LUCAMA, NC :: The 2013 Late Model Stock Car season kicked off officially with the first of 12 races that make up “The Dirty Dozen”, a series of six races each at Southern National Motorsports Park and Motor Mile Speedway.

The series kicked off in fine fashion and while we’ve already gave you the basics of what happened on the track, we want to give you a more in-depth look at “The Dirty Dozen” season opener.  Here are the things you might not know mixed with some analysis of the race and things that transpired.


The tracks schedule said that all Dirty Dozen events would be 125-lap twin races.  The events on Saturday were cut to 100-laps each after some drivers complained about not being able to afford to run all those laps.  This change is in effect for all “The Dirty Dozen” races scheduled for Southern National but does not affect the six events at Motor Mile Speedway.


Scoring for “The Dirty Dozen” opener at Southern National was a nightmare.  According to the tracks scoring the black #8 that turned fast laps in practice was driven by Reid Lanpher (or Lampher as they spelled it).  However the black #8 car was actually David Garbo, Jr. and not Lanpher, who was actually driving the white #8 car.  Allowing duplicate numbers was the first mistake but not getting it right on the scoring for the race is even worse.  It’s got to be someone’s job to keep stuff like that organized.


Last November, when the crap hit the fan over Brandon Brown’s on track antics in the Thanksgiving Classic, the feedback prompted track owner and Brandon’s dad, Jerry Brown to not allow him to race at Southern National Motorsports Park.  A very good move and very much the right move.  However taking Brown out and still allowing the car to compete isn’t really a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Brown’s crew chief, Adam Brenner, getting a chance to race in that good of a car.  However it leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth when “that car” as everyone in the pits referred to it this weekend sits on the pole by nearly a tenth of second.  Brandon Brown himself might as well been driving the car.  Racers always assume that someone with connections to the track, whether it’s the track owners son, a family friend or someone else.

Jerry Brown might be the most honest man on the face of the planet but the bottom line is the other racers don’t trust the track because the car he owns performs so well.  It’s a huge disservice to the track and leaves racers not wanting to compete there.  Is the car illegal?  Maybe not.  Are they giving them special treatment?  Maybe not.  However, it leaves doubt in racers minds and that’s never a good thing.  While the tracks competitors might not have voiced their opinion to the track, they were voicing it amongst each other after qualifying when Brenner put the car on the pole.

While the old saying “any publicity is good publicity” is true.  This isn’t about publicity; it’s about the racers trusting the track owners.  Most of them don’t and because they all want to see the tracks succeed, they won’t and that’s why we’ve got to speak for them.  Having that car compete in any capacity isn’t fair and it isn’t doing the track any favors and most unfortunately it leaves people thinking that Brenner couldn’t win the pole on his own, which might not be true.  He gets as much of a bad rap in this deal as anyone and that’s not fair either.


When the first official green flag of the season finally flew, the racing got intense between 26 of the best Late Model Stock Cars anywhere.  Deac McCaskill, who had qualified second, took off and left Brenner behind.  Brenner would eventually come to pit road after his left rear tire was flat and his pole would be the highlight of the day.


Deac McCaskill owned the 2012 season with 17 total wins on the season at Southern National and eight of the first ten races.  As the first two checkered flags of the 2013 season waved on Saturday, McCaskill was out to prove that he was going to own Southern National for the second season in a row.  With two wins now to his credit with dominating performances, McCaskill has shown he’s the man to beat this season.


When Blake Jones climbed from the rear of the field to finish second at Southern National in the final race of the 2012 season, many thought it was luck and more survival than anything.  However, as David Garbo, Jr. crossed the finish line second in the first of the twin races, it left little doubt that Fat Head Racing’s program was strong.  Garbo was strong in race two as well, but had a tire issue that kept him from being able to contend for the win for a second race in a row.  Either way, their effort in the twin races could prove to be sign of things to come as they kick off the UARA-STARS Series season on the same track this coming weekend.


Tommy Lemons, Jr.’s start at SNMP this year shows a third and a fourth place finish respectively in the two twin races.  Lemons didn’t qualify as well as he knew he was capable of but his car raced really good, which could be a sign that he’s going to have an even better year this year than his four wins season last year.


With temperatures, when the sun began to go down, feeling cold enough to snow, it was fitting that one of the fastest guys all weekend and the second place finisher in the final race was Justin Snow.  Snow was strong all weekend, posting fast times on Friday in testing and backing it up with a third place qualifying effort.  He wasn’t able to take advantage of the qualifying effort in race one and settled for a fourth place finish.  However, in race two, he showed his hand and looked to be fast enough to contend with McCaskill but never really got in position to flex his muscle.  A second and fourth place effort isn’t anything to be ashamed of.  He might just find himself in contention for many wins this season.


Mike Darne started his day off with a 12th place qualifying effort, quite a ways off his pole winning effort in the last race held at Southern National.  Then in race one, he wasn’t impressive at all, placing the same place he started in 12th.   By the time the second race started, he was ready to get it on.  He made his way from his 12th place start in race two to fourth and waged a war with Tommy Lemons, Jr. for many laps before finally grabbing a third place finish in race two.


Michael Rouse only seems to really flex his muscle at his home track when there’s a little something extra on the line.  Last season, he muscled his way past McCaskill late in the running of a bounty race midway through the season for his lone win.  This year, he’s back and strong as he was last year, but a little setback kept him from having a chance to win on Saturday.  Rouse did recover from the mechanical failure and finished fifth in race two.


Winning the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship was a dream accomplishment for Lee Pulliam and, while he’d love to back it up, he’s not off to the best of starts.  Pulliam did manage a fifth place finish in race number one, but as the race headed toward its conclusion, he had fallen from second to fifth.  In race number two, he was simply off the pace and getting bounced around as he was booted from the front of the field and within a straight away of going down a lap.

From there, he parked his ride, not knowing what caused the handling to fade after one point in the first twin he was challenging McCaskill for the lead.  However given the fact that he didn’t even get to start racing until May of last year, overcoming this “slow” start shouldn’t be a problem at all for the young driver.


Myatt Snider became the butt of everyone’s jokes after he and his teammate, Kaz Grala, crashed under caution at Daytona during the Battle at the Beach.  However, he really had no fault in the crash and was simply run over by a kid making his first start in a Late Model.  Snider came to Southern National on a mission and he was very impressive in twin sixth place finishes.  In the first race, he drove from 14th, scrapping and clawing his way to the front.  In the second race, he started third after an invert of the top eight and got shuffled out of line on a restart and had to make his way back to finish sixth.  With just six races under his belt, he shows signs of being one of the brightest of the young drivers competing this season.


I’ll admit it.  I didn’t know who Ricky Jones was when the day started at Southern National and to be perfectly honest, I had no idea simply from looking at his car that I’d have any idea when the day was over.  Never judge a book by its cover.  Jones’ entry might not look like everyone else’s car.  The body is a little older and, by looking, you’d think he wasn’t going to be a contender.  Wrong.  Jones’ car was strong and he proved it wrestling positions away from the National Champion in race two and finishing seventh.


Hunter Devers’ return to FDJ Motorsports was a strong one as he placed eighth in the first race and then after the invert put his #48 machine out front of the second race.  He looked good up front in first and then second but after using up the Hoosier rubber he found himself slip back to finish eighth again.  Two eighth place finishes might not be like getting wins for the young driver but it was a strong start to a long season.


Jamey Caudill might not be back and competing for wins just yet but the way he wrestled his #50 car around Southern National Motorsports Park in the season opener, it might just be a matter of time.  The veteran driver, who has accumulated nearly 100 wins, hasn’t been seen much in recent years but a ninth and 13th place finish this weekend let everyone know he’s back.


Greg Edwards entered this weekend’s season opening event as an easy favorite following his win in the season ending Thanksgiving Classic but his day didn’t go anything like it did in November.  He qualified fourth but never showed any strength in the first race ending it in ninth and then a tenth place finish in the second twin.


Reid Lanpher officially started his Late Model campaign at Southern National with JR Motorsports as Josh Berry’s teammate.  All in all, after qualifying 15th, placing 11th in the first race and 12th in the second race, the young driver can chalk this race up as a success.


Doug Godsey is known for many things around the pit area.  He’s an aggressive, take no prisoners kind of racer and many people don’t like it.  This time, he started closer to the front of the field and didn’t have to use the front bumper, but he alienated just as many with how “wide” his car was for the closing laps in race one.  First it was Lemons who used up the front bumper to get by him, then Snider, who nearly wrecked trying to get around him, then Josh Berry followed by a whole host of others as Godsey slipped from a top finish to 15th in race one.


Early in race one the chances of a couple young drivers went out the window when Melvin Langley and Quin Houff got together.  That set off a chain reaction crash as several more drivers piled in including Ray Terczak, Jonathan Findley, CJ Hulsey and Tyler Hughes.  The crash ended Findley and Hulsey’s day and ruined it for Hughes, Langley and Houff.


Derrick Lancaster was looking to get his 2013 season off to a great start but his engine choice for the first of The Dirty Dozen events might have crippled his chance at competing, not only for wins, but also the championship.  He decided to bring a new Dodge power plant to compete with at Southern National and, never having been to this track before, he didn’t know what he needed.  The Dodge engine, however, was too strong and wouldn’t let him get enough traction to use the power like it would at Motor Mile or Martinsville Speedway.  Lancaster knew when the day started that he had brought the wrong piece but he tried to make the best of it but ended both races in 20th position.


With a good crowd in attendance, the fans were treated to a great first race and a lackluster second 100-lap feature.  While the second race might not have been anywhere close to the race the first one was and while McCaskill was out front killing the competition, all in all it was a good start to the Dirty Dozen.  Not too many damaged cars and plenty of drivers still in the mix for the mini-series championship with nine events left.