HEADIN’ OUT… To The Track by Jeremy Troiano
One Big Televised Race Tops The List This Week
This year's Showdown at Irwindale Speedway won't have the Elite Division cars, but will have Super Late Models to race with the Grand National Division.
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What is so special about this time of year in the racing world? Well, really, what isn’t? If there is a big series race in the middle part of October, it's exciting because its probably near the end of the season and the race will have big implications in the championship chase for that particular series. Or, maybe the race will decide a series champion in itself. The race could also just be the part of a big “open show.” You know, one of those shows that brings out the best of the best. It has no points at stake. Instead, it’s just one big show to prove who is the best-of-the-best for the weekend. That type of race leads the list of whats on tap this weekend in the short track world.
The Toyota All Star Showdown – Where do the PROVEN best drivers from both the NASCAR Busch East and West Divisions race on the same weekend? Well, only one place. One of the most beautiful short tracks, if not the most beautiful, in the country… Irwindale Speedway (CA). The fifth edition of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will be held Oct. 19-20 at Irwindale.
The Showdown is one of those races that everyone knew was going to be huge when it was first announced several years ago. It would finally give the stars from NASCAR’s Touring Series a chance to shine just like the drivers in the “Big Three” get on any given weekend. The race was televised live on SPEED over two days and its brought Late Models and Grand National cars to the big time.
But this year, the Showdown is a little different. Gone is the Elite Division (although it is replaced at the Showdown with a Super Late Model event that will probably be comprised of just local Super Late Model drivers from the California area) and in is an extended version of the Grand National race. Its now for a field of 40 cars. And its now 250 laps long.
The way drivers qualify for the race is totally different too, and rather lengthy to explain. But the Grand National Division champs are in automatically, as are the champions of the Weekly Racing Series, Canadian Tire Series and the Modified Series, if they can find a Grand National car to drive at least.
But the race will still have its nights in the spotlight. On Friday night, SPEED will once again give the event LIVE coverage, beginning at 8pm Eastern on Friday night with the Grand National qualifier and the 150-lap Super Late Model event. Saturday, coverage will begin on Speed at 10:30pm with the 250-lap feature event.
Viper Series Finales – The Southeast has plenty of tracks that run their own Super Late Model Series. Five Flags Speedway has the Blizzard Series. Mobile Speedway has the Miller Lite SLM Series. Desoto Super Speedway has the All American Challenge Series.
And the high-banked South Alabama Speedway (Opp, AL) has the Viper Series… named after the track’s popular early-season short track open event, the annual Rattler.
But South Alabama takes the Viper Series to its extreme, with series for both the Pro Late Models and Super Late Models. Each division has four races, and the track crowns a Viper Series champion. This weekend, both divisions will race on the same weekend, and both will clinch track champions.
Casey Smith, who recently won the track championship at Mobile Speedway, has a huge points lead in the SLM portion of the Viper Series. He tops Ryan Sieg, recent PASS South winner Heath Hindman, Grant Enfnger and Jason Hogan just to name a few.
In the Pro Late Models though, the race is a little closer. Veteran Ronnie Sanders tops the points, but young gun Michael Pope is right there on his heels, and a good finish could give “the Wild Child” a track championship to go along with his successful season in GAS.
Casey Smith has already won at South Alabama Speedway this year with the Viper Series and will look to wrap up the track championship.
Even cooler, all of the Viper Series races in both the Super Late Models and Pro Late Models have been named after a different kind of snake. This weekend, the Pro Late Models will run the Cottonmouth 100 on Saturday night, with the Super Late Models running Alabama 200 on Sunday. And that Super Late Model race will pay $7,500 to win.
Here is the scoop on other big race this weekend.
Friday and Saturday, October 19-20
All Star Nationals, All-Star Speedway (NH) – The new ownership of the former Star Speedway has thrown a few big shows in the debut season and this weekend, they are looking to get one more of them in the books. A $10k to win, 150-lap feature for the Pro Stocks (known as Super Late Models to the rest of the short track world) will highlight Saturday night’s racing card and a $4,000 to win Modified feature is said to have a few big names, such as Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik, thinking of entering. Big Block Supermodifieds will also race at A.S.S. as part of the event.
Saturday, October 20
The Big One, Old Dominion Speedway (Manassas, VA) – One of the biggest Late Model Stock Car events in a season filled with big Late Model Stock events is the $5,000-to-win race at Old Dominion Speedway. The race features LMSC running on 10-inch tires, with a 500 CFM Carburetor on a built or crate motor with no mufflers required. It’s one that will draw plenty of names. And the weekend isn’t just Late Model Stocks… its also U-Cars and Legends Cars as well.
MIke Rowe (#2) won the PASS North race at All Star earlier in the year. Will he be back to race in the open All Star Nationals? Who knows.
12 Hours Of Ocala, Ocala Speedway (FL) – This is something that’s a little bit different. Things of the 12 Hours of Sebring… except for on a oval short track… and with any type of car you want… and plenty of beating and banging. This is the 12 Hours of Ocala, a 12-hour long enduro race that pays the winner $5,000. The winner completes the most laps in the 12 hour time frame (scored with transponders). And what are the rules for the 12 Hours of Ocala? Well, here are just a couple… any car, any motor, fuel injected is ok, minimum four point cage, 70 series DOT tires, a fuel cell, only three driver changes, fuel stops and… the kicker… NO Sebring (12 hour), Daytona (24 hour) or road course designed type cars allowed. Good thing.
Oktoberfest, Lee USA Speedway (NH) – For the 22nd year, Lee will be hosting a big weekend show to close out their racing season. What is big? Three days of track time, 10 divisions and hundreds of racecars, with the True Value Modified Racing Series headlining the weekend on Sunday. An open show for the Late Models could also attract ACT teams who aren’t ready for the season to end yet.