Turn 2 Blog: More Sprint Cars in the South & Who is set for a big 2023?

*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

Would you like to see the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series race in the South more often?

Richard: Our main order of business on this site is to cover Late Models, and for some reason, there are many people who seem to think you’re not allowed to like both Late Models and Sprint Cars. And I think that’s part of the reason we don’t see many Sprint Car events in the South beyond the early season races in Florida, those at Bristol Motor Speedway, and the end of the season at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. There are other reasons including the lack of familiarity with that form of racing in this region and the cost of putting on one of those shows.

But yes, I would love to see a couple of other WoO Sprints races somewhere around here in this area.

That said, that form of motorsports is so entrenched in the upper Midwest and the far west that it would be difficult to find a spot on the schedule for them to race elsewhere. And more, there are few tracks that would be able to host one of these events from the standpoint of cost and/or facilities. WoO would likely want to pair tracks up for a weekend because coming so far from the home base for the teams to run just one race is not feasible.

Overall, I enjoy the Sprint Cars and would like to see them a little more often but there are hurdles to jump.

There are not many opportunities to see the likes of Sheldon Haudenschild in the South

Michael: Definitely. They put on a fantastic show. We get to see some 360 Sprint Car races in this area. The World of Outlaws is a different animal.

There are a couple of reasons why we don’t see those in our part of the country. One, the purses and sanctioning fees are so high that many tracks in our area can’t afford to host them. I’ve heard it takes around $100,000 to have one race. And even if you find a sponsor, you need to run them two nights or find a scheduling partner. That part is really tough.

The second reason is the series is requiring tracks to have catch fencing all the way around the outside of the track. There aren’t many of those in our area. And that would be huge expense added on to everything else.

Seeing Dennis Erb Jr. win a national series title seemed very satisfying, didn’t it?

Richard: Dennis Erb Jr. has been a mainstay in racing for decades. He has been a steady force among Dirt Late Model competitors and has been a consistent front runner for his entire career. And while he has won regional titles such as the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, he had never won a national title.

I do believe it was satisfying to see years of travelling up and down the road, working with fewer helpers than many he competes against, and probably not having as much funding as others finally be rewarded with a much deserved championship. Granted, Erb does have a great helper in crew chief Heather Lyne.

Erb is a quiet guy known for laying low, working hard, and doing his job. I think there is something to be said for that.

Dennis Erb Jr. is the 2022 WoO Late Models champion

Michael: Erb is an old-school racer. He has a small team, doesn’t do any social media, and just shows up and races. This really takes me back to 20-25 years ago when nearly every driver and team operated this way.

I know Erb has a big following in the Midwest. Fans of his have stated how good of a driver he is. I know some will try to put an asterisk beside his name because Brandon Sheppard dropped off the tour to follow the Lucas series. Still, his title should not be diminished.

Who looks to have the most momentum going into 2023?

Richard: Taking from your answer last week when we discussed who is ending the season on a strong note, I am going to say Mike Marlar. I told him over this past weekend that he and his team just have the feel of an operation that is set to have a great season similar to what Brandon Overton had a couple of years ago and Jonathan Davenport has had during this campaign.

And of course, you can never count out Davenport. Even with the fact that he is losing crew members at the end of the season, the No. 49 looked great in winning the World Finals finale on Saturday night.

But one guy I continue to be more and more impressed with and think could be in for a great season in 2023 is young Garrett Smith. I have been somewhat surprised at the amount of success this driver had had this year, including his $100,000 victory in the Dirt Track World Championship.

Garrett Smith has become a force in Late Model racing in 2022

Michael: With several drivers that haven’t raced much the last few weeks, it’s hard to gauge some of these. Aside from Marlar, I think Overton may have enough good finishes and a few wins to carry him into the final few races he enters going into next season.

The Davenport crew changes will be interesting. But he’s ending on a good note and I wouldn’t bet against him starting next season.

Please consider also reading:

Drivers weigh in on the current State of Dirt Late Model racing

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