6 min read

Tangle at the Tiger Pit: #FantasyDirt Primer for Castrol FloRacing Night in America Tarheel 50

Tangle at the Tiger Pit: #FantasyDirt Primer for Castrol FloRacing Night in America Tarheel 50

I don't know if FloRacing is intentionally trying to make us all hate any race track bigger than a 1/4-mile, but between the entertaining races at Fairbury and Atomic the last two FloRacing Nights in America, the banger of a race from Tyler County for the Hillbilly Hundred, and now what is sure to be a barnburner from the Tiger Pit, they are succeeding.

I'm actually really excited for this event. Unfortunately, I'll be coordinating a defense while it all goes down. Hopefully, you'll be able to catch it all live on Flo, though. I'll have to catch qualifying on my phone, via MyRacePass no less, during warm ups and will watch the replay when I get home.

One quick note on DirtDraft salaries before we get into the "Who to Watch." As of publication, there are 29 drivers listed. Of those drivers, 10 have salaries of $21,000 or more. Another 5 have salaries between $20,100 and $20,700. I have no data to back this up, yet, but this feels pretty top heavy. With that in mind, jump on any of the lower salaried drivers that qualify well. Getting drivers who start up front in their heat gives us a better chance to have drivers starting up front in the feature. Bad things happen in the back, good things happen in the front.

Who to Watch: I'm going to add an extra number following the driver's name and salary, this number will indicate what position the driver's salary slots them. 1 will indicate the highest salary, 2 the second highest, so on and so forth.

Brandon Overton ($21,900) (2): $21,900!?!?! Second highest salary!?!?! No, I'm not on something, but I might be on to something. If you wanna be the man, you gotta beat the man and Overton is the man at TriCounty. He's the two time, reigning and defending Tarheel 50 champion, having won both the 2019 and 2020 editions (2021 was rained out). Only a win would represent plus value, but a win might could be what you get if you slot Big Sexy in your lineup. Full disclosure, I don't think Overton will end up in my lineup, much to the chagrin to Ol' Gal, but I wouldn't begrudge anyone for riding with him as the centerpiece of their lineup.

Bobby Pierce Jr. ($21,200) (9): Two, two-time, reigning and defending champs? You dang right! The Smooth Operator has won the last two Castrol FloRacing Night in America features, both at 1/4-mile bullrings in Fairbury and Atomic. The Tiger Pit is also a 1/4-mile bullring. That sounds like a recipe for success. I know Ricky Bobby was down to one motor and one car as recently as last week, so this one does come with a bit of risk.

Garrett Smith ($21,000) (10): The G-Man has been pretty impressive as of late with an 8th place finish at Fairbury in CFNA action, a 9th at Atomic, 12th in the Hillbilly Hundred after giving up 2nd with a flat RR, and a 6th and 7th at Ponderosa this past weekend in Valvoline Iron-Man action. Smith also took down the Schaeffer's Oil Spring Nationals Feature from TriCounty on April 21, 2022. With all of that going in Smith's favor, I think there is a high likelihood he outplaces his salary, heck he might be one of the favorites to win the whole dang thing. That's the type of plus-value we want.

Garrett Alberson ($20,700) (11): Who doesn't love multiple pairs! Alberson is rolling into Brasstown off an 8th at Atomic and 3rd in the Hillbilly Hundred (both 1/4-mile tracks). Alberson challenged Larson and BShep multiple times for the lead at Tyler County, too. Should the hot streak continue, getting Alberson for $20,700 is highway robbery.

Donald McIntosh ($20,300) (14): McIntosh has done more than his fair share of winning at TriCounty over the years. Even more relevant, McIntosh tends to show out whenever a series or all-star event rolls into his neck of the woods. McIntosh has a 4th place finish in the 2019 Tarheel 50, went toe-to-toe with Shane Clanton, ultimately finishing 2nd, in the Shaeffer's Oil Tarheel Invitation back in April, 2020, a 5th in the 2020 Tarheel 50, another 5th in the 2021 Shaeffer's Oil Spring Nationals stop at TriCounty, a 2nd in the Southern Nationals stop, and most recently, a 10th in the inaugural Russell Thomas Memorial on September 22, 2022. We get all of that for a below-median salary! I can dig it.

Payton Freeman ($20,100) (15): Freeman won the Russell Thomas Memorial from TriCounty on Sept. 22, so we know he can get around this track. If you believe in intangible factors, it was announced yesterday that Freeman inked a multi-year deal to pilot the G.R. Smith 22*. That could give him some extra motivation to show he deserves the ride. Personally, I doubt it changes much, but we are always looking for an edge. Mostly, I like Freeman tonight because he has a recent Feature Dub at the track, finished 2nd in the 2022 Hell Tour standings, and was the Southern Nationals Series Champion in 2021. He can wheel a racecar, especially around this track, and his salary is is on the lower end of the scale.

Ross Bailes ($19,800) (16): Our first driver under $20,000! Bailes' schedule has been pretty light this year, but when The Boss gets behind the wheel he's shows out. Per the JB57 Report, Bailes has raced 38 times this year with 32 Feature appearances, 5 wins, 12 top-5's, and 25 top-10's. 65% of the time Bailes races, he finishes in the top 10! In September alone, Ross has two wins, a 5th, and a 6th. The upside at this salary is pretty evident. Even more so if Bailes qualifies in the top-10.

Kenny Collins ($19,500) (19): Collins is a regular at TriCounty, with a whole mess of solid results on his resume there. Of particular note are Collins' 4th (2017), 4th (2018), 5th (2019), and 18th (2020) in the Tarheel 50, along with his 2021 Southern Nationals victory, 5th place at the 2022 Spring Nationals TriCounty visit, and 7th in the 2022 Southern Nationals TriCounty stop. In a field of 29 cars (as of publication), Collins' familiarity and success at TriCounty coupled with his below-average salary should peak our interest. Pair all of that with his 1st and 3rd place showings in his last time out at the Alabama State Championship, and its hard to see how he doesn't end up on my roster.

Will Roland ($19,300) (21): I'll be real honest, I am not super high on Roland. I applaud him stepping up in competition and venturing out to Eldora for the World 100 and Boyd's with WoO, but the results were rough. That's not a knock on Will, it's all part of the growing process. But for our purposes, it's a cause for concern. So why is he here? Well, the salaries are a bit top heavy tonight, so we need to find value and options somewhere. Roland's 3rd place finish in the Russell Thomas Memorial back on Sept. 22nd is at least indicates he wheel around TriCounty. I'm not pounding the table for Roland tonight, but he's worth a look if things break his way in qualifying.

David Payne ($18,900) (23):  I will bang the table for David Payne though. Dude has 21 feature wins at TriCounty in the last 5 years, dang near as many top 5's over that same period of time. Payne also won the 2022 Southern Nationals TriCounty stop and took 2nd in the Russell Thomas Memorial two weeks ago. Back in 2020, the Tarheel Invitational featured Shane Clanton, Brandon Overton, Tyler Erb, Ashton Winger, and Hudson O'Neal, among others, only Clanton finished higher than Payne's 3rd. I'm super impressed with Payne's resume and that salary is juicy! He's probably going to be on roster, barring the motor nuking in hot laps or qualifying.

Not Listed on DirtDraft
Hudson O'Neal: Dirtrackr Daily mentioned that the New Deal would be in attendance, yet I don't see the New Deal entered on MRP and I don't see any mention of attendance on the Socials. Should he surprise us, we might could get a decent salary due to the late addition. If we do, pounce. Even if we don't though, Hud has been balling out lately and is worthy of consideration. I only see one result for O'Neal at TriCounty, a 14th in the 2020 Tarheel Invitational. However, Hudson was running 3rd before he got caught (started?) an incident with 13 to go.