Race Weekend Central

This Weekend in Dirt: Droop Rule Burns Thornton, Hands Devin Moran Show-Me 100

Dirt Racing’s Winning Moment: Devin Moran’s 2023 season turned around in a major way Saturday night (May 29), as he won the Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. despite crossing the finish line second.

Ricky Thornton Jr. actually took the checkered flag first, having dispatched of polesitter Jonathan Davenport on lap 58 of the 100-lap event and leading the rest of the way. However, Thornton fell victim to the tech shed, failing the post-race droop rule check after it was discovered his limiter chain had broken over the course of the race.

By rule, Thornton was dropped four positions in the final running order and credited with a fifth-place finish. He retained the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series points lead leaving Wheatland.


Dirt Racing’s Dramatic Moment: For the third time this year, the Southern All-Stars Racing Series played host to a fight and this one happened on track in the middle of a race. Saturday night saw Josh Putnam throw punches at Scott Cook in his parked car after hard racing between the two sent Putnam’s machine over the banking in turn 1 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Tennessee.

Putnam was disqualified for the incident. According to the DirtonDirt recap of the event, the 15-minute red flag that resulted from the incident was thrown to restore order on the track rather than in response to Putnam’s wreck.

What Dirt Racing Fans’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

I don’t care what the results say, the big winner of the Show-Me weekend was Thornton. Yes, Moran got the trophy and the $50,000 paycheck and yes Davenport was arguably the powerhouse of the weekend, leading 57 laps of the feature after leading both preliminary features from green to checkers Thursday and Friday. But Thornton took Davenport’s best shot in a crown jewel race and beat him. 

RTJ’s competitors are breathing a sigh of relief, not celebrating their own performance, after Saturday.

There was audible booing coming from the Show-Me 100 crowd after it was announced that the droop rule sent Moran to victory lane. This nonsense hand-wringing over the droop rule has to end. None of the criticisms of that rule hit home this weekend. The tech shed at Lucas Oil Speedway is indoors with a concrete floor, which is frankly the EXACT setting that is perfect for a droop check to be done correctly.

More importantly, as good as the racing has been in 2023 (not Saturday though, the Show-Me feature was a bad case of yellow fever), it has been all but conclusively proven that the droop rule was not responsible for a year of boring features across super late racing a year ago. The reality is that droop is a rule and Thornton’s car failed to follow it, intentional or not. Broken parts are not an excuse for failing inspection at any level of race. Except for maybe the Cup Series.

I have to admit, I was really caught off guard listening to the post-race interviews after the Show-Me on Saturday. One, because Moran called himself out twice for “driving like an idiot” and “taking out” Brandon Overton and two, for Tim McCreadie referring to the race Saturday as “crash and bash.”

I was thrown by that mostly because Moran, while racing hard with Overton, made no contact with him during a late-race exchange that ended with Overton jumping the cushion in turn 4 and making hard contact with the frontstretch wall that ended his race. That same cushion proved treacherous enough that both Davenport and Thornton (read, the only two drivers to lead laps Saturday) both jumped that cushion … while leading. 

Saturday’s race was far from a classic, chock full of yellow flags and with the pristine Lucas Oil surface proving far more treacherous than usual. Perhaps a product of driver frustration more than anything else? From the spectator’s perspective, I didn’t see it.

Speaking to DirtonDirt though, McCreadie was seemingly irate with Moran, saying that he’d leave the fellow Longhorn driver to his own devices at a test the pair are supposed to conduct this week. I’d ask the question, is it a case where Moran is really doing something wrong, or is McCreadie feeling the heat of a stacked Lucas field threatening his pursuit of his third consecutive title?

What I did see as a spectator this weekend that really got under my skin was my trip to Hidden Valley Speedway in Pennsylvania. My first trip to the track was for a super late model special that, to the promoter’s credit, drew a great field (22 cars). 

Look, I’ve been to literally hundreds of racetracks. I’ve learned to deal with dust, overwhelmed concessions and rough and tumble facilities. What I can’t deal with, and ultimately didn’t on Saturday, are marathon programs. Hidden Valley’s first feature didn’t go green until 11:43 p.m. local time, after over an hour of track prep. I left after that first feature went yellow on its first lap, but literally hundreds of fans left before I did, not seeing any of the feature racing on the night.

11:10pm and no sign of a feature..Hummingbird – doneMarion Center – donePort Royal – doneWorld of Outlaws at Sharon – doneLucas Show Me 100 (different time zone) – donePPMS – done#shitshow

Posted by Tim Winters on Saturday, May 27, 2023

It was a striking illustration for me that for all the talk about tech sheds and on-track conduct, there is no bigger issue in dirt racing bigger than time management. Because there’s no more sure-fire way to drive fans away from a track.

Dirt Racing’s Hero of the Weekend

Lance Dewease had a huge weekend with two All-Star Circuit of Champions victories, including the $29,000 Weikert Memorial at Port Royal Sunday night, but he gets the shoutout for his Friday night win at Williams Grove Speedway in Pennsylvania. Not only because the win made his car owner the winningest in track history, but also because it came on a night where he bested Anthony Macri despite Macri making all the right moves in lapped traffic. 

As far as needed top fives go, Spencer Hughes’s run in the Show-Me 100 was about on par with Santino Ferrucci’s in the Indy 500 in that not only was it nice on the scoresheet, it was also a convincing performance. Easily Hughes’s best display of driving on the Lucas tour this season.

See also
Santino Ferrucci Sees Honest Shot at Indy 500 Victory End in 3rd Place

Port Royal lends itself to sudden passes, but Zeb Wise still deserves a shoutout for this move in heat race competition Sunday.

Dirt Racing’s Villain/Victims of the Weekend

Putnam is unanimously the villain of the Memorial Day weekend. I’ve said it a million times and will continue to do so, anyone that’s spineless enough to attack a driver strapped into a stopped racecar deserves whatever they got that made them so angry in the first place.

Ross Robinson was involved in three separate incidents during the Show-Me 100 feature Saturday night. Given how many yellow flags were in that race, being remembered for how many yellows a driver was involved in is a bad sign.

Regardless of whether one believes Moran was at fault, the reality is Overton did jump the cushion in turn 4 and pound the frontstretch wall in the closing laps of the Show-Me 100, costing him a likely podium finish.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be back on Wednesday morning (May 31) with coverage of the Ultimate Super Late Model Series from Clarksville Speedway in Tennessee. Coverage can be found on Flo Racing.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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