Concord, NC — CONCORD, NC – July 10, 2009 – DIRTcar Late Model racing along the Pacific Coast is riding a wave of momentum into the heat of the summer.
With a successful holiday-weekend tripleheader for the Northwest I-5 DIRTcar Late Model Tour coming two weeks after the Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series entertained back-to-back robust California crowds at Silver Dollar Speedway and Antioch Speedway, there’s plenty of good vibes flowing through the full-fender world of DIRTcar Racing’s Western Region.
The Western Allstars doubleheader, on June 19 at John Padjen’s Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., and June 20 at the John Sores-promoted Antioch (Calif.) Speedway, provided some hot evening dirt Late Model action for many fans in the area for the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend at nearby Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Oregon’s fans, meanwhile, had three chances to see the Northwest I-5 Tour over the Independence Weekend, with series events contested on July 3 at Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford; July 4 at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon; and July 5 at Cottage Grove Speedway.
“We’re very excited after the last two weekends of racing for the Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series and Northwest I-5 DIRTcar Late Model Tour,” said DIRTcar Racing Western Region Director Chris Morgan, who oversees the operation of both series. “We were able to create two great weekends of DIRTcar Late Model racing for our racers and fans along the West Coast, and we’re looking to build on this momentum to continue the growth and success of these two great Late Model programs under the DIRTcar Racing banner.”
Two of the biggest names in Western Allstars history – defending series champion Chris Shannon of Merced, Calif., and 2007 titlist Mike Johnson of Lompoc, Calif. – were the stars of the tour’s mid-June weekend.
Shannon emerged victorious at Silver Dollar, sweeping the program (fast time, heat win, dash win, flag-to-flag run in 30-lap feature) to continue his surge on the series. The 42-year-old standout, who won the 2008 Western Allstars points crown despite going without a victory, scored his first career win on the tour in the previous race, on June 6 at Marysville (Calif.) Raceway Park.
Shannon, who also set a new track record and finished third in the feature at Antioch, went on his hot streak after pulling his three-year-old Victory Lane car out of mothballs before the Marysville event.
“We weren’t getting our new car setup right, so we decided to go back and try the first car that Victory Circle ever built me,” said Shannon, who sits second in the Western Allstars points standings through six events, trailing Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas, Calif., by 36 points. “It was sitting in mini-storage for three years, but it’s as good as ever. It’s a swing-arm-type car and it just seems to compliment my driving style and the type of tracks we’ve been running.”
Shannon plans to continue using the older car, which has brought him the highest high of his relatively young dirt Late Model career.
“It’s very rewarding to finally win (a feature) with the biggest group in the sport on the West Coast,” said Shannon, who credits his surge to help from Victory Circle, engine builder Bill Schlieper (Shannon switched to Schlieper’s Pro Power motors in February) and his devoted crew and sponsors. “It also felt great to run so well at tracks that are known for Sprint Car racing. We were all able to put on some great races that show what the Late Models can do.”
Johnson, meanwhile, returned to the Western Allstars spotlight at Antioch on June 20, thrilling the track’s packed house with his ninth career Western Allstars triumph. He ranks second on the tour’s alltime win list behind Hogge’s 12 victories, and it was his first series win since July 19, 2008, at Santa Maria (Calif.) Speedway.
On the Northwest I-5 DIRTcar Late Model Tour side of the ledger, three drivers with interesting stories reached Victory Lane during the busy holiday weekend of action. The details:
* Jimmy Whisler of Otis, Ore., captured the ‘Firecracker 50′ on July 3 at Southern Oregon Speedway, which drew a field of 29 dirt Late Models for its traditional Fourth of July special. It was the biggest Late Model triumph ever for Whisler, who runs a limited schedule of Late Model events in the Pacific Northwest.
* Defending Northwest I-5 Tour champion Rob Mayea of Bend, Ore., broke through for his first win of the season on July 4 over a 31-car field at the storied Willamette Speedway. His 10th career series victory came in the middle of a rollercoaster weekend for the talented racer. He had to rally from two trips to the rear of the field to finish third on July 3 at Southern Oregon, and at Cottage Grove he suffered mechanical problems and finished 18th on a night that saw him suffer burns and shrapnel wounds on his arm when a line connected to a nitrogen bottle exploded as he was refilling a shock in the pit area for young California driver Clay Daly.
* Steve Moore of Scio, Ore., ended a six-year victory drought on the Northwest I-5 Tour with a win in the weekend finale on July 5 at Cottage Grove. He arrived at the track after making an overnight haul from Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Ore., where he had competed in a crate Late Model event.
John Duty of Portland, Ore., ended the Northwest I-5 tripleheader as the points leader. Though he’s winless on the ’09 tour, his finishes of second at Southern Oregon, third at Willamette and fourth at Cottage Grove continued his consistent season.
The Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series returns to action this Saturday night (July 11) at Kenny Shepherd’s Chowchilla (Calif.) Speedway. Kellen Chadwick of Oakley, Calif., registered an emotional victory in the first Western Allstars event of the season at Chowchilla, on April 18.
The Northwest I-5 Late Model Tour is idle until visiting Sunset Speedway Park in Banks, Ore., for a stand-alone event on Aug. 14.
Additional info on all of the series, sanctioning and member tracks of DIRTcar Racing is available at www.DIRTcar.com.
2009 Western Allstars DIRTcar Late Model Series Points Standings (after 6 events):
1. Bobby Hogge IV 922
2. Chris Shannon 886
3. Mike Johnson 874
4. Nick Bartels 852
5. Rob Sanders 847
6. Ron Bartels 830
7. Johnny Malcolm 795
8. Matt Michelli 769
9. Richard Papenhausen 671
10. Jeff Decker 601
2009 Northwest I-5 DIRTcar Late Model Tour Points Standings (after 6 events):
1. John Duty 906
2. Jeremy Shank 869
3. Mike Miller 825
4. Rob Mayea 733
5. Billy Workman Jr. 699
6. Ryan Gerig 652
7. Brett McCutcheon 623
8. Rob Campos 611
9. Rick Wyatt 584
10. Jimmy Whisler 551