Speed51.com's "The Big 10"
Our Take on the Week(s) That Was in Short Track Racing
By Matt Kentfield, Twitter: @mattkentfield
In probably the most surprising series-related news in a while, the Champion Racing Association has been taken under the ARCA wing beginning next season.  We can’t help but think that this is a good move for CRA.  To continue to be one of the country’s top Super Late Model tours, plus receive the added exposure of ARCA should be a win-win all the way around.  At least as long as no Cup-affiliated teams come into the new ARCA CRA tour and make the on-track show as much of a snoozer as the ARCA Racing Series season has been this year.

It’s starting to be like clockwork.  Whenever Tim Brown isn’t driving up to the caliber that his eight Bowman Gray Stadium (NC) Modified titles prove he can run, a feud or rivalry pops up to keep him in the headlines.  Brown has won this season, but for the most part, he’s been chasing Burt Myers this season.  But it’s not Myers that Brown has the beef with this time.  After his 18th-place finish last Saturday at BGS, Brown laid the verbal smackdown to Brian Loftin, and Loftin did the same back to Brown.  Loftin told the Winston-Salem Journal that he doesn’t “think too much of (Brown),” to which Brown admitted that if Loftin, “wants to handle it like men, I'll beat him any way he wants to, and we'll settle it.”  Promoters want to know how to sell tickets?  That just sold tickets.

When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour gets back in action Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, our two-week-long national nightmare will be over.  Fans, teams and people like us can finally stop talking and critiquing Ryan Newman’s performance and subsequent disqualification from the most recent WMT race at New Hampshire.  Many fans have expressed their opinion and some drivers have gone on record saying they knew something was up with Newman’s car.  Well, the good news is, that car is likely put on the shelf for the year and now it’ll just be about who can out-spend who on the Tour like the good old days.

Did anyone else find it fishy that Kyle Busch told 51 after winning Sunday’s TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway that he’d consider coming back to run next year’s event if he’s “invited.”  Um, dude, you’re a hero to a lot of people.  You are undoubtedly the reason several people bought tickets to that race.  You don’t need an invitation.  Unless by “invitation,” you mean some kind of reciprocation for your appearance.  If that’s the case, you already took the winner’s check away, that should be payment enough, but hey, you’re the star.

When are people going to finally give Keith Rocco the credit he deserves?  Kid Roc won all the races he needed to win last year en route to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship.  This year, he’s on pace to do the exact same as he has more than a month to max out his 18 race victories.  He does it at three different tracks on three straight nights in handicapped fields, meaning he has to start deeper in the field than his championship rivals in the Southeast who start as they time trial.  He’s won in Late Models at Stafford (CT) as well and even tried to qualify for the TD Bank 250 just because it’s a big show to run.  There needs to be more of a push to get this kid on the Whelen Mod Tour or a shot to do something else, because if he’s a Modified lifer, he could be sweeping Connecticut weekends for decades to come.

Not taking anything away from Bubba Pollard or Augie Grill, but what a great breath of fresh air it was on Saturday night when someone ELSE won a race at Mobile International Speedway.  It really wouldn’t have mattered who it was.  The dominance on the Gulf Coast that those two have had this season is great for them, but frustrating for the fans craving a new winner.  Saturday night at Mobile, Kyle Benjamin was that new winner.   Yes, 13-year-old Kyle Benjamin.  The kid who last year could barely see over the steering wheel in his first Pro Late Model events has grown not just physically, but also as a driver this season and is now a Late Model winner. 

The USARacing Pro Cup Series’ new tour director Jack McNelly admitted in a memo to teams this week the series is “at a crossroads.”  McNelly took the reins of the series this week from Chip Lofton, who himself had only been on the job as full series director since the start of the season.  The series also announced recently lowered purses and shorter races in certain instances, depending on if the track pays the series to be there or if the series pays the track to race.  Crossroads, as McNelly used it, is a good term to use.  All the off-season rule changes that were supposed to up car counts have fallen flat.  The series that used to send cars home had 12 at its most recent race.

For as much as people point to lousy car counts these days, events with strong counts need to be applauded.  Take the TD Bank 250.  Eighty-two Late Models tried to qualify for the 250 and 41 Super Late Models showed up for Saturday night’s PASS North event at OPS.  Even though there are still folks who will fight the ACT-style Late Model-versus-Super Late Model fight to the death, it appears that neither style of racecar is on its last legs in New England – as much as those on each side would like to be.

We may be in the minority, but bringing the post-qualifying re-draw back to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour may not be a terrible idea.  Drivers complained that the re-draw caused the fastest in qualifying to start deeper in the field and have to pass some cars up to the front.  God forbid.  Now, the Northern Tour has had two green-to-checkered race winners.  Most races, including the once-great New Hampshire Motor Speedway event two weeks ago, are duds.  We want our Tour back.

We never want to see anyone have bad luck, but it was refreshing to hear that Greg Pursley had engine problems in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Portland International Raceway (OR) last week.  Pursley had won six of the first eight races on the West tour this year and could take a race off and still been primed for a championship.  Despite the issues, Pursley still has a 233-point lead.   It’s almost a foregone conclusion that Pursley will win the title, but at least his engine at Portland kept interest in the West title hunt for a few more weeks.