NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2021 Topless 100 at Batesville

The Headline(s)

The Hell Tour is over, Hudson O’Neal wins the Topless 100 and reminds OnlyFans that topless does pay well, and the race of the year breaks out at Indy.

Our Feature Spotlights

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 KB39 (USAC National Midgets)
Where: The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Speedway, Ind. (streamed on Flo Racing)
Why We Chose It: A $15,000-to-win event with Roger Penske promoting tends to demand attention.

Kyle Larson won what was easily the race of the year in any discipline Thursday night, emerging the victor in a thrilling feature race involving the current NASCAR Cup Series points leader and USAC regulars Justin Grant and Thomas Meseraull (watch the entire replay reel in the tweet below, it is so worth it).

The three-way battle for the win reached a pinnacle on lap 35, when Larson was pinched into the turn 4 wall in a three-wide that saw his midget bounce off the wall and into Meseraull, leaving the race to be decided between Grant and Larson. Though Grant arguably had the smoother race in the closing laps, Larson’s midget held up through constant slamming of the cushion in turns 2 and 4, netting Yung Money a $15,000 check and leaving Grant all but speechless in his post-race interview.

For those that have Flo Racing and didn’t catch this one, go watch the replay. Racing doesn’t get better than this one.

Friday, Aug. 20, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 Leffler Energy Night (World of Outlaws Late Models)
Where: Williams Grove Speedway – Williams Grove, Pa. (streamed on DirtVision)
Why We Chose It: Kyle Larson on the entry list.

Keeping current WoO runner-up Chris Madden at bay in the early going, home-state driver Gregg Saterlee was able to hold off a hard-charging Kyle Larson until Larson’s car broke down with four laps to go. From there, despite enduring a green-white-checkered finish after Thompson, Pa.’s Dan Stone stopped in turn 4 on the white-flag lap, Satterlee drove off to score his first victory on the WoO tour since 2014.

With Larson’s mechanical woes, Friday night proved a banner night for a number of racers in the local area. Young gun Pennsylvanian Max Blair finished in the runner-up position, while Winchester Speedway crate late model veteran Kyle Hardy finished fifth, equaling his career-best on the tour.

Of note, Larson rebounded to win Saturday’s WoO late model race at Sharon Speedway on Saturday.

Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 Topless 100 (Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series)
Where: Batesville Motor Speedway – Batesville, Ark. (streamed on MAVTV Plus)
Why We Chose It: At $40,000-to-win, Saturday’s highest-paying dirt race.

Jonathan Davenport made it interesting and briefly took the lead twice on the final lap with dive-bomb slide jobs, but a dominant Hudson O’Neal held on to win by a nose in the signature super late model race at Batesville. 

Hudson O'Neal Racing WINS TOPLESS 100.,HELL YELL .. what a freaking race if you don’t like DIRT racing like that you NEVERlove DIRT RACING ..Congratulations

Posted by Marty Harper on Saturday, August 21, 2021

O’Neal, who took the lead from defending Topless winner Jimmy Owens immediately after a lap 38 restart for the race’s first caution, ran away with what proved to be an uneventful feature race. Davenport did close in the final 10 laps of the event, getting to within half a car length at race’s end. 

Success Stories

Fargo native Donny Schatz scored career World of Outlaws win No. 301 in front of his hometown crowd at Red River Saturday night. Think it was a popular win?

Even before Saturday’s finale program for the Hell Tour started at Merritt Speedway in Michigan on Saturday, Bobby Pierce and Nick Hoffman each clinched their fourth tour championship (Hoffman clinched the modified title weeks ago and wasn’t even present, as he’s now racing super late models for the injured Scott Bloomquist). These two drivers combined to win 32 features of 58 contested, and made the points chases on the tour all but academic. Not great for fans, but driving success for sure.

Outside of the title winners, it’s hard to think of a driver that’s benefitted more from this year’s Hell Tour than Hampton, Ga.’s Ashton Winger. A driver that seemed to find trouble on every single tour he’s tried to run in 2021, Winger won six races during the Summer Nationals, including Saturday night’s finale, and ends the tour in superb form. Plus, his steering wheel drop celebration in victory lane is a good one.

Satterlee did well enough winning a WoO late model race flag-to-flag, but even if Larson hadn’t broken it sure looked like the driver nicknamed “the Truth” had the car to beat him outright … on lap 26, Larson got to within an arm’s length of Satterlee’s No. 22, but a superb driver through traffic by Satterlee allowed him to quickly gap Larson’s No. 6. The best car won Friday night at the Grove.

The local Batesville crowd got to see longtime veteran (and six-time Topless 100 winner) Billy Moyer Sr. make possibly his final start in the crown jewel race in style, as he won the first B-main Saturday night.

Lastly, a HUGE shoutout to local modified racer Payton Taylor, whose Andrews AutoSport operation offered to pay admission to Saturday’s Topless 100 at the Batesville Motor Speedway to any race fans that took part in Arkansas’s pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the track. 

Attention Batesville Motor Speedway racers & fans – the Arkansas Department of Health has stepped up to support our…

Posted by Batesville Motor Speedway on Thursday, August 19, 2021

I’ve contacted the team to see if they have any merchandise for sale and will provide that information in a future edition if I find it. And of note, Taylor won Saturday’s modified feature at Batesville.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Posse member Freddie Rahmer took a tumble clear out of the Williams Grove Speedway Frida night, clearing the turn 1 guardrail. The driver later stated that he was sore, but would be racing at Lincoln Speedway tonight (he finished 23rd).

DirtVision didn’t catch it outright, but Tanner English definitely hit Devin Moran on the cool-down laps at Tri-City Motor Speedway on Friday night (more on that later).

Buncombe, Ill.’s Cary Oliver’s first career USAC Silver Crown start at Springfield ended with a wreck in qualifying and an ambulance ride away from the racetrack (Oliver was able to climb out of his car but was taken to the hospital for observation).

Fanning the Flames

I’ll admit it, this was exactly my reaction the second I heard that Kasey Kahne broke the track record at Red River Saturday night.

DirtonDirt had plenty of good stuff to say about how bloated the Summer Nationals have gotten. I’ll keep it blunt: the Hell Tour is finally over. Granted, the tour wasn’t helped by the utter dominance of Pierce and Hoffman, but it was telling to listen to commentator Ruben Mirales in qualifying at Merritt Speedway Saturday go on for over a minute before finally realizing that Chad Finley had wrecked in qualifying, the DirtVision equivalent of staring off into space. Too much of a good thing is just that: too much.

Let’s stick with the Hell Tour for a second. How the hell does the World Racing Group suspend Tyler Erb for a literal year after he used his car as a weapon on track at Cedar Lake last season, yet Tanner English is allowed to start and contend for second-in-points money ONE NIGHT removed from doing the same thing? No, English’s petulance was nowhere near as ridiculous as Erb’s tantrum from a year ago, but this decision reeked of the WRG wanting to hype up what was left of a points race that was decided a long time ago. NASCAR-level consistency here.

Nick Hoffman’s time as a substitute behind the wheel of Bloomquist’s super late model has immediately made the car more competitive and made it clear that regardless of how good the modified that he drove to win 19 of 20 Hell Tour starts was, the driver has talent. Having said that, the No. 2 modified that he eviscerated the field in this summer should go into a museum right alongside Jeff Gordon’s T-Rex machine. It may be legal, but it turns dirt races into sedatives.

When I see a topless woman, my immediate thought is “keep going.” When I see a topless late model, my immediate thought is “keep building.” There is nothing remotely appealing or attractive to turning the sexiest racecar in dirt racing into something resembling a junkyard hobby stock. Especially considering that even in a topless, race drivers can run covers over their open roofs (see O’Neal’s car in the tweet below).

I ripped into DirtVision for what I consider very glaring shortcomings several weeks ago. This weekend it’s MAVTV Plus’s turn. The opening 13 laps of Saturday’s Topless 100 were literally unwatchable. 

The signal did clear up to the point it was watchable, but distortion, static and fuzziness were aplenty and made watching the crown jewel event a pain. Having been to that part of Arkansas before, I can attest to the lack of cell coverage in places, but that’s what these streaming subscriptions literally pay for. Very disappointing effort, especially for a crown jewel race.

I’ve covered numerous ARCA races over the years at Springfield, and even attended the 2018 ARCA race at the track in person. Even knowing how special the venue is as part of the Illinois State Fair, Saturday’s USAC Silver Crown race at the venue was a gem and made me wish that a) there were more 1-mile dirt ovals left and b) that more dirt series would contest the few remaining 1-milers. Watching long-green flag runs give way to comers and goers on the track, a second groove developing on the track and NO SCHEDULED CAUTIONS was a true breath of fresh air, even if rain ended the event 26 laps short of the scheduled distance.

It’s a good thing that USAC-sanctioned racing was so good this weekend, because lord knows title sponsor NOS Energy needed something to feel good about. Thursday night saw NOS-sponsored drivers Tyler Courtney and Chris Windom involved in incidents in the first 10 laps, while Saturday’s Silver Crown event saw Windom scratched from the event before qualifying and Justin Grant suffer a mechanical failure at the race’s midpoint while running in the top three.

I get that Williams Grove Speedway has a distinctive look and feel to it, but how a track that is such a sprint car fixture that it has a literal museum to the sport on its campus has no catchfence in turn 1 seems like a glaring oversight. Especially given that already this season that same corner saw Jonestown, Pa.’s Bryan Bernheisel hospitalized after his late model was able to clear the same guardrail in March. If a late model can clear the fence, it needs to be reinforced, period.

Predictably, Facebook’s ever-plentiful corps of medical experts eviscerated the Batesville Motor Speedway’s posting about the state of Arkansas’s free vaccine clinic held at the facility during Saturday’s Topless 100. Don’t want to get vaccinated? So be it. But blasting the racetrack itself for offering the choice to race fans is asinine behavior on two fronts. One, freedom is a two-way street. And two, with COVID-19 rampaging throughout the South well before cool weather does its thing, how the hell does it make sense to expect the racetrack to be openly combative with a state board of health? Ask the idiots that run Ace Speedway in North Carolina how that worked out.

And in all fairness, I will edit this to note that Saturday night’s late model finale for the Hell Tour at Merritt ended up being a damn good race. Maybe too much of a good thing is just a good thing.

Numbers Game

2 – number of cell bars LOLMDS commentator James Essex reported having at Batesville Saturday night. The quality of the feed from MAVTV Plus at times lends credence to this report.

7 – USAC Silver Crown entries that scratched after the Springfield mile went hot for practice Saturday (31 started the feature).

38 – years between USAC Silver Crown appearances for Clinton, Ind.’s Dave Peparak (he finished 27th).

Where it Rated (on a scale of one to six cans with one a stinker and a six-pack an instant classic): We’ll give the weekend five cold Coors Lights. A quiet snoozer of a Topless 100 that no one could watch the whole way through kept the weekend from a six-pack. 

Up Next: The summer may be waning, but the weekend goes on, with both World of Outlaws tours contesting Sunday night events and the Short Track Super Series bringing its modifieds to the Georgetown Speedway in Delaware on Tuesday. Coverage will be available on DirtVision and Flo Racing, respectively.

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