Speed51.com's "The Big 10"
Our Take on the Week(s) That Was in Short Track Racing
by Speed51.com Staff
We’ve had all kinds of people – racers, industry folks and strangers – contact us about the crazy finish in last Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event.  Some of them badmouthed one driver or another (or all of the drivers), some praised the exciting finish where Todd Szegedy and Ted Christopher junked their cars going for the win with a number of other drivers involved in the finish in some way, shape or form.  The bottom line is people are still talking about the race even still today.  All the Mod maniacs keeps saying their beloved series doesn’t get enough publicity, but with finishes like that and the announcement that SPEED’s going to broadcast a couple races later this year, maybe it’s time for everyone to appreciate the Tour instead of whining about what’s wrong with it.

When a driver takes the checkered-flag first at a track, it is supposed to be a happy experience.  Unfortunately, Caraway Speedway (NC) sucked all the fun out of Alex Yontz winning Wednesday’s Rusty Harpe Memorial 200-lap NASCAR Late Model Stock race.  Yontz wasn’t even able to drive into victory lane.  Instead, due to past tech issues with the car he drives, he was ordered to the tech area where he was practically strip-searched while being patted down by a police officer looking for traction control.  Tech officials also snipped off the driver’s door on his car and the “victory lane” photos were taken at the tech area.  To top it off, observers say Yontz was badmouthed on the public address system after the event.  Someone needs to teach Caraway Speedway something called sportsmanship.

Nobody would blame Tim McCreadie if he wanted to just hang it up and quit racing.  A development deal with Richard Childress Racing went sour and then T-Mac suffered a painful and serious back injury during the running of the Chili Bowl this winter.  Medical bills piled up and nothing seemed to be going right for him.  Still, McCreadie couldn’t wait to get back into a racecar.  After all, he’s a true racer.  He couldn’t wait to start winning again either and proved that by capturing the 40-lap World of Outlaws Late Model Series ‘Great Northern Tour' A-Main at Canandaigua Speedway.

600 Racing / INEX released information this week that in 2010, only two wheel makes sold directly through them will be allowed in Legends Car competition starting March 1st, 2010.  According to them, this is supposed to save the competitors money, but instead, it is forcing hundreds of drivers across the country to scrap thousands of wheels they bought directly from the soon-to-be outlawed wheel makers and buy more directly from 600 Racing to even be able to race next year.  They are right ... money is the issue, but it sounds like it is to line their pockets with money from the drivers' bank account.

In many places, short track racing is struggling.  Barre, Vermont is not one of those places.  On Thursday night, fans filled the stands, the grass, the hills, the standing-room only areas and even hang from a few of the granite boulders overlooking the track to watch the Governor’s Cup race.  We’re told that fans were even turned away from the track – not because any more of them couldn’t fit in, but because the police didn’t have anyplace to guide the traffic.  Having Tony Stewart there didn’t hurt, but we can attest that finding a seat if you are late to T-Road on any Thursday night is just about as hard as winning there.

When a high profile NASCAR star enters a Short Track race... Most expect them to whoop up on the competition.  That wasn't the case during New England Summer Speedweeks.  Tony Stewart flopped at the ACT race at Thunder Road and was whooped by his teammate Joey Pole.  Stewart’s Cup teammate, Ryan Newman, led laps at the NEMA Midget race at Lee, but got beat by Randy Cabral. Newman was fast in a Mod at NHMS but spun out on his own.  Kasey Kahne got the crunch in that same mod race. If you are keeping score that would be NE Short Trackers - 4, Cuppers - 0.

You’d have to go back to the inaugural season of PASS North racing in 2001 to find a time when someone other than Johnny Clark or Ben Rowe won the championship.  In fact, the only real competition for a title during that time came from people with the same surnames – Mike Rowe and Cassius Clark.  But Adam Bates would like to see a new name in the record book and he’s showing that he’s serious about that goal.  Bates beat Clark in a 10-lap sprint to the finish at Beech Ridge on Friday night and wrestled away the point lead.  How nervous was Bates at going wheel to wheel with a proven champ after a late race restart?  “I was wetting myself,” he told Speed51.com.

While racing’s most overhyped driver (other than Dale Jr.), Danica Patrick, squeaked into the top five of the Indy Racing League race at Richmond, a pair of short track girls really got the job done this past weekend.  Johanna Long beat up on the big boys and won her second Blizzard Series race of the young season, while Meghan Dillner broke through to victory lane in the Pro Challenge Series by winning at Hickory.  Out on the West Coast, Toni McCray won the ASA Late Model feature and Kim Marzullo winning in Factory Fours at Orange Show Speedway (CA).  Down in Texas, Marcia Moore won the Grand Stock feature at Thunderhill.  You go, girls!

9)  ...IT'S ON!
There is nothing as good in short track racing and a down and dirty rivalry.  It’s even better when there is no political correct masking of feelings.  So it’s refreshing to see the battle between Donny Lia and Ted Christopher re-ignite.  Those two have traded paint and barbs at tracks from Connecticut to Florida.  On Saturday, they got into it again during the finish at NHMS that looked a lot like the legendary Richie Evans/Geoff Bodine Martinsville finish of decades ago. 

We’re really having fun with our new radio gig and this weekend might have been our busiest weekend yet.  Speed 51 Radio and RaceTalkRadio.com teamed up for races from Thunder Road, Lee and White Mountain and had great ratings.  Meanwhile, our pals Carey and Coffey broadcast the Mod Tour race from New Hampshire on the NASCAR Home Tracks website and got so many hits that they crashed the website.  Cup racing might have their TV coverage, but is Internet Radio the next big thing for short track racing?  After this weekend, it sure looks like it.