HAT Donnie Moran story

DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor Email address: DirtNews@aol.com Web site: ...

HAT Donnie Moran story

DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor

Email address: DirtNews@aol.com Web site: http://members.aol.com/dirtnews/digest =================================== CONTENTS: Feature on Donnie Moran (May 7) =================================== RED-HOT MORAN WINNING NORTH AND SOUTH

By Todd Turner DirtNews Digest

With three victories in a row, Donnie Moran is red-hot, and he's making sure everyone notices.

Southerners who merely have heard about Moran's exploits over the years are getting an up-close-and-personal introduction this year during his success on the Georgia-based Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series.

And the former STARS champion is making sure he's not forgotten up North, either, dropping in to capture a couple of checkered flags on the Ohio-based series he's won three times.

In four races over the past three weekends, the driver from Dresden, Ohio, has collected a national-best $34,000 in purses, has led 190 of 280 laps and has finished no worse than second. And his success hasn't come only on the big half-mile ovals, where his Fisher Racing Engines-powered No. 99 is always strong.

Sandwiched around a pair of big-track STARS events on April 25-26 at Cumberland (Md.) Speedway and West Virginia Motor Speedway were a pair of impressive Hav-A-Tampa performances on tricky quarter-mile tracks. Moran was second to Billy Moyer at dry-slick Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway on April 19, then led all 100 laps for a victory worth $15,000 last Saturday at Whynot Speedway in Meridian, Miss.

All this after a stumbling start of just five top-10 finishes in his first 13 races of 1997. Despite his much-traveled efforts, the three-time World 100 winner didn't win a single race in the year's first four months.

"It's always good to get your first win of the season on a series," Moran said Saturday in Mississippi. "We've had good cars, but luck comes and goes. Looks like our run of bad luck has turned to good. Winning here is good for our morale, good for our egos and good for our pocketbook."

Ah yes, the pocketbook. Perhaps the main reason why Southern fans aren't having to journey to Eldora Speedway to sneak a look at Moran's GM Performance Parts-sponsored MasterSbilt. Moran's plan at the outset of this season? Just race. And when drivers "just race," they tend to seek the green stuff.

"This year I've never said I was going to run Hav-A-Tampa or run STARS or anything," Moran said during his trip to Brownstown, where his second-place finish was a career best. But with "Hav-A-Tampa, the purses are so great compared to anything else out there right now, plus we're in the top 10 in points, you know, for the Winner's Circle deal, if you stay in the top 10, you get a little extra there, too."

"I race for a living and I have to go where I feel I can do the best, and be the best I can be," Moran said.

"Right now, for moneywise, structurewise and everything, (Hav-A-Tampa) is the best deal," Moran continued. "But, you know, if you don't run for points, if you can hit a STARS race, and hit a Hav-A-Tampa race, and cut your expenses down, that's the best deal to do."

Moran worked that strategy to perfection the last weekend in April. With rain forecast for Arkansas, Moran decided against making a 800-mile trek to the Hav-A-Tampa event in Little Rock, Ark., and picked up the STARS tour in Maryland and West Virginia.

While the soggy Hav-A-Tampa drivers never made a competitive lap at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Moran was leading 72 of 80 racing laps in winning two STARS races worth a total of $11,000. That lucky break is one reason he's the only driver in the top 10 in points standings with Hav-A-Tampa *and* STARS.

But running events with both sanctioning bodies if he's not among the points leaders does call for an adjustment of driving strategy, Moran says.

"It makes you be a little bit sharper on your chassis," he said. "You don't get provisionals. You have to make it, so you run pretty hard. You don't say, 'Well, it's good enough to finish in the top five, we'll get some points.' Now it's like, 'Ya gotta win.' Or you're (doing it) for nothing." -------------------------------------------------------------

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