COPPER HILL, VA :: It has been an interesting and eventful summer in Late Model Stock Car racing. Since the last time we’ve done Power Rankings, we’ve seen three marquee events, showdowns involving the top racers in the region, new faces in victory lane and familiar faces racing in different places. Here’s a look at our Mid-Summer Power Rankings.
Myatt Snider: We didn’t include Snider in the top-22 this time because he still sits winless on the season. That said, Snider has been the second best driver this season at two of the three toughest tracks in Late Model competition (South Boston and Southern National) and has been knocking on the door for that first win of the season. It likely won’t be long before Snider just kicks that door down and enters Victory Lane.
Ronnie McCarty: Ronnie McCarty scored his first win of the season at Kingsport Speedway on July 11th, his first career victory in a Late Model at the Concrete Jungle. McCarty’s had some strong runs and, with his recent victory, he deserves a mention.
Ben Stanton: Stanton isn’t a driver we talk about much at RACE22.com but he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. Stanton has been consistent throughout the entire season at Dillon Motor Speedway in and has won the last two races at the South Carolina bullring.
Mike Chambers: It took Mike Chambers some 14 years to score his first Late Model Stock Car victory. No matter how hard Chambers tried, victory eluded him. That was until July 26th when he finally raced in to victory lane at Orange County Speedway in one of the greatest “feel good” stories of the season.
Robert Turner: Turner’s threatened to get in to victory lane at Ace Speedway all season long. On July 4th, he finally did, dominating Moonshine Capital Promotions’ Commonwealth/Carolina Firecracker Clash at Ace Speedway over drivers from all over the region in a race.
Barry Andrews: We know Barry Andrews has at least one win at Florence Motor Speedway. We’re not sure if he has more than one. Regardless, we’ll give him an honorable mention.
Matt Brooks: Before Ben Stanton got hot and went on a win-streak, it was Matt Brooks who went on a streak of his own, scoring back-to-back victories at Dillon Motor Speedway in June.
22. Bruce Anderson
Sure, Anderson only has one win, but let’s look at how this win of his played out. Anderson races at South Boston Speedway, which sports some of the toughest competition in the country. He’s very much a budget racer. In fact, his car is prepared by students at Patrick Henry Community College. With all that said, the man went to South Boston on July 19th and dominated the 100-lap race against Peyton Sellers and Philip Morris. It was a true David vs. Goliath story and, with that victory, Anderson proved he belongs on the RACE22.com Power Rankings.
21. RD Smith
RD Smith has two wins on the season at Ace Speedway, both coming in the last month and a half, and has surfaced as a contender each week at the bullring in Altamahaw, North Carolina which showcases some very tough competition. Smith will likely add to his win total before the end of the season.
20. CE Falk
It may not be CE Falk’s best season but he can still get the job done, as he proved in the biggest race of the season to date. While he has only been running on a part-time basis, Falk’s still recording strong efforts at South Boston Speedway. A couple weeks ago, Falk competed in the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway and dominated during much of the second half of the race, prevailing in several restarts, to score the victory in Langley Speedway’s biggest race for the third time in his illustrious Late Model career.
19. Justin Milliken
Justin Milliken is a threat to win any time he races at Myrtle Beach Speedway, as he has proven this season. Milliken has visited Victory Lane three times this season. In 11 starts between two different tracks, Milliken has nine top-five finishes. Milliken has plenty of opportunities to add to his win total this season and likely will as the season enters the homestretch.
18. Kaz Grala
Kaz Grala sits in 18th on our power rankings after scoring a win in the Rusty Harpe Memoial. Grala, who races full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, has also been running a part-time Late Model schedule but he’s recorded strong, consistent performances at South Boston and Langley – capped off by his win at Caraway. We expect to see Grala in some of the bigger races later this season and he’ll for sure be a contender.
17. RA Brown
RA Brown has four wins on the season, all of them coming at Anderson Motor Speedway in South Carolina. All four of those wins have been fairly recent with the most recent win coming on July 11th. With a handful of races remaining, look for Brown to make his final push and possibly click off a few more wins.
16. Doug Liberman
We don’t give Doug Liberman a whole lot of love for his performances but they shouldn’t be overlooked. Liberman, who won the championship in the final season of racing at the historic Old Dominion Speedway facility outside of the Nation’s Capital, leads the points at Shenandoah Speedway with five wins on the season and more on the way as he appears to be destined for his second Late Model championship, joining names like Lee Pulliam and Philip Morris as drivers to win track championships at two different tracks in the state of Virginia.
15. Greg Edwards
Greg Edwards continues to lead the points standings at Langley Speedway as he continues a strong push for his fourth track championship in Hampton. While Matt Waltz has certainly been the story of the year, Edwards has been remarkably consistent with five victories on the season and 14 top-five finishes in 16 races.
14. Lee Tissot
Lee Tissot is one of the best drivers in the business and has proven that in Super Late Models and Late Model Stock Cars. We haven’t talked about Lee Tissot much this season, so we will right now. Tissot has five wins on the season at two different tracks. One of those victories has come at Kingsport Speedway which consistently has strong fields of 18+ cars. He’s also won at Newport Speedway, joining the list of drivers that have won at multiple tracks this season.
13. Randy Porter
One driver who’s been overshadowed this year is Randy Porter. That’s because Porter races at Greenville-Pickens Speedway where the story of the year has clearly been Anthony Anders. But let’s look at Porter’s season. Including his win in the Southeast Super Truck Series, Porter has seven wins on the season – four of those wins have come at Greenville-Pickens Speedway with three wins at Anderson. Porter sits 11th in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Standings where he’s credited with 15 top-five finishes in NASCAR-sanctioned events. But, Anthony Anders doesn’t have any serious competition at Greenville…
12. Chad Finchum
Another two-track winner is Chad Finchum. Finchum scored a victory at Kingsport Speedway in one of the most recent races at the track affectionately called “The Concrete Jungle”. He’s got 10 wins on the season, four at Kingsport and six at Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Virginia where he leads the points. Finchum cooled off a bit in the summer months but he’s looking to heat back up in the final weeks of the season.
11. Matt Waltz
Matt Waltz has been one of the hottest drivers this year with eight wins on the season, all of them at Langley Speedway. Entering the Hampton Heat 200, Waltz had won three consecutive races and was the odds-on favorite to win. In fact, he had the fastest car and it wasn’t even close, but a pit road miscalculation cost him the win. Look for Waltz to bounce back this weekend where he could very likely record his ninth win of the season.
10. Kres Vandyke
Kres Vandyke may not have as many wins as Chad Finchum but he’s certainly been more consistent. He leads the points at Kingsport where he has five wins there, along with three at Lonesome Pine. Vandyke has a remarkable 20 top-five finishes on the season and 22 top-10 finishes in 24 starts this season at three different tracks. Vandyke will likely win the track championship at Kingsport Speedway and could also win the title at Lonesome Pine as well.
9. Deac McCaskill
Deac McCaskill hasn’t been as strong as last year, but he’s still been strong. He has seven wins on the season across two tracks (East Carolina Motor Speedway and South Boston Speedway). McCaskill hasn’t been afraid to travel this season. He’s raced at five different tracks and has 13 top-five finishes on the season between those five tracks. He also finished in eighth after starting on the outside of the front row at the Hampton Heat 200. McCaskill might not be making headlines the way he was last year, but he’s still got and he’s still winning races.
8. Tommy Lemons, Jr.
Tommy Lemons, Jr. has a way of making things exciting when he wins. He’s got victories at Southern National and Motor Mile this season – and his most recent win did not disappoint as he edged out Peyton Sellers by inches to score the victory in a race that took five days to announce a winner. That race was literally a tie in electronic scoring. Lemons’ win count hasn’t been what he had hoped but he’s still consistent and he’s in control of the championship point standings at Southern National Motorsports Park. All it takes for him to get another win is him getting the outside line on a restart…
7. Clay Jones
Clay Jones has travelled to multiple tracks this season and has scored wins against some tough completion in the Late Model division at Wake County Speedway and Dillon Motor Speedway. Jones has eight wins on the season in total and has won the last three consecutive races at Wake County Speedway forcing the track to put a bounty on him ahead of Friday night’s races.
6. Josh Berry
Josh Berry’s talents have been recognized on the national stage as he’s fresh off his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut. Berry has six wins on the season in the Late Model ranks – five of them at Hickory Motor Speedway and one at Southern National back in July. With his Nationwide debut behind him, Berry heads back to Hickory Motor Speedway where he will probably add to his win total.
5. Peyton Sellers
Peyton Sellers is always strong, anywhere he races. He’s proven that this season with six wins at three different tracks (Caraway, Motor Mile and South Boston). Sellers most recently finished fourth in the Hampton Heat 200 with a car that admittedly wasn’t the best he’s raced with. Sellers heads back to South Boston this weekend where every race will be twin races for the rest of the season where he hopes to get back to winning form.
4. Payton Ryan
One of the hottest drivers on the circuit lately has been Payton Ryan. This kid has been on fire. He got his first career win on July 4th at Myrtle Beach Speedway and backed it up with another win later that night in the second twin race. After that, he went to Motor Mile Speedway and beat the best at their best in Late Model racing’s biggest stage. He edged Lee Pulliam by inches in another classic Motor Mile Speedway finish to score his third win of the season. When you beat Lee Pulliam at Motor Mile, a top-five ranking in the Power Rankings is only deserved.
3. Dillon Bassett
Dillon Bassett is one of the most exciting drivers to watch in the business right now. The kid’s got so much talent, it’s unreal. He almost won the Hampton Heat 200, in his first ever start of any kind at Langley Speedway. He’s scored victories at four different tracks, more than anybody else in Late Model competition. He won at Motor Mile in his first ever start there. There’s not much else that can be said with wins, seven in total, at Caraway, East Carolina, Hickory and Motor Mile. Bassett’s one of the best and he proves it every week.
2. Lee Pulliam
Lee Pulliam has continued to win races, increasing his win total to 14 over the past few weeks. He won the Fourth of July race at South Boston, again, he won at Southern National a few weeks ago and he won at Motor Mile in one of two races (finishing second in the other). The only thing that’s slowed Pulliam down is rain. But, when the track is dry, all Lee does is win. A recent start at Greenville-Pickens Speedway also proved that Lee can contend anywhere he goes. Watch for Lee to score several more wins before the season’s out as he continues to try to collect points in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Championship where he’s chasing…
1. Anthony Anders
… Anthony Anders, who has 20 wins on the season at three different tracks. Last time, we had Anders ranked in second. This time, we ranked him first because, the fact is, while everyone else may be chasing Lee Pulliam, Lee’s chasing Anthony Anders. We’ve now seen Anders and Pulliam race head-to-head, twice. Anders won both times. Pulliam felt compelled to go to Anders’ house and Anders won. That’s all there is to it. That’s not even including Anders’ success last season at Kingsport Speedway, a track Pulliam tried to win at several times and couldn’t win at. Anders is the most talked about driver in all of short track racing. Drivers from other regions are chasing him, to no avail. Anders is likely destined for his first National Championship and there’s not much anyone can do, at this point, to prevent that from happening. As long as Anders is at the top, and until Pulliam can beat Anders, Anders is on top of our Power Rankings.
That concludes our Mid-Summer Power Rankings. We now look ahead to the final month and a half of the “regular season” and then the countdown to Martinsville is on.