Turn 2 Blog: Regional drivers winning national races & A weekly Super Late Model class

*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

Last week’s midweek shows made travel worth it for some teams, didn’t they?

Richard: Last week was one of those times which will come up from now and then on the schedule in which there were two major midweek races followed by the two national tours scheduled to race in different locations on the weekend. The Castrol FloRacing Night in America Series contested events on Tuesday and Wednesday at Eldora Speedway and Brownstown Speedway respectively. The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series raced at Talladega Short Track and a pair of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series events had been scheduled for tracks in Illinois but were shelved due to the weather.

Obviously, no one forces teams to race anywhere. It’s their choice to race or not race.

But yes, all the travel was worth it for those who did well. Brandon Overton had originally planned to go to the Illinois events but then decided to hit Talladega after the rainouts and picked up a $4,000 Friday night preliminary win then a $50,000 main event payday on Saturday. It was definitely worth it for the No. 76 team to have made the trip.

For Mike Marlar and Ricky Thornton Jr., that might not have been true as they ultimately packed up to leave after the first night at Talladega because of being placed deep in the field for Saturday’s heat races. But as we have said numerous times on here before, it’s all about the money. Considering that there has been such a long break since some of these folks have been on the track, many competitors probably did not mind a few hours on the road just to get to race.

Many of the midweek races we see are actually designed to run at a track near where one of the two national tours are scheduled for the weekend. Put up the money and racers will show up.

Michael: Many of these mid-week races are basically made-for-TV races. But as long as those involved have the money to put up for these shows, they are a win for everyone.

What hurts is the typical race where the promoter agrees to have a series at their track and the crowd doesn’t show. I can’t speak for them, but Mitch McCarter and staff couldn’t have been too happy with their attendance for Thursday’s World of Outlaws race at 411 Motor Speedway. For those that did not attend or watch it online, they missed an outstanding race.

Sometimes bad results can also prove to be beneficial for a team running for points in another series. In talking to Double Down Motorsports owner Roger Sellers on Saturday, he said they found the gremlin that had been plaguing them since Volusia in January. He said they’ve been changing ignition boxes and everything electrical on that car. Come to find out the problem was a faulty ignition switch. They ran better at Brownstown and are confident in their upcoming races. So a bad night can become a good night.

Cory Hedgecock

Regional drivers can still make it tough on the national stars?

Richard: From time to time, there will be a guy who races regionally to step up and claim either a Lucas Oil or World of Outlaws feature. For the second time in his career, Cory Hedgecock scored a win with the World of Outlaws at 411 Motor Speedway last Thursday. He is one who has proven to be tough to beat at places such as 411 or I-75 Raceway here in east Tennessee no matter who shows up to race.

Max Blair, for example, parlayed regional success into a full-time ride on a national series. When you think about it, the local drivers and teams have somewhat of an advantage in that they likely have more laps on that particular track and the national touring invaders.

Any time there is a major race at 411, everyone else knows they have to beat Hedgecock. He had already earned $15,000 in a Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals feature at the Seymour, TN facility earlier this season. There are other regional stars around the country who are capable of doing the same thing in there areas.

Michael: In the 80’s and early 90’s, it was common for a local or regional driver to win on his turf against national drivers. That went away for a period of time and we’re currently seeing it again. Occasionally, you’d see a Billy Ogle Jr. win a national touring race in his backyard. Those were becoming rare until the last few years.

Look at a driver like Michael Page. He’s won two Lucas Oil races at Dixie Speedway. Josh Rice at Florence Speedway and Payton Looney at Lucas Oil Speedway are just some names that come to mind when scoring home track wins in a national event.

There’s no doubt Hedgecock is a talented driver. If he can get a big series win at another nearby track or even outside the area, people will start giving a closer look at how good of a driver he is.

Mark Douglas used to be a regular SLM competitor in Tennessee

Can the Super Late Model class make it as a regular division for a single track?

Richard: The Volunteer Speedway has decided to incorporate the Super Late Model division into its weekly racing program. This Saturday’s feature will pay $3,000 to the winner.

I guess my answer would be that it would depend on what other SLM races are running near the track hosting the weekly events. A few years ago in our area(East Tennessee), there were several drivers such as Mark Douglas, Mark Vineyard, Rick Rogers, Tommy Kerr and Jeff Neubert who could be counted on to enter Super Late Model shows in Tennessee. Those competitors either don’t race at all anymore or race on a very limited basis.

Without those types of racers, it would seem tough to fill up a weekly field of Super Late Models. There are so many national and regional tours around nowadays that pay more than a weekly show can which would make it difficult for a driver to choose the lesser paying show.

I do not know what rules will be in place but I am guessing there will be cars other than true Supers entered. I hope this succeeds for the sake of the track but only time will tell.

Michael: I have my doubts as to how many, if any, true Super Late Models will be racing in those races. It wasn’t that long ago a couple of drivers told me a driver would be breaking even by winning a $3,000 to win race. With the cost of things today, that number is probably closer to $5,000. That’s another reason why it’s getting harder to get full fields for a $5,000 to win race.

I can see some drivers that are looking to do some R&D or has a new car that may go there to get things sorted out. I’ll say this, if we are both surprised, that will cause other promoters in our area to look into doing the same.

Please consider also reading:

Brandon Overton seizes lucrative WoO Late Models win at Talladega

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