Thinking back, ole Doug may have been rather prophetic.
"Ole Doug" is Doug Mealy, a good ole boy from the heart of — as he says — "Mi-zur-ah." Ole Doug also is the track announcer at Quincy Raceways, and he almost makes me cry some Sunday nights because I am laughing so hard at what he says into the microphone.
His best line came during a late model feature near the end of the 2008 season. He was as excited as the rest of the crowd about a duel between "Superman" Sam Halstead and 14-time track champ Mark Burgtorf.
Halstead had enjoyed a sizable lead most of the race, only to see Burgtorf make one of his patented charges to the front. As the race got closer, ole Doug got more excited.
"Superman better watch out, because here comes Kryptonite!" Mealy told the crowd as Burgtorf prepared to take the lead — which he did, and eventually won another main event at 8000 Broadway.
Ole Doug's words have been ringing in my ears again lately as the start of a new season draws closer. (For those counting, we're less than two months from the first green flag at the Sunday night cathedral of commotion.)
I hear Burgtorf will be racing closer to home more often this year, like many other drivers. (This recession thing is a major pain in the quarterpanel.)
If Burgtorf runs Quincy every week, that could/should translate into a great, summer-long late model championship points race between himself and defending champ Jason Frankel. Denny Woodworth would certainly be in the mix, too, if he opts to do the same, but I believe Denny will still do some semi-serious traveling.
If Burgtorf decides to run the full points schedule on his home track, he will be tough to beat. Next to impossible might be more like it. Kind of like that Kryptonite and Superman combination. (I wish I knew more the mystique of Superman, but I never liked comic books. I was always too busy with my NASCAR media guides.)
But Frankel won last year's title, you say? That he did, and he was a deserving champion. But don't forget, Burgtorf missed a points night early in the seaso,n and if you would award him his weekly points average for that night he missed, his total would have surpassed Frankel's. Of course, he could have crashed that night, too. We'll never know.
That kind of fodder is simply food for thought. The decision to miss that one night was Mark's call, so there's really no use in playing the what-if game.
What I do know, however, is if Mr. Kryptonite commits to a full points season, only a small group of other drivers have a realistic chance of beating him.
STEVIE DIRT REGIONAL RANKINGS SET TO RETURN
The Stevie Dirt Regional Rankings (SDRR) for late models will return for a second season starting in April, using the same format, tracks and points system as in 2008. Features at Quincy, West Burlington and Donnellson will count toward the championship. Drivers will earn feature points on a 25-20-15-12-10-8-6-4-2-1 scale.
We'll have to wait and see how the news that Donnellson is adding a half-dozen more nights of late models affects the rankings. Probably nothing dramatic, but only time will tell.
We'll soon have details on the second year of modified rankings and the first year of stock cars in the SDRR. Stay tuned for that info.
Here's a look back at the final 2008 late model rankings:
1. Jason Frankel, Quincy, Ill., 578 points (TOP ILLINOIS DRIVER)
2. Mark Burgtorf, Quincy, Ill., 337
3. Lonnie Bailey, Quincy, Ill., 273
4. Denny Woodworth, Mendon, Ill., 271
5. Justin Reed, Quincy, Ill., 227
6. Keith Pratt, Mendon, Ill., 206
7. Tom Goble, Burlington, Iowa, 179 (TOP IOWA DRIVER)
8. Matt Bailey, Quincy, Ill., 166
9. Jay Johnson, West Burlington, Iowa, 162
10. Tom Bowling, Danville, Iowa, 136
11. Tom Darbyshire, Morning Sun, Iowa, 130
12. Matt Strassheim, West Burlington, Iowa, 127
13. Boone McLaughlin, Mediapolis, Iowa, 105
14. Jason Perry, Payson, Ill., 94
15. Sam Halstead, New London, Iowa, 91
16. Nick Ingalls, Quincy, Ill., 87
17. Kevin Tomlinson, New London, Mo., 86 (TOP MISSOURI DRIVER)
18. Robby Warner, Quincy, Ill., 83
19. Colby Springsteen, Morning Sun, Iowa, 81
20. Dustin Griffin, Quincy, Ill., 76
21. Terry Gallaher, New London, Mo., 71
22. Dustin Neese, Nebo, Ill., 65
23. Bill Genenbacher, Camp Point, Ill., 59
24. Jay Chenoweth, Wapello, Iowa, 57
25. Terry Neal, Ely, Iowa, 56