Ten things to consider as the first green flag on April 5 draws closer at Quincy Raceways:
1. We always hear about how much more powerful those late model UMP power plants are when compared to the IMCA spec engines, yet I find it interesting the fastest lap turned in 2008 belonged to Jason Frankel driving an IMCA car, a 72.717 mph circuit on Aug. 31. That was a heartbeat faster than Ed Dixon’s 72.430 mph lap on June 10.
2. One of the most impressive feats from a year ago remains Chris Wibbell’s steadiness and reliability in the stock car division. He was the only driver in any series to complete all feature laps. Think it doesn’t sound that difficult? Then why was Wibbell the only driver to accomplish the feat?
3. The number of modified caution flags has been on the rise for three consecutive years, ever since the mods were consolidated into one division. I’m not sure if there is a connection there or not, but last year’s 10.9 cautions per show was a track record.
4. The number of yellow flags for the late models have been on a remarkable downward spiral. Late models averaged just 3.9 cautions per night last summer, and that includes all shows, even the big Deery Brothers turnouts. The late models were responsible for 6.4 stops a night in 2006. I have no idea what the common denominator might be in this equation, other than theorizing all the young guns in the late model series were two years older in 2008.
Twice last year there were caution-free Sunday nights for the late models. Nada. Zilch. Nyet. One of those evenings, July 20, saw the feature run in a remarkable 7 minutes, 52.873 seconds.
5. Of the 41 cars at the recent Quincy Mall show, I would say the early leaders for two of this year’s ZZ Top Sharp Dressed Man Awards are Dustin Griffin the late models and Tony Dunker in the mods. If Dunker is deemed the most righteous dude in terms of good-lookin’ sheet metal, it will be his fourth such award since 2002.
6. Here’s hoping track officials opt to go back to using the transponders on the hobby stocks. They were removed in early June last season.
7. I’m interested to see the early season late model car counts. Even though the track averaged 20 late models per show for a fourth straight year in 2008, only once after June 29 was that number reached. By all offseason accounts, the economy and/or retirements should not have any sort of lasting effect on 2009 car counts, but optimism always reigns in March. Two encouraging sites in this regard were the new rides on display at the mall show for veterans Terry Gallaher and Jerry Weisenberger. Gallaher is celebrating his 40th year in racing.
8. If Frankel can repeat as late model champ, he will be the first driver not named Mark Burgtorf to go back-to-back in that series since Steve Fraise in 1989-90. It’s amazing how many fans Fraise still has. I regularly get e-mails and comments about him. My all-time favorite was someone who wrote, “Steve Fraise was Mark Burgtorf before Mark Burgtorf.”
9. I started tracking money won at Quincy in 2006. In three seasons, Burgtorf has won $43,060. The next-highest late model total belongs to Denny Woodworth ($21,445).
10. Michael Long’s domination of the modifieds for a second straight season included 15 feature victories. Ironically, Long did not win the first (Dave Wietholder) or last (Donovan Lodge) feature of 2008.