Starting with Sunday night’s $3,000-to-win Titan Wheel and Tire Shootout, here are my picks for the top 10 storylines to watch play out in the second half of the season:
1. There is only one veteran late model driver — Lonnie Bailey — who will have a chance to stop one of The New Breed from winning a track championship. (As of today, we will be referring to the likes of Jason Frankel, Justin Reed, Keith Pratt, Robby Warner & Co. by that moniker. I think there was an old cop show on ABC in the 1970s by that name.)
Lonnie’s hardly ancient at 43, but compared to those drivers he will be battling for the track championship he might as well apply for an AARP card. Bailey won the title in 2004 and is one of only eight drivers since Quincy Raceways opened in 1975 to win a a track championship, and one of just six since 1979.
2. Will the rain hold off on enough Sunday nights for Michael Long to make a run at 40 victories, a figure that would have once thought impossible to reach? Long has 18 wins, including seven features, with half the season remaining. Just imagine how many wins he could have at this point if there had been FIVE rainouts.
3. Who will be breakout stars of tomorrow in the second half? For example, last year we saw Jason Perry emerge in the late model division. Right now, my picks for the four classes would be Keith Pratt (I like his mental toughness) in late models, Steven DeLonjay (no-brainer) and Travis Griffith in the modifieds, Levi Long in the stocl cars and Bobby Anders in the hobby stocks.
4. Which drivers can toss aside a disappointing first half and rebound strongly? My picks right now are Kevin Tomlinson in late models, Robbie Reed (good health can do wonders) in modifieds, Andrew Griffin in stock cars and Bobby Anders in hobby stocks. Anders’ pick should come with an asterisk. He’s currently fourth in points, but would probably be leading if not for a handful of some bad-luck feature finishes earlier in the season. (I just noticed I picked Anders to be both the breakout and comeback driver alike in the second half. Bobby’s got his hands full.)
5. Steve Carlin’s pursuit of a third hobby stock title, which if won would make him one of only eight drivers to win three or more championships. Carlin missed a 2007 title by one point.
6. Will attendance at the track stay strong in the face of an already brutal economy and the added impact of the flood. My guess is yes. Quincy Raceways fans are a great bunch, not to mention dedicated.
7. Whether or not Mark Burgtorf can finish in the top 10 in late model points a 24th straight year, despite not running a full schedule at QR. My gut feeling is he will be able to do it — somehow. He’s currently 10 points out of 10th, despite finishing an uncharacteristic 13th and 12th the last two points features.
8. Which of the these talented — but so far luckless — drivers will be the first to end their lengthy winless streaks in features? Joe Bliven (72 races), Tony Dunker (60) or Justin Reed (50). All three consistently run up front, but simply haven’t been able to duck under the checkers first.
9. If Michael Long goes on to win a second straight modified title he will be just the third different driver to win back-to-back modified or "A" modified titles. The others were Hank DeLonjay and Sam Burgtorf, who are both retired. Drivers in the now-defunct "B" modified class to go back-to-back were Tony Dunker, and Lonnie Carter.
10. Who will follow Shannon Babb and Randy Korte as UMP Summer National winners at the track? My pick right now would be Brian Shirley.
Here’s a look at how last year’s Titan Wheel and Tire Shootour played out:
2007 TITAN WHEEL AND TIRE SHOOTOUT
Top 10 finishers
1. Tom Darbyshire, Morning Sun, Iowa, $3,000
2. Terry Gallaher, New London, Mo., $1,750
3. Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls, Iowa, $1,250
4. Justin Reed, Quincy, Ill., $750
5. Matt Strassheim, West Burlington, Iowa, $500
6. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown, Iowa, $400
7. Mark Burgtorf, Quincy, Ill., $400
8. Lonnie Bailey, Quincy, Ill., $350
9. Denny Woodworth, Mendon, Ill., $300
10. Matt Bailey, Quincy, Ill., $300
1. Michael Long, Quincy, Ill., $500
2. Hank DeLonjay, Quincy, Ill., $350
3. Tony Dunker, Quincy, Ill., $275
4. Mark Burgtorf, Quincy, Ill., $200
5. Brandon Lennox, New London, Mo., $175
6. Robbie Reed, Quincy, Ill., $150
7. Dave Wietholder, Liberty, Ill., $125
8. David Holder, Clarence, Mo., $125
9. Rob Carter, Quincy, Ill., $115
10. Joe Bliven, Quincy, Ill., $115
1. Aaron Brocksieck, Camp Point, Ill.
2. Steve Carlin, Hannibal, Mo.
3. Todd Reichert, Quincy, Ill.
4. Michael Lay, Hannibal, Mo.
5. James Leffew, Quincy, Ill.
6. Jared Richie, Quincy, Ill.
7. Bobby Anders, Quincy, Ill.,
8. Bruce Hatfield, Quincy, Ill.
9. Travis Booher, Quincy, Ill.
10. Louis Goodwyn, Hull, Ill.
QUINCY RACEWAYS SUNDAY NIGHT GUIDE
Race time: 6:30 p.m.
Weather forecast: It’s supposed to be "mostly sunny," which I have come to learn in Quincy means "a chance of rain." Temperatures should be in low 60s for racing.
Late Models: Last Sunday’s super slick track turned the feature into a follow the leader event. The only real groove was down low. Hopefully, this week’s added moisture from all the rain will help allow for a heavier track, faster times and more side-by-side racing … Feature winner Kevin Tomlinson’s 65.446 mph quick time in the main event was one of the slower late model clockings of the season. Tomlinson was impressive, however, in his flag-to-flag drive to his first checkered flag of the season. He was able to hold his line and hold off hard-charging Terry Gallaher … There has been no back-to-back feature winners since Mark Burgtorf April 6, 20 … Seven different drivers have led 20 or more feature laps this season, the most of any series at the track … Late models are averaging 21.5 cars per show, but just 17.0 over the most recent three, including a season-low 14 on NASCAR Night June 10 … The season-best car count of 42 on April 30 (a Deery Brothers race) might be in jeopardy Sunday.
Most recent feature winner: Kevin Tomlinson, June 22 midseason championship.
Pick to click: Jason Frankel. He looks like he is ready to go on a roll.
Modifieds: The mods continue to pack the pits, averaging a track-high 24.8 cars per show and three times have reached 30 or better … Biggest surprise among last Sunday’s top cars in the feature had to be caution-prone Aura Griffith, who ran a strong sixth. Griffith entered the night 20th in points … Lookalikes: Todd Reed and Jon Bon Jovi … Mods have had 10 or more cautions seven straight Sunday nights … Michael Long has won seven of eight Sunday modified features, but eight different drivers have finished second … Tony Dunker has now earned more modified track points (5,772) than any other driver in the modern era (since 1998) of Quincy Raceways. Retired Hank DeLonjay (5,727) is second … Vance Wilson (2,977) will likely become the 14th driver to reach 3,000 points Sunday.
Most recent feature winner: Robbie Reed, June 22 midseason championship.
Pick to click: Michael Long. He’s due to end his "slump" of only one win in the last three QR features.
Stock Cars: Stock car might have the best argument for what series provides the most exciting finishes at the track. Five stock car features have been decided by under a second … If any class should crown separate first- and second-half champs this is it. It will be extremely interesting to see where Dave Wietholder and Steve Steinkuhler finish in second-half points. Jeff Mueller, John Oliver Jr and Chris Wibbell dominated much of the first half, but in recent weeks it has been Steinkuhler and Wietholder coming on strong … If Doug Huls can keep that No. 10 ride running, he could be another integral part of the second-half mix.
Most recent feature winner: Dave Wietholder, June 22 midseason championship.
Pick to click: Steve Steinkuhler.
Hobby Stocks: James Leffew’s DQ last week after winning the feature may wind up deciding who wins the track title. Leffew would have left the track in first place in points. Instead, he is seventh and barring some unforeseen development, is out of the title pursuit … Steve Carlin (16) and modified driver Michael Long (16) have earned the most heat-race points …The top six drivers in points are all from outside Quincy, led by Aaron Brocksieck (227) of Camp Point … Jim Powell (3,726) should move past Bruce Hatfield (3,744) Sunday night and into the No. 4 all-time position in track points. Powell returned to hobby stocks full time this season after dabbling in modifieds for a few summers. Hatfield left hobby stocks after 2007 and moved to stock cars..
Most recent feature winner: Wes Mayfield, June 22 midseason championship.
Pick to click: Steve Watkins. Call it a hunch.
QUINCY RACEWAYS LEADERS
Late Models: Jason Frankel 208, Justin Reed 202, Lonnie Bailey 200, Robby Warner 200.
Modifieds: Michael Long 242, Tony Dunker 229, Steven DeLonjay 225, Dave Wietholder 212.
Stock Cars: Chris Wibbell 295, John Oliver Jr. 292, Jeff Mueller 274.
Hobby Stocks: Aaron Brocksieck 227, Steve Carlin 225, Wes Mayfield 224.
Late Models: Jason Frankel 201, Robby Warner 197, Justin Reed 195.
Modifieds: Michael Long 226, Tony Dunker 221, Steven DeLonjay 216.
Stock Cars: Chris Wibbell 295, John Oliver Jr. 292, Jeff Mueller 274.
Hobby Stocks: Wes Mayfield 218, Aaron Brocksieck 216, Steve Carlin 209.
Late Models: Lonnie Bailey 10, Matt Bailey 9, Dustin Griffin 9.
Modifieds: Michael Long 16, Wyatt Lantz 11, Tony Dunker 9, Steven DeLonjay 9.
Hobby Stocks: Steve Carlin 16, Aaron Brocksieck 11, Bobby Anderson 10.
Herald-Whig Performance Points
Late Models: Mark Burgtorf 86, Denny Woodworth 64, Jason Frankel 33.
Modifieds: Michael Long 109, Dave Wietholder 45, Tony Dunker 38.
Stock Cars: John Oliver Jr. 50, Abe Huls 39, Jeff Mueller 36.
Hobby Stocks: Aaron Brocksieck 52, Travis Booher 50, James Leffew 49.
Money Earned (Points races only)
Late Models: Jason Frankel $2,100, Robby Warner 1,900, Keith Pratt 1,805.
Modifieds: Michael Long $2,230, Tony Dunker 1,445, Steven DeLonjay 1,255.
Stock Cars: John Oliver Jr. $1,605, Jeff Mueller 1,525, Chris Wibbell 1,435.
Hobby Stocks: Travis Booher $590, Aaron Brocksieck 585, James Leffew 570.
Total: Mark Burgtorf 11, Jason Frankel 5.
Feature: Mark Burgtorf 4, six with 1.
Heat: Mark Burgtorf 5, Jason Frankel 3, Lonnie Bailey 3.
Dash: Robby Warner 2, Mark Burgtorf 2.
Total: Michael Long 18, Steven DeLonjay 5.
Feature: Michael Long 7, Dave Wietholder 1, Robbie Reed 1.
Heat: Michael Long 7, three with 3.
Dash: Michael Long 4, Brandon Lennox 2.
Total: Jeff Mueller 7, John Oliver Jr. 6.
Feature: Jeff Mueller 3, five with 1.
Heats: John Oliver Jr. 5, Jeff Mueller 4.
Total: Aaron Brocksieck 6, Steve Carlin 5.
Feature: Aaron Brocksieck 2, Travis Booher 2
Heat: Aaron Brocksieck 4, Steve Carlin 4.