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North East Modified Rankings; Volume 5;

And we’re back for Volume 5! The home tracks have wrapped up for the most part and we’re into the post season for dirt’s favorite ground pounders. And the picture is becoming either more clear, or more cloudy depending on your point of view.

And now our criteria:

Alright then, so here’s what our criteria is based on:

1. How many races did the driver partake in
2. How big are the purses for any special events
3. What’s the level of competition at home tracks or in special events
4. Bad luck factor wrecks, mechanical problems..etc are taken into account these things happen. However should the driver rebound with solid finishes afterwards, it shall diminish the effect of a bad night. 

Basically, WRG events including home tracks, ROC events and American Racer home tracks and 358 modified in both Niagara region, Eastern Ontario and Quebec,  and Eastern PA/NJ are all taken into account as well as the new Short Track Super Series events. Sail panels or not, Hoosier or American Racer, it doesn’t matter

For Volume 5, we’ll be using results from August 11th through this past weekend. Now, let’s see where they rank!

1.Matt Sheppard:   Last Month: 3rd
Super Matt climbs back on top of the rankings by virtue of a Utica/Rome win, a Canandaigua win, a victory in the Coal Cracker 72 at Big Diamond against some of the toughest competition in eastern, PA and NJ. But wait, there’s more! Sheppard took checkers at Mowhawk in Super DIRTcar Series action this past Saturday. Combine that with a host of other top 5’s in races he didn’t win, and it’s a pretty easy decision. Now if he can nail down the title in the coming weeks remains to be seen. 

2. Brett Hearn: Last Month: 4th
The jet climbs up two spots this month and is closing in fast. He pocketed three weekly wins in the last three months (2 Lebanon Valley, 1 Malta), but also took home the biggest purse of the month with his $17,500 victory in the Mr. DIRT Track USA, SDS tour event at the Valley against the best of the best. With the 150 point shows looming, he’s hitting his stride at the right time of the year. 

3. Danny Johnson: Last Month: 1st
The Doctor kept it rolling this past month with three Ransomville wins, a Utica/Rome win, and a Short Track Super Series win at Penn Can on September 9th. He’s had some bad finishes elsewhere in SDS and RoC action, and never really did battle at a home track other than Ransomville so that kind of kept him out of the top two spots, but still, a resurgent year for the Mr. Johnson. 

4. Erick Rudolph:  Last Month: 6th

We’re going by action in the last month in these here rankings, and Rudolph has 2 Canandaigua wins, 2 second place finishes at Ransomville, a top 5 358 tour finish at Mowhawk, and then the next night, he breaks out a backup car for the SDS tour event, starts from tail the 30+ car field and still comes home with fourth. His season resume is not quite what the top three have, but he started committed big block driving a little later in the season. Some may find this one a head scratcher, but if you’ve been following the modifieds all season long, this is no surprise.

5. Larry Wight:  Last Month: Unranked
Lightnin Larry Wight has been a pretty consistent finisher in 2014, but may be saving his best for last. The young pilot took home a win in the New Yorker 200, RoC event at Utica/Rome September 1 and took two podium finishes on championship night at Brewerton and Fulton recently. Merge all that info with a pair of top 10 SDS tour finishes, and he’s had himself one fine month. If you’ve never heard the name very much, get used to it, he’s one to watch.

6. Stewart Friesen: Last Month: 6th
Stew’s cooled off. Since it’s a month to month ranking list, he’s right where he should be for the time being. He took a weekly win at Glen Ridge in the last week of August and also posted a top 5 each in SDS action (Lebanon Valley) and RoC activity (New Yorker 200).It’s probably the calm before the storm. Let’s see if he can jump back in the top three with some heavyweight events on the horizon, one of which is this weekend at Fonda, a place he’s virtually unbeatable at.

7. Billy Decker: Last Month: 2nd
Like Friesen, Decker has come back to earth a little bit following a sensational late July/early August. he took checkers at Brewerton in weekly action on August 15, but he’s been out of the top five in bigger shows lately save for a 4th at the New Yorker 200. He was in position to overtake Sheppard just three weeks ago for the SDS tour point lead, but stubbed his toe. Not panic time for him though, there’s too many big shows left to make up ground. 

8. Jimmy Phelps: Last Month: 7th
Still in search of his first special event of the year, Phelps did manage a hard fought 2nd at SDS/Mohawk on September 13. It’s been hard to understand why there’s been no weekly wins for him in 2014. It’s most likely a mixture of bad luck and no luck at all.  He’s battling in the toughest series though. And, good finishes against the best of the best still lands you on the list. Now let’s see if there’s a win coming his way soon…

9. David Hebert:  Last Month: Unranked
He’s been the king of the Quebec portion of modified land, what we like to call the “Poutine Conference” in 2014 and deserves mention here. He took home wins at Autodrome Granby and Le RPM as well. The cherry on top was the win on September in the 358 tour stop in Granby, followed up with a 7th at Mowhawk. It would be great to see him mix it up at the big shows in October if for no other reason than to provide more side by side comparisons as he has stayed away from SDS or RoC tours except when they’re close by. Still, Mr. Hebert has had a great month and a great year.

10. Billy Dunn:  Last Month: Unranked
The 2013 Syracuse winner has had an up and down year, but rebounded for a good month. Dunn had solid finishes at Canandaigua, but Mowhawk is where he really stood out with a weekly win, a 358 tour win, and a SDS top five in the past month. He’s missed some SDS races and fell out of contention, but he may be on the upturn at the right time. It’ll be interesting to see how much postseason noise he makes in the coming weeks. 

Honorable Mentions:

Doug Manmiller: Pocketed a Grandview win and a Big Diamond podium finish this month plus a top five in the Coalcracker 72. We’d love to see him race more.

Carey Terrance: 
The Hogansburg, NY driver had a great month for himself with weekly wins at Mowhawk and Cornwall and a 358 Mod tour event at Cornwall to boot.

Billy Van Pelt: The venerable Mayor of Woodhull scored a hat trick there in the past month with two weekly wins and a win in the Lyle Sherwood Memorial race there as well. 

Anthony Perrego: Wins at Accord and Five Mile Point on championship night plus a top five in the Sort Track Super Series event at Penn Can September 9th. He edges out Mike Maheny for the top spot among southern tier drivers so far in 2014. 

Western Frontier PA/OH:

1. Rex King Jr:  Last Month: 1st
He may very well be on the way to a hat trick in the area with a track championship at Lernerville and the BRP Modified tour already in hand. He just has to wrap it up at Sharon to finish the historic feat. Look out Syracuse, he’s on his way and might just turn some heads! 

2. Rex King Sr: Last Month: 2nd
He edges out Swartzlander here with a few more appearances. He has put himself in the top 10 in 30 of 32 races in 2014, and of those 30, 25 were top fives. A complete model of consistency in the area!

3. Jim Weller Jr: Last Month: 5th
Weller only put the car on the track twice in the last month, and won them both including a weekly win and a BRP tour win in the “Russ King Memorial” , both at Sharon. 

4. Brian Swartzlander: Last Month: 4th:
Flyin Brian got one last final Lernerville win this past month. We’d love to see one in Charlotte in November. 

5. Dave Murdick: Last Month: 3rd
Murdick was within one slip of a BRP championship as a caution at Sharon on September 13 pretty much cost him the trophy. It’s been a Murdick like season, he ends up on the podium, or with a DNF. Still one of the best in the region when he on.

6. Jeremiah Shingledecker: Last Month: 6th
Shingledecker came close to winning the King Memorial at Sharon and it would have been a great way to end his local campaign on an upswing. Still though, it was a great performance and indicative of a driver and car that might be coming together to surprise a few folks in Charlotte in November. 

7. Jimmy Holden:  Last Month: Unranked
He takes Eric Gabany’s spot here as Mercer’s top candidate heading into the post season with a weekly win there in the past month. Let’s see if he can put another Small Guy Nationals trophy in the case.

And that’ll about do it for this month, the month ahead will feature some big races to be on the lookout for.

  • September 21 SDS tour at Fonda
  • September 20  Held over Freedom 76er at Grandview
  • October 4  Outlaw 200 at Fulton
  • October 8-12  Super DIRT Week 

Take care and stay DIRTy everyone! 



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