ONE: Jimmy Owens tells the story of Lucas Oil’s latest models without the dots
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series season is a month old and the race for points is always an afterthought, with the top two in the standings being riders who are not title contenders; Frontman Devin Moran is currently not scheduled to take part in the full tour, while Brandon Sheppard is a World of Outlaws regular.
Yet none of that mattered this weekend. Despite suffering from a weekend that saw the Indiana Icebreaker rain at Brownstown and the Buckeye Spring 50 at Atomic Speedway moved from Friday to Sunday, the only race on the circuit that took place on Sunday evening s turned out to be full of drama.
On the one hand, it saw Devin Moran, arguably the consensus No. 1 late model driver leaving Florida Speedweeks defeated in his home state (Moran finished second, continuing a 12-race top-10 streak in 2022).
But more importantly, that loss came from Jimmy Owens. Not only did Owens show form rarely seen for the No. 20 Ramirez Motorsports team since winning the LOLMDS Tour in 2020, but he took the win in his first race since the death of his longtime owner. date Leon Ramirez last month.
— #LucasDirt 🏁 (@lucasdirt) March 21, 2022
The “Newport Nightmare” exceeds the “Mailman”. A long-time veteran returns to form. The return of #20 on Rocket Chassis has immediate results on track.
Take-out? Who needs points?
TWO: XR, Bristol Nationals change landscape for touring
This takeaway is extremely important given that this weekend marks the kickoff of the high-priced XR Super Series, a tour that was supposed to be solely responsible for pushing former LOLMDS regulars Jonathan Davenport and Jimmy Owens, as well as late last year’s WoO model runner-up Chris Madden, to pursue “outlaw” schedules in 2022 rather than following a national tour.
In terms of money, it is difficult to challenge their decision. The XR Super Series is set to hold four races at the Bristol Dirt Track over the next two weekends that pay $50,000 to win each night PLUS includes a six-figure points fund on top.
From top to bottom, every class, huge payouts are on the way. Big money means big runs, and it’s time to cash in. 💰💰💰
— Bristol Dirt Nationals (@BristolDirt) March 16, 2022
Someone is racing a Brandon Overton-esque run through the Bristol Dirt Nationals like Big Sexy did at Eldora last summer and they could hypothetically call it a season.
This development is not without risk for the late model racing scene. Fewer drivers committed to national tours could reduce the geographic reach of where these series can race. There are also reasonable questions to ask about the XR Super Series and its finances, as the series throws obscene purses for all of its events. Whether the series can turn a profit despite the huge purses remains to be seen.
That said, I completely agree. National tours have their place, but the outlaw nature of dirt racing is special. It’s a place where promoters can really flex their muscles to bring in really changing fields of cars every weekend.
THREE: Grant the suspension of the Xtreme tour Risk of pushing back the schedule of the outlaws
But that doesn’t mean that drivers who follow “outlaw” schedules won’t behave like outlaws. News came out this week that wingless sprint car staples Justin Grant and Chase Stockon have been suspended from competition in the next two races of the Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Series after both their teams were found to have used illegal tires in the series’ first races at Volusia last month.
Now in Stockon’s case I can’t understand what made his team do this because they actually had committed to running the full-time Xtreme tour this season. But in Grant’s case, being a pilot who’s been a full-time fixture in USAC’s portfolio for years (he runs USAC’s National Midget classification by points), there is something to be said for pushing the boundaries.
Committing to national circuits will not prevent drivers from taking risks regarding the regulations; let’s not forget that Aaron Reutzel was a full-time World of Outlaws regular when he was arrested last season to operate an unapproved chassis. But it is a reality that technical inspectors of tracks across the country must be aware of.
FOUR: NASCAR Perspective on Track Closures Harmful to All Racing
I’m sure Ross Chastain’s comments about Kentucky Speedway were made in the spirit of “don’t clone Atlanta” as opposed to “never go back to Kentucky again”, but it’s truly mind boggling to hear at how dismissive the entire NASCAR community is. has become a facility that has spent a literal decade running stand-alone Busch Series races to break into the ranks of Cup-hosting facilities.
Ross Chastain says he’s not upset with today’s race but doesn’t want to see it at any other intermediate tracks. “Let’s not bring Kentucky back to life. Let’s leave it six feet underground. It is done. We are above. Never go back there. I feel like it can be its own thing. #NASCAR
— Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) March 20, 2022
Where does this fit into dirt racing? Simple really, trail closures are a bad thing. Period. Be it at the top of the asphalt racing pyramid or an arena at the local fairgrounds, a closed track means the sport has become less accessible to fans and competitors in the geographic area.
Just because Kentucky Speedway shouldn’t be turned into another 1.5-mile plate track (and it shouldn’t, the new Atlanta is nothing to celebrate) doesn’t mean Kentucky can’t or should not be reconfigured and run in another form.
I can’t count on my fingers and toes the number of dirt tracks that have been reconfigured, banked higher or shortened to meet the demands of modern race cars. There are many examples of dirt arenas that now exist within the perimeter of former miles and half miles of land. Some, like Davenport Speedway in Iowa, actually use the old dirt layout as a way to make it easier to race on their new, smaller setups.
Maybe it would work in Kentucky? 1.5 miles of dirt is a terrible idea, but a sloping dirt road on the infield of the existing facility? Either way, I sure hope Kentucky’s last days of racing haven’t been seen. After all, it’s… it’s… Sparta!
FIVE: Rampant driving in Port Royal must consider constraints
Sprint car racing isn’t a discipline that sees many drivers get excited immediately, but that’s exactly what happened to Logan Wagner after contact with eventual race winner Anthony Macri during the long footage from Sunday at the Port Royal Speedway. Dirty or not, you decide.
—FloRacing (@FloRacing) March 20, 2022
What is undisputed, however, is that Wagner felt aggrieved. And after being involved in another incident later in the race that saw Wagner forced off his crashed machine, he rode to Macri’s car under red to make a point.
—FloRacing (@FloRacing) March 20, 2022
Now granted, in this case it seems all Wagner did was exchange words. It doesn’t make it any more acceptable that, in this case, he went after a competitor still attached to his race car. Also, unlike NASCAR-land, where there are two-way radios that would have allowed a spotter or crew member to at least warn Macri that he had company ahead, Macri was literally stuck for deal with whatever Wagner saw fit.
I may not have the backbone to run a 900 horsepower race car, but in 35 years of life I’ve had enough backbone to never chase after a literally restrained opponent. I don’t care if it’s strong words or Clint Bowyer punches, physically attacking riders who are still in the cockpit of their machines has no place in racing.
SIX: A gripping tragedy in my home
And while on the subject of the spine, as I’ve written previously, I’ve spent the last month dealing with a lower back injury that has limited my ability to walk long distances, thereby limiting my movements on the track. Despite being race-starved as a result, I will admit that I missed the season opener at my home track in Winchester, Va., just 13 miles away, choosing to watch my beloved Wake Forest Demon Deacons playing postseason basketball for the first time in recent memory.
I was watching Winchester’s results on Race Monitor, hoping the program would be slow enough to make it worth rushing to the track as soon as the basketball game was over, in time to at least grab the features. And it turned out that I was lucky. With the end of the Wake game, there had been a pause in race results coming from the track, a pause that coincided with a thunderstorm soaking my house.
I immediately took to Facebook, hoping to read that the race had been delayed by rain and that I could make it to the evening’s event. Unfortunately, what I read was much worse.
It goes without saying that this is a tragedy, and all of us at Front stretch send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jimmy Billmeyer, as well as to the fans who witnessed the episode and to the first responders who witnessed it. On a personal level, I have never been more grateful to have missed a race than on Saturday.
But it made me think a bit more about the thunderstorm that passed over my house shortly after this incident, leaving a beautiful sunset and a rainbow in its wake. I can only hope it was symbolic of someone watching over Mr. Billmeyer.
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