Phew! What a whirlwind of a week I've had! When I started this little website, I figured I was on to something. What that something was or how long it might take to catch never seemed to worry me and, honestly, it still doesn't.
I remain as confident as ever in the growth potential of #FantasyDirt. Lineup style fantasy is definitely the superior form and DirtDraft, for my money, has nailed it. But there is still room for growth and experimentation. There are already tiered (free, 50 points, 250 points) contest, but their is room for pre and post qualifying roster lock contests too. Heck, with a little tweaking we might also be able to get cross-class contests. Could you imagine a contest on Saturday night where you had to pick three drivers, one each from the Late Models, the Sprints, and the SuperDIRTcar Modifieds? I sure can. Heck, slap two "flex" spots on there, run it with the same $100,000 salary cap and the same driver salaries from the individual salaries!
Also, the salary system is essentially a form of bookmaking, so it's not hard to fathom a world where that style of contest, with a different opponent, is prevalent. Lord knows I've thought about that more times than I should admit.
While all of that and more is on the horizon for #FantasyDirt, it turns out this website has also helped me learn and grow too! I didn't expect to have all that many people read this and, in the grand scheme of things, they don't. But those who do have been amazing and I love the interactions that we have on Twitter! Y'all know who you are and I'm so thankful to have your support!
But this passion project has also ignited the dormant passion I had for writing. That passion has led to some interesting opportunities for me to continue writing about dirt racing in other capacities and for other audiences. I've not cleared anything with anyone, so I'll refrain from saying anything more at this time. Just know that by following my passion, both for dirt racing and writing, and cracking dad jokes, I've been able to expand my horizons just a little bit. Maybe this is as far as it goes, maybe it goes farther than I could have ever imagined. Either way, I couldn't have made it even this far without a ton of faith, a smidge of hubris, and the support of Ol' Gal and the two Knuckleheads.
I'm rambling, more than normal, so I just want to say to anyone reading this: Just do what makes you happy and follow your passions, only good things can happen.
Now onto some fantasy analysis! With 52 Sprint Cars and 70 Late Models running tonight, the late start I got on this article today, and the fact that roster lock is 5:30 Central Time, I'm going to keep the WtW sections somewhat short and focus on only a handful of drivers I think can deliver big value both today and throughout the weekend. Check back the rest of the week to see if any drivers have been added or removed from the lists.
One last thing, I don't know enough about the Big Blocks to even hazard an opinion. So I won't be insulting you with any suggestions for those contests, but I hope you play them. I know I will!
The Track: The Dirt Track at Charlotte a 4/10 mile, semi-banked clay oval.
Sidenote: the way we say Charlotte in Minnesota has made it impossible for me to spell it. Not only do we have long vowels up here, we love vowels so much we add them to words where they don't belong!
The Format: Each class will run two shows during the week. The WoO Sprints run Wednesday and Thursday. The WoO LMs run Wednesday and Friday. Both shows are independent of each other, but will be used to set Saturday's Heat lineups. Which means on Saturday we skip qualifying and move straight into the heats.
Who to Watch (Sprint Car Edition):
Quick note on Salaries for Wednesday: We have 10 drivers between $22,000 (Gravel) and $21,000 (Dewease), but only 4 drivers between $20,000 and $21,000. My gut instinct is to rock with David Gravel, one of the four $21,000-$20,000 drivers and fill in with the fastest three qualifiers or provisional drivers I can afford.
Sheldon Haudenschild (Wed: $21,400) (6): Per Dirtrackr, Haud leads all WoO Sprint Car drivers in average finish on 4/10 mile tracks with an average finish of 4.5. Haud also has one win at a track this size, winning the May stop in Bridgeport. Also, Haud comes into the World Finals as the 5th hottest driver over the last 5 races. Of course, the checkers or wreckers style that Haud employs comes with some obvious down side, but slotting in as the 6th-highest salary alleviates some of that risk.
Brent Marks (Wed: $21,100) (9): It kind of feels like stealing to get the Myerstown Missile at the 9th-highest salary! Marks is coming of two 2nd place finishes in WoO action (Port Royal & Williams Grove) and won last years World Finals. Throw in that Marks has an astounding 57 top 10s in 75 races this year and I just don't see how Marks isn't in my lineup tonight, if not the whole weekend.
Giovanni Scelzi (Wed: $20,100) (14): So, like any good dad, I wear crocs approximately 95% of the time. About two months ago, the younger Knucklehead found a hot sauce Jibbitz (yeah, I hate me too for knowing what they are called) on the sideline of one of his games and gave it to me. I've been rocking this hot sauce Jibbitz ever since and whenever anyone asks about it, I just tell them I'm a Gio Scelzi fan. I get a lot of blank stares. Anyway.... Scelzi won last week at Bridgeport over a pretty stout field of drivers. Given the similarities in size, I think it's fair to view that Bridgeport weekend as good warm up for World Finals. Scelzi also has a win at The Dirt Track at Charlotte back in 2019 and a fistful of top-10s over the years. For this salary, it's feels a bit like a lock to get plus-value.
Brock Zearfoss (Wed: $19,300) (19): Managed to come home second in the 2021 World Finals finale, along with a 13th and 17th on the weekend. All three of those results outpace his salary. Throw in the high likelihood Zearfoss has a provisional to burn and we have a good chance to get value back on this salary.
Parker Price-Miller ($18,500) (28): The Law Firm is making his return to competition following a nasty incident at the Knoxville Nationals. His first time out in a few months and he's piloting both a sprint car and a late model tonight! PPM will be in the Swindell SpeedLab #39 for World Finals weekend. Beyond being the best looking car in Charlotte, this ride is well funded and has plenty of speed to be competitive all weekend. Last Year, PPM had a bit of an up and down World Finals, finish 15th night one, missing the feature night two, and taking home 10th in the finale. Solid results for a driver at this salary.
Kyle Reinhardt (Wed: $18,300) (32): Reinhardt came home second to Scelzi this past weekend at Bridgeport. Before that, he had a 5th at BAPS, also a 4/10 track, on October 21st. That's two top-fives on two 4/10 mile tracks in the past two weeks, all for the 32nd highest salary. Reinhardt has a solid chance to deliver plus value tonight.
A couple odds and ends:
If I'm playing at the top of the salary chart, my two picks are David Gravel (swept World Finals weekend in 2019 and had a win in 2020 & 2021) and Anthony Macri (he's just been soooo good all year long and races those PA monster tracks all the time).
Logan Schuchart won the 2020 finale, but has been struggling of late. Might be worth a flyer if the qualifying time is solid.
His teammate, Jacob Allen, has been really good all season long. I've rostered him frequently as he's been criminally undervalued, salary-wise, for just as long as he's been running so well. $20,300 is a fairly low salary, imho.
Cory Eliason was leading the Bridgeport race that Scelzi ended up winning before falling to mechanical issues. Justin Peck was running second, before also falling to mechanical issues, in that same race. Both guys could be worth a look.
Who to Watch (Late Model Edition): Salaries are pretty top-heavy here too!
Brandon Overton (Wed: $21,600) (4): I usually don't highlight salaries this high, as my personal style doesn't lend itself to win hunting. That being said, Overton does have two wins (Golden Isles back in January) and an average finish of 1.5 on 4/10-mile tracks. If I was going to play up top on salaries, Big Sexy, Ol' Gal's favorite late model driver, would be my pick. Oh yeah, he won this past weekend at East Alabama Motor Speedway too!
Jimmy Owens (Wed: $21,000) (10): The O Show has 3 wins in LOLMDS on a 4/10-mile track, leading all competitors in the Dirtrackr database. That alone, peaks my interest. Add on he has wins in 2 of his last 3 late model features, and it get fuzzy why his salary slots him so low. Don't tell Ol' Gal, but I might roll with the Newport Nightmare over Overton!
Garrett Smith (Wed: $20,500) (12): Smith is the Dirt Track World Championship... Champion! And he took second in the finale in 2021. That's it, that's the whole reason. He'll be in my lineup.
Ricky Weiss (Wed: $20,000) (15): The Manitoba Missile hasn't raced since October 11th, so there isn't much recent results to work with. That being said, Weiss did have a 5th and 9th in 2021 and a 2nd and 10th in 2020 at the World Finals. The equipment should be fresh as a daisy too. So long as they don't jack the car up too hard when checking the droop rule, he should be fine.
Max Blair (Wed: $19,700) (16): Blair had an 8th and 5th place finish during the XR Super Series Colossal 100 back in May. That race was held at... you guessed it, The Dirt Track at Charlotte! Those are some pretty solid results at this track, this year, for the driver sporting the 16th highest salary.
Kyle Strickler (Wed: $19,200) (21): The Highside Tickler was also at the XR Super Series Colossal 100 and managed to finish 12th and 7th in the two shows. If you haven't noticed, there aren't a ton of 4/10-mile tracks to use as comparisons for this race and the back half of October has been pretty light for the Late Models. So, in the absence of better evidence, I'd have to say that Strickler's results when paired with his salary, make for a driver with some big upside.
Ross Bailes (Wed: $18,600) (27): Since July, The Boss hasn't finished outside the Top 10! That alone, is pretty interesting. Bailes also had a 13th and 20th place finish at the Colossal 100. You can have that resume for a salary that slots Bailes outside the Feature! I like The Boss as a lower-salary pair to someone like Overton, Ferguson, or Owens and you still have close to $20K per driver remaining.
Odds and Ends:
Chris Madden ($21,800) had a 3rd and a Dub at the Colossal 100. He's going to be a factor, but that salary is really prohibitive to roster construction.
Hudson O'Neal ($21,400) is debuting in the Rocket House Car this weekend. He'll have the equipment to compete, but I'm leery of the potential for hiccups in the first weekend out with his new team. He is Ol' Gal's second favorite Late Model driver though...
Good luck out there, y'all, and sorry for the lighter column today. I truly hope this helps get you set for both tonight and the rest of the week. Time permitting, I'll try to update this column or publish a follow up column to keep us informed.