Turn 2 Blog: Reactions from a busy weekend of racing

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*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.

There was a lot of racing this past weekend. Since we are east Tennessee based, let’s start there. What stood out to you from the standpoint of things related to this region?

Richard: One thing that has been getting my attention for sometime now has been the emergence of Cameron Weaver. The second-generation driver scored two wins with the Topless Outlaws Series this past weekend. The Crossville native picked up $2,500 for his efforts on Friday night at I-75 Raceway and another $3,000 at Boyd’s Speedway the next day. His progression has been a steady climb over the past two or three seasons and it looks that will continue into the future.

Another driver who earned two wins this weekend was the veteran Jason Welshan. While the Maryville native may not quite win at the same clip he used to, he showed in the American All-Star Series at Mountain Motorsports Park and in an unsanctioned 604 Late Model feature at 411 Motor Speedway that he still knows where victory lane is and how to get there.

And finally, Johnson City driver Jensen Ford got back on the winning track on Friday when he took the Ultimate Southeast Series checkered flag at Virginia’s Natural Bridge Speedway. After winning the Valvoline Iron-Man Late Model Series(South) championship in 2021, the emerging Super Late Model ace has opted for a more diverse schedule this year. This was his first win of 2021.

When the action fires up on a regular basis in this area, it feels like racing season has truly gotten underway.

Cameron Weaver won two features this weekend

Michael: This has been such as weird spring of racing. So many tracks and series took time off to not go head-to-head with all the events at Bristol Motor Speedway. There have been a couple of rain outs mixed in. Saturday’s racing at 411 was their first action since February. Volunteer has only held the FloRacing Kyle Larson Challenge, but that’s about to change this coming weekend.

Cameron Weaver has made tremendous strides in his racing over the last two years. He’s already scored several wins in both Crate action as well as Steelhead action. I look for him to eventually become a regular winner in Super Late Models as he gets more experience in that level.

It was a big weekend in our area, but the same was true on the national level as well. The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series held three events in Pennsylvania over the past weekend. What got your attention there?

Richard: The picture of the World of Outlaws is coming more clearly into focus as we move toward the summer months. With Chris Madden and Brandon Sheppard dropping off the tour earlier this season and now Tyler Bruening stepping away on a full-time basis, the door is wide open for the other championship contenders. With that said, it looks as if two primary title contenders have emerged in the persons of Dennis Erb Jr. and Max Blair.

This makes for an interesting battle. Erb has raced nationally for many years but has not won a championship on either the World of Outlaws Late Model Series or the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. On the other hand, Blair has been very successful on the regional level but this is his rookie campaign on a national tour. Erb obviously has the advantage of experience but Blair is very talented.

And one thing we can say after the weekend too is that there will be a chance for “outsiders” to drop in and take wins. In past years, regulars like Sheppard and Madden piled up big numbers of trophies, but with those two and their gaudy win totals gone, more doors are opened.

While Erb and Blair did earn wins on Thursday and Friday, regional star Jared Miley took Saturday’s feature at Port Royal. I believe this is something we will see more often as the season plays out.

Michael: This is the one year almost any driver that enters at World of Outlaws race will have a legit shot at winning a race. I think we’ll see more Jared Miley’s getting wins than we ever have in that series.

One thing that will make the series’ points chase more entertaining this year is it will come down to two or three drivers that have never won a national touring series title before. It’s not the same name(s) as we have seen in past years. This will be the most interesting title chase since Mike Marlar won it a few years ago.

What were your impressions from the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series as well as the Castrol FloRacing Night in America Series since those two raced in the same part of the country?

Richard: First of all, it was good to see that Lucas Oil was finally able to make it back on track. After numerous weather related issues, the two races held this past weekend were the first green flags that had been waved over LOLMDS fields since April 10th.

Like the WoO Late Models, there has been some question regarding who will actually run the series. Jonathan Davenport will no longer be a full-time competitor and Devin Moran’s flirtation appears to be over. There are also some lingering questions about the status of Jimmy Owens.

That said, three drivers who we pretty well know will be there on a regular basis looked very strong in their two events of the weekend. Brandon Sheppard has moved from the World of Outlaws to Lucas Oil and recorded two runner-up finishes to maintain his lead in the standings. Tyler Erb and defending champion Tim McCreadie each scored convincing victories in Iowa on Friday and Sunday.

With the star power in this series, this could also shape up as an interesting fight for the trophy.

Further, Hudson O’Neal won the FloRacing feature last week Marshalltown(IA) Speedway. It was his first win of the season and came as a big relief for him and his team after having been a bit unlucky so far this season.

Jimmy Owens(20) and Hudson O’Neal(71) were busy this weekend

Michael: The Castrol FloRacing race at Marshalltown was a good race. It was great exposure for the track that many people had not heard of before that particular event. The Flo people put on a very efficient race program.

With WoO and XR running so many races the last two months, it’s been easy to forget about the Lucas Oil series. Before this weekend, the series had only raced 3 times since Speedweeks in February. Everything else had been rained out. It’s amazing how only one series can be effected in such a way.

When you see a group of drivers that have been the core group of racers to compete in a series drop off, it’s weird not to see them in every race when they decide to do something else. That’s how I feel about the Lucas Oil series right now. There’s no Davenport or Bronson. It takes some time to get used to that. The series hasn’t strung together enough races to get past that.

Having said that, it will fun to watch Sheppard, McCreadie, Erb, and O’Neal race for the championship as the season unfolds. If Sheppard can win it, he will be in rare company as a driver that won both the Lucas Oil and World of Outlaws titles.

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