*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.
Richard: We’re now entering the home stretch of the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals and I think it’s safe to say that things are going pretty much as many expected they would. Brandon Overton and Chris Madden have completely dominated the mini-series with those two drivers capturing seven of the eight features contested so far. And further, Overton just completed a total sweep through his home state of Georgia that saw him collect four consecutive victories.
Madden started off looking like he would be the driver to beat scoring two wins in the first three events while driving for his new team. After parting ways with Scott Bloomquist Racing in late June the South Carolina native hooked up with Millwood Motorsports for the purpose of running the Southern Nationals. He currently sits 20 points behind Overton with four races remaining.
Even the one race that was not won by either Overton or Madden could not have counted as a surprise when Cory Hedgecock triumphed on what is basically his home track at I-75 Raceway in Sweetwater, TN.
What have your impressions been of the 2020 version of the Southern Nationals so far?
Michael: Despite the dominance of Overton and Madden, it’s been a mixed bag regarding the competition and the racing. The temperatures have been hot, yet the racing has been pretty good except for possibly one race. Track promoters have worked overtime on their track surfaces to try to get a track to race on instead of dry, one lane tracks.
Ross Bailes has been impressive. But some flat tires have derailed him from some really good finishes. Donald McIntosh’s team has finally figured out some issues with their car. Pearson Lee Williams has definitely improved over the last month or so of the season.
It’s been a good collection of drivers that have participated to this point. Too bad most of them have been overshadowed by Overton and Madden.
Richard: You led right into my next point. During the past year, Overton and Madden have each spent some time at the top of the heap in the DirtonDirt.com Top-25 poll but there are other drivers racing on this series who are competitive on most every track they visit.
There is no other way to put it other than to say some of these guys have just suffered from terrible luck. As you mentioned with Bailes, he has been right in the mix on multiple occasions only to have flat tires ruin those nights. I thought at the beginning of this two-week series that he would certainly be a contender for the championship. And he absolutely would have if his tires had remained inflated in every race.
Another guy who has been completely snake bitten so far has been Jake Knowles. Here is a driver who last year won the feature at Tri-County Race Track and finished second to Overton in the final standings. This year, he seemingly cannot catch a break.
Now with four races to go, could there be someone who might get in the way of the Overton-Madden domination? Certainly one of these drivers we have mentioned could do that should the breaks go their way.
But a couple of cases in particular that I am looking at involves a driver who is not racing with the series full-time.
David Payne’s home track is Ray Cook’s Tri-County facility in Brasstown, NC. The racing coach could definitely spoil the party of the two drivers at the top of the standings there. And more, the Murphy, NC pilot seems to have found some magic at the Tazewell Speedway having scored a couple of big wins on those high banks over the past couple of years and with $10,000 on the line there this Saturday, you have to believe he will be in the mix for that.
Who do you see as having the best chance to take on Overton and Madden in these final four features?
Michael: I have two drivers in mind. One is McIntosh who runs well at Crossville and 411. The other is Hedgecock. He’s already won several big races at 411 and should be in the mix there on Friday.
Normally, I would put Tazewell down as a wild card race. It still can be, but both Madden and Overton run really well there. Anything can happen up there so one never knows when a Vic Hill or a Jason Trammell could pull an upset. That’s what makes Tazewell fun for the fans.
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