DIRTRACKR Daily Podcast - Episode Transcript

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Is this guy the key to Rocket's recent dirt late model success? | Daily 5-24-2023

Today we'll talk about a key Rocket house car personnel addition that could be a big key behind their success, plus Tuesday results and some updates from FloRacing. Let's go!

It's Wednesday, May 24th, I'm Justin Fiedler. This is DIRTRACKR Daily.

Yesterday on the show we talked about Hudson O'Neal's insane rise to the top of the late model world after being out of a ride following the Show-Me 100 in 2020. O'Neal's been on a hot streak as of late, which is made all the more impressive by the slow start that the Rocket house car got off to this season. I did a show on that slow start back on January 26th, but by East Bay just a week later, things were already turning around. After my show yesterday I had a tweet from Michigan late model racer Andy Sprague asking about why I didn't mention Cody Mallory on the episode about O'Neal. And to be honest, it's not something I'd even thought about. Since seeing Andy's tweet though, now I'm wondering if the addition of Mallory to the Rocket house car fold might be a serious key in all of this. Mallory has been on the wrenches behind some incredible performances over the years, including Jimmy Owens' insane 2020 season and a ton of wins with Scott Bloomquist. But he's also bounced around a bunch and has had issues away from the race track. Mallory started out this year running Garrett Smith's team, but those two sides parted ways during Speedweeks, and Mallory was then at Volusia helping out Rocket. He's even in the victory lane photos from DCN. He's been in some role with the team ever since and you've heard his name mentioned by O'Neal in some of these victory lane interviews, and Mason Zeigler talked about him briefly in a recent interview with Dirt on Dirt's Kevin Kovac. Mallory is a guy who clearly knows how to make these cars go fast, and it can't be a coincidence that the Rocket one is suddenly better after he starts hanging around. Clearly putting his mind together with Mark Richards and the existing Rocket braintrust has paid dividends. For my hardcore late model folks, drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts on the effect that Mallory might be having on that team right now. It's certainly hard to argue with the results and the quick turnaround.

After what we saw on Saturday night from Nick Hoffman at Muskingum County and his late model season to date, I figured it wouldn't be long until he scored an Outlaw win. And we didn't have to wait long. Last night at Stateline, Hoffman just barely missed out on leading the first lap while battling with polesitter Gordy Gundaker, but he was quickly by after that and was never challenged again over the 40 lap main event. Max Blair could never get close enough to make a move and had to settle for second, with Bobby Pierce ending up third. The second for Blair was his best Outlaw finish of 2023, and his first podium since last October. He does have a pair of seconds with Lucas this season. Hoffman's victory last night was his fourth career late model win, which includes last night, Saturday at Muskingum County, and two ALMS wins, at Eldora in 2017 and 2018. It was his third top five and fifth top ten of the season, and he's currently just 34 points out of the championship lead. Headed to Sharon this weekend, Chris Madden has extended his advantage a bit to 22 points over Ryan Gustin. I did want to mention Gundaker here also. I continue to be impressed by what he's done this season. He really seems to be finding his footing. Led 46 laps at Farmer City with Lucas before finishing second to Brandon Sheppard, was quick in qualifying last night, won his heat, and ended up fourth after sitting on the pole. He had just four top fives all of last season with the Outlaws and appears to be ready to blow that out of the water. Definitely one to keep an eye on as the Outlaw season continues.

At Terre Haute last night, the USAC National Sprint Cars kicked off a big week of racing in Indiana with the Tony Hulman Classic. It was good to see the place racing again with all the issues at the Action Track in recent years. If you might remember, World of Outlaws driver Bill Rose is operating the facility on a special event schedule this season. Except for a brief moment before half way where Justin Grant made a run at him, it was all Brady Bacon out front. He officially led all 30 laps for his second series win of 2023 and his first career Hulman rifle. Grant was in line for a second place finish, but his engine's injection broke late in the feature and he DNF'd. Behind the Macho Man, Kyle Cummins and Jake Swanson rounded out the podium. Headed to Circle City tonight, CJ Leary maintains the championship lead over Cummins and Emerson Axsom. They'll race again on Thursday, with Silver Crown on the pavement at IRP Friday for the Hoosier Hundred.

I did make it out to Millbridge last night for a little bit, and I may be back out tonight. Really fun racing from both the midgets and the non-wing micros. Those micro shows are absolute slider fests, and last night was no different. Neal Allison ended up taking the micro win over Taylor Reimer in a Chad Boat car and Sheldon Creed. As for the Xtreme Outlaw Midgets, they had 24 cars in attendance, including a bunch of teams that were just in Kansas and Missouri over the weekend. It is pretty cool this season that all of these drivers have a chance to run for both the USAC and Xtreme titles with these series working together. In the main event, Cannon McIntosh picked up his third series win of the season, topping Gavin Miller and Chase McDermand. The field also included Kyle Strickler making his midget debut, Briggs Danner for a trip south, and NASCAR driver Carson Hocevar. I think Jade Avedisian will be a factor for both of these midget championships and will win a bunch of races this season, but she did not have the result she could have had last night. On lap 19, while battling for second, we had some KKM on KKM crime with her and teammate Gavin Miller coming together. Jade went around and six other cars were collected in the incident. Those Keith Kunz guys did a nice job getting her back out though, and she finished ninth. They'll do it all over again tonight at Millbridge before the series goes back to the midwest next week.

All of the results from last night's three big races are in the database over at dirtrackr.com/analytics, and you can look through them and a bunch of stats and other numbers right now. Over the weekend we crossed over 1500 total races, so a ton of information is in there. If you haven't checked that part of the website out before, I'd encourage you to dive in. A ton of stuff is free and it will really add to your overall understanding of how these races and seasons play out beyond just watching what happens on track.

A couple of FloRacing notes for you today. First, the company does now have a monthly subscription option. Previously you had to buy the whole year for $150, but now they will also offer a monthly plan for $39.99 a month. On a monthly basis, it's dramatically cheaper to just pay for the whole year, but if you want to wander in and out of your subscription, you can now do that with monthly. There is a link to details on Kendra Jacob's Twitter account, which I retweeted yesterday. Also, I had forgotten to address this before, but Michael Rigsby confirmed a while back that the ASCS will return to Flo at some point. I have no idea what the details are, but last weekend's racing was only available to stream on RacinDirt, and that continues this week after the 360 tour was suddenly dropped from Flo. Back on May 16th, clearly in response to several different issues, Rigsby tweeted quote "Lincoln has not left the service. We have many events from Lincoln on our platform. Some of the folks out West chose to start their own platform, and ASCS will return" unquote. The Lincoln he's referring to is the Central PA track that has scaled back it's live streamed races in 2023. And the out west mention is for several tracks and series that are no longer on the Flo platform including Ocean, Placerville, and the Sprint Car Challenge Tour. The streaming stuff continues to be incredibly fluid as everyone navigates the models that work best for the various tracks and series.

On the dirt racing podcast front, we've got some new episodes and a couple of new additions. Winged Nation has Donny Schatz, Brian Brown, and Spencer Bayston this week. Open Red has Joe Mooney, Quicktime has Tim Estenson, All Gas No Brakes has Tyler Erb, Mason Oberkramer and others. Hoogie's Garage has multiple guests in the last week, and there are new episodes of the Dirt Reporters from Dirt on Dirt, the Dirt Nerds, Dirt Track Confessions, and Dunewich on Dirt. And appearing for the first time on the podcast page is Dirt Track Weekly from Kyle Symons, and Drake York's new Non-Wing Worldwide show. You can see all of these shows and their recent episodes at dirtrackr.com/podcasts.

That's it for the show today. Stop by dirtrackr.com and check out the streaming schedule.

Hope you guys have a good Wednesday out there, we'll see you back here tomorrow.