Purvis and Combs. Both of those guys had a lot of success, but their dirt careers were shorter because they chose to chase a dream in NASCAR. Davenport has certainly exceeded what Purvis and Combs did.

For Davenport to win five World 100’s in an unbelievable feat. I think there’s a really good chance he eclipses Moyer’s six globes.

Has the World 100 lost some of its place in terms of its stature in the Dirt Late Model racing universe?

Richard: My actual profession is a history teacher, and because of that, I have a fondness for tradition. In my mind, the Indianapolis 500 will always be the world’s biggest auto race because of its tradition, The Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, and Southern 500 will always hold their places as NASCAR crown jewels because of tradition. And in that same vein, the World 100 will always be the most important of all Dirt Late Model races.

There was the conversation last week that perhaps the World 100’s status had diminished. I would instead offer the argument that this race’s status has not diminished but others have risen. There have been and will be several features this year that pay more than the $55,000 doled out to Jonathan Davenport on Saturday night. But there is more to that race than just the payout. Its location, its trophy, its history, and its prestige will always place it at the head of the class.

So no, the World 100’s stature is as high as it ever has been. But yes, there are other races that have bettered themselves at the same time.

Michael: I think running multiple events with the World 100 sort of takes away from the race a little bit. Finishing The Dream on the same weekend made that race seem like another one of those elevated paying races we see most weekends these days.

Maybe it’s just me, but the current format of twin features on the two nights prior seem to take away from the overall aura of the event. I understand offering more races to get more drivers to come race. That’s the norm in today’s Dirt Late Model racing. The old format saw one night or two rounds of qualifying and all the racing took place on Saturday. It just seemed like there was a bigger sense of urgency under that format and the fans really fed into that.

I do agree a few other events have elevated themselves. I know not every driver goes to Florence for the North/South 100. But that crowd is really into it. From the time the first group of cars roll onto the track for the first time to the celebration of the winner, it’s an environment that rivals any race in the country.

Please consider also reading:

World 100 Notes: JD reaching historic levels & Tachometers unplugged

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