NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Dirty: 2021 World 100 Prelims at Eldora

The Headline(s)

Tim McCreadie stakes his claim as World 100 favorite at Eldora after an underwhelming return to the Pacific Northwest for the World of Outlaws.

Our Feature Spotlights

Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 Skagit Nationals (World of Outlaws)
Where: Skagit Speedway – Alger, Wash. (streamed on DirtVision)
Why We Chose It: At $25,000 to win, Sunday’s highest-paying dirt race after the Hillbilly 100 was rained out.

Logan Schuchart made it interesting in the mid-race, and James McFadden recovered from a Friday night flip to challenge late, but at race’s end it was Carson Macedo that scored the $25,000 finale payday late Sunday, his eighth WoO win of 2021 and the highest-paying of his career (DirtVision’s pre-race show had alluded to Macedo’s lack of a big-dollar win on his resume).

With six laps to go, McFadden gained a head of steam and was catching Macedo, but caught the lapped car of Rico Abreu in absolutely the wrong spot, losing momentum and proving unable to complete the pass. Brad Sweet finished one spot ahead of David Gravel to maintain his points lead.

Monday, Sept. 6, 2021

Spotlight: World of Outlaws
Where: Gray’s Harbor Raceway – Elma, Wash. (streamed on DirtVision)
Why We Chose It: At $10,000 to win, Monday’s highest-paying dirt race not involving a separate pay-per-view purchase.

Making up for a late-race fade at Skagit the night before, Hanover, Pa.’s Logan Schuchart broke a months-long drought and went to victory lane Monday at Gray’s Harbor Raceway, leading all 30 laps of the feature to score his third win of 2021.

Capping a lengthy race program that was delayed multiple times for sun glare, slick track conditions and a nasty flip in the non-wing sprint car support class, Schuchart went virtually unchallenged during the feature after winning the evening’s Dash race. Brad Sweet scored his 30th podium finish of the year, two spots ahead of current series runner-up David Gravel.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 IMCA Super Nationals
Where: Boone Speedway – Boone, Iowa (streamed on IMCA.tv)
Why We Chose It: Tuesday’s only dirt race live stream.

Sixty-five racing events were on the docket Tuesday at the Boone Speedway, but the only division capping its champion among the IMCA classes was the sport compacts. The 25-lap feature saw Charlotte, Iowa’s Mitch Bielenberg lead flag-to-flag to score the $1,000 win.

Bielenberg entered Tuesday’s program among the favorites after winning Sunday’s prelude feature in the same division. Said the winner of how he’d celebrate his first career win in IMCA’s crown jewel event, Bielenberg told the media “I’m going fishing.”

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021

Spotlight: 2021 World 100 Prelims
Where: Eldora Speedway – Rossburg, Ohio (streamed on Flo Racing)
Why We Chose It: Prelims for the World 100. Enough said.

It took until midway through the evening’s second A-main for a World 100 favorite to emerge, and it wasn’t Dream winner Brandon Overton. Instead, current Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points leader Tim McCreadie showed a strong hand, coming from ninth to first to win the second 25-lap A-main of the evening. McCreadie won the feature by a wide margin despite it going caution-free, and made it three straight weeks with a feature win doing so.

Overton, who made headlines for winning $273,000 in sweeping both Dream races at Eldora earlier this summer, did battle up to sixth in the first A-main, though that race proved a battle of track position, with polesitter Johnny Scott leading all 25 laps despite being stalked by Nick Hoffman for nearly the entirety of the event.

80 super late models showed up for the crown jewel event. 

Success Stories

Recovering from illness that saw Wayne Johnson have to take a night off from the WoO tour last week in the Dakotas, Johnson went from having to scratch from Friday night’s feature at Skagit due to fatigue to finishing top 10 at Gray’s Harbor on Monday. 

With the All-Star Circuit of Champions fast approaching it’s crown jewel Tuscarora 50 race at Port Royal this weekend, defending series champion Aaron Reutzel showed up for Monday’s Labor Day Classic at the Speed Palace with his new race team, and they got up to speed fast, finishing second in a caution-filled race. Reutzel may well contend for the $54,000 prize this weekend despite having been suspended for the last month.

Not only is Sweet in prime position to repeat as World of Outlaws champion and likely to set a personal high-mark for wins in a season, he’s been scoring said wins at tracks that have eluded him in past seasons. Friday’s win at the Skagit Speedway was just the latest example, as Sweet also scored first-time wins at Lincoln Speedway and River Cities earlier this year.

Sweet isn’t the only points leader flexing this midweek. McCreadie was a rocket through traffic at Eldora on Wednesday night more than any other car in the field, and is coming off a dominant win in the last LOLMDS race at Portsmouth.

Lastly, the 10th-place finish won’t go down as a highlight in Kyle Bronson’s season, but he easily won the paint scheme of the World 100 award for this tribute job.

Vexed, Villains & Victims

Tyler Erb’s return to the World 100 after being suspended from DIRTcar-sanctioned competition for all of last year got off to a rocky start, with Erb being penalized two finishing positions in his heat race for jumping out of line before a restart, a move that the Flo Racing crew was adamant had been covered as illegal in the drivers’ meeting. The video replay did seem conclusive, but still…

USAC Silver Crown Series points leader Kody Swanson had a rough Monday at DuQuoin. Not only did Swanson lose the lead under green-flag conditions when he misjudged Jason McDougal’s lapped car, but an ignition-box failure on lap 59 dropped him to a 17th-place finish, his worst of 2021. That, coupled with Logan Seavey’s podium run, left the Silver Crown Series title chase in flux with two races left in the season.

Ricky Thornton Jr. has had a rough go so far at Eldora this week, bowing out of Monday’s Baltes Classic while leading the feature thanks to a busted radiator. Wednesday night’s prelims weren’t as destructive, but Thornton still went backwards during his heat race and made no forward progress during his feature. 

The Labor Day Classic at Port Royal on Monday was anything but. It’s a messy day at the track when even the water truck finds trouble in the turns.

Fanning the Flames

I get the feeling that this was a product of reserved vs. general admission seating at Skagit (Toledo Speedway did reserve seating on its frontstretch and general admission in turn 1 the last time I visited), but the reality is having the majority of the crowd parked on the hill in turn 4 with a sparsely-filled frontstretch grandstand made for an underwhelming visual when taking in the first WoO visit to the Pacific Northwest in two years. Had the track actually been facilitating social distancing, it’d have been a best-practices video.

It was perhaps even more striking this weekend than usual considering that Sunday’s ARCA race at DuQuoin was a muddy mess with a tiny field of cars that was the worst-received edition of the Southern Illinois 100 in recent memory, but watching the Silver Crown cars take to a pristine surface on Monday led to a striking revelation… the USAC Silver Crown Series has become to oval-track racing what the ARCA Racing Series used to be.

A grab-bag of drivers from all experience levels and disciplines, driving a hodge-podge and even antique field of racecars continually prone to mechanical gremlins. That’s as high a compliment as I can pay to any form of racing.

I’m not disputing Erb’s penalty and I’m going to give Eldora’s officials the benefit of the doubt on the penalty they gave Dale McDowell in his heat race Wednesday, seeing as the video confirmed their call on Erb was correct. But, I will say that I find the concept of a two-spot penalty to be asinine. In both drivers’ cases, they were found to have illegally started their respective heats. Why then, were they both allowed to keep transfer spots to the A-main? Those penalties were as toothless as fining Kyle Busch $50,000.

See also
Kyle Busch Fined $50,000 for Safety Violation at Darlington

I’ve been to racetracks in 47 U.S. states. Tuesday night in Boone, Iowa marked the first time I’ve ever heard track announcers have to tell fans that, following a ton of complaints, they were in fact not allowed to smoke weed in the grandstand. And that announcement followed a public service announcement that fans could not use handicapped spots to park their four-wheelers and golf carts. I’d expect this type of mess in Florida, but Iowa?!

I’ve got to give promoter Brett Dayo a ton of credit for taking the lead in spec engine development for his own Short Track Super Series modified ranks. The car counts for both the top and crate divisions on the STSS tour have been exceedingly healthy in 2021, but, as Dayo told Area Auto Racing News, “there’s a huge number of cars… that want to move up, but can’t afford to” from the crate racing ranks. As a result, Dayo and his team are testing a small-block spec engine that, when coupled with a rulebook-allowed weight reduction, is intended to allow a team to run competitively. Credit to the STSS tour, which is already among the more flexible tours running by allowing both small and big-block mods to compete. 

The IMCA Super Nationals may be the most demanding event to broadcast this side of the Chili Bowl, given that the event is six days long and runs forever … the weekday race programs are starting at 3 p.m. eastern, with Tuesday’s Hobby Stock division contesting 14 heat races on their own. Having said that, bringing in Wade Aunger, the Australian equivalent of Michael Waltrip who seemingly had no idea who the regulars of IMCA racing were, to crack Rutledge-level jokes made for a painful telecast. IMCA.tv provides a valuable service bringing legit grassroots dirt racing to viewers… let’s stick with an actual grassroots PA announcer?

James Essex and late model driver Randy Weaver are having the opposite effect on Flo Racing’s telecast, as they both brought some real color the proceedings. To everyone on Flo though, let’s make two facts clear. The camper lot was nowhere near full on Wednesday. Neither were the grandstands. These are facts. The hyperbole about crowd size is not needed nor warranted.

Numbers Game

3 – incidents and false starts that occurred before scoring a lap in Monday’s sprint car feature at Port Royal.

70 – number of sport compacts entered in Tuesday’s program at Boone.

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 midweek two watered-down Eldora Toilet Waters. Outside of the Silver Crown cars at DuQuoin, there wasn’t much to remember from the last few days’ racing.

Up Next: As has been the case with Eldora, this weekend will see both this year’s and last year’s World 100 contested. Coverage on Flo Racing. Well worth a monthly subscription to catch the action over the next three days.

 

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