This will be an exciting season of change at old 8000 Broadway. Above all else, it will be the first summer of UMP racing for the oldest series at the track, and one that will start the year with more question than answers.
We won’t know until sometime during the first few weeks or so of the season who will and who won’t be track regulars.
Who will be some of the newbies from outside the immediate area? Will most come from central Illinois, in and around Springfield? Will we see a few now and then from as far away as Decatur? How much of an efffect will Shepp’s Speedway moving its weekly racing to Friday nights have? Quincy is now the only UMP track running on Sunday nights.
And don’t forget the St. Louis and Metro East areas, two UMP strongholds. We’ve seen quite a few of those drivers come north in the past for the occasional UMP shows in Quincy.
The UMP season is a longer grind. How will that affect some drivers’ strategy?
So many questions … and not many answers right now. The speculation this winter will be chock full of (mis)information. A wise man once told me to believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see. Remember that in the coming months.
At this point, the following predictions are based solely on Bullring regulars and plans I am aware of:
1. Denny Woodworth: The 2010 track champ will be in the thick of the title chase no matter who is — or isn’t — running. Woodworth has plenty of experience with the big motors and will be a major force is 2012.
CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR
Denny Woodworth led all late model drivers in runner-up feature finishes with six. That figure also led all series in 2011. Here were the track leaders in “almosts” last season:
Denny Woodworth, late models, 6
Steven DeLonjay, modifieds, 5
Joey Gower, late models, 4
Terry Houston, stock cars, 4
Andrew Griffin, stock cars, 4
Steve Carlin, hobby stocks, 4
Todd Nelson, wild things, 4
Seth Woodruff, wild things, 4
Craig Bangert, wild things, 4
2. Mark Burgtorf: The Hall of Famer told me he would have a UMP car ready. I’m just not sure how much his commitment to drive in the IMCA Deery events for Lynn Richard will conflict with Quincy’s Sunday night schedule.
3. Justin Reed: Justincredible was one of the big boosters of bringing UMP to Quincy, so I’m sure he’ll be ready to defend his track championship.
4. Keith Pratt: The Kool Kat went UMP racing 2003-06, so he’s well aware of what lies ahead. And if he can keep his car on all four wheels — and not the lid — he’ll once again be in contention. He missed out on his first track title in 2011 by eight points.
5. Joey Gower: He is now firmly entrenched among track contenders. I doubt if the switch from IMCA to UMP will require much of a learning curve.