The Big 10's Take On the 10 Biggest Stories From the Week That Was In Short Track Racing
We were afraid that with current economic conditions, this year’s car count for the sixth annual North-South Shootout would drop like the Dow Jones Average of late.  But Modified competitors showed that if there is a great race with great promotion and a decent purses, they will find a way to get there.  Over 40 Tour-type Modifieds showed up to attempt to qualify for this year’s race at Concord Motorsport Park.

Typically, calling a race a “non-points” event can sometimes mean low car count and low excitement.  That doesn’t seem to be true about the ASA Late Models “Kings Ransom 300” at Memphis this weekend.  In Elvis’ town, some big names are entered, including NASCAR young guns Erik Darnell and Stephen Leicht, as well as some guys like Steve Carlson and Ross Kenseth (Matt’s kid) that will be out to top the all-star fields.  For as much as the Varneys get bashed for the way they run their series, this is a marquee event for the series, so let’s see how it turns out.

Okay, so a prestigious race called the “World Crown,” and the winner of the race didn’t wear a crown in victory lane?  Shame!  Supposedly there was a purple crown that was to go to the winner, but it was nowhere to be found after the race Sunday.  It could’ve made for some cool pictures and to cover up Russell Fleeman’s bald head on a chilly race night.

What is it with SK Modifieds?  Despite some talented drivers wheeling them regularly, there have been far too many crashfests over the past few years at Thompson, Stafford and Waterford.  The organizers of the North South Shootout have given them a big event to showcase their type of racing and the result this year was nothing short of an embarrassment.  How about three red flags and five caution periods in the first 17 laps of a feature?  There is plenty of blame to go around too – both lead pack drivers and lapped cars also equally acted like idiots during the race.

Maybe Clint King and Daniel Keene, Jr. should take up baseball instead of driving racecars.  After all, both drivers won enough this season to post some major league batting averages in 2008.  King won 10 Pro Challenge races for a batting average well over .400.  Meanwhile, down in Florida, Keene treated his competition just like his homestate Tampa Bay Rays – batting an mind-blowing .778 when it came to his races in the FASCAR Late Model Challenge Series.  It came as no surprise that both drivers won their respective season finales this past weekend.

Two drivers went into the North-South Shootout at Concord Saturday with a chance at a three-peat, having won each of the last two events in their respective divisions.  Matt Hirschman came up just one spot short of his NSS triple, finishing second in the Tour Mod event Saturday night.  Austin Beers, however, did what Hirschman could not, by winning his third-straight NSS feature in the kids’ pedal car feature.  Beers dominated the event for the third-straight year, becoming the first three-time NSS winner.

When Burt Myers was DQ’ed out of a Whelen Mod win at Martinsville a few months ago, the “cheater” tag was placed directly on his and his #1 car’s noses.  Gotta hand it to Myers for not giving up, fighting through the bad name he got because of the DQ to win the North-South Shootout at Concord (NC) over the weekend – passing tech with flying colors, too.

Mess with the bull Ricky Brooks and you’re gonna get the horns.  That’s the bottom line for the hard-as-nails tech boss that rules big shows like the Snowball Derby and last weekend’s World Crown at Peach State.  He’ll throw out big names like Steven Wallace at last year’s Derby to the local guy in the Street Stocks – he doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve done.  If you’re illegal, you’re gone.  Dude threw out the entire Truck and Sportsman classes at the World Crown.  He’s one bad mammajamma.

As Jimmie Johnson gets ready to clinch his third straight NASCAR Cup title, we wonder why he can’t follow the lead of drivers like Kyle Busch, David Stremme, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne or Ken Schrader by fielding a short track team to help develop young talent on either asphalt or dirt racetracks.  Short track racing sure needs all of the help it can get these days and who better than someone given the opportunity to rise all of the way up through the ranks of racing to provide that?

Props to John Wes Townley, whose family is part of the Zaxby’s Chicken empire, for pulling the Phoenix-to-Peach State triple over the weekend – Trucks and Nationwide out West and the World Crown Sunday in Georgia.  But, chances are that he didn’t envision the weekend would go the way it did.  Two wrecked trucks, two wrecked Nationwide cars, then he smashed up the front-end of his Pro Late Model in the World Crown Sunday.  Gonna have to sell some chicken, Mr. Townley, to pay off those bills.