DIRTRACKR Daily Podcast - Episode Transcript

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Hudson O'Neal, Garrett Smith tangle at Fairbury; Are dashes needing in dirt racing? | Daily 9-13-2023

Frustrations boil over at Fairbury, Pierce could win three championships, who exactly is still in it for the World of Outlaws title, and more today on the show. Let's go!

It's Wednesday, September 13th, I'm Justin Fiedler. This is DIRTRACKR Daily.

Flo series at Fairbury last night. Bobby Pierce your winner, got away over the second half to score his first win with the midweek series this year. Dennis Erb Jr. and Shannon Babb made late moves to join Pierce on the podium. We had a fun modified show as well, with Mike McKinney coming out on top in that one. Fairbury is one of those race tracks that just seems to always provide good racing and entertainment, and last night was no different. What I'm sure most people are talking about today though, is the incident between Hudson O'Neal and Garrett Smith that occured before half way. After a restart, with Smith out front, O'Neal made a move for the lead on bottom into three, and nearly tipped the Rocket 1 over. Smith had been banging the boards, but it seemed as though he knew a slider from O'Neal was coming and attempted to block the line low into three. O'Neal had to take evasive action as he had already committed, and in the aftermath somehow managed to bring the car back down on all four wheels. Both cars slid high mid corner, and although O'Neal was able to lead the lap, Pierce was coming with a head of steam and able to grab the top spot. It's effectively what won Pierce the race, because from there he was never challenged again out front. We weren't done though with the kerfuffle, as Smith had clearly taken offense, and into one on the next lap, drove it in deep and body slammed the Rocket house car. It's a shame really, because both cars were fast and capable of good finishes before that, but after the contact, neither car seemed to be the same the rest of the race. O'Neal finished down in 11th, and Smith then slowly dropped through the field before pulling off and DNFing. To me, the initial move from O'Neal just felt like a racing deal. There was no intent there from Huddy to move Smith, and it seems pretty evident that he just wasn't expecting the 10 to dive low. And he said as much after the race. In comments to Kevin Kovac, Smith referenced O'Neal's incident at Fairbury back in May, where he tangled with Dennis Erb Jr. And although I see his point, these two situations feel different. That deal with Erb was O'Neal getting overzealous, and even he knew he screwed up back then. It's been a frustrating season for Smith, and I think the expectations for the young Georgia driver were probably raised a bit too high after that Dirt Track World Championship win late last year. They haven't been able to get anywhere near that level this season, with only a handful of top fives, and the retaliation last night was a frustration move. Don't forget too that Smith was suspended earlier this season from Hunt the Front series events over an altercation at Cochran Motor Speedway. I don't blame him for being upset over losing the lead, I think most racers would be. But I think he let an opportunity to grab a good finish slip out of his fingers last night. With the win and the issues for O'Neal, Pierce has now taken the series championship lead. The Smooth Operator has a real chance at three touring series titles this season, between the Outlaws, XR, and Flo. His great season continues.

Elsewhere last night, Terry McCarl was an ASCS winner at the Clay County Fair. He led all 25 laps to score his first national tour win since 2019. Matt Covington finished second, with Zane Devault, who we talked about yesterday around the sprint car driver market, hard charged from 12th to finish third. Headed to Wheatland this weekend for the Hockett/McMillin Memorial, Jason Martin's championship lead has been cut to 67 over Covington. Don't sleep on that event this weekend. Really nice money on the line, between the ASCS and WAR sprint cars. It's live on RacinDirt all three nights. Last night's Clay County late model winner was Derrick Stewart.

Before we talk about other racing coming up, I want to point you to a tweet from last night that came from World of Outlaws race director Mike Hess. He posted a poll asking for opinions about dashes on race nights. At this moment, people liking dashes leads the way, but it makes you wonder if a format change is being considered for the series, or if Hess is just curious. Race night formats are always under constant debate, and I know some do not like the dice roll nature of the dashes, with it affecting starting positions for features. I personally don't mind them, and over the course of a full season, the math evens out.

Alright, I'm going to take some time off from the show, and this is my last episode of the week. So let's run through what to watch coming up this weekend. The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series is headed to Knoxville for their Nationals, and will battle it out for three nights. Thursday and Friday are full shows, paying $7000 to win, and Saturday is $50 grand to win. Points from Thursday and Friday will set up Saturday's action. Jonathan Davenport is the defending event winner, and Mike Marlar won it in 2021. If Devin Moran and Tim McCreadie are going to get into that final locked in chase spot, they need to start making gains on Brandon Overton right away, with only a handful of races left.

Out west, the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars continue their west coast swing with stops at Hanford and Placerville. Friday is $21 grand to win, and I think Saturday is a standard $10,000 to win show. The Outlaw regulars will be looking to bounce back after a tough weekend at Gold Cup that saw no Outlaw podium finishers or lap leaders. In the championship battle, Brad Sweet is in control, leading David Gravel by 82 and Carson Macedo by 106. I got asked yesterday about mathematical chances for the title, and I think right now, only the top eight are still in it by the numbers. With show up points at 90, and a win worth 150, you can only gain 60 points per race. So that puts Zearfoss out. But realistically, only the top three are in this. Logan Schuchart in fourth is 322 back, which means he needs to gain more than 20 points per night on average over Sweet. That means he has to beat Brad by 10 spots in every single race from here on out. That is highly unlikely, especially since he'd also have to top Gravel and Macedo in the process. At this point, I even have my doubts about the 2 and 41 catching the 49. Anything is possible though, and it's why we run the races.

If you do want close championship battles, let me point you to the All Stars and USAC sprint cars. The All Stars head to Fremont this weekend for two nights, and then from there one race at Eldora during 4-Crown is all that's left. Zeb Wise is in line for the driver title, but just 14 points separate the 7BC and 26 teams for the owner's side. I was told this week, that no matter what happens with a reschedule for the Tusky 50, that race wasn't for points anyway, so no affect on these fights. Danny Dietrich was a Fremont winner back in June, and Cole Duncan and Tyler Courtney split this weekend a year ago. After a night that was tough on tires last week in local competition, I know many who will be keeping an eye on track conditions this weekend. Hopefully though, we won't have any problems.

In Indiana, USAC has weekend stops at Circle City and Haubstadt for the Hustler. Justin Grant moved ahead of Brady Bacon last weekend in the standings, but only nine points sit between them. Including this weekend, just seven races remain to settle this thing.

That's it for this episode of the Daily. Don't forget there are new logo trucker hats available in the merch store. You can get one for $30, and shipping and sales tax are on me for US buyers. And the streaming schedule will be updated all weekend if you are looking for races to watch.

Hope you guys have a good Wednesday out there, enjoy the dirt racing weekend ahead.