Oh boy, I knew this category would be difficult, which was the main reason I saved it for last. But I didn’t expect it to be that difficult. If you thought there was unexpected delay between the naming of the modified and late model drivers of the year you were correct. I simply wanted to feel comfortable with the choice.
I felt the Driver of the Year award in the late model class came down to two individuals: Track champ Jason Perry and runner-up Dustin Griffin, who dominated all the principal categories like features won, most races won, most everything except the track title, which Perry claimed by 19 points.
My gut feeling — and no cracks about the size of my gut — was to choose Griffin because of his overall domination, except for the two points nights he missed because of engine trouble. Sure, that’s part of the game, but the Black Car Superstar was normally the man to beat on the nights he was there, and I feel if Griffin had not missed the two features he did because of mechanical issues he would have probably won the title. It’s the same case I made for naming Abe Huls and Austen Becerra drivers of the year in the stock cars and sport compacts, respectively. So there was precedent.
It takes an unusual circumstance for a track champ not to be named Driver of the Year, and this season we had three of them, capped by Griffin’s performance in the late models. Griffin should be one of the new faces of the Quincy UMP Super Late Models in the years to come. His time has arrived, beginning with this Driver of the Year award.
Perry and Mark Burgtorf were First Row selections, For Perry, it was his second such honor in three years.
Second Row notice went to Justin Reed and Michal Long. Reed becomes the first driver to earn Driver of the Year, first and second row honors in the five-year history of the Stevie Dirt awards. Long becomes the second driver to earn notice in two different series in the same year. He was also a Second Row pick in the mods. Justin Reed was Driver of the Year in the mods in 2009 and a First Row selection in the late models the same season.
5th ANNUAL STEVIE DIRT LATE MODEL ALL-DIRT TEAM
DRIVER OF THE YEAR
2012: Dustin Griffin
2011: Justin Reed
2010: Denny Woodworth
2009: Mark Burgtorf
2008: Jason Frankel
2012: Jason Perry, Mark Burgtorf
2011: Lonnie Bailey, Denny Woodworth
2010: Jason Perry, Justin Reed
2009: Lonnie Bailey, Justin Reed
2008: Mark Burgtorf, Justin Reed
2012: Justin Reed, Michael Long
2011: Joey Gower, Keith Pratt
2010: Joey Gower, Keith Pratt
2009: Jason Frankel, Keith Pratt
2008: Lonnie Bailey, Jason Perry