This marks the final Dirty Thirty for the 2011 season, which means it’s time to congratulate 19-year-old modified driver Steven DeLonjay. Steve-O took hold of the No. 1 spot a couple of months ago and never relinquished his grip.
DeLonjay has either won or finished second in the modified feature for 10 straight shows. That’s pretty incredible, folks. DeLonjay is on his way to securing the first mod track title of his still-fledgling career. Can you imagine how proud his dad, Hank, will be the night his son clinches that championship? Hank won 13 track titles before retiring, including 10 in a modified.
We started the Dirty Thirty as an experiment, to try and give a picture of how the top drivers in all of the weekly classes might rank if lined up against one another. Week after week, I’ve tried to match both their season-long and most-recent Sunday night successes against those in other divisions. I tried to factor in overall strength and depth of the classes and how each driver fared. It’s far from any sort of exact science and there is always room for argument. But there’s one thing that cannot be disputed at this point in the season — Steven DeLonjay is No. 1.
FINAL DIRTY THIRTY RANKINGS FOR 2011 SEASON
(Previous rankings in parentheses)
1. (1.) Steven DeLonjay: Is it just me, or does Junior DeLonjay love that bottom line as much as his dad did?
2. (3.) Justin Reed: Hail to the Chief.
3. (5.) Denny Woodworth: Hopefully, Denny will be back again full-time in 2012. It should be an incredible late model lineup next season.
4. (4.) Lonnie Bailey: The law of percentages finally caught up with No. 25. Going into Sunday night, Bailey had been involved in two of the three closest points races in late model track history — and had won them both. This time around, the two-time track champ had to settle for runner-up.
5. (2.) Joey Gower: Congrats to Joey for winning the Q34 Bonus Bucks title (and money!).
6. (10.) Michael Long: No. 18 is second in UMP national points.
7. (7.) Keith Pratt: The Kool Kat’s third-place late model points finish was a career best.
8. (6.) Aaron Brocksieck: Think Pink has seen his stock car points lead trimmed to five. This could be an exciting finish after all.
9. (13.) Dave Wietholder: No. 05 is zeroing in on second place in the mod points.
10. (15.) Terry Houston: Here comes the September surge.
11. (9.) Abe Huls: Let me say it for all Quincy race fans: Abe, it was great to have you back this year. Hope to see you in 2012, too.
12. (11.) Jared Schlipman: Schlip leads all mod driver in heat wins.
13. (14.) Steve Carlin: Here’s a clue why Carlin is so dominant in the hobby stock division. Over the last four seasons, Carlin has kept his car on the track for more feature laps than any other driver in the series — and it’s not even close. Remember, to finish first … first, you have to finish.
14. (8.) Matt Bailey: Junior Bailey is now 14th in career track points during the IMCA era.
15. (12.) Jason Perry: Definitely a title threat in 2012.
16. (17.) Jake Powers: Is this the man to unseat Carlin in 2012?
17. (16.) Shawn Deering: No. 16 should be commended, arguably more than any other driver this year, for not raising the white flag. Deering could have parked his car for the rest of the season several times and no one would have blamed him, but he never missed a week. Shawn, you won’t win the points title, but believe me, you are a champion in a lot of people’s eyes.
18. (19.) Andrew Griffin: We’re nearing the end of the fourth season for stock cars at 8000 Broadway and Griffin has never missed a points feature. He’s the only driver in the series who can make that claim.
19. (18.) Jake Griffin: Track officials might as well hand this youngster the most improved driver award right now.
20. (20.) Bobby Anders: Will he drive both hobbies and sport mods in 2012?
21. (24.) Seth Woodruff: A great, great second half for Woodruff, who looks on his way to the track’s first wild thing title.
22. (21.) Tanner Klingele: I can see Junior Klingele as a top-three hobby pick come next spring.
23. (27.) Clint Kirkham: His eighth-place points is a career best.
24. (-) Tony Dunker: Will he drive in two classes in 2012 if sport mods become a part of the weekly lineup? If so, that No. 15c has got to get a “4″ slapped on the side.
25. (-) Bill Genenbacher: Four straight top 10 points finishes for Wild Willy.
26. (25.) Kevin Tomlinson: Sure do miss the white car, Kevin …
27. (–) Joe Bliven: Bliven vs. Dunker, Sept. 18, for the sport mod track title. Be there.
28. (22.) Jim Powell: Michael, did you get that message thing figured out?
29. (23.) Nathan Anders: If Nathan figures out the consistency thing for next season, he becomes an instant title contender.
30. (29.) Darin Weisinger: Here’s hoping the Catfish comes back for a farewell tour in 2012.