Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Commentary: Super DIRT Week Spirit Is Larger Than A Track

We could be bitter, we could be outraged, and we definitely are very sad at today's announcement that racing on Syracuse's famed "Moody Mile" will cease to exist past this years Super Dirt Week finale. But like many of you, we saw it coming and it was merely a formality.   Many fans in DIRT Nation did what they could. They wrote letters, attended meetings, left messages on the anserwing machines of politicians left and right, and tried their best to stave off the inevitable.

We'd published earlier this year that the battle for the Moody Mile might not be won, but it must be fought. And fans have done so.   We'd like to say thank you for all of you that put forth the effort. And it's not in vain. Know why?  Because every time dirt fans en masse call upon politicians, it let's them know one thing, that the sport is important to a large group of voters, and they're reminded that the sport brings money to their districts.  Sometimes politicians need reminders. And if our sport could be more visible to decision makers, rather if we'd make it a priority to engage these folks and make them a part of what we love, whether it's by giving free box suites for special events, free tshirts and other perks (campaign contributions), we could have more of them on our side.

It's the way the world works, things get done through money, passion and politics.  We're not geniuses at TDN, well one of us is and it's not me, but we do know that if the sport courted these influencers in advance instead of after a track is in trouble, we'd all be better off.  So SDW fans, take heart, there's some influencers that never knew how important the sport was until these last few months.

Rick Sweeten Photo

Super Dirt Week will remain in New York for years to come. And the venue will change, but what's more important than the venue, more important than the racing, and even more important than the the same thing that keeps SDW together and will keep it thriving in the years to come.

It's the relationships fans have built with each other over the years.  SDW is an event beyond compare, because the fans make it so.  They gather every year after year and trade stories and grow friendships that linger long after the checkered flag falls on the 200. They've seen each others children grow. They've spent countless days, nights and years gathered around campfires sharing moments of the things that we love about the sport. And they'd give a kidney and other organs away before they'd ever give up their reserved camping spot!  I'm not sure that that kind of die hard love and passion exist in the same meaning outside of the Knoxville Nationals and perhaps the World 100, and even those events don't have the same feel of a SDW.

The mile may be gone but the spirit of the event and the week was bigger than a track. And it will be challenging to find the same flavor at a new facility, it won't come easy, but as long as the people that have been supporting the event continue to do so, and there's no doubt that they will. The event will survive and thrive.  The powers that be, may have won this particular battle, but SDW now has a chance to grow new traditions and perhaps set a new standard of what a big event should look, sound and feel like. It's a time to get creative and after the grief wears down, a time to look forward to the future.

The only thing the politicians really took, was a grandstand and a dirt track, the history of 113 years of racing, the spirit of the event, and most importantly for fans, the memories and friendships stay with us forever while we find the next chapter to our story.

One door closes, but one door opens and it's a good bet that the open door here reveals something wonderful!

For another great perspective on the Future of SDW check this story out from esteemed Dirt Track Digest administrator Mike Mallet: "The Inevitable Happened, Now What?"

Monday, August 31, 2015

The TDN Weekly Super Late Model Power Poll: The Last Week

Hey kids, it's Monday night and that means It's time for me to update my rankings. This is the last update to the rankings for 2015, as just about every track that I score has finished up point racing for 2015. The format this weekly will be roughly the same as previous weeks this season, but I'll post the full point totals from this season.

Obviously, from the picture above, Jeff Rine scored the most points this season, and therefore is the champion for 2015. He was in the mix straight away, and over the last month or so, pulled strongly into the lead and never looked back. Not surprisingly, along the way he also picked up the most scoring feature wins out of anybody on the poll, with six. He's been very, very good at his weekly haunts,  Bedford and Selinsgrove, usually finishing in the top five on the nights he didn't win.

That said, all the tracks got scoring shows in except Bedford and Roaring Knob, who didn't run supers this week. I was also able to update Roaring Knob's results from last week, and those totals are tallied with this week's points.

Now let's get to them points.

1. Jeff Rine******, 55 points. Jeff won at Selinsgrove Saturday for his points this week.

2. Max Blair*****, 40 points. Max won at Marion Center this week for his points.

3. Scott Rhodes**, 39 points. Scott's points came from a third at Dog Hollow Friday this week.

4. Dwayne Tanneyhill***, 37 points. Dwayne ran second at Dog Hollow for his points this week.

5. Clate Copeman****, 34 points. Clate went scoreless this week.

6. Mike Blose**, 33 points. Mike also went scoreless this week.

7. Alex Ferree***, 32 points. Alex put up a goose egg this week.

7. DJ Troutman**, 32 points. DJ also had a scoreless week.

9. Coleby Frye*****, 30 points. Coleby ran second at Selinsgrove Saturday for his points this week.

10. Tim Senic***, 29 points. Tim ran second at Roaring Knob last week for his points this week.

And now, the best of the rest...

11. Greg Oakes, 28 points. 

12. Mike Altobelli Jr.**, 26 points. 

13. Dylan Yoder*,  Darrell Bossard, 25 points. 

15.  Kenny Schaltenbrand*, Robbie Blair***, Steve Campbell***, Doug Glessner**, 23 points. 

19.  Mike Pegher Jr.**, 22 points. 

20.  Matt Lux*, Jared Miley*, Shawn Claar, 21 points. 

23.  Billy Holbert*, Michael Norris**, 20 points. 

25.  Jim Yoder*, 19 points. 

26.  Matt Cochran, Andy Haus**, 18 points. 

28.  Chris Hackett*, Tim Smith Jr. **, Dave Blazavich, Doug Eck**, Mike Lupfer*, 17 points. 

33.  Matt Parks*, Matt Sponaugle*, Jason Schmidt*, 16 points. 

36.  Gary Dalton*, Rich Gardner*, Mel Minnick Jr. **, 15 points. 

39.  Chad Wright**, Russ King**, 14 points. 

41. Dan Stone*, Gene Knaub*, Wally Fox*, Matt Cosner*, 13 points. 

45. Bumpy Hedman*, 12 points. 

46. Trent Brenneman, Dave Zona, Devin Friese*, 11 points. 

49. Cody Hardesty*, Chad McClellan**, Chad Hollenbeck*, Mitch Hack, 10 points. 

53. John Flinner*, Billy Eash, Mike Knight, 9 points. 

56. Matt Urban, Chase Jughans*, 8 points. 

58. Tim Wilson, Bobby Rorher*, Hayes Mattern, John Garvin, 7 points. 

62. Chuck Clise, Rick Singleton, Rod Phillps, Dane Laraway, Michael Lake, Bob Gordon, 6 points. 

68. Ken Trevitz, Andrew Gordon, Wayne Johnson, Quintin Wyandt, Jeff Miller*, Tony Musolino*, Joe Petyak, Gary Lyle, 5 points. 

76. John Over, Tommy Beck, Ed Ferree, George Lee, John Lacki, Dan Swartzlander, Dave Troutman, Chub Frank, Ron Delano Jr., 4 points. 

85. Eric Zembower, Chuck Sarver, DJ Myers, John Britsky, Darrell Lanigan, Dan Angelichio, Bryan Bernheisel, Chris Casner, Danny Snyder, Andy Fries, John Volpe, 3 points.
96. Robbie Scott, Tony Adams, Bob Hershman, Ryan Scott, Andy Boozel, Jerry Redden, Jason Dupont, Nick Dickson, Johnny Mollick, 2 points. 

105. Tony Burke, Shane Hitt, Steve Kania, Andrew Wylie, John Lobb, John Myers, Mitch Hack, Chris Rhodes, Dan Lee, Brett Schadel, Robbie Black, 1 point. 

And that's all 115 drivers that scored points this year. It's been a fun year that was pretty competitive and saw a few first time winners. I had a lot of fun doing this poll, and it'll be back next year with some yet to be determined changes.

I always enjoy when this poll finishes up every year, because tallying the stats and seeing over a hundred names on it makes me realize that maybe things aren't as bad as they seem when it comes to the talk of doom and gloom on the local racing scene. There's at least 100 guys that had at east one top five this year. At only 8 tracks. That's pretty solid, I think.

But it also makes me sad. The racing season is quickly coming to an end, and I'm not going to get a chance to go to many more races this year. In fact, I only have two more races I plan on hitting. The Firecracker this weekend, and the Stampede in October. That's it.

Oh well, have fun the rest of the racing year, and if you see me at one of those two races, make sure to say what's up. I always enjoy meeting fellow race fans.

Until next we speak....

This Week in DIRT: Bloomquist Delivers Beating; Schatz's Shots Report; Hearn Runs Out of Gas- Friesen Thrilled

Okay DIRT Nation, it's now time to recap anything you may have missed in the week that was. We hope you didn't miss anything, but things arise from time to time that take our eyes off the action. That's where we come in as our primary job is to pay close attention to dirt, and to provide commentary on various concession stand items while getting high on race fumes.

Maybe you were in a fantasy football draft meeting all weekend. You know, hanging out with eight other guys drinking beer in your favorite NFL jersey while arguing, bickering, and figuring out how to cheat your way to better picks while making sure that your opponents get off to the slowest start possible.  Did you forget they were your friends too? Did you do some things you were ashamed of? Did you forget that there was some dirt racing taking place? You know, the track, the place where your real friends are? No worries here's what you missed!

Bloomquist Delivers Beating In Pittsburgh:

Pittsburgh, PA: Scott Bloomquist arrived in Pittsburgh to do two things. Chew gum and kick ass, and unfortunately for the Lucas boys and the regional contingent of drivers, he was all out of gum. Nobody in the pits had any for him either unfortunately, or if they did have some, they had no intention of giving any for the legendary driver. So he took his frustrations out on the 35 car field at the annual Pittsburgher 100 at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania's Motor Speedway this Friday and Saturday night.

Captain Zero took the field to task, winning his heat Friday, and winning the 100 lap feature Saturday night, taking the lead from the red hot Jonathan Davenport on lap 85 and never looking back on the way to collecting a $20,000 pay day.

Bloomquist's victory was so impressive that he wasn't allowed to leave apparently as it has been leaked to us that the Pittsburgh Steelers have just signed him to a one year contract as an inside linebacker. "I sure do appreciate the contract offer," Bloomquist said to one of our commentators last night. "I'm off most Sundays and as long as they don't mind taking a few laps around the field on game day and I can travel in my own hauler to the games, I'm all in!"  Bloomquist then requested that he receive his pay in novelty checks that he plans to show the crowd before kickoff.

Lucas Oil Late Model Series-Pittsburgher 100 Top 5

1. Scott Bloomquist
2. Jonathan Davenport
3. Don O'Neal
4. Jimmy Owens
5. Dennis Erb Jr

To read about Bloomquist's Pittsburgh beat down click here: Bloomquist's Pittsburgh Beat Down

Schatz's Enhances His Own Drinking Game

Edmonton, AB: Donny Schatz did players of the infamous drinking game "Schatz's Shots" a favor on Saturday night at Castrol Oil Raceway.  The World of Outlaw point leader was scheduled to start on the front row of the main event but managed to get something stuck in his fuel shutoff on a lap five restart.  The gremlin caused him to restart 16th, and as fans of the game are fully aware, one shot of an adult beverage is taken for every car Schatz passes in a main event.

Lately, that number had been very low as Schatz had been starting in the top 5 with regularity, invoking the "count all lapped car passes" rule for players. But on this night, Schatz was good for 14 shots following his charge to a second place finish, sending players on a tumble down the stairs at the end of the race, or a lengthy nap on the couch and a morning headache beyond belief.

As for the racing, Daryn Pittman wound up winning for just the fourth time on the tour in 2015, a far cry from his gaudy totals as a champion just two years ago. It was a win he was entirely grateful for as he thanked one crew member after another, until he'd forgotten all of their names.  Schatz managed to win the Oil City Cup which he then filled with unsweetened green iced tea and drank afterwards.

On a side note, it was reported that the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos had offered Schatz a one year contract to play quarterback for the rest of the regular season to which the driver replied. "Didn't I just win the rights to the whole team tonight? Why can't I play tight end?"

World of Outlaw Sprints: Castrol Raceway; Saturday August 29:

1. Daryn Pittman
2. Donny Schatz (14 Shots for all Schatz's Shots Players)
3. Logan Schuchart
4. Jason Sides
5. Shane Stewart

For the feature story, click here: Hell of a night for Schatz's Shots players

Hearn Runs Out of Gas- Friesen Thrilled

West Lebanon, NY:  All-time great and legendary modified driver Brett Hearn was just about to win another Mr. DIRT Track USA title at Labanon Valley Speedway on Tuesday night in Super DIRTcar Series action. He'd been on a hot streak in recent days and had led 98 laps with two remaining, and ran out of gas.  How he managed that we'll never know but even those familiar with him were surprised.

Toby Kobylarz, a 68 year old regular at the famed speedway was astonished.  The venerable "rent a crew member" employee (cheap fan looking for a free pit pass) had been gracing the pits there since he was a toddler and is still in disbelief. He spoke with us via telephone shortly after the event. "I never thought I'd see the day," Kobylarz said.  " I mean really, he ran out of gas? He walks around this place busting wind left and right for years, I mean he can really let it rip! I'm not sure what he eats but it's powerful and it sounds like he's stepping on ducks every time he walks by. He even cut the cheese in front of my girlfriend one night. If we could condense his vapors, he'd have 110 octane whenever he wanted it and a long supply too."

Kobylarz was then informed that Hearn had run out of fuel and it had ruined his chance at the $17,000 pay day to which he replied. "Good, I was rooting for Bachetti anyway, he signed a tear off for me once...helluva guy!"  One person who was delighted to see Hearn run out of gas was 2014 TDN Modified Driver of the Year, Stewart Friesen who inherited the lead and held on to take the cherished title for the first time in his career.  Hearn ended up ninth which cost him some points in his quest to catch series points leader Matt Sheppard, whom by the way, never runs out of gas!

Top 5: SDS/Lebanon Valley, NY

1. Stewart Friesen
2. Matt Sheppard
3. Andy Bachetti
4. Tyler Dippel
5. Kenny Tremont Jr.

For the full feature story click here: Hearn Runs Out of Gas

First Time Winners at Williams Grove and Lincoln

Austin Hogue and Brandon Rahmer each took their first wins at Williams Grove and Lincoln respectively over the weekend. This is important because the price of the autographed ticket stubs are already reaching an estimated value of $7, so you'll want to get yours signed as soon as possible!

In all seriousness, congrats to the both of them on winning at two difficult places! And one thing is for sure, you never forget your first time, whether it's a wild night with a call girl, or a 410 sprint win at a legendary and historic dirt racing facility!

You can find the full recaps here:

Hogue collects 1st win at Williams Grove

Rahmer bests Montieth at Lincoln

And that'll do it for this week, thanks so much for reading.

What happened at Lernerville Friday night?: Click Here:  Fab Four Report

Great Story on Sheldon Haudenschild, Aaron Reutzel and Parker Price Miller: Click Here

Want to see our brand new Big Block/358 Modified Rankings?: Click Here

Want a great Pasta Primavera Recipe?: Click Here

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Story From Lernerville: Thorson Scores; Norris and Williamson Cruise; Miller Returns To Victory Lane

The Fab Four took to the track for the final time in 2015 at Lernerville Speedway Friday night on a nearly perfect surface with a healthy amount of cars in the pits. Two season championships had yet to be decided coming into the evening and when the final checkered flags had waved both AJ Flick and Corey McPherson had earned the honor of being Lernerville Champions in the People's TWP Sprints and Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman respectively. 

But aside from the season ending points battles, the evening saw Nevada native Tanner Thorson cruising to victory lane in the sprints and it also saw Michael Norris put a 20 car field of late models behind him with authority. Mat Williamson made fans in attendance do a double take when they saw him in an unexpected car as he picked up his sixth win of the season, and Mike Miller returned to victory lane for the first time in two years in a thrilling battle with McPherson. 

Peoples TWP Sprints

Nineteen year old Tanner Thorson had yet to visit Lernerville in his young open wheel career, and his performance bore little resemblance to a novice's timid first time out. And instead, looked more like a commanding performance from a strong invader. 

Dan Kuriger lead the nineteen car field to the green flag and quickly asserted himself as the leader while behind him, Thorson and Jack Sodeman Jr. were in hot pursuit. But eyes were also looking at the middle of the pack in the early going as points leader AJ Flick and his closest pursuer, Brandon Matus stared seventh and tenth respectively. Sye Lynch then brought out the first caution on lap four, and on the ensuing restart, Thorson went to the inside of Kuriger and headed headed to the top side of the speedway with the lead. .  

Meanwhile, Flick and Matus started moving forward from their starting spots with Matus needing to get by the season points leader to have any chance of coming home with a title. Thorson started to get into lapped traffic at the seven lap mark with Kuriger and Sodeman giving chase until the caution flag waved on lap 12 when Jared Zimbardi went over the banking in turn two. 

When the action resumed, Sodeman moved from the top side to the bottom in an attempt to get around Kuriger while Thorson negotiated the next round of lapped cars. Sodeman made the pass for the second spot work on lap 20 and with Thorson facing side by side lapped traffic, Sodeman started to make up ground quickly on the leader as the laps wound down. 

But Thorson was calm and collected and kept his lead throughout the final circuits, cruising to the victory by a 1.8 second margin. In the title chase, Matus would find his way around Flick, but was unable to put enough cars between them to make up any ground in the standings as Flick took home his first sprint championship in his second year in the division. 

"It was great to get the win my first time here," Thorson said in victory lane. "The track was really fast in the heat race and in hot laps. It slicked a little on the back stretch but it's definitely a fast place here."                  

Top 10:

1. Tanner Thorson
2. Jack Sodeman Jr.
3. Dan Kuriger
4. Brandon Matus
5. Carl Bowser
6. AJ Flick
7. Brent Matus
8. Jared Zimbardi
9. Ralph Spithaler
10. Jim Morris

Precise Racing Products Late Models

With several regulars absent from the evening's festivities, the late model feature figured to be a wide open affair which it was, behind the eventual winner of course. Michael Norris started on the pole and did not look back in collecting his second win of the season, and it would be no easy task. Norris bolted out to the early lead while a very entertaining battle for the second spot quickly developed between Chad McClellan and Bump Hedman. 

The two drivers would swap the position countless times in the early going, by slide job when necessary as Norris widened the gap until the caution slowed the action on lap four. On the restart, Norris elected the top side as Hedman challenged for the lead, but his bid came up short as Norris drove away and Hedman was left to battle a determined McClellan. Following another caution on lap eight, Norris selected the bottom on the restart in surprising fashion, but once again drove away. Behind them, Kenny Schaltenbrand had worked forward from his 11th starting spot to enter the top five.  

The middle portion of the main event was caution marred and saw Norris keep selecting the bottom on restarts.  Hedman and McClellan both took turns applying pressure on Norris for brief periods of time, but the leader responded when called upon and stretched out a sizable advantage when action stayed green. On a lap 20 restart, Norris went to the top with authority as Schaltenbrand made his way around McClellan following a bobble in turn two, and last week's winner, Matt Lux, finished his forward charge from his 14th starting spot to take the third spot. But at the end of 25 laps, Norris was clearly the best of the field and cruised to the victory. 

"I couldn't really decide what was best on the restarts tonight," Norris said. "I should have been picking the top from the beginning. The car has been really fast but not really consistent and you have to first finish before you can finish first." 

Top 10:

1. Michael Norris
2. Kenny Schaltenbrand
3. Matt Lux
4. Bump Hedman
5. Tony Burke
6. Dan Swartzlander
7. Chuck Sarver
8. Herman Bertolini
9. Bill Kessler
10. Greg Kent

Diehl Automotive Group Modifieds

Mat Williamson arrived in an unfamiliar looking car to many fans, but to die hard modified fans, the familiar Page Trucking #7 is a noticeable entry and on this night, it contained a driver that has had a remarkable season en route to a track championship. 

Williamson quickly assumed the early lead with Jeremiah Shingledecker hot on his heels in the early going. Behind them, Steve Feder looked to make it a three car battle as he stayed within striking distance of the leaders.  Shingledecker relentlessly chased Williamson, never letting him out of his sight while Feder kept closing the gap on him until a caution on lap seven reset the scene.  On the ensuing restart, Shingledecker made for the top of the speedway as if he'd been shot out of a cannon, but still could not completely reel in Williamson while behind them, Brian Swartzlander had gotten around several cars in a hurry and had moved into the top five from his ninth starting spot. 

Swartzlander would be able to make the pass for third on lap 13, but could get no closer, and with no more restarts and not much in the way of lapped traffic for Williamson to pick around, he would have to settle for the podium spot while Shingledecker threw everything but the kitchen sink in his attempt to reel in Williamson which could come up short. Williamson would take a two second advantage across the line when the checkered flag waved and also took home an extra $1,000 courtesy of Turners Premium Iced tea for winning the most features in 2015. 

"We hurt a motor here last Friday and then hurt it a little more in Cornwall on Sunday so I talked to Rick that night and we put the deal together," Williamson said in reference to his taking the wheel of the Page Trucking car. "You're kind of a sitting duck starting up front but you'll take em when you can get em and I know Jeremiah is always going to run me clean, he's one hell of a race car driver, so when he starts outside of you on a restart you have to really hit your marks for the rest of the race and that's what we did tonight."

Top 10:

1. Mat Williamson
2. Jeremiah Shingledecker
3. Brian Swartzlander
4. Steve Feder
5. Rick Regalski
6. Garrett Krummert
7. Rex King Jr.
8. Carl Murdick
9. Shawn Fleeger
10. Rodney Beltz.

Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportsman:

It had been a long time since Mike Miller had found victory lane at Lernerville. The veteran driver had experienced several close calls and heartbreaks, but had also nights when bizarre mishaps had ruined his evenings almost before they'd started. But on this night, Miller rekindled memories of classic wins he's had over the years, sneaking up on the field and striking at the last possible moment. 

Wayne Carbo set out to the early lead while behind him, a swarm containing Corey McPherson, Terry Young, Brett McDonald and Miller were jockeying for position. McDonald tucked himself in the second spot early on and had to fight off a charging McPherson who then managed to get around not only McDonald, but Carbo on lap five to take the lead. Miller then emerged from the pack to move into second on lap six as McPherson used the low to mid groove to his advantage in stretching out a significant lead towards the halfway point. 

McPherson's closest competition in the points championship battle, Jim Fosnaught then entered the picture from his ninth starting spot to take the third spot away from McDonald on lap 13. McPherson looked to be in command until it suddenly appeared that Miller was making up ground quickly, using the bottom of the speedway. As McPherson was about to enter heavy lapped traffic, the caution flag waved on lap 16, setting up a potential fantastic finished which was realized when Miller was able to wrest the lead away from McPherson on lap 18, but the battle was not over as McPherson put his car back up on the top side in a desperate attempt to pass Miller.  But his attempt would come up short buy a very slight margin at the finish line as Miller held on to take the win. McPherson would earn the season points championship by virtue of his second place finish. 

"That second restart helped me close the gap up on Corey, he's been so tough to beat here these last few years," Miller said. "I normally run the top but the bottom was actually better for me. It's been pretty frustrating these last two years, it's nice to be back in victory lane."

Top 10:

1. Mike Miller
2. Corey McPherson
3. Brandon Wearing
4. Wayne Carbo
5. Jim Fosnaught
6. Terry Young
7. Brett McDonald
8. Joe Kelley
9. Bob Egley
10. Jeff Miller

Thursday, August 27, 2015

2015 North East Modified Rankings Volume 3

Okay folks, it's time for another edition of our Northeast Modified Rankings! Remember, we throw it all together here, big blocks, 358's, from all areas of the north east and Canada on Hoosiers or American Racers. Sail Panels or not, it does not matter as long as it's a modified!  So check it out and enjoy how we rank the best of the best in north east modified action

You can check out the first two volumes below:

2015 North East Modified Rankings Volume 1

2015 North East Modified Rankings Volume 2

Rankings Explained: 

 For this edition, we'll be using the time from July 9 through August 26 as the official review period.

Here's a few guidelines to consider:
  • How many races did the driver partake in
  • How big are the purses
  • What is the level of competition at home tracks or in special events
  • Bad luck factor, wrecks, mechanical problems
This is for entertainment purposes only, we like to have fun, but if you object to the order of the list, feel free to make a comment.

1. Mat Sheppard: Last Ranking: 1st

Sheppard is an open and shut case here taking eight home track wins currently running at Brewerton, Canandaigua and Utica-Rome. He's got an SDS tour win at Weedsport, and has placed every SDS start in the period on the podium.  He's out in front of the SDS point standings by over 100 points, even after giving some back by virtue of being light at the scales in a tour event in July.  He's the best of the best on the track for a second rankings list in a row.

2. Brett Hearn: Last Ranking: 7th

Here comes the jet! A new motor and a new outlook has helped bolster his program. A case could be made for him to be the leader here this month, but there's a degree of difficulty disparity in home tracks, and Sheppard has simply put the car on the track more often. To be fair, he would have taken the top spot had he simply not run out of gas at Mr. DIRT Track USA (Lebanon Valley) this past Tuesday night as he was well on his way to his third SDS tour in in the period. Strangely enough, Hearn has done best on the tour in Canada, taking wins at Autodrome Drummond and Cornwall.  We weren't sure if he was going to come back around to the top of the heap this year, but has been lights out since early to mid July.

3. Stewart Friesen: Last Ranking: 5th

Like Hearn, Friesen enjoyed a great last several weeks. We can't count the World of Outlaw sprint victory at Oshweken, but we can count a Mr DIRT Track USA win, a STSS win at Woodhull, and another SDS win at Five Mile Point where he was a former track champion.  Throw in a RoC victory in the Friends of Mike race at Bridgeport and some home cooking at Fonda and you could make a case for him being in one of the top two spots. He'd be there if it weren't for a little inconsistency in some other big races.

4. Jimmy Phelps: Last Ranking: Honorable Mention

Mr. Phelps is better than ever! He finally snapped an SDS tour winless streak with his victory at Albany-Saratoga (The Big Show), and has two weekly wins at Fulton plus another one at Brewerton. More than that, his consistency has remained constant and at the home tracks he runs, that speaks volumes. Great to see you in the top five for the first time in the history of the TDN Modified Rankings Mr. Phelps!

5  Billy Decker: Last Ranking: 2nd

Decker took an SDS tour win at the start of the period at Mowhawk and also scored a weekly win at Fulton. He's been fairly good outside of that, but his SDS performance otherwise has been non Decker like recently to the point where it looks as if he'll need more than one win in the 150 point races and get some luck to get back into title contention.

6. Kenny Tremont Jr. : Last Ranking: Unranked

No, Mr Tremont is not running the SDS tour, and to make this list you don't have to be. You just have to be good, and Tremont has been more than that. Check this out.  He's raced 20 times in this review period, tallying seven wins and 18 top tens in action at Albany-Saratoga and Lebanon Valley. It's harder to get higher than sixth here without lots of special event starts, but he's had a great past several weeks and deserves to be here.

7. Larry Wight: Last Ranking: 3rd

After a hot start to the year Wight has cooled off some garnering three home track wins in the review period and no special event victories. His SDS tour performance has been fading a bit but he still remains a threat to win on any given night.  Could he rekindle his season at RoC -Utica Rome perhaps?

8. Danny Johnson: Last Ranking: 4th

Like Wight, the doctor has been not quite himself in the second half, but still it's not a bad second half to have.  He's got four wins in weekly competition at Ransomville and Fulton and has been competitive.  But outside of a podium finish at the Friends of Mike race, the special event results have been dismal. There's some mechanical gremlins in the mix and a few bad decisions. Wouldn't a Syracuse victory be a great thing for the Dr this year?

9. Mat Williamson: Last Ranking: Unranked

Would you please welcome one Mat Williamson to the TDN Modified Rankings List!  The Canadian Sensation recently scored his first SDS tour victory at Merrittville and took five wins at Lernerville in weekly competition. 

 He recently finished up his second Lernerville track championship and is in the running at Merrittville for another one there. Throw in a special event win at Oshweken and it's clear that he belongs here! And he's not done making noise yet in 2015 by any stretch.

10. Billy Dunn: Last Ranking: Honorable Mention

The former Syracuse winner collected four wins in the review period including two special event wins at Cornwall and some SDS tour top 10s. He's been keeping his home at Merrittville , Mowhawk and Cornwall in 2015 and has done great at all of them. Does he have any magic in the 150 point season?

Honorable Mentions:

Erick Rudolph: He's on the true outlaw tour now and having a blast driving primarily in the Chrysler #21 ride. Rudolph took two BRP Modified Tour event wins out west and is still a threat to win anywhere.

Rick Laubach: Still kicking tail at Big Diamond and Bridgeport on a weekly basis, but lack of special event podiums keeps him out of the top 10.

Duane Howard: Doing as expected at Grandview and Big Diamond, but we've got to be honest, had it not been for a special event win at New Egypt, he might not have made it here.

Jeff Strunk: Mr. Strunk comes through here with a pair of wins in the review period at Grandview and a couple of special event podiums. Had he raced a bit more, he'd be in consideration for a top 10 appearance.

Gage Morin: For the second straight month, Morin earns mention here for the career year he's currently having with highs in wins, top fives and top 10's.  In the review period, he took wins at Mowhawk and Brockville and a top 10 finish at SDS Cornwall. He's one to watch folks.

Breaking Down The Northeast Region's '410' Sprints

As many of you know, we've been holding our own little points standings for 410 Sprint Car drivers in the Northeast region of the country. The list of qualifying tracks is mainly exclusive to Ohio and Pennsylvania, however a few races just outside of that area have counted for points.

The uniqueness of the Northeast Sprint Championship comes in the form of the points system. Points are awarded to drivers by virtue of a feature finish only, and completely dependent upon car count that night.

For example, the winner over an 18 car field would only receive 3 points, whereas the 3rd-place finisher amidst a 40 car field would also receive 3 points. A full points breakdown can be found at the bottom of this article.

Points can be earned until the end of October. Here is how they stand now.

Tied 1st - 101 Points - Danny Dietrich & Greg Hodnett
It's hard to imagine that after 5 months of hard racing, traveling, and wear-and-tear, that two drivers would be tied for the points lead heading into fall. There is no question that these are the two most dominant drivers in Central PA this season.

Dietrich's magical season has included 14 wins, 3 of which came over fields of 34 or more, earning him the maximum points (5) in one race.

Hodnett's career-year has been eerily similar. He has amassed 13 wins in the region thus far. Greg has also matched Danny Dietrich's total of 3 wins in max point races.

3rd - 76 Points - Dale Blaney
The "King of the All Stars" has had another spectacular season. The 25 points deficit can partially be blamed on running less races than the leading pair. Although Blaney only has 10 counting wins on the year, a remarkable 9 of them have come when the stakes are the highest and there have been 34 or more sprints on hand. As if that wasn't enough, he has 2 additional max point wins outside of the area that do not qualify for this championship.

4th - 70 Points - Brian Montieth
The early season points leader has cooled off considerably of late, but his early success is astounding in itself. Montieth has 8 wins total on the year, with 5 coming at Lincoln Speedway and the remaining 3 at the historic Williams Grove Speedway.

5th - 51 Points - Stevie Smith
Running a very limited schedule and still managing to sit 5th in the current standings may be the biggest accomplishment of the season. Stevie and the Rahmer gang have often been the fastest car when they hit the track, no matter where that may have been. In his limited number of starts, Stevie has earned 8 wins at 5 different tracks so far in 2015.

Full points standings can be found HERE

Regional Points Races
Central PA
1- Danny Dietrich [101]
    Greg Hodnett [101]
3- Brian Montieth [70]
4- Stevie Smith [51]
5- Lucas Wolfe [42]

1- Dale Blaney [76]
2- Byron Reed [38]
3- Cody Darrah [35]
4- Sheldon Haudenschild [34]
5- Greg Wilson [32]

Western PA
1- A.J. Flick [19]
    Brandon Matus [19]
3- Carl Bowser [18]
4- Ed Lynch, Jr [15]
    Jack Sodeman, Jr [15]

1- Donny Schatz [31]
2- Shane Stewart [15]
3- Joey Saldana [11]
4- Rico Abreu [10]
5- Daryn Pittman [8]
    Paul McMahan [8]
    Sammy Swindell [8]
    Steve Kinser [8]

Points System:
34+ Cars - 5 points, 4 points, 3 points, 2 points, 1 point
24-33 Cars - 4 points, 3 points, 2 points, 1 point
23 or less Cars - 3 points, 2 points, 1 point