It's been a minute, hasn't it? Thank goodness Julian and @P1_Nation_ are ROCKSTARS and have been helping us crank out content on Twitter. If you don't follow them on the bluebird app, you definitely should. That's where we're able to get quick hitting DirtInfo out in a timely and relevant fashion. I'm so thankful to have these guys on my team!
Personally, I've been a bit quiet as I was bamboozled into coaching an 11U Travel Baseball team this year. Between that and also being a travelball dad for the older knucklehead, it feels like we are on go all hours of the day and night. If that wasn't enough, I have also picked up some responsibilities in the dirt racing world which has me over-the-moon excited! I am continuously surprised how rewarding it is to chase your passion and have fun while doing it. I never thought, in a million years, I would have made it even this far in this industry! I am so excited to see what the future holds.
But that's enough about me and the awesome DirtInfo team. You're here to be primed so let's get to pumping.
The Event: 20th Annual LRS Waste Services USMTS Southern MN Spring Challenge (rolls right of the tongue, don't it?).
The Track: Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, MN. A gihugent 3/8ths mile track where cell service goes to die.
The Points Situation: With what I expect to be a massive field of Modifieds, it is going to be a battle to get all 5 drivers into the A-Main. One cheat code for achieving that goal is by understanding where a driver sits in the points and how likely, or unlikely, they may be to receive one of the approximately 6(00?) provisionals available on a given night Here's how we're looking heading into Thursday:
The Format: Hell if I know! It seems to change based on track conditions, but as of now I believe we get the Top 12 in passing points, following Heats, transferring to the A-Main with the Top 8 in the redraw. We also get the two fastest non-qualifiers starting 13th and 14th (despite qualifying by Heat, these appear to be given out based on Qualifying Time only, regardless of where that put them in their Heat. The remaining 10 come out of the B-Mains. And then a whole bunch of provisionals.
I've been keeping track of how Qualifying Position in the Heats relates to getting one of those coveted 12 (or 14) transfer positions. Excluding the one night at Hamilton County that had a 4 invert, here is the breakdown, by qualifying postion, of each of the 162 Heat transfers.
As you can see, Qualifying Positions 1, 2, and 5 have the best statistical chance of transfering via Passing Points. The 3rd Qualifying Position isn't much worse. Outside of those 4 spots, it's pretty rough out there! Heading into this weekend, I am only picking drivers that fall into one of those 4 spots and probably will do my level best to stick to 1, 2 and 5. That doesn't mean I'll pick a Driver I am otherwise down on just because they fell into one of the covet Qualifying Postion slots, but I am certainly going to use it as a tie-breaker when I am trying to balance salaries.
Who to Watch: Name, Salary, (DirtDraft Salary Slot as of Publication)
Dustin Sorensen $20,900 (7): Sorenson is on this list, if for no other reason than, because he is the 2022 USMTS National Champ. Getting a driver of that quality for the 7th Salary Slot is a steal. But it goes deeper than that, as Sorensen had 2 wins in 12 starts (across USMTS and local action) at Deer Creek in 2022 and has the third best AFP with a 4.5. I will note that Sorensen will be in the MB Customs house car, rather than his own ride (though that ride will make an appearance here too), but I don't suspect that will be an issue as he's run an MB Modified for quite a while.
Brandon Davis $20,800 (9): To say that Deer Creek is Brandon Davis' hometrack doesn't do justice to how dominant he is here. Davis is the all-time winningest driver at Deer Creek and has a total of 5 USMTS wins at Deer Creek. In 2022, Davis had 3 VL trips and an AFP of 5.6 in 15 races at the Creek. At a sub-$21K salary, its hard to find anything not to like about Davis.
Jacob Bleess $20,700 (10): I'm not banging the table over Bleess and I do think a healthy level of caution is warranted if you find yourself considering him. But the numbers don't lie and Bleess is pretty good at the Creek. In 12 appearances in 2022, Bleess sported an AFT of 8.16. With a Salary Slot a nearly two full spots below his AFP, Bleess is worth having on our radar.
Jim Chisolm $20,000 (16): Just lock it in. This is an absolute steal! If you need to know why, you've come to the right place. In 16 appearances at Deer Creek in 2022 Chisolm (the Jim version) has an AFP of 3.56, four Dubs (the most of any driver), including 2 in USMTS action, and was the Track Champion. The kid is a stud at this place. Seriously, stop reading and lock it in.
Jason Hughes $19,800 (17): I was today years old when I learned Jason Hughes has the most USMTS wins at Deer Creek with 14 wins. That seems like a good reason to keep our eye on Hughes.
Tom Berry Jr. $19,700 (18): Tom Berry Jr. is, hands down, the most exciting driver going in USMTS right now. But that's not why he's here. The Harris Clash, an IMCA event that saw a whopping 76 entries, was held at Deer Creek in 2022. You'll never guess who won the Harris Clash!
Will Krup $19,600 (19): I was honestly shocked to see Krup sitting at 10th in points. It feels like this dude is in the redraw half the time and the other half he's carving his way through B-Mains and then A-Mains like a butcher's knife through Jell-O. Krup has passed my one-eye test. He's a steal at the 19th Salary Slot.
Cayden Carter $19,500 (20): Carter gets the mention here mostly on the back of his Night #2 win during the Fall Jamboree. In addition to that win, Carter touts a solid 11.8 AFP in 2022 USMTS action at the Creek. You don't have to squint too hard to see the upside with Cayden.
Jake Timm $19,400 (21): In six A-Mains with USMTS in 2023, Timm has one win and 3 Top-5's. Not too shabby! But it gets better! In 2022, Timm took home 2 of 3 Modified Features during LOLMDS' Gopher 50 (those fields were no joke, with lots of USMTS regulars in attendance) and had an AFP of 9.77 across 9 starts. Remember what I said about Chisolm? Yeah, do the same for Timm.
Lucas Schott $19,100 (24): Lucas Schott is yet another guy who knows how to win at the Mecca of Modifieds. In 2022, Schott made 9 starts at Deer Creek, brought home 2 dubs, including an USMTS win, and had an AFP of 8.44. Last week, Schott came home 4th in a pretty stacked field at Deer Creek. Schott has scaled back on racing last year and this year to attend to life, but don't let that fool you as this dude is a bad ass. In 2020, Schott had this BANANAS stat line: 59 races, 17 wins, 42!! Top-5s and 53!!!!!! Top-10s. Seriously, go look at it, it's nuts!
Kelly Shryock $18,900 (27): The S in USMTS is for Shryock. If that isn't enough for you, how about the fact the Kelly has won 9 USMTS Championships? Or that he sits third overall, behind Hughes (14) and Rodney Sanders (11), in USMTS wins at Deer Creek with 10 (they've raced here 122 times before today)? One of those has got to convince you that Shryock is worth keeping on your radar.
Kyle Brown $18,700 (30): Try as I might to figure out the USMTS approach to provisionals, I cannot understand it. Nonetheless, I do understand that Kyle Brown has the infinite provisional glitch. He's probably in the show no matter how well or poorly he runs. I think it's a rule.
Not Listed Yet, but Probably In Attendance:
Joe "Smoke" Chisholm: Chisholm, the Joe version, has absolutely dominated the B-Mod division at the Creek. This year, he's slid into the Sorensen 19 for the Deer Creek season. Yes, his older brother is Jim Chisolm, you know the guy we talked about above. If there's Smoke, our lineups are gonna be fire!
Parker Hale: Hale impressed me last September when he started on the Pole of a USMTS show at Deer Creek, eventually coming home 16th, from an absurdly low salary (like sub-$18K if this old memory serves correct). In 10 starts at Deer Creek in 2022, Hale had an AFP of 12.2, which includes both the Gopher 50 support races and the Fall stops at Deer Creek. I will note that he did miss a couple of Fall Jamboree Features, so this is not a solid lock. But the price will probably be right and if he Qualifies into one of the premium positions you can pull the trigger with some confidence.
Also, I am headed to Deer Creek this Saturday. If you're going to be there, reach out! I'd love to meet up. I'll be the guy in the DirtInfo hat.