Dirty Thirty: Pinning down championship favorites in each Adams County Speedway class
QUINCY — We’re now deep enough into the dirt-track racing season to start making some assessments concerning the five weekly series at Adams County Speedway. That will be this week’s approach to our familiar Dirty Thirty Thoughts about the modifieds, sport mods, crate late models, stock cars and 4-Cylinders.
Championship favorite: Austin Becerra is going to be tough to tame in his bid for a second straight series championship.
Biggest surprise to date: It’s probably Mike Vanderiet Jr., who has consistently run up front since the start of the season.
Best bet for a comeback from a slow start: Shawn Deering missed the first week of the season due to illness and had a DNF right after that, but since then has been a weekly contender. Deering is just now beginning to make his presence felt in the points standings.
Who is likely to be the next driver to win his/her first feature of 2023: Vanderiet Jr., probably sooner than later.
Key series statistic: The deep talent pool in this division is one reason there has been no back-to-back feature winner yet this season.
Championship favorite: Right now the man to beat is the series’ most improved driver — Reed Wolfmeyer.
Biggest surprise to date: It’s Wolfmeyer again.
Best bet for a comeback from a slow start: Adam Birck. Don’t worry, the defending champ will be in the points hunt before long.
Most likely to be the next driver to win his/her first feature of 2023: Now that the monkey’s off Tanner Klingele’s back, steady Dakota Girard (who is tied for second in points) is a good pick to finally reach the checkered flag first.
Key series statistic: Wolfmeyer has led 39 feature laps. No other sport mod driver has been in front more than 18 laps.
Crate late models
Championship favorite: I think Racin’ Jason from Payson has earned this honor. Jason Perry’s return has been a tremendous overall boost to this series. Perry, defending champ Denny Woodworth, Tommy Elston and Sam Halstead should wage quite a battle for the title this summer and early fall.
Biggest surprise to date: Jamie Wilson came out of retirement and it has seemed like he was never gone. He missed two weeks of points racing, or he would be higher than ninth in the standings.
Best bet for a comeback from a slow start: Elston struggled early, but he appears to be back on track — no pun intended.
Most likely to be the next driver to win his/her first feature of 2023: Elston. It’s just a matter of time.
Key series statistic: The late models are averaging 15 cars per show, which is four more than their final 2022 average, which included last year’s Hell Tour and MARS specials.
Championship favorite: Jake Powers has been steady since the drop of the first green flag.
Biggest surprise to date: Kale Foster and Brandon Boden are second and third, respectively, in points. They have not captured many of the early headlines, but have strung together a series of steady performances.
Best bet for a comeback from a slow start: Sage Martin now has three top-five feature finishes and is slowly climbing her way up the standings.
Most likely to be the next driver to win his/her first feature of 2023: Martin.
Key series statistic: Since the track re-opened in 2022, Robert Cottom has won nine main events and Zaragoza seven. No other stock driver has more than two.
Championship favorite: At this point in the season, Jeffrey DeLonjay appears to be in a class by himself.
Biggest surprise to date: Spencer Coats, who is up to fourth in points.
Best bet for a comeback from a slow start: Kim Abbott. It’s been a rough start for the three-time series champion.
Most likely to be the next driver to win his/her first feature of 2023: Abbott. Like Vanderiet Jr. in the modifieds and Elston in the late models, it’s just a matter of time.
Key series statistic: The 4-Cylinders have raced five features and a DeLonjay has won four of them. Jeffrey has three and Jaden one.
• The crate late models will be running for some extra funds Sunday night. The usual $600-to-win first prize has been bumped to $1,000. First heat-race green flag will be around 6:30.
• There will be no racing at the track June 25 in preparation for the June 28 arrival of the UMP Summer Nationals Super Late Model Hell Tour.
• Brian Shirley, who won the 2018 Hell Tour race in Quincy, won the series’ Wednesday night opener in Peoria, followed by Shannon Babb (Quincy winner in 2013, 2009, 2007) and Dennis Erb Jr. No local drivers made the haul. The Hell Tour moves to Kankakee on Thursday and Granite City on Friday.
• The last time a local driver managed a top-five Hell Tour finish in Quincy was Mark Burgtorf in 2006.
• Local fans on hand for the Hell Tour later this month will notice a new voice at the microphone. Veteran dirt track racing announcer and promoter Chris Stepan has been tapped as the new voice of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals for its 38th season. Stepan, of Las Cruces, N.M., takes over for the popular Ruben Mireles, who spent five seasons with the Hell Tour before finding his new announcing home with the World of Outlaws series.
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