This is just a gut feeling, and completely subjective, but this week’s Dirty Thirty top 10 appears to be the strongest since we started this crazy thing in April 2011. And if you’re impressed with the top 10, just look at some of the drivers knocking on the door from No. 11 on down:
1. (3.) Tony Dunker: My prediction for one of the track’s top rivalries by the second half of the season will be Tony vs. Vance Wilson in the sport mods. Get the women and children inside and stay out of their way. There will be some slammin’ and bangin’ in the corners at the cathedral of commotion.
2. (1.) Dave Wietholder: We’ll give you mulligan, Dave. You were kind of an innocent bystander.
3. (6.) Jared Schlipman: There are three drivers within seven points at the top of the modified division — and this is one of them.
4. (5.) Steven DeLonjay: And this is another.
5. (2.) Michael Long: One of the most enjoyable parts of the 2012 season so far has been watching Michael getting comfortable with that No. 56 late model.
6. (9.) Abe Huls:Three straight feature wins later, enter the new stock car points leader.
7. (7.) Robbie Reed: Robbie’s average feature finish in the five nights he has been in attendance: 3.2. That, folks, is not too shabby.
8. (5.) Dustin Griffin: Geez, what a letdown. “Only” a fifth-place finish in the late model feature. Hope the “slump” does not last too long, Dustin.
9. (14.) Mark Burgtorf: Mark has quietly piloted that Blonde No. 7 into the top five in late model points.
10. (8.) Justin Reed: In case anyone has not noticed, Justin continues to late the late model points standings. He’s 17 points ahead of Denny Woodworth and 18 in front of Jason Perry, in what is shaping up as another sweet championship pursuit.
11. (12.) Jason Perry: Jason’s third-place finish Sunday night in the feature snapped a streak of four consecutive sixth-place finishes. That’s unbelievable.
12. (11.) Jake Powers: Is it just me, or does the way Jake gets around the track reminiscent of old Double Zero, Eddie Dieker?
13. (15.) Shawn Deering: The streak will end soon, Shawn. Very soon.
14. (19.) Matt Bailey: A solid Sunday night makes those trips back south much more bearable.
15. (23.) Denny Woodworth: I think the late model lawyer lulled us to sleep those first few weeks of the season. No. 45 now is definitely firing on all cylinders.
16. (16.) Tanner Klingele: Tanner hasn’t gone on of his tears yet, but it’s hard ti argue with his fourth place in hobby stock points and fifth palce in sport mod points.
17. (24.) Bobby Anders: Sunday’s runner-up finish is likely a harbinger of things to come as Bobby the Bullet continues to dial in that ride.
18. (10.) Aaron Brocksieck: Turn four has claimed many a driver over the years, Aaron.
19. (20.) Jerry Jansen: Jerry, Dave (errr… Dark Cloud) says all the Ford drivers will be showing up at the track in Speedos at some point this year. I’m beginning to wonder about him …
20. (13.) Terry Houston: Terry, you deserve some sort of medal for putting up with Dark Cloud all of these years.
21. (22.) Brandon Symmonds: The Keokuk driver has pulled to within eight points of the hobby stock series lead.
22. (30.) Vance Wilson: It’s good to see all three Wilsons back at the track this year. Well, four if you count Chrissy.
23-tie. (17.) Jeremy Buss: Look at the bright side, Jeremy. You have endured two semi-forgettable weeks and you’re still second in points. A lot of drivers would not mind trading places with you.
23-tie. (25.) Jake Griffin: Young Jake’s up-and-down first two months of the season finds him sitting a respectable sixth in the modified standings.
25. (21.) Seth Woodruff: Seth’s fifth-place finish Sunday was his worst of the season.
26. (-) Jim Moon: The Moon Man turns his best performance of the season at the Bullring with a fourth-place showing Sunday night.
27. (-) Chuck Fullenkamp: There are about five premier cars in this series right now — and Chuck definitely has one of them.
28. (27.) Joe Bliven: Don’t write off our buddy Joe in the sport mods. May was not kind to him, but when next Sunday rolls around it will be June.
29. (28.) Brad Holtmeyer: When Brad wins his first sport mod race, will the car owner give him a bonus?
30. (26.) Kim Abbott: The rest of the cars in the sport compacts should take a cue from Kim. She has the one car that is truly visible all over the track. Too many cars in this division are almost impossible to rea (number-wise) once they hit turn two and backstretch.