In a way, it’s kind of a shame Justin Reed won the modified track title at the Bullring in his first full season in the series. Why? Because there’s no place for the 22-year-old to go but down.
Reed’s 58-point margin of victory in the modified series helped earn him Stevie Dirt Driver of the Year in that series.
Reed’s most important strength proved to be his consistency. He “only” won four points features, but no other driver matched him in top-five and top-10 performances.
“Justin’s just a natural,” said rival Tony Dunker, a second-row selection on this year’s all-Dirt team, and also Reed’s car owner.
A driver’s success at the Bullring, combined with success in the Stevie Dirt Regional Rankings and at Lee County and West Burlington were all weighed. To be eligible for a Driver of the Year award, a driver must be at least a semi-regular at Quincy.
Reed follows Michael Long as Stevie Dirt Modified Driver of the Year. Long is a first-row selection this season.
MODIFIED DRIVER OF THE YEAR
WHY: In his first full season in a modified, “Forrest” won the track championship with relative ease … Reed had the most top-five points finishes among mod drivers … Stevie Dirt Regional Ranking (No. 7) was hurt by only running at Quincy … Reed formed one half of the popular and always-controversial Team 4 that includes two-time track champ Tony Dunker … Extremely consistent, finishing 419 of 440 feature laps to lead all mod drivers … Only Donovan Lodge (478) had more second-half points than Reed (474).
NOTEWORTHY: Can Reed repeat in 2010? Mod history seems to say he has a good chance. Seven times in the 11 preceding years there was a repeat winner in this series.
WHY: Only a 12th-place finish in points at the Bullring kept Long from winning back-to-back Driver of the Year accolades … Long still won 16 races, including seven features, to lead all drivers in all classes … No. 18 was runner-up to Josh Foster in the SDRR after winning the 2008 championship.
NOTEWORTHY: Long’s totals at Quincy this season were accomplished while running in just 10 of 17 points races.
WHY: “Little Crank” was runner-up in the points race after finishing third in 2008 — and he’s still a teenager … DeLonjay was a runaway leader in improvement points, the only driver at the track to top the century mark with 102 … DeLonjay has been racing for four years and never finished lower than third in points in any series … Finished No. 8 in the SDRR.
NOTEWORTHY: DeLonjay has already won 45 races in his Bullring career, which ranks 15th among all drivers at the track since such statistics started being charted in 1999.
WHY: Dunker has been one of the most successful drivers at the track during the past decade, and 2009 was no different, finishing third in points … He enters 2010 six wins away from becoming the fourth driver to reach 100 victories since statistics started being kept in 1999 … Strangely enough, Dunker has not won a Bullring feature since 2005 or title since 2004, but has climbed to No. 2 in all-time mod rankings and is No. 1 since 2006 when the “A” and “B” classes were combined.
NOTEWORTHY: “Bone” was the winner of the inaugural DIRTy online voting award for Driver of the Year.
WHY: Wilson, who returned to Quincy full-time for the first season since winning the 2001 “A” mod championship, finished fifth in points … Wilso also finished No. 5 in the SDRR, which represented the top performance by a Missouri driver … Nine overall wins were his most in Quincy since earning 13 in 1999.
NOTEWORTHY: Wilson led modified drivers in Herald-Whig Performance Points to win his first HWPP championship since 1999.
STEVIE DIRT MODIFIED DRIVERS OF THE YEAR
2009: Justin Reed
2008: Michael Long