1. Big names will be excluded in 2022
We are approaching the end of March. Defending late model Bristol Dirt Nationals champion Jonathan Davenport and reigning World of Outlaws champion Brad Sweet are yet to win a race in 2022 given his strong trophy haul at Florida Speedweeks ahead of the DIRTcar National Championships in Volusia.
That’s not to say that none of these drivers fell on the radar. Davenport is the current points leader for this year’s Bristol Dirt Nationals, a title that will be worth $100,000 if he can hold onto it until next weekend. Sheppard is second in WoO late model points heading into the Illini 100 weekend, a race he has won three times in his career.
And Sweet, frustrated as he may be at riding out of his home state of California without a win, walked away with the WoO points lead, having scored nine top 10 finishes in the series in the first 10 races of 2022.
In a year when record-breaking purses across all disciplines of dirt racing have plenty of riders chasing wins, points always pay.
2. Has the Xtreme DIRTcar series run its course?
Speaking of points, Clover, SC Ross Bailes scored one of the first points titles of 2022 on Saturday night at Cherokee Speedway, scoring a second-place finish at Rock Gault Memorial that saw him pass Ben Watkins to win the 2021 Xtreme DIRTcar. -2022 Series Championship.
Meet the championship podium 🏆
— DIRTcar Racing (@DIRTcarRacing) March 27, 2022
For a script as good as this, it was completely overshadowed. Saturday’s race at Cherokee had two purposes, a points race for the Xtreme Series as well as the WoO late model tour. As such, WoO regular Max Blair picking up a $20,000 victory after suffering a mechanical breakdown in the time trial earlier that evening was the story that dominated the airing of Dirt Vision.
I understand why the World Racing Group chose to do this double billing; organization leased Cherokee Speedway to host its WoO doubleheader, and given the challenges the Xtreme Series has faced this season both with weather and with the cancellation of the old Modoc Raceway due to upgrades unfinished days of installations, combining events was a time and cost-effective way to put the Xtreme Tour on the books.
That said, I have to wonder if the Xtreme series has run its course. Racing primarily for $5,000 purses up for grabs at a time of year when cancellations are nearly the norm in the South, the quality of fields participating in these races is already in decline. It was even more evident this year, with regional powerhouses like Chris Madden leading the tour in the past choosing to sit back and wait for the big bucks.
There’s nothing wrong with a late-model regional tour, and I’m not advocating taking viable races off the schedule. But I can’t imagine the World Racing Group envisioned this tour becoming as regional as it has been.
3. Joey Logano is part of NASCAR Bristol News Quiet Week
Last year, the Bristol Dirt Nationals were jam-packed with NASCAR drivers looking to get a seat on the dirt track at Bristol Motor Speedway ahead of the NASCAR weekend.
A week into the Nationals this year, and only one driver was in the lineup in Bristol this weekend: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Austin Wayne Self. In fact, the only Bristol-related NASCAR dirt news to surface lately has come from Joey Logano, who rather than racing modified dirt like last year, jumps into a NASCAR truck.
— Joey Logano (@joeylogano) March 26, 2022
This is hardly surprising. Last year’s Cup race saw some of the best dirt racing on offer prove complete non-factors on Bristol’s high shores, while Logano won the event despite posting pedestrian results in the event he raced his modified dirt at Bristol and Volusia in preparation.
If there’s anything last year’s race taught the racing world, it’s to try and apply the lessons of a 2,400-pounder. dirt car at a 3,200 lbs. The NASCAR machine proved an apples to oranges comparison. As heavy as NASCAR machines are, they will never slide on dirt like a purpose-built off-road car would. For those looking for the siege time that will count, it’s the race or the bust of the trucks.
4. Do the latest racing models have to take a red (or blue) pill?
The two main late-model races this weekend at Bristol and Cherokee turned out to be all track position racing, as overtaking was paramount at both tracks, especially with the Cherokee taking rubber on Saturday, March 26. Bristol was particularly striking, as disappointing qualifying efforts from powerhouse riders Devin Moran and Brandon Overton ultimately buried them both too deep in the peloton to fight for a sword.
Part of me attributes this to what is a common theme in Bristol and Cherokee: no matter how the tracks are prepared, it is not possible to pass for the lead on these ovals unless the leader is mistaken royally. And as I wrote earlier this year, there’s something to be said for focusing effort on preparing racing surfaces that will actually allow overtaking to happen.
But another part of me wonders if the super late models could take a lesson from their modified northeast counterparts and opt for a race program based on a random draw like the Short Track Super Series. I doubt this fixes the issues for both tracks, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
5. No more ridicule coming out of Bristol with the Murtys
I have been openly critical of the way Bristol Dirt Nationals officials handled a hastily called meeting of competitors on Saturday afternoon, and after reading about a decision that was made to strip Dallon Murty of his victory in the final of the stock car Saturday night for the fins mounted on the rear of his car, I feel vindicated in this decision.
I will admit that I am not familiar enough with a stock car class rulebook to know if the fins shown in the photo above violate the regulations. But take a look at the first comment on Murty Racing’s post about this incident. You’ll see pictures of Bristol’s victory lane a year ago… with the Murty racing team running fins on their cars. This victory was not canceled.
I look at inconsistent technology like I do when refereeing basketball or football. Yes, there will always be a gray area in officiating. But once you start calling a play one way, it has to end that way. If you allow physical paint play in the first half, it must be allowed in the second. If you’re handing out yellow cards for a first offense on bad sliding tackles, keep handing them out.
And if a racer is competing for three days of features in the same class of car and they’re not told to change something on their race car, changing it on the last day the money is on the line is bad arbitrage, plain and simple.
6. Nowhere to run, baby, nowhere to hide
I feel a little uncomfortable ending this column with another Bristol Dirt Nationals dunk, but there are two reasons why I’m including this video, taken from the Bristol infield after Vic Hill and Ashton Winger collided on the track during a heat race. First, as I mentioned in thinking dirty yesterday I couldn’t figure out any reason why RaceXR’s cameras would cut out this fight like they did.
Two, however, for those who were watching RaceXR when this episode unfolded, remember that during the first review, the commentary booth actually attributed Vic Hill’s issues to contact with Joseph Joiner, an attribution that turns out to be wrong. turned out to be false. If the cameras had actually paid attention to this fight, it would have been clear to anyone watching who was actually involved in one of the weekend’s most notable on-track incidents.
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