Column By: STEPHEN DURHAM / RPW – MINERSVILLE, PA – It has been a thrilling start to the season in competition for the Super DIRTcar Series. Six different winners, in six different races so far.
Max McLaughlin captured his first series points paying win, and is eager to continue his success on the tour and take the lead away from Matt Sheppard. Mat Williamson will be hungry to rebound after a tough round at Land of Legends, but is only 14 points out of the series points lead.
Drivers like Anthony Perrego and Marc Johnson are showing speed and consistency in recent weeks on the tour, and they will be hungry to continue to fight to be into the top 5 of the series points.
Can it be a hometrack veteran like Duane Howard that captures another win, or is it a young hot shoe like Alex Yankowski who has experience at Big Diamond that steals the show?
Here is the Super DIRTcar Series rankings as they head into Big Diamond Wednesday.
1: Max McLaughlin(Previous Rank: 3):
McLaughlin captured his first points-paying race and first regular season Super DIRTcar Series win at Land of Legends, putting him at the heels of Matt Sheppard for the series lead in points. McLaughlin finished 3rd in his heat race, and would redraw 6th for his starting position. It has been a strong start to the season for “Mad Max” with three top 5s, four top 10s in the six races so far for the series.
2: Matt Sheppard (Previous Rank: 2):
It was a strong finish for Sheppard, coming home on the podium in 3rd at his former Saturday night hometrack. Sheppard won his heat race, and would redraw 11th for his starting position, leaving to do some work to cut through a stout field ahead of him. Sheppard leads the series points now by only 4 points over McLaughlin heading to Big Diamond. Sheppard was in attendance back in 2009, but finished 30th.
3: Mat Williamson (Previous Rank: 1):
It wasn’t Williamson’s day at Land of Legends, needing to come through the Last Chance Showdown and needing a provisional start in the feature event. Williamson still is only 14 points back behind Sheppard in the series points and has the highest finishing average with the Super Dirt Series for combined non-points paying and points-paying races of seven.
4: Stewart Friesen (Previous Rank: 4):
Friesen continues to show speed and consistency with the Super Dirt Series, picking up another top 5 on the season after missing Albany Saratoga. Friesen will look to continue his success into Big Diamond, a place he has won before in past series.
5: Jimmy Phelps (Previous Rank: 6):
It was a steady top 10 finish for Phelps at his former Saturday night home. Phelps began the night winning his heat race over Alex Payne and Heinke-Baldwin Racing teammate and eventual winner Max McLaughlin. Phelps would redraw starting position 4. When the series last visited back in 2009, Phelps came home in 4th.
6: Peter Britten (Previous Rank: 5):
The night started off strong for Britten at his Saturday night hometrack, winning his heat race over Friesen. Britten would redraw 7th, but would retire early on lap 15, coming home in 26th. Britten sits 9th in the points currently heading into Big Diamond.
7: Marc Johnson (Previous Rank: 9):
Marc Johnson, a likely shoe-in for Rookie of the Year on the Super DIRTcar Series, even if Johnson is nowhere near being a rookie when it comes to big block modified status. Johnson had another steady and consistent strong run at a new track, coming home in 12th. Johnson currently sits in 6th place in the series points, and only 10 points behind Perrego in 5th place.
8: Anthony Perrego (Previous Rank: 10):
It was another solid run for Perrego, capturing a third consecutive top 10. Perrego would finish 5th in his heat race, setting him to start 20th in the main event, leaving quite a bit of work to do. Perrego would battle his way up to finish 7th at the end of the night. Perrego does have past experience at Big Diamond, and will use that to his advantage, capturing three top 5s in ten starts.
9: Jack Lehner (Previous Rank: Unranked):
It wasn’t an easy night for Lehner, but he continues to fight and grind week in and week out on the series. Lehner would finish 5th in a stacked heat loaded with Britten, Friesen, Rudolph, and Yankowski. Lehner would start and finish 18th. Lehner does find himself 8th in the points going into Big Diamond, a new track for the young hot shoe.
10: Larry Wight (Previous Rank: Unranked):
After taking a few races off, Wight continues to show speed and consistency on the series. Wight would start 16th after finishing 4th in his heat race, and would fight his way to an 11th place finish. Wight was with the series back in 2009, but would finish 25th, but in 2010 did finish in the top 10 in a big block special.
On the Radar:
At Land of Legends, I picked out Justin Haers as a hometrack favorite that could compete with the tour guys. This week, it is Duane Howard, who currently sits at the top of the point standings over Brett Kressley, another driver who could contend. Howard though, he is the technical defending winner for the Super DIRTcar Series action at Big Diamond, winning back in 2009 over Ryan Godown, a winner in 2022 on the series, Pauch Jr., Jimmy Horton, and Bobby Varin rounding out the top 5. Howard also sits 2nd all-time in wins with 55 behind Craig VonDohren with 60.
Yankowski is beginning to make noise in the last 3 starts, coming home 13th in back to back finishes between Malta and Land of Legends. Yankowski also grabbed a top 10 at the juggernaut of a track of Lebanon Valley. Yankowski though stands out heading to Big Diamond, having 4 wins at Big Diamond, and 18 top 5s as well. Keep an eye out on this young driver, as he also did grab a win at Charlotte in the fall of 2021.