Ladies and gentlemen, it's officially silly season in the world of Dirt Late Model racing.
Honestly, though, things have been quite silly for a couple weeks now.
It started in early October when Bobby Pierce announced his departure from Dunn-Benson Motorsports and his return to his family-owned operation for next season. Pierce’s announcement, combined with rumored moves of drivers like Josh Richards and Darrell Lanigan, set the speculative gears to turning and the message boards and social media posts to burning.
But, boy, did the silliness get kicked into high gear Monday afternoon.
I’m betting you’ve already seen it, but the picture below was taken from a “news article” that spread like wildfire across Facebook Monday afternoon. The headline reads “Dirt Track Dominator Scott Bloomquist to Team up with Dunn Benson”
News flash: it’s fake.
Fake news has invaded Dirt Late Model racing, y’all! My goodness, what is this world coming to?
Just so we’re clear, the article was created on a website that exists for the sole purpose of allowing you to “create a hoax and trick your friends!” (Or thousands of Dirt Late Model fans...) I don’t recommend it, but you can go on the site and create any misleading headline you want. Just check out the “news article” one weekly racer created.
Now, that’s a good one!
Despite the inaccuracy of the Bloomquist/Dunn-Benson article, it caused quite a stir as numerous people shared it yesterday afternoon. That attention was so substantial that Dunn-Benson Motorsports debunked the misinformation with a Facebook post of their own.
“We will not let some prank news station website or anyone on a rumor/message board post anything official that has to do with Dunn Benson Motorsports,” the statement read. “If it is not posted on the Official Website or Facebook page for Dunn Benson Motorsports then the story or rumor is FALSE or Fake News.”
I’m glad the Dunn-Benson folks quickly quelled the rumors and misinformation, but let’s be honest, it’s a little disappointing that they actually had to do it.
Obviously, a pairing between Scott Bloomquist and Dunn-Benson Motorsports doesn’t seem very likely. Who knows? I could be proven wrong tomorrow, but I don’t see how either camp could be interested in pairing with the other. Both are doing quite well on their own. But you know the old saying… money talks. So as outlandish as such a combination may be, I guess we can’t rule anything out.
But that’s the point of fake news. The more outlandish the claim, the quicker the misinformation spreads and the more attention it gets.
Such is the online world in which we live.
As far as the Dunn-Benson Motorsports vacancy goes, my hypothetical money is on a proven national talent who immediately makes the team a threat to win the 2019 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series title. Two immediate names that come to mind are Josh Richards and Tim McCreadie.
The 2017 Lucas Oil Series champion, Richards seems like an obvious fit, if the recent speculation turns out to be true and he does in fact split with Best Performance Motorsports at the end of the season. He also seems like the best option if the team wants to compete for a national title next year. While Richards had a relatively quiet 2018, he still finished second in the Lucas Series standings, and he served notice that he hasn’t lost his touch with his dominant Sunday afternoon performance at the Dirt Track World Championship.
McCreadie is another driver who recently reminded the Dirt Late Model world of his talents. With his near miss of winning last year’s Lucas title and his World 100 victory two weeks ago, he seems like a good fit as well. He and the Sweetners Plus-sponsored, Longhorn Chassis house car team struggled for much of the 2018 season, and McCreadie expressed frustration with the team’s financial situation and their now infamous dually and box trailer. Who knows where 2019 will find McCreadie, but it isn’t too farfetched to think that either he or the entire Longhorn house car team could pair with Dunn-Benson for next season.
While my money is on Richards or McCreadie, my hope is that an underdog will find his way into the Dunn-Benson Motorsports ride for next season. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a driver like Brandon Overton, Zack Dohm, or Chris Ferguson get a shot at chasing a national title with one the of the sport’s top teams?
With his Firecracker 100 victory at Lernerville last season and his Hillbilly Hundred triumph at Tyler County just last month, Overton has proven himself to be much more than a regional standout. He is clearly capable of winning against national-level competition anytime, anywhere.
While neither Dohm or Ferguson has shinned as brightly as Overton on the national stage, both drivers have proven themselves against national competition. Both Dohm and Ferguson also seem to have accomplished a lot while often finding themselves underfunded compared to their competition. It would be great to see one of them get a shot with Dunn-Benson.
Ultimately, the Dirt Late Model landscape seems poised for a shakeup between now and next season. It’ll be interesting to follow along and see which drivers land in what rides.
And as this week has proven, it may be even more interesting to see just how silly this silly season gets.