Keep an eye on these guys in 2013

January 16, 2013 5 Comments

We’ve been spending some time going over the top contenders in each of the five weekly racing series, but what about those guys who are on the cusp, ready to make a statement in a “breakthrough” season? Not necessarily a championship, but the kind of year that lets the rest of us know we need to keep an eye on them.

Here are my picks:

Late models

* Jerry Lierly: Jerry has enjoyed past success in the UMP crates at other tracks, but has yet to leave an exclamation point at the Bullring. This should be the year. If he had not sustained the wrist injury that sidelined him much of the second half of 2012, I think we would be classifying him as a title contender this year. Remember how well Jerry was running just prior to the injury, and how strong he looked afterward? If Lierly can hang with Dustin Griffin, Mark Burgtorf and the other acknowledged elite drivers to start the year, the championship pursuit will get that much more interesting.

Other possibles: Michael Long, Jake Griffin.

Modifieds

* Jake Griffin: “Fireball” gave us a glimpse of what the future may hold last season en route to a relatively quiet fifth-place finish in points. Look for continued growth. He could easily become one of the “big five” with Steven DeLonjay, Dave Wietholder, Michael Long and Shawn Deering. Don’t forget, we’ve lost Jared Schlipman from this class — he’s going to be a late model rookie — so that’s one less major rival Griffin will need to pass in the points standings.

Jerry Lierly

Other possibles: Craig Spegal, Russ Coultas.

Sport mods

* Tanner Klingele: Three things are working in Tanner’s favor this season to make a lasting impression. He’ll be concentrating solely on the sport mods (R.I.P., hobby stocks), Tony Dunker likely won’t be dominating the division because he won’t be racing as much and young Mr. Klingele is a year older and more wiser. Much of the early attention in this class will surround Joe Bliven and Bobby Anders, but don’t be surprised if Klingele makes one of those so-called major statements.

Other possibles: Brad Holtmeyer, Jake Powers (call that second one a hunch … )

Stock cars

* Michael Larsen: I know Taco’s name has been mentioned quite frequently regarding this class in the offseason, but going into April it will still be Terry Houston and Abe Huls garnering much of the hype. But remember, one of my sabermetric theories involving racing is to watch the success in heat races one year to predict a breakout driver the nest. Michael dominated the heats the 2012, and if just a fraction of that success carries over to the 2013 main events there could be a new sheriff in town. Or at least a new deputy — and I’m not talking about Barney Fife.

Other possibles: Jerry Jansen, Gabe Harrison.

Sport compacts

* Pat Dunker: Can he track down Austen “Powers” Becerra, Seth Woodruff or Slim Kim Abbott? Probably not, but this could be the year The Guy With The Cool Hair signs more autographs than his three-time track champion brother Tony Dunker. And if that happens, I would love be at the next family reunion. Dunker (Pat, that is) wowed the 8000 Broadway crowd with some of his late-season runs a year ago, and I see no reason why The People’s Champion will not pick up right where he left off.

Other possibles: Bryce Baker, Brandon Lambert, Lane Van Sandt, Casey Lambert.

 

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  1. TERRY HOUSTON says:

    folks, at the banquet, I neglected to thank Tanya Weitholder for her sevices and help with my race operation. she has done great work with the graphics for me for several year now and at a great price. thanks again tanya ps. go to http://www.dirtcarnationals.com/ and vote for Dave Weitholder, hes the only local guy on the list that is going to floridia to race in february . and you can vote daily, check it out

  2. Mrs.Mod05d says:

    Thank you Terry. That is very kind of you!! Davie & I appreciate all votes. I did want to mention that Jake Griffin is also going and is currently in the top six as well. It would be great if both local drivers could make it in the top six. Good luck guys!!!!

  3. WOOD PILE says:

    mrs mod 05d
    what is the top 6 ??

  4. TERRY HOUSTON says:

    Sorry, i looked for others and knew long was not going. ill will vote for fireball as well,
    woodpile its a dash for cash so to speak

  5. Taco says:

    I have heard that Terry and Abe are gonna each carry a tow strap and help pull me around this year….i need all the help i can get….just as long as i don’t roll the dang thang again we will be all good.!!!!

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