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TDN Roundtable: SDW Thoughts; Pittsburgher 100- Norris Is Convincing; National Open Bold Predictions

Hear ye, hear ye, the TDN court is now in session. It’s special edition round table time as an action packed (maybe a little too much action packed) Super Dirt Week has come to an end. The Pittsburgher 100 offered up a fantastic night of action at PPMS, and it’s National Open Part 2, as the rescheduled and re arranged version is set to take off at Williams Grove this Friday night.

Let’s get to it!

Daylon Barr Photo

A Learning Experience?:

Okay first let me start off by saying that this is not an indictment of the staff that worked very hard around the clock to prepare a dirt show on an asphalt surface to provide the anchor of Super Dirt Week. It was no small task, and from knowing some of the guys on the staff, we can tell you that they made every effort to work the surface into something raceable with the resources that were available. Next year, they will try again, and we’re betting that the lessons they learned will be put to use for sure. Nobody could have completely anticipated what would have happened, many had ideas that it would be rough, even some of us, but to the degree that it was, was a little surprising for some. The problems that came about with the surface are not the fault of any one person, there are factors too numerous to mention and a multitude of reasons.

Congrats to Stewart Friesen on another victory which places him in the rarefied air of SDW ace Gary Balough and close to Brett Hearn territory! Well done Mr. Friesen, who worked hard for it as Tim McCreadie looked to be a good bet down the stretch on a track that was hazardous to pass on, Friesen saved the car and still had enough to get around him in the waning laps. There were some bright moments like the late race drama under green flag conditions for the win.

The question before the board has two parts. First, in your opinion, would there be any way to prepare a surface at Oswego that can hold for five days and lots of cars? We’ve seen successful shows with dirt on asphalt before, but it’s normally done for one or two nights at the most, not five.  Second question, if it can’t be at Oswego after 2018…what track would be the solution? We’re hearing everybody’s dutch uncle say Rolling Wells or Lebanon Valley, but to be honest shouldn’t areas outside of NY be considered if Oswego/SDW is too much of a square peg in a round hole? With what track you suggest…you must include a few area tracks for satellite shows. Let’s go..

By the way, our own Daylon Barr was on site all week, check out his photo gallery RIGHT HERE
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Kyle Symons – As far as the surface goes the best way to try to work it in better would be to run another show.  If they ran something at Oswego covered in dirt the weekend before the Super DIRT Week, it would most likely help the overall surface preparation.  Either way it’s a lot of racing and a long feature and with a surface that is brand new, it’s going to be hard to get it to hold together properly.  Secondly, I would love to see the show at either PPMS or Williams Grove.  Both places could hold an event of that nature, and them being closer to my West Virginia home doesn’t hurt either.

Tyler Beichner – I’ve worked with the guys that were in charge of the track very closely, and I can promise you that they’ll learn from their mistakes. Another issue, I believe, is holding daytime races. I don’t care what dirt track you go to, it will not hold up under the sun with a lot of cars. Port Royal makes due for their Labor Day show, but that is not an overly big field that runs on it. They are lucky to get a full field for that show. In my opinion, the best solution is to get a track that can hold the race at night.

Daylon Barr – Let me start by saying that there has only been one time in my entire life that I have ever been disappointed leaving a race. This marks occasion number two. After an 80 degree day with some strong winds coming from Lake Ontario dried out the track and caused serious issues with the racing, it seemed as if there was some panic, resulting in over-watering of the track.  Once that happened, there was no fixing it with the impending rain. There would be a way to fix it. Fasten more steel to the walls just for Super DIRT Week, and add 2+ feet of clay instead of a very short looking 8″-10″. A thicker layer would have solved some of the seen issues. Super DIRT Week can NOT be held anywhere but a Central New York location on a track that is as close to a level playing field as possible. Oswego will work once the bugs are worked out. Northeast modified drivers are not like travelling sprint car/late model guys. 95% of them are working men and women. Travelling expenses would be much to high. I suggest Oswego, or, as much as I hate to say it, a completed CNYRP…

Josh Bayko – I was of the thought process that the race would more resemble the dirt on asphalt experiences at Berlin and Bristol than it would resemble Rockford. I was wrong. It happens. One thing I didn’t consider beforehand, and seemingly nobody else did either, is how much heavier the divisions running at Oswego as compared to the sprints, late modes that have run on the dirt on asphalt stuff. Add that to the sheer amount of laps expected out of the surface, and it’s going to be extremely hard to keep out in front of it enough to have a consistently good racing surface. That’s an issue that’s not going to go away without a serious re-vamping of SDW.

Gary Heeman- There was so much working against the track crew, it wasn’t even funny. Not enough time to prepare most likely, the weather most definitely worked against them. And too much racing, too many cars for what they had to work with.  Do I blame anybody? Hell no!! CNYRP wasn’t ready (most likely never will be ready, people should open their eyes) They did the best they could with what they had. They had to make a choice, Oswego was it and that meant only two weeks to work in a surface. I’d expect next year they’ll work smarter and not harder with the lessons they learned from this year. Will it be better…yes. Enough to recommend holding it there every year? Maybe not. Charlotte and Virginia are great tracks, but too far away.  Other tracks in New York, eh…you’ll have the same complaints that you did at Syracuse only in different form. Remember this, as bad as some of the reaction was to this one, I never once…ever heard anything but complaints about the racing at Syracuse for the most part. A few liked it, but so many that loved the party would still openly complain “the racing sucks, but the party is good”. Happened every Monday after the 200, and will most likely always happen.  There were actually some good things people said about this weekend, more fan interaction, parking was better than anticipated, party level was close to the Cuse or similar. But what sucks…..is that sadly you won’t hear about it as much.

Personally, I have no problem with moving it to Eldora or a PPMS with renovations and use of Lernerville and Sharon for satellites. It’ll never happen, but truly…it might be the first time most people didn’t openly complain so hard.
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Pittsburgher 100:

Some of us were in the house this week, at a place that doesn’t always get the pats on the back it deserves, but is legendary in it’s own right. The annual Pittsburgher 100 for the Lucas Late Models took place Saturday night and confirmed what people were saying about the last one and what is normally the case with regards to the racing there. It was was as fast, smooth and racy as you could hope for. Josh Richards held off a hard charging Scott Bloomquist (who put his skirt on during podium interviews), for the win. Bloomer went a little harder on tires and it looks like it cost him a chance at the win.  Tell us what surprised you in the way of drivers performances good and not so good. And also, is Michael Norris now primed for a breakout season in 2017 following his flashes of brilliance down the stretch in 2016? It appears yes and you could have actually said that about this season, is national or more regional touring a reasonable expectation if resources are available?
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Kyle Symons – Gregg Satterlee surprised me for the good.  He’s been really inconsistent this season so far with some flashes of brilliance, but he struggled in some really big shows.  It seems like the familiarity he has with PPMS definitely helped him this past weekend as he looked very fast in charging to the front.  He was a good ways behind Richards and Bloomquist, but most guys have been this year.  As far as Michael Norris goes he’s been very impressive to me this season.  From his run in a qualifying feature at Lernerville to setting fast time at Eldora, Norris has been impressive.  Winning his heat at PPMS over the weekend helped as well.  He may have fallen to tenth in the feature, but I look for big things for him in the future.  If the resources are available, he should definitely branch out and run some more big shows next season.

Tyler Beichner – Satterlee was a bit of a surprise. As Kyle mentioned, he’s been really inconsistent this year from his LOLMDS win at Hagerstown to his struggles at the Firecracker 100. Once Michael Norris got one of Rocket’s XR1 Chassis, his season really took off. There was a noticeable difference just at Lernerville every week. Then comes the quicktime at the World 100, new track record at PPMS…no doubt the kid is on a roll. He joins the likes of Jared Miley and other Western PA racers that could really challenge on a regional scene if they had more time and resources to venture around.

Pat Miller Photo

Josh Bayko – I don’t know that I was as surprised so much by Norris’ performance this past weekend. He has been pretty incredible locally the second half of the season, and his Eldora performance had to give him even more confidence going into a race at a track he’s very familiar with. Good things were bound to happen for him. It’ll be interesting to see if these solid runs against national talent will spur him to maybe try some more of these crown jewel races going into the future. I was also pleasantly surprised by Alex Ferree actually having a decent qualifying run. For as good as he is at Lernerville and PPMS, it has always seemed to me that he never qualifies all that well, so it puts him at a disadvantage from the jump when the big guns come to town. He avoided that this weekend.

Gary Heeman- I loved this race. I remember the days of the unsanctioned Pittsburgher with all sorts of divisions and I’d leave the place not completely entertained. The racing was good, but there was little in the way of atmosphere. On Saturday night….I felt the buzz all night long, and I wasn’t even drinking much. There was excitement, anticipation, and a near capacity grandstand.  Watching Bloomquist run down Richards was intriguing, you could watch them move all over the place in a classic battle of hunter vs hunted with the two best drivers in late model racing (undebatable).  As far as Norris goes this year, I raised an eyebrow with the heat win at Volusia.  I was encouraged by his 2nd half at Lernerville. I was sold by quick time at Eldora, and after his performance at PPMS…..I’m convinced.  Would buy stock in him today if I had a commensurate bankroll. Watch out for him in 2017! And I wish he would come to the World Finals….I think he could shock the world one more time in 2016!

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Pat Miller Photography



National Open Part 2:

Following a total rain out two weeks ago, the World of Outlaws take center stage this weekend with the makeup of the National Open on Friday night at Williams Grove. It’s now $25,000 to win for the one night show, but should still bring all the same cars that would have made it previously. Greg Hodnett captured the win this past Friday night and brings a little momentum. Did the time off effect Stevie Smith’s momentum or Danny Dietrich’s? Will the Outlaws prevail? Who do you think is standing in victory lane on Friday night, and are you a little surprised that they didn’t add a Thursday portion and keep the $50,000 purse on Friday? Give us your bold prediction!

Kyle Symons – To me there are a lot of top contenders for the big check on Friday.  Donny Schatz has to be the favorite because he’s that way every time he unloads anywhere in the country, but Pennsylvania hasn’t been as kind to Donny as it used to be.  As far as top contenders to knock Schatz off I would have to go with Lance Dewease, Greg Hodnett and Stevie Smith out of the Pennsylvania contingent.  They’re all three really fast right now, and Dewease already has a WoO win at Williams Grove earlier this season.  Stevie Smith has been fast as of late picking up the Dirt Classic at Lincoln and he’s the defending champion of this event.  Greg Hodnett has been fast all year and knows how to get the job done in time trial shows.  At the end of the day though I look for Donny Schatz in victory lane on Friday night.

Tyler Beichner – As will be the case most years at this point in October, getting a nice day for a show takes some luck. Stringing together some nice weather for multi-day shows is damn near impossible. I think they were smart to keep it to a one-day event this time around. Schatz is clearly the favorite as is the case at every other sprint car show he enters. There are the usual Posse faves – Dewease, Hodnett, Dietrich, Smith. My money for an upset is on three guys: David Gravel (former National Open winner), Daryn Pittman, and Brian Montieth. I’ve heard rumblings that Montieth and the #21 may be coming to an end, and if that’s the case then they’ll be looking to go out with a bang.

Gary Heeman- Okay so Schatz may be an obvious answer, of course he is. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick perhaps not a winner, but a dark horse worth keeping an eye on….Mr. Alan Krimes. He might not even make the top 10, but he could definitely be one guy everybody’s talking about when all is said and done. Whether that’s a heat win, a fast time trial, or toying with a podium spot. For the win…I’m taking David Gravel. His last National Open win was controversial and was very unexpected. This one will be completely drama free, and will surprise absolutely nobody!

Jerin Steele- It seems like the remnants of a hurricane or a front carrying a wall of rain comes through Williams Grove the week of the National Open every year. Even when they get it in I remember being out there and watching the radar and hoping it wouldn’t rain. Lance Dewease and Kreitz have been awesome out there this year, so I think they finish it off with a win this Friday. Daryn Pittman has been close before, so if an outlaw takes the check I’ll go with him.

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Best Tailgate Menu:

We had our first TDN tailgate picnic Saturday night at the Pittsburgher, a great way to save money on food at bigger shows where you plan to hang out in the parking lot for a while by the way, and had a generally good time.  There’s a lot to be said for Brats, Kielbasa, Potato Salad and Chips, Cookies and Beer…..lots and lots of BEER, (ty to Frank Iudiciani for the imported craft beers btw).  Tell us what is the perfect parking lot tailgate menu.  First one that says grilled spam will put on the TDN Horses Head of Shame!!!
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Tyler Beichner – Shame on me for never truly tailgating at an event. Anymore, the only events I go to are ones that I’m working (aside from the World Finals) so the beer has to be put on hold until after the races. A handful of years ago in Charlotte when they ran back-to-back shows on Saturday, I enjoyed some leftover Quaker Steak n’ Lube wings in the parking lot between the two races. That definitely tops the list for me.

Josh Bayko – One can never go wrong with burgers and dogs at a tailgate. They’re easy to cook while you’re drinking some beers and bench racing with your buds. But if you’re ever looking to get a little creative, pork chop sandwiches and steak sandwiches can also be easy enough to keep an eye on whilst imbibing your favorite adult beverage. One tailgating pitfall to avoid is having to use a knife on whatever food you’re serving. Cutting meat and paper plates don’t and will never mix particularly well.

Gary Heeman- I’m bringing Beef Stew next time it colder than a witches sweater bumper….could have used some Saturday night.  Pulled Pork Nachos for with win….with barbeque sauce, sour cream, green onions and salsa, this we’ll try at the Firecracker next June!

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