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Mike Ruefer’s A-Team “Top 100” Dirt Late Model Ranking

Brandon Sheppard Scores His Third $100k Victory of 2019 (HeathLawsonPhotos.com)

November 2019 “Championship Edition”

Well folks the cold weather is starting to set in throughout most of the racing country and the 2019 racing season is over for most. The “Off Season” is about to take place. In reality there isn’t much off time anymore. No sooner is racing over, most of us go into high speed preparation for the next year. We’re all just basically hamsters on the racing treadmill and we love it. What else would we do? Nothing. It’s our lifestyle.

This is my second year for the A-Team Ranking. I’m also working on building the past years that are missing. The formula and rules I apply to results treat everyone the same and keep subjectivity out of the ranking. I trust the data.

The A-Team isn’t all about drivers who chase National Touring Series points. It’s about putting everyone on a level playing field. Full time racers distinctly have an advantage but a strong regional driver can rate high in the ranking or even win it all. With that said, let’s get into the Top 10. Remember the A-Team isn’t about who is best but who is having the best year.

All season long from the Wild West to the World Finals, Brandon Sheppard has been #1. It didn’t matter if he was driving the Family Rocket or House Car Rocket he was a contender to win each and every night he raced. His dominance this season was record setting and maybe the best ever in dirt late model racing. Congrats on being the 2019 A-Team Champion!

There was a heck of a race for 2nd place and Jonathan Davenport secured the spot by a small margin over Chris Madden. JD was 1st last year and 2nd this year. Ol’ Brewster Baker is one heck of a stock car driver! I love the World 100 and I loved seeing that car in Victory Lane!

When Chris Madden teamed with Bloomquist Racing at mid-season, magic happened. It makes you wonder how he might have done had he raced all year with “Team 0.” Well folks we’re about to find out next year. If and If, Chris Madden keeps it going just as he has done this year, the 2020 racing season could be record breaking. Only time will tell.

Last month I talked about the laurels of Max Blair in Pennsylvania and how great of year he was having. That success was enough to firmly get him 4th in this year’s ranking. Let’s not forget he was 3rd last year. In the Keystone State there isn’t a better Hot Rod right now and he proves it each and every race.

Ricky Weiss races a long way from home. The Canadian driver is making everyone in the Lower 48 take notice and had another great year landing 5th place in the ranking for the second year in a row. Ricky is what the A-Team is all about. Consistency. He has some highs, has some lows but most of his racing is in contention for the win.

Club 29 just sounds good to me. I wasn’t really part of the Disco crowd when I was a kid but I like the Racing crowd. Darrell Lanigan has had a great year back with his own race team. It gets a lot more complicated owning and running a race team versus just being a hired shoe. It was good to see him back on the circuit in his familiar Black Club 29.

Another driver returning home and having a great year was Bobby Pierce who finished in 7th. Throughout the Mid-west and in the “Land of Lincoln” Bobby Pierce is hard to beat. He’s fun to watch too. It’s a family team that works very hard.

Dale McDowell has been good, real good for a long time. When I think back to all the races I’ve seen in the last 20 years, it just seems like Dale McDowell has always been a top performing driver and he has. 8th in the A-Team is not easy to get and just goes to prove that he’s as good now as he’s ever been.

Going home and running your own race team is kind of a theme this year as many drivers have done this. To do so might mean giving up the full time series and staying regional. Rick Eckert did this and did it at a high level of success. Finishing the year in 9th position is quite the accomplishment.

So does one race matter in the A-Team? Yes it does in the very close numerical rating system. The second place finish for Tyler Erb this past weekend at Whynot was just enough for him to sneak into 10th place. Terbo had a Best Performance year.

That’s it for the Top 10 overview. The remaining 90 drivers are listed below. It’s a huge undertaking to track, rate and rank all the drivers. Maybe I’m strange but this is fun for me. My plan is to do this again next year and during the off season continue to rebuild the missing years. What off season?

The final event qualifier number for 2019 was 20 features. To be ranked you had to have a minimum of 20 features that’s paid a minimum of $2000.00 in Super Late Model competition. 107 drivers met the 20 feature threshold. All results are tracked via DirtonDirt. Without them and their attention to detail because they’re the best, I couldn’t do this and have this much fun.

With 1424 drivers tracked since January 1st, here is the A-Team “Top 100” for 2019. It’s the “Best of the Best” from around the country. On any given night any driver in the ranking can and do win against their tough competition.

1 Brandon Sheppard
2 Jonathan Davenport
3 Chris Madden
4 Max Blair
5 Ricky Weiss
6 Darrell Lanigan
7 Bobby Pierce
8 Dale McDowell
9 Rick Eckert
10 Tyler Erb
11 Mike Spatola
12 Chad Thrash
13 Tim McCreadie
14 Josh Richards
15 Mike Marlar
16 Chase Junghans
17 Zack Dohm
18 Jimmy Owens
19 Shane Clanton
20 Ashton Winger
21 Will Vaught
22 Brandon Overton
23 Timothy Culp
24 Brian Shirley
25 Ryan Unzicker
26 Jared Miley
27 Michael Page
28 Hudson O’Neal
29 B.J. Robinson
30 Scott Bloomquist
31 Dane Dacus
32 Kent Robinson
33 Ross Bailes
34 Travis Stemler
35 Frank Heckenast Jr.
36 Rusty Schlenk
37 Jason Covert
38 Jimmy Mars
39 Dennis Erb Jr.
40 Donald McIntosh
41 Earl Pearson Jr.
42 Devin Moran
43 Kyle Beard
44 Don O’Neal
45 Kyle Strickler
46 Zack Mitchell
47 Gregg Satterlee
48 Chad Simpson
49 Chris Ferguson
50 Shannon Babb
51 Brandon Thirlby
52 Chub Frank
53 David Breazeale
54 Mason Zeigler
55 Logan Martin
56 Michael Chilton
57 Casey Roberts
58 Austin Hubbard
59 Morgan Bagley
60 Tony Jackson Jr.
61 Cade Dillard
62 Rich Bell
63 Billy Moyer
64 Chris Simpson
65 Tanner English
66 Brian Rickman
67 Jason Feger
68 Kyle Hardy
69 Mitch McGrath
70 Jason Papich
71 Michael Norris
72 Robby Moses
73 Shanon Buckingham
74 Kyle Bronson
75 Mike Wonderling Jr.
76 Steve Casebolt
77 Neil Baggett
78 Allen Weisser
79 Zach Leonhardi
80 Scott James
81 Dennis Franklin
82 Dylan Yoder
83 Jason Jameson
84 Kevin Weaver
85 Tyler Bruening
86 Payton Looney
87 Billy Franklin
88 Hunter Rasdon
89 Matt Cosner
90 David Payne NC
91 Trent Ivey
92 Stormy Scott
93 Boom Briggs
94 Jeff Smith
95 Jon Mitchell
96 Terry Phillips
97 Anthony Sanders
98 Bryan Bernheisel
99 Billy Moyer Jr.
100 Brent Larson


What is the A-Team Dirt Late Model Ranking? The original A-Team was developed by Sam Holbrooks in 1996 and printed in “Behind the Wheel” and Late Model America.” The A-Team is a national ranking for Open Motor events that pay a minimum $2000 to win. Each driver who makes a feature event will earn a mathematical formula based rate built on performance, competition and durability. The final ranking is based on rate and logic rules that reward racing more. Nothing in the rate, rank or logic is subjective. It’s just all numbers, math and rules. The A-Team isn’t about who is best but who is having the best year. If you think that makes the driver “The Best” that’s ok with me.


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