We’re putting Steven DeLonjay atop our preseason Dirty Thirty track rankings, our multi-class, inter-series rankings that rewards overall division dominance and those drivers who run (successfully) in more than one discipline like Michael Long and Jake Griffin. On the surface, does the Dirty Thirty make any sense? Probably not, but it’s a heckuva lot of fun to argue about — and we do like to argue here.
DeLonjay has back-to-back Dirty Thirty titles and we’re placing him in the catbird’s seat to open the 2013 season. Here’s a look at our preseason picks leading to the first green flag that is still 61 days away. (We’ll be updating the following list as more preseason information becomes available. And, hey, I’m human. I may have overlooked someone, too.)
1. Steven DeLonjay:The most overlooked aspect this 21-year-old’s success is how strong he always is during the second half of the season. He’s been racing seven years at the Bullring and already has
four track championships. That kind of success does not happen by accident. He will be tough to deny a third straight modified title.
2. Michael Long: OK, here’s a question for you track regulars. Has Michael ever endured any sort of “slump?” He’s been running at 8000 Broadway for more than a decade and I can’t remember any prolonged struggle. Am I wrong?
3. Dustin Griffin: There was a point last season when I thought the Black Car Superstar would win this mythical title, If he can establish himself early in the lade model division and maintain that momentum — which he had trouble doing at a couple of junctures in 2012 — not even the mighty DeLonjay will be able to unseat him.
4. Mark Burgtorf: Magic Mark’s last track title came in 2007. To end that drought he will have to get past the No. 20 of the BCS. (Is this going to be entertaining or what?)
5. Jake Griffin: You can almost feel the success oozing from Fireball and his team. It’s definitely going to be fun watching him this summer.
6. Dave Wietholder: I have never asked Dave why he chose No. 05, and now I’m curious.
7. Austen “Powers” Becerra:If he races a full season like he during the time he was on hand a year ago we could see the first sport compact driver in the top five … four … three?
8. Tony Dunker: Of course, the Man in the Black Hat would be higher if we knew his schedule for the season. But we don’t. And he also will be driving a different car in 2013. This is the one top 10 pick I am most nervous about.
9. Justin Reed: Just like the Ohio State Buckeyes, Justin is always in title contention.
10. Terry Houston: Once again I say, the Mayor of Mount Sterling may be the most consistent driver at the track.
11. Abe Huls
12. Denny Woodworth
13. Jason Perry (not running for track title this season)
14. Shawn Deering
15. Joe Bliven
16. Bobby Anders
17. Clint Kirkham
18. Michael Larsen
19. Tanner Klingele
20. Robbie Reed
21. Jason Frankel
22. Craig Spegal
23. Matt Bailey
24. Jared Schlipman (late model)
25. Keith Pratt
26. Seth Woodruff
27. Jake Powers (stock car)
28. Jerry Jansen
29. Robby Warner
30-tie. Pat Dunker
30-tie. Bill Genenbacher
30-tie. Kim Abbott