Race Weekend Central

Dirty (Half) Dozen: Shane Clanton vs. Ricky Weiss Makes Logano/Byron Look Tame

1. Dirt racing disciplinarians rightly stomp out Clanton vs. Weiss

Joey Logano and William Byron wish their feud was the biggest in the South this weekend. Saturday night saw East Alabama Motor Speedway host arguably the biggest fireworks show that super late model racing has seen in 2022, with Shane Clanton and Ricky Weiss getting into a heated exchange early in the Spring Nationals feature. Watch the tape.

The end result was that both drivers were disqualified from the event, leaving national powerhouses Tim McCreadie and Brandon Overton to settle the score (Overton would take the win). 

Part of me thinks Ricky Weiss got done wrong, being lumped in with Clanton’s DQ. Clanton’s slide job that started this whole episode was close enough in my book to justify Weiss giving him a kick in the rear, and though the cameras missed it, it sure looked like it was Clanton that cut off Weiss under yellow. 

On the other hand, this feud was clearly festering, and Weiss didn’t excuse himself from the gesticulating under yellow. There are plenty of good reasons for dirt late model racing to take no-contact policies very seriously, and the Spring Nationals officials were well within their rights to park both drivers. 

This ain’t NASCAR. Backup cars don’t grow on trees at this level of racing.

2. The super late model split kicks off

This is shaping up to be an exciting mid-week for super late model racing fans, though said excitement is dampened a bit by having two major events running in competition with each other. Wednesday night sees the kickoff of three straight nights of racing at the Dirt Track at Charlotte leading up to Saturday’s Colossal 100 for the XR Super Series. 

Meanwhile, Flo Racing’s inaugural Illinois Speedweeks also kicks off Wednesday night, with two events for the Flo Racing Night in America tour as well as a weekend duo under the MARS sanction. 

Sadly, that means the car count will split. And while the expected entry list posted by the XR Super Series suggests that they’re going to win on that front, a major super late model event missing Brandon Sheppard and Bobby Pierce is lesser for that fact. 

I’d expect the racing to be good for both events. It’ll also allow Flo Racing and RaceXR’s streaming services to be compared in a legitimate head-to-head. Look for notes on that in this coming weekend’s Thinkin’ Dirty.

3. Weather-mixed fields a contrast to F1

With the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and the World of Outlaws both rained out for the weekend, there were some unexpectedly good fields across dirt racing. McCreadie was a surprise at East Alabama, while Knoxville’s weekly 410 race drew more than 40 cars.

For my money, that’s one of the coolest things about dirt racing … the potential for surprises in the field is very real and happens every week. But is that an overall benefit to the sport?

I ask the question because it’s in very sharp contrast to the Formula 1 race in Miami that ran on Sunday and that was drawing $900 a ticket … and getting it. Speaking to a couple cousins of mine at a recent family function that have followed the Netflix masses into F1 fan-hood, they highlighted the fact that the 20-car F1 field made it much easier to keep tabs with the sport’s storylines as a major positive. I’d wager I have to keep tabs on at least 20 races a weekend to drink enough from the fire hose to sound competent writing this feature.

What can I say? Dirt racing fans like it messy.

4. DirtVision’s well-handled Knoxville wreck

The worst wreck I saw on the weekend came at the same Knoxville Raceway, with Christian Bowman enduring a vicious flip that sent him to a local hospital.

The way the wreck response unfolded was a little unorthodox; the track PA announced almost immediately after emergency crews arrived on scene that the driver was OK, yet after several minutes on the scene, the decision was made to get the stretcher out to transport the driver. As soon as the back ambulance doors opened, DirtVision went to commercial.

That was absolutely the right way to handle the situation, regardless of some Twitterati that immediately complained about the cut.

There’s no reason to stay live on the scene once medical crews are at work, whether the incident is life-threatening or not. And while DirtVision could have cut to a camera not looking at the wreck without going to commercial, I’m not going to fault the outlet for cutting away as a potentially situation unfolded. If race fans learned anything from the 2020 Daytona 500, when it comes to injuries, it’s far more important to be be informed and right than fast.

5. Tire shortage cancelations go national

The sprint car tire shortage is now affecting national series as well, with the Lucas Oil ASCS tour canceling its upcoming trip to South Dakota over concerns that Hoosier could not provide an adequate inventory for the expected car count.

Not a lot more to be said here. There’s no short-term solution to supply chain and capacity issues that have impacted both Hoosier and American Racer. The only thing I’ll say is that I sincerely hope that cancelations of trips to more rural areas don’t become a permanent cost saving measure on national dirt racing tours (and I don’t have any reason to think that will happen). 

Dirt racing is one of the very few sports left in this country that actually has the big leagues represent from coast to coast. Another one of those “messy” conditions that make this sport fun.

6.Tornado at Lake Cumberland

A messy situation not fun for anyone involved transpired in Kentucky this weekend, with a tornado doing damage to the Lake Cumberland Speedway.

Two things to credit the track management for in their response to this disaster. One, they’ve been emphatic that they are going to re-open for their big-dollar Iron-Man Late Model race this coming Saturday, demonstrating real resilience. Even more laudable, they’ve asked fans not to organize any fundraising campaigns to repair the track, opting to handle it on their own. 

To those race fans responsible for any fundraising, use those funds to buy tickets this weekend. Or donate to storm relief efforts. Or both, if your pocketbooks allow.

Best of luck to Lake Cumberland on Saturday.

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