Evansville, IN — Everyone in the Southwest already knows that there are plenty of talented open-wheel Modified drivers racing in the region.
Thanks to the introduction of the nationally-known UMP DIRTcar Racing sanctioning body to the area’s motorsports scene, the rest of the country is now taking notice of the Mod mavens from the Southwest as well.
Entering this weekend’s action, five of the Southwest’s top open-wheel drivers – all standouts on the Barnett Harley DIRTcar Modified Series that features weekly racing and a 10-race touring series for the division – are ranked among the top 25 in the UMP DIRTcar Modified national points standings, putting them in line for a share of the circuit’s lucrative points fund. Nearly $180,000 in points-fund cash was distributed to UMP DIRTcar Modified drivers in 2007, including a $20,000 prize to the national champion and $5,000 awards to the regional titlists.
“Being part of the UMP DIRTcar Modified organization gives the Southwest’s Modified drivers a great opportunity to show their talent to a national audience,” said DIRTcar Racing Western Region Director Chris Morgan. “The Southwest has some of the best Modified drivers in the country and this year a lot more people are going to realize it.”
Veteran Anthony Madrid of Phoenix, Ariz., leads the Southwest contingent in the UMP DIRTcar Modified battle, sitting sixth in the national points through May 26. The two-time Barnett Harley DIRTcar Modified national champion also sits atop the UMP DIRcar circuit’s Wild West Region standings.
An accomplished Modified driver whose resume includes an amazing 115 career wins at the famed Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Madrid has already won eight UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned features in 16 starts this season. The only driver with more wins than Madrid entering the weekend was national points leader Randle Sweeney of Clifty, Ky., who led the rankings with 12 victories.
Third-generation driver R.C. Whitwell of Tucson, Ariz., is ninth in the national points and second behind Madrid in the Wild West Region. Coming off a 2007 season in which he won 20 features and the Barnett Harley DIRTcar Modified national title, Whitwell has scored six UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned feature wins in 14 starts.
Jason Noll of El Mirage, Ariz., has only one UMP DIRT-sanctioned victory so far, but his consistency has him sitting 11th in the national standings with 16 starts under his belt. He’s a former track champion at Manzanita and recently competed in a NASCAR Camping World West Series event at Phoenix International Raceway.
Bumper Jones, and his father, Royal Jones, both of Mesilla Park, N.M., are 19th and 23rd, respectively, in the national points standings. Bumper, who is the defending Barnett Harley DIRTcar Modified Series champion, has five wins in 11 starts and Royal has triumphed three times in 12 races.
Southwestern drivers can obtain UMP DIRTcar points at seven sanctioned tracks that comprise the Wild West Region, including Manzanita; Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande, Ariz.; Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Ariz.; USA Race Park in Tucson, Ariz.; Thunder Raceway in Show Low, Ariz.; Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, N.M.; and El Paso Speedway Park in East El Paso, Texas.
The 2008 UMP DIRTcar Modified national champion will be determined using a driver’s best 35 finishes/points nights.
For more information on all of the series, sanctioning and member tracks of DIRTcar Racing, visit DIRTcar.com.
UMP DIRTcar Open-Wheel Modifieds National Points Standings with Southwest Drivers in caps/bold (driver/points/races – as of May 26):
1. Randle Sweeney 1517 20
2. Tim Hancock 1377 21
3. Kent Robinson 1329 20
4. Gary Cook Jr. 1188 19
5. Jeff Leka 1186 18
6. ANTHONY MADRID 1147 16
7. Chad Evans 1140 21
8. Denny Schwartz 1112 19
9. R.C. WHITWELL 1038 14
10. Mike Spatola 1033 18
11. JASON NOLL 976 16
12. Jon Henry 897 16
13. Danny Schwartz 844 14
14. Clayton Miller 837 15
15. Chad Osterhoff 836 14
16. McCay Wenger 810 17
17. Matt Bex 807 13
18. Clint DeMoss 802 13
19. BUMPER JONES 794 11
20. Matt Boknecht 793 11
21. Nick Allen 792 11
22. Bobby Bittle 791 12
23. ROYAL JONES 791 12
24. Rob Fuqua 785 14
25. Bub Patrick 777 13