As far as we’re concerned, racing season for us sprint car fans (at least in America) is behind us. With just one major winged 410 Sprint show remaining [$10,000 to win at Susquehanna Speedway (PA)] we are left simply with memories of the great runs, races and rallies that we witnessed on the track from the time the green flag dropped on the 2014 racing season.
I’m here, a fan just as much as all of you, to give you the rundown on the final rankings of the top 410 Sprint Car drivers in the United States this season. The following rankings are the official ‘TDN’ Winged Sprint Car rankings for the 2014 season.
1. Donny Schatz
I’d like to say that Schatz has turned back the clock and showed us some vintage Steve Kinser this year, but this isn’t the first time that he’s had a stranglehold over his fellow competitors. Ending the year with 26 WoO wins is an astounding feat in this day and age where so many drivers are competitive, regardless of whether they follow the tour. The local competition poses more of a threat to the traveling stars than at any time in the past. And yet, Donny stands out for more than just wins. He and his TSR #15 team have time and again been the odds on favorite regardless of where they start on the feature grid. This can be highlighted by his 2013 Knoxville Nationals triumph from 21st, his blast to the front at Fremont Speedway (OH) in October, or his rally from the tail of the field to 4th place in less than 20 laps against the stout World Finals field. His 2014 stats include 26 wins, 63 top 5’s, and 0 DNF’s. For all of these reasons and many more that have gone unmentioned here, Donny Schatz solidifes himself as the top 410 Sprint Car driver of 2014.
2. Dale Blaney
It was one hell of a year for the “King of the All Stars” that included 16 wins on the ASCoC circuit as well as the series title. His most impressive stretch of the year undoubtedly came in late June when he won 4 of the 6 contested Ohio Speedweek events against star-studded fields. Throw in a triumph over the World of Outlaws, IRA competitors and a few against the best that Ohio has to offer and you’ve got yourself a career year. It’s also worth mentioning that Blaney was in his first full year driving for car owner Tony Kennedy. Is it possible that Dale and co. could be gearing up for an even more successful season now that the team has had time to mesh? It’s scary to think that for this driver, an even more successful season could be on the horizon. With that said, there is no question that Dale Blaney is deserving of the runner-up ranking that has been given to him here.
3. Daryn Pittman
The 2013 World of Outlaws champion lost his 1-year reign of the crown, but in some ways he had a more successful year as he went on to finish runner-up in this year’s final standings. Pittman, of Owasso, Okla., found victory lane 14 times this season including standout wins at the $20,000 event at Devil’s Bowl and a Summer Nationals triumph at Williams Grove worth $17,000. Pittman also showed that he can get on a hot streak and become nearly unbeatable. This proved to be true when he won four straight races during a spring stretch through Pennsylvania and New York and then again when he swept the weekend at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Kansas. A year that included 14 wins and 50 top 5’s against the best in the world are more than enough reason to place Daryn Pittman at 3rd in our final Winged 410 Sprint Car Rankings.
4. Brian Brown
As the multi-time Knoxville Raceway 410 champion and Knoxville Nationals runner-up, Brian Brown has been widely agreed upon as the best sprint car driver in the country to have not won a World of Outlaws race. Well…he’s finally got that monkey off his back. Brown’s heart-throbbing win last weekend at the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte is one is one that will not be soon forgotten. Brown’s 2014 campaign included more than a handful of wins, including 4 at the famed Knoxville Raceway (one being a prelim win during the Knoxville Nationals). Brown also had notable runner-up finishes during the 55th Annual Knoxville Nationals, during a WoO Sprint visit to Calistoga Raceway (CA), and during Knoxville’s prestigious Capitani Classic”. It is because of his consistently strong runs against the best competition in the business that Brian Brown clocks in on our rankings at no. 4.
5. Stevie Smith
Representing the PA Posse’s finest, Stevie Smith enters our final Winged 410 Sprint Car rankings at no. 5. Smith teamed up with long-time racer Fred Rahmer and together they made it a season to remember. In just a limited number of starts over the season, Smith was a factor in just about every race that he entered. The win total climbed to 7 by the time their season ended, including wins with the World of Outlaws, All Star Circuit of Champions, and during PA Speedweek. With a handful of big wins on the year, the most rewarding may have been his $20,000 Dirt Classic triumph at Lincoln Speedway (PA). The Broken Arrow, Okla. native was also runner-up during the WoO finale at The Dirt Track at Charlotte and was just a few laps away from capturing the $50,000 National Open at Williams Grove before suffering heartbreak. The Smith/Rahmer duo have agreed to team up again in 2015, but for now they’ll sit at 5th in our standings until next season rolls around.
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