A new contender for SEC regional touring series supremacy enters the ring tonight as the Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series (That's a mouthful, huh?) hosts its inaugural event from All-Tech Raceway in Lake City, Florida.
It's totally fair to point out the over-saturation of touring series in SEC country, with The Southern All-Stars, Spring and Southern Nationals, and Valvoline Iron-Man Late Model Series to name a few all operating in and around HtFSDS territory. Be that it as it may, it's hard to imagine any of those series drawing the depth and star power of the Southbound Throwdown.
Tim McCreadie, Ricky Thornton Jr, Shane Clanton, Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb, Devin Moran, Chris Ferguson, Tyler Erb, Kyle Bronson, Joseph Joiner (duh!), Max Blair, Garrett Smith, Payton Freeman, and Wil Herrington are all anticipated to be in attendance for the $20K main event this evening. I can't imagine any of the other regional series boasting such a lineup. And that, I think, is the biggest takeaway from this inaugural event. The HtF fellas are planting thier flag firmly and are going to leverage thier relationships and contacts to draw the biggest, most star-studded fields they can. In doing so, some toes may get mangled. But, and this is a very important life lesson, you can't be everyone's friend all the time.
In addition to the names mentioned above, HtFSDS boast a robust and intriging cast of tour regulars:
Joseph Joiner (duh!)
Billy Moyer Jr
Pearson Lee Willaims
Yup, we've got one LOLMDS RoY, two more drivers who were widely believed to be running for LOLMDS/WoO RoY this year, and multiple Southern All-Stars, XTREME DIRTcar Series, and Spring/Southern Nationals feature winners. It's a pretty loaded roster for an established regional series, much less an upstart.
This might be overstating it a bit, but this series (along with HunttheFront.tv) really does demonstrate the power of #DirtContent. We were first introduced to the Joiner as small 1-2 car team racing crate late models for weekly points at Southern Raceway. A 605 uploads later, we've got a full-fledged Super Late Model and Crate Late Model race team, gaming content creators, multiple spinoff YouTube channels, streaming service providers, and, now, series promoters. Quite the come up, yeah? Anywho, on to why you're here!
Hunt the Front Super Dirt Series (remains a mouthful) operates under DIRTcar sanction. This, along with how the Southern Showcase has been run the last two years, strongly suggest were gonna get a straight up program. Qualifying, Heats, B-Main(s), Feature. Heats lineup up by Qualifying Postion. B-Main(s) and Feature lineup up by Heats/B-Main(s) finish.
I'm betting on 22-24 cars making the feature via heats and B's. I would not be shocked if there is a provisional or two floating around tonight, but I wouldn't have the slightest idea how it will be distributed. My best guess, fastest non-qualify series regular or two.
Who to Watch: Note: Salaries and Slot as of 5:30pm Central, some drivers not loaded into DirtDraft yet.
Ashton Winger $21,500 (7): On track, Air Force has been pretty dang formidable (off track... not so formidable...) in this 2023 season with 24 starts (how the hell he got to 24 with this weather is beyond me!), 3 wins, 9 Top-5's, and 11 Top-10's to his name. Between 2022-2023, Winger has 7 notable starts (6 LOLMDS/XR starts, $20K 604 Powell Memorial, tied for most appearances) at All-Tech and sports an average finish position (AFP) of 6.143 (4th highest among anticipated drivers) and an average feature plus/minus (APM) of +6 (also 4th highest among anticipated drivers). Oh yeah, he also won an XR Feature in December at All-Tech. Winger did fail to start his B-Main this January with LOLMDS at All-Tech, so its not all roses. Even still, it's quite evident Winger knows this tricky track well, consistently moves forward, and has a AFP 1 better than his Salary Slot. I can dig it.
Chris Ferguson $21,300 (9): Fergy is 1 for 1 on the season (we're not counting the pinch hitter outing at Volusia) and $20,000 richer after winning March Madness from Cherokee Speedway while Smokey and Ol' Gal's favorite driver compared belly buttons. That's about the entirety of the argument. Fergy is undefeated, until he's not we should at least keep on eye on him.
Joseph Joiner $21,200 (10): Shut up! You knew he was going to be on this list. Don't make that noise while you roll your eyes at me! The Flyin' Floridian (the HtF guys name things like I write, with way too many words) won the $20,000 Powell Family Memorial (yeah, it's a 604 race but it is a loaded 604 race!) at All-Tech in 2022. Between 2022-23, Joiner has 7 notable starts at All-Tech, has the aforementioned dub, an AFP of 8.429, and an APM of 1.167. All right in line with where he sits currently. On top of that, Joey has won dang near half the races, across 604 and SLM competition, he's entered in 2023; winning 6 of 13 starts. Including 2 victories last weekend from Buckshot with the Spring Nats and from Whynot with Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series. If you need any more reason to be interested, this is the inaugural race of the inaugural season of the series that bears his YouTube Channel/Race Teams name. He's gonna want to win this thing real bad!
Devin Moran $21,100 (11): I'd have pegged Moran at about $20,000-$19,500 after last night. So this is a tepid recommendation at best. That being said, across 3 LOLMDS races (2-'22, 1-'23) at All-Tech Moran has an AFP of 3.333! He's not run well of late and has had nothing but rotten luck to boot, but 11th Salary Slot for a 3.333 AFP? You gotta be on notice, I guess.
Tyler Erb $20,600 (14): Terbo had two starts in 2022 and one start this year at All-Tech in LOLMDS competition. Across those three races, Terbo has an AFP of 7.333 with an APM of 6.333. He's sitting 14th in Salary Slot. There is definitely some upside. Oh yeah, he finished 5th with LOLMDS this year at All-Tech!
Wil Herrington $20,500 (15): Herrington has had a bit of an up and down 2023 season but the last time out in a SLM he did take home a fat check for winning the poop production at Senoia with Spring Nats. Wil's last time in any type of car, 602 Crate to be exact, he also won. If you're a believer of momentum, Wil's got it on his side. For complete transparency, the numbers aren't support Herrington's inclusion on this list. He's got an AFP of 20 in all DirtDraft contest races and AFP of 18.333 in three meaningful starts across 2022-23 at All-Tech. Call it hunch that he made the list.
Payton Freeman $20,300 (17): Let's get this out of the way, Freeman was my pick to win WoO RoY this year. I never waivered through speedweeks. Then G.R. Smith went and showed his whole ass, leading Freeman to, rightfully, run fast and far away from that dumpster fire of a "race team." After saying good riddance to bad trash, Freeman finds himself in his family owned Capital Race Car. If offloading the guardrail that was strapped to his back doesn't make him faster in and of itself, Freeman was running quite well in the family car last year. Most notably, finishing second in Hell Tour points behind Bobby Pierce. At All-Tech, Freeman sports an AFP of 13.333 in three meaningful starts across the 2022-23 seasons.
Sam Seawright $20,200 (18): Seawright retired early last night during the Kyle Larson Late Model Challenge, but I'd count making the Feature a major accomplishment (unless you're a NASCAR driver, then they'll just let you in). In Seawrights other 7 races in 2023, he sports 2 wins, 3 top-5's, and 5 top-10's. I will note that none of those results appear to come in National or Regional Touring competition. Nonetheless, he's racing quite well this year. In the Powell Family Memorial, Seawright charged from 25th to 7th. Not too shabby, eh?
Dalton Cook $19,500 (25): First off, my guy's nickname is Juicy. I'm all over that! Beyond that, Juicy came home 2nd twice at Southern with SAS. I won't try to over prioritize that one race, but you will see it again. Two second place finishes in consecutive races against a solid field is definitely enough to make our ears perk up.
Josh Putnam $19,400 (26): Dude has a killer first name. Otherwise, not much to support his inclusion. Putnam has strung together a couple of solid finishes at the HtF Southern Showdown, so there is some merit to considering him.
Austin Kirkpatrick $19,300 (28): AK-47 is exactly on gaurdrail lighter, he's bound to be faster than he was before early March. And this time he won't have a car owner who fancies himself a race car driver and kicks him out of the seat willy nilly! If it ain't clear yet, there is exactly one asshole in that situation and he's not at All-Tech tonight.
Ryan Crane $19,100 (31): In 2023, Crane has two starts, a 9th and 13th at Southern Raceway in Southern All-Stars competition. In XR action at All-Tech in December, Crane had finishes of 19th and 16th, which marked a steep improvement on his Feature misses in April. The needle seems to be point up for Crane. You heard it here first!
Billy Franklin $18,900 (33): Franklin took home the dub at Night 1 of SAS's trip to Southern Raceway in March. That was a pretty decent field of cars, too. I'd say that with that win under his belt, it's worth keeping an eye on Franklin through qualifying.
Tyler Clem $18,000 (Second to Last (37)): Heading into this year, Clem was primarily a 360 Sprint Car driver. Yet, this year he finds himself piloting the Big Frog Motorsports 58. Then he went down to Southern Raceway with SAS and came home 5th and 6th! And it wasn't flukey either! Clem qualified well, ran well in heats, and ran up front both races. We are on notice!