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TDN Roundtable Volume 9

And we’re back for yet another round of round table. Lots to discuss as the season is winding into the second period (hockey term). We’ve got a little Lernerville, some crown jewel late model talk, some sprint questions and even a little north east modifieds on the card so without any further ado, let’s get started! 

Participating in this round:

  • Tyler Beichner
  • Josh Bayko
  • Dobie Compton
  • Jerin Steele
  • Trever Steele
  • Pat Miller
  • Kyle Symons
  • Gary Heeman- the dude asking the questions…

Okay, first up Lernerville Speedway changed hands recently as we all know. And it appears to be in very good hands with a supportive family at the helm not to mention a very good GM. The World Racing Group still manages the operation for fiscal 2015, but after that, opportunity exists to make alterations to the program. Imagine you’re the decision maker for a moment. What is one change that you’d make (reasonably) or would you change nothing at all (steady as she goes)?   I’m going to cast my vote for a hand dipped, six flavor waffle cone stand with all sorts of syrups and toppings and the like! Can’t go wrong with ice cream!

I think as long as the track is in good hands and they keep the special events that they have there, then everything will be fine.  I trust the press release when WRG says that the track is in capable hands.  The Silver Cup and the Firecracker 100 have grown into very big events for the speedway, and the track prep has been excellent every time that I have made the trip up there from Virginia.  I really like Lernerville and hope they continue to produce top notch racing. – Kyle Symons

I don’t believe much of anything will change going into the future, and I think that’s the right way to go about things. I mean, the place is by far the most succesful track in the area, would you make any radical changes? Yeah, I didn’t think so. – Josh Bayko

The only thing I’d change is impending mandatory crate engine rule to the Sportsman division. I just look at it this way, why change a good thing. To me it’s the most entertaining division week to week. The rules are in place that if you want to run an open motor you can, if you want to run a crate you can. Let the teams decide how much they want to invest in a power plant. If you want to be THAT guy and spend $15,000 to win some chips and tea, then you just do that. Oh, and another thing. Get that steak on a stick guy at the track for more than just special events. -Pat Miller

I agree about the Sportsman engine change rule. The only thing I will add here is for the new owners to be open to change and new ideas. Listen to the fans, teams, sponsors etc. They should have no problem continuing the tradition at Lernerville. – Trever Steele

I hope they do not change the class lineups at all, but adding another entry level class might look good for new owners to get more pit money with a low payout. I sure hope not, but it is so rare to only run 4 classes in this area. If the crate motors stay in the sportsman rules next year it could lead to some guys jumping to the crate late class after a season or two. They will already have the motor. A good sportsman car and a good used late model chassis are not that far apart cost wise. Keep the motor rule the way it is, pretty please? It is going to be a silly off-season with folks hanging on every press release from the new ownership. Keep checking this site for updates and the message boards for all the complaining afterwards. – Brian “Dobie” Compton

The late model crown jewel season is now upon starting with this week’s “Dream 100” at Eldora. Everybody brings up the standards as top contenders..Bloomquist, Moyer, Owens, O’Neal, Lanigan, Richards, McDowell etc. Tell us one driver that will make an impression in the crown jewels this year that nobody’s talking about, and what race will they do it at? 

Pat Miller Photo

I think it will be this weekend at Eldora.  I will be out there and I am picking Jonathan Davenport to come home with the win.  Every year at Eldora there is always someone who surprises you.  Take Mason Zeigler last year at the World 100 for example.  He was running second before spinning out.  Although Davenport is not a huge upset he still has never won a major crown jewel event, and I think he’s hot enough right now to get the job done at Eldora for the first time this weekend at the Dream.  Just has to keep the car together for 100 laps.  He was flying last year before getting into O’Neal and spinning. – Kyle Symons

My gut is telling me that we won’t have any glaring surprises this weekend at the Dream. I think the winner comes from Bloomquist, McDowell, Pearson or Owens. I’m still not convinced that Davenport can last the distance (i.e. 2014 Firecracker and World), but I’d love to see him climb over the hump and get in the mix. Guys like Satterlee and Zeigler will crack the top 10, but those are somewhat expected. Give me Devin Moran at the Show-Me 100 from his 5th place starting spot. – Tyler Beichner

If we’re talking about drivers nobody is talking about now that will people will be talking about come late September/October, I’ve gotta go with Eddie Carrier Jr. He hasn’t been so good so far this year so he’s kinda dropped off the radar for these big races. I have a feeling that as the weather gets hotter, Eddie will too. – Josh Bayko

I have my chips in the Devin Gilpin basket. Florence, Eldora, and hopefully the hillybilly or DTWC he will race at. The guy can sling some dirt and he has a future in the super late class if he can stand not winning a few less modified races a year and run the late model more. Brian “Dobie” Compton

Currently on top of the World of Outlaw late model standings is one Shane Clanton, and it’s by nearly the same margin he came out of Florida with. To be fair, he’s done a good job of being consistent, earning 13 to 5’s in 16 races thus far and is a deserved leader. Two questions here, first do you see Richards or Lanigan being able to rise to the occasion and overtake him, and secondly, does too much of the season take place in Florida? Is this the blueprint to titles?  Peg the setup rattle off wins, and make them chase you all year? 

I think Clanton could definitely win the championship, but I don’t think too much of the season is in Florida.  Richards is starting to get hot and I could see him making a run, but Lanigan is pretty cold right now.  Just not having the consistency he needs to win a championship.  It’ll come down to Clanton and Richards for the championship.  The Florida run that Clanton had was out of this world, and it put him in a great position.  Not too many races down there, just the fact that he was so dominant over that stretch. – Kyle Symons

I agree with Kyle, I don’t see a charge from Lanigan coming until the end of summer, which by then may be too little too late. Richards is primed to give Clanton all that he can handle. It only takes 2 bad races and the whole landscape can change. I don’t think too much is based on Florida, either. Everyone has the same amount of time to prepare in the offseason. No one driver has a huge advantage over any others.- Tyler Beichner

Richards is going to catch Clanton. He’s building some momentum, and Shane’s results are coming back to earth some. It’s a recipe for a tight point battle down the stretch. Lanigan, on the other hand, will not catch up. The Club 29 business is dragging the house car operation down. The business takes up so much time that Darrell doesn’t have enough time to prepare his own stuff. The exact same thing happened to Bloomquist a few years back. These cats gotta learn to with until they’re retired before they really get into the chassis business.- Josh Bayko

I am with Bayko here, Richards will settle in and catch the coconut. Lanigan is barely holding on it looks like from the time the car hits the track for qualifying. Should be a great race at Charlotte to decide it and i bet it will be the final few laps of that final race that decide the champ. Richards has been there and done that before in Charlotte, and that will help him prevail in my opinion. – Brian “Dobie” Compton

Turning to sprints for a moment, in the World of Outlaws, how has this season gone, or not gone the way you thought it would? Did you foresee Shane Stewart having such a good start or Schatz being so dominant early for a change or David Gravel being out of the Roth ride so soon? 

Usually Donny Schatz isn’t this dominant in the early season.  That could spell a lot of trouble for the competitors as the summer starts to heat up with many big races such as the Knoxville Nationals and Kings Royal coming up over the next couple of months.  Shane Stewart has been a bit of a surprise, but you always knew he could drive.  Just needed a ride capable of allowing him to shine and Larson/Marks Racing has given him that.  Gravel being let go from the Roth ride was a mistake.  I think they’re starting to realize that now. Gravel is young and had some great runs in the car and won the Williams Grove National Open.  We never know the whole story, but it shouldn’t have been performance based. – Kyle Symons

Schatz has already cemented his legacy as one of the all-time greats, and to think that this could be his best season to date. His mentality of never getting complacent and always wanting to be faster and better than the next guy. I’m thinking he won’t slow down – 30+ wins this year. I’m blown away by the consistency of the LMR team, but then again we are only 1/3rd of the way through the year. Gravel continues to impress. Many young drivers plateau when they reach this opportunity, but I think Gravel can be a star given the right circumstances. – Tyler Beichner

Schatz was not a shock, but Gravel and Stewie sure have been for me. The battle is for 2nd place and there could be a couple more driver and team swaps before the summer starts. I hope Gravel lands on his feet and keeps the hammerdown. He was on a nice rise in his career the past few years, gotta keep it rolling! – Brian “Dobie” Compton

I don’t think anyone could’ve foreseen Roth dumping a young talent like David Gravel so quickly. I mean they won the 2014 National Open for crying out loud. Odd move, but sprint car racing is strange at times. Schatz…..well he’s the best driver on the planet so nothing he does surprises me. Brian Brown might just get that first Knoxville Nats on him this year though. – Jerin Steele

The new ASCoC gave up on the revenge draw (some of us had no idea how it worked anyway), and has stuck with the group qualifying format so far in 2015.  Is group qualifying the way to go to ensure everybody gets a fair shake in time trials, or is this something that should be reserved for late model and big block modified handicapping? 

It should definitely be added to Sprints.  If there is one thing that Late Models and Big Block Modifieds are ages in front of Sprints on it’s group qualifying and putting more then one car on the track at a time.  Lincoln Speedway in Pennsylvania is the only track I know of doing multi-car time trials when they run non-sanctioned time trial shows and it goes so much quicker.  Something that also helps that the All Stars are doing is one lap time trials when they have 40 or more cars.  Speeds up the process completely.  Group qualifying by your heat race is the wave of the future to make sure everyone gets a fair shake.  Lucas Oil and WoO Late Models have been doing it forever and it works.  The World of Outlaws Sprints need to take notice.  The All Stars have and it has created a more competitive environment. – Kyle Symons

Group qualifying adds an interesting dynamic to the whole qualifying process. I find it necessary in this day of age where track conditions can go through dramatic changes throughout qualifying. It is by no means flawless, however. This format does open up a greater possibility of a “stacked” heat race where several of the fastest cars just happen to be in the same heat. But overall, I think grouping by heats for Sprints works just as good as for the Late Models/Modifieds- Tyler Beichner

I like group quals for the sprinters. It is hard to sit through qualifying for me the past few years (getting older and impatient i guess) but a different approach like group qualifying has my attention when they hit the track. I say keep it, whatever gets us to the heats and features faster and as fair as possible. – Brian “Dobie” Compton

Group qualifying worked pretty well at PPMS Saturday. I think the top three cars in time trials were the first three to go. The track changed and it gave guys who got a bad draw a chance to race each other instead of being behind the eight ball from the beginning. – Jerin Steele

Let’s have a draft. You’re a sprint owner or team GM, and you have the first pick in the 2015 under 21 driver draft. Select any sprint car driver under 21, from anywhere in the world to be your driver for a introductory three year contract. Tell us who, and why you’d pick them

I would have to go with Parker Price-Miller.  That kid is making waves in Ohio in his sprint car, and was also very successful in a midget prior to that.  Young sprint driver with a lot of talent. – Kyle Symons

I’ll take 19 year old California resident Carson Macedo. He already has 1 WoO win under his belt and always runs good with the King of the West series. I think the kid has a lot of potential and has already showcased his talent on a number of occasions.- Tyler Beichner

Christopher Bell. I know his future is probably going to be on the pavement, but he can win anywhere at anytime on the dirt. To me he’s got nothing left to prove. He’s won in a 410 against the Outlaws, he’s dominated the midget ranks. If, and that’s a big if, his career trajectory kept him as a dirt racer, he could be one of the best. -Pat Miller

Who’s the most talented young driver in the north east modified ranks? Is it Wight, Rudolph, Dippel, or perhaps one Mat Williamson who just came off a podium finish at SDS Brockville a short time ago. 

Pat Miller Photo

I don’t see a lot of the Modified racing being from Virginia, but I can tell you that Tyler Dippel really impressed me down at Charlotte last year for the World Finals.  He almost won the one night when him and Danny Johnson battled.  And he did a great job of holding Johnson off through lapped traffic before putting it in the fence. – Kyle Symons

I’ve been working with Mat Williamson for the past few years when he comes down to run Lernerville, and he really is a special talent. I’ve also had a few run-ins with Erick Rudolph as well. And frankly, I had never heard of Tyler Dippel until last year’s World Finals when he made a name for himself. My money is on Williamson, because of his demeanor on and off the track. Don’t sleep on the other two as they will most definitely be strong for a long time to come. – Tyler Beichner

I gotta go with Erick Rudolph. He’s been wildly impressive very time I’ve seen him, and has proven his straight up driving chops by being a very respectable asphalt modified driver too. He reminds me very much of the late Doug Hoffman, who was the last great two-surface technician, but leaned more towards being an elite level dirt driver. I look forward to seeing Erick race going into the future. – Josh Bayko

Locally, Kevin Bolland returned to action from a 2+  year layoff and finished sixth in his first comeback race at Sharon this past Saturday. The area modified landscape has changed a little bit at the top of the heap with Mat Williamson and King Jr and Sr now fixtures weekly at Lernerville and Garrett Krummert has been very impressive early on.  Has Bolland’s window for supremacy in the area evaporated, or will he slowly regain form and join the top 5 week in and week out?

Okay first off I did mention Krummert for getting his first win at Lernerville this season in a earlier roundup in January.. I just didn’t know it would be in a modified. Anyway, I do think it will take some time for Bolland to shake off the rust, but I could definitely see him winning some races between Sharon and Lernerville this season. It’s no doubt though that the competition has strengthened in the past few years.  – Trever Steele

The days of Bolland, Murdick, and Swartzlander swapping wins are gone. There are 4-5 other cars every night in that mix to win now. I love seeing the cars and how far the drive to race against each other. I hope that arrow keeps point up. I see bolland on the downside of his race career and a win or maybe two a season will probably be the tops for him. – Brian “Dobie” Compton

And lastly, give us one reason why or why you wouldn’t be interested in seeing either a night at Knoxville Nationals, World 100, or Super DIRT Week broadcast in a movie theater with surround sound, with a bunch of fellow members of DIRT Nation in attendance. (assuming you couldn’t attend these in person as we all would like to in a dream world) Also,  assume we can sneak flasks with our favorite beverages into the venue! 

Haha, I’m always up for enjoying some beverages and watching races with some of my buddies. – Kyle Symons

My vote is for the World 100. I’m a sprint car guy through and through, but there is an aura around Eldora that goes unmatched. Historically Knoxville can match the World step-for-step, but the final decisions comes to the 100 lapper versus the 50 lapper with a fuel stop. – Tyler Beichner

The Knoxville Nationals. It’d be a fun way to spend a hot August night that’s for sure. Dirt Nation in a movie theatre playing Schatz’s Shots. What’s the worst that could happen? -Pat Miller

^ Donny Schatz would win. Eldora would be the ideal race to see. Having watched some of the DirtonDirt and Prelude to the Dream pay-per-views from there, I agree it is perfect for this idea.    – Trever Steele

We order pay-per-view all the time, why the heck would i not want to see racing on a movie theatre size screen? Heck it would be way more entertaining than Talladega Nights was. I think thats the last movie I saw at a theater actually. – Brian “Dobie” Compton



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