THE RINGER, REDEFINED

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Introducing Deac McCaskill and “The Dirty Dozen”  –  JW Martin

 

He’s never completed a competitive lap at Motor Mile Speedway. Yet, Deac McCaskill enters the 2013 season a favorite to win it all.

 

The 35 year-old Late Model Stock Car veteran has logged one start at the New River Valley short track: August 9, 2008.

 

“We qualified eighteenth, I think, and got caught up in a wreck on lap one,” recalls McCaskill, who retired from that event with a dismal twenty-sixth place finish.  “It put a bad taste in our mouth.”

 

After a four-year hiatus, McCaskill returned to Motor Mile Speedway in the summer of 2012 for a mid-week test session. Hopes of competing again were quelled after the practice produced lackluster results.

 

“We really weren’t that great,” admits McCaskill. “We decided to go back home.”

 

For McCaskill, home is Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, NC. A three-time track champion, McCaskill had little incentive to venture back into Virginia.

 

But the advent of “The Dirty Dozen” changed that.

 

This offseason, a collaboration between Motor Mile Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park birthed “The Dirty Dozen”. Unveiled in December, “The Dirty Dozen” is an enrichment program spotlighting six events at each venue. Structured exclusively under the “Twin” format, “The Dirty Dozen” is designed to enhance each track’s 2013 race schedule by offering a staggering $10,000.00 points fund for drivers who participate in the program.

 

Here’s how it works: “The Dirty Dozen” is composed of a total of 24 Late Model races— 12 “Twin” format races each at Motor Mile Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park. Participating drivers must have a minimum of six finishes at each track to be eligible for “The Dirty Dozen”, and the points system is structured to collect a driver’s best six finishes at each track. The champion will be the racer completing “The Dirty Dozen” with the most points, netting a payout of $3,000.00. The runner-up will bank $2,500.00, and the third place finisher will collect $2,000.00. The fourth and fifth place finishers will receive $1,500.00 and $1,000.00, respectively.

 

Points and purses awarded to participants in “The Dirty Dozen” are independent of each venue’s weekly track program.

 

Upon its inception, one of the main objectives of the program was to encourage travel amongst race teams. For some drivers, the allure of a substantial cash award, coupled with the honors associated with a championship title, entices them to journey outside of traditional comfort zones. For fans, “The Dirty Dozen” promises an infusion of new talent arriving regularly to duel with the local contingent.

 

Essentially, the concept equates to a dignified version of the racing “ringer”.

 

Case in point: Deac McCaskill.

 

“If they hadn’t done [“The Dirty Dozen”] I don’t think I’d be up here this weekend,” McCaskill says. “At the end of last year when they came up with this deal, we put a lot of focus into doing this. I think it’s really neat.”

 

Although McCaskill has yet to compile a resume at Motor Mile Speedway, his reputation precedes him. In 2012, McCaskill enjoyed his most dominating season to date, notching a career season-high 17 wins at Southern National Motorsports Park en-route to his most recent track title. The exceptional record earned McCaskill the 2012 NASCAR WHELEN-All American Series North Carolina State Championship. In the national standings, McCaskill placed eighth overall.

 

It was a championship season reminiscent of Lee Pulliam’s sixteen-race rout at Motor Mile Speedway in 2011. Now, due to the influence of “The Dirty Dozen”, both Late Model heavyweights will be sharing the limelight at Motor Mile Speedway in 2013.

 

McCaskill enters this weekend’s season opener the current points leader of “The Dirty Dozen” after three events at Southern National Motorsports Park. MMS regulars Tommy Lemons, Jr. and Pulliam trail the Raleigh, NC native.

 

With an 11-marker advantage over Lemons, McCaskill’s recent success begs the question: is driver no. 08 the early favorite to win the inaugural “Dirty Dozen” title?

 

“We’re going after that Dirty Dozen title— hopefully we can get it. But you know, it’s like coming into somebody else’s home track; I’m a visitor now. Tommy, Lee and Josh Berry…those guys are going to be tough.

 

“A lot of people are looking at us, but I haven’t run up here. I don’t think I’m a really heavy favorite,” McCaskill says.

 

While “The Dirty Dozen” is a worthwhile aim alone, there is a bigger picture to consider. “The Dirty Dozen” also is a component of an illustrious and elusive pinnacle achievement.

 

McCaskill is part of an exclusive shortlist of competitors with an opportunity to capture the coveted “Trifecta” in 2013: Winning the Motor Mile Speedway track championship, the Southern National Motorsports Park track championship, and “The Dirty Dozen” title, all in the same season.

 

Lemons, who currently ranks first in the Southern National Motorsports Park point standings, and 2010 Motor Mile Speedway track titlist Brandon Dean are among the select group of racers with a chance at attaining this immeasurable accomplishment.

 

How significant would such an achievement be?

 

“That would be really cool. One track title is pretty overwhelming in a season, but to get two of them would be really, really cool. I don’t know if that’s ever been done before,” McCaskill says. “I think we’ve got a shot –anybody’s got a shot- and after this weekend, we’ll be able to get a good tell on whose good and whose not, I guess.”

 

Wheeling a surge of momentum dating back to 2012, McCaskill is considered by most to be among the chief contenders for “The Dirty Dozen” title. And despite his outsider status and limited experience, McCaskill is much more than a dark-horse candidate for the Late Model crown at Motor Mile Speedway in 2013.

 

This Wednesday, McCaskill was once again testing at Motor Mile Speedway. And this time, the session left him optimistic. With attainable expectations, McCaskill is approaching his first race in 5 years at MMS with confidence.

 

Yet, questions remain surrounding McCaskill’s ultimate impact this season at the Radford oval.

 

But that’s a good thing. Excitement is fostered by the unknown. And the unknown…that’s what you get when you introduce something new into the fold.