First Half Driver Trends

Through the first six months of 2017, which drivers are trending up, which are down and which are consistent compared to the same time last year?

by Joe FitzGerald

Trending Up

Jason Bartlett, 36, who was number two going into July of last year, is currently the earnings leader. He was also first on July 1, 2015. While his drives are up by a modest 21 and his wins are off by four, Bartlett had $1.7 million more this year than last. That is a big number. His UDRS is a very good 0.369. A late start for rival Brian Sears didn’t hurt. Bartlett, who is the top driver at Yonkers, was third on the dash list at the halfway point.

Dash king Aaron Merriman, 39, is number three on the money list at the six-month juncture, just as he was in 2016. The indefatigable one has driven in 179 more races and chalked up 93 more wins, giving him an insurmountable lead in the dash category. His money is up by more than $600,000 and his UDRS has risen to a nifty 0.378. During the period in question Aaron was the leading driver at Northfield and number two at The Meadows.

Matt Kakaley, 29, was fourth at the mid-point in the year, just as he was in 2016. His drive and win totals, as well as his UDRS, didn’t change much but his earnings increased by $723,000. Matt was number two at Pocono Downs and number eight at Yonkers.

David Miller, 52, the Driver of the Year in 2015 and 2016, was in seventh, just like he was last year. After taking the winter off, his drives are down by 55 while his wins are up by eight and his earnings are $468,000 ahead of the end of June, 2016. He won the NA Cup and Hempt with North American money king Fear The Dragon.

George Brennan, 50, is in ninth place, just like last year. He had 49 more drives, 10 fewer wins and more than $510,000 extra in his bankroll. His UDRS dropped from 0.271 to 0.227. Brennan is third at Yonkers behind Bartlett and Stratton.

Corey Callahan, 39, went from 10th last year to sixth. Things are looking up across the board: He had 55 more wins in 96 more drives; His earnings are better by more than $700,000; and his UDRS is up to 0.290 from 0.272. The driver of Bill’s Man and Mel Mara topped the list at Dover Downs and was second at The Meadowlands, fourth at Harrah’s and thirteenth at Pocono Downs. After finishing fourth, sixth and fifth, respectively, on the dash list from 2013 through 2015, Corey dropped to 13 at the end of 2016. He was fifth on the dash list through the end of June.

Jordan Stratton, 30, the number two driver at Yonkers Raceway, is having a career year. He jumped from 13 to number two. Jordan had 87 more wins on 216 more drives, while his earnings were up by almost $2 million. His UDRS rose from 0.229 to 0.292. Bit Of A Legend N, Springback Sam N and Provocativeprince N are a few of the imports he made that money with.

Dan Dube, 48, who won the $529,000 Levy with Keystone Velocity, went from 15 to 10. He had 37 fewer wins on 45 fewer drives, but that win helped him exceed last year’s total by $500,000. He was seventh at Yonkers and his UDRS dropped from 0.239 to 0.208, but he increased his bankroll.

Mark MacDonald, 38, has moved up again, from sixteenth to twelfth. The number six driver at Yonkers only had four more wins but his earnings jumped by $550,000. Mark finished 2016 in the 13 spot.

Chris Page, 33, moved up three spots, from 17 to 13. The leading driver at Scioto and number three at Miami Valley, had 26 fewer wins on 59 fewer drives, but his money was up by $327,000. And his UDRS rose from 0.264 at the six- month mark in 2016 to 0.335.

Tony Morgan dropped from 18 to 25. He had 53 fewer wins on 194 fewer drives and he was short $254,000. Morgan was number two at Dover Downs, number four at Harrington and eighth at Harrah’s.

Trace Tetrick, 30, who is second on the dash list, went from number 25 to 13 on the earnings list. He logged 86 more wins on 122 more drives and increased his money by $673,000. Trace’s UDRS rose from 0.270 to 0.322. Trace was the leading driver at Miami Valley and is number one at Hoosier Park.

2013 and 2014 dash champ Ronnie Wrenn Jr, 30, was fourth on the dash list this year, but on the all- important money list he moved from number 20 to 16. And that was on 88 fewer drives—quality over quantity. He generated only six more wins but showed $116,270 more in the earnings column. The number two driver at Northfield behind Aaron Merriman saw his UDRS drop from 0.390 to 0.343.

Jimmy Marohn Jr, 35, the top driver at the Meadowlands during the first six months of 2016, made his money double as it increased by almost a million dollars. He won 58 more races on 21 more drives and saw his UDRS move up from 0.286 to 0.317. he was fourth at Pocono and fifth at Tioga. And he was ninth on the dash list.

Brent Holland, 46, the number eight driver at Yonkers, is killing it in 2017. He went from not being on the top 50 list at the break last year to number 18 this. He had 86 wins — 69 per cent as many as in all of 2017—and more than $2 million in earnings — 79 per cent as much as in all of 2016.

Joe Bongiorno, 23, who finished 2015 off the top 50 list and last year at number 29, continues to raise his profile. He was number 30 at the break last year and 22 this. He drove in 142 fewer races, logging 101 fewer wins, and his UDRS dropped from 0.295 to 0.221, but his money was up by $300,000. Through six months he was number five at The Meadowlands, number 10 at Yonkers and 13 at Harrah’s.

In his first year on the WEG circuit, Louis P Roy is number one in the standings. He’s number 19 on the overall North American money list with 207 wins and more than $2 million in earnings.

Doug McNair, who finished one spot behind Roy in the Canadian standings, jumped up from 34 to 20. He drove in 124 more races, had 61 more wins and upped his earnings by $627,000. And his UDRS made a healthy jump from 0.244 to 0.310. McNair won the Fan Hanover with Bettor’s Up and hit the break in the three spot at Mohawk.

Simon Allard moved from number 50 on the earnings list entering July of last year to 23 this. He had 46 more wins on 63 more drives and upped his earnings by $685,000. His UDRS rose from 0.237 to 0.264. He was second at Pocono and 10th at Harrah’s.

Andy Miller, who won the Beal with Devious Man, went from number 44 to 24. He had 88 more wins on 188 more drives and his money was up by $610,000. Andy’s UDRS rose from 0.249 to 0.341.

About The Same

Yannick Gingras, 37, who topped the money list at the end of the last three years, went from number five at the break in 2016 to number eight this year. Still, he drove in more than 100 more races, logged 31 more wins and upped his earnings by a modest $36,000. The driver of Ariana G and Idyllic Beach also saw his UDRS rise a bit to 0.325. He won’t be in eighth for long.

Brian Sears, 49, who was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame, was sixth coming into July of 2016, but eye surgery put him on the shelf for most of the first half this year, hence his numbers don’t mean much. Sears is at 27 with 56 wins and $1.7 million in earnings.

Scott Zeron, 28, who ended 2016 in fifth, finished the first half in 11th, just like last year. Things were pretty much the same, except for his earnings which jumped by $118,000. He won the Fan Hanover with Bettor’s Up. Marion Marauder saved it for the second half. Scott was fifth at Yonkers and 11th at Pocono Downs.

Trending Down

Tim Tetrick, 39, was on top of the earnings last at the halfway point in 2016, being the only $4 million man; he was fifth this year. He had been third in 2015, when the World Driving Championship Down Under cost him early drives, and first in 2014, despite five weeks lost to recovery from hip surgery. This year, like several other top tier drivers, the pilot of Huntsville and Walner took it easy during the winter. Tetrick has 309 fewer drives, 80 fewer wins and his money is off more than $358,000. The number one driver at Harrah’s has enjoyed success with Long Tom and Every Way Out.

George Napolitano Jr, 51, is another snowbird. He’s 15th now after being number eight last year. His drives are down by more than 200 and his wins are off by 74. Napolitano’s money is down by a half million, while his UDRS is off slightly to 0.335. Still, he’s number one at Pocono Downs, as usual, and number two at Harrah’s. Despite few chances at Grand Circuit drives George has finished top 12 on the money list the last three years. He was second to Merriman in the dash contest in 2016; right now he’s tenth and trending up.

Brett Miller, 43, has come up short of last year. He has 15 more wins on 27 fewer drives, but he’s off by more than $575,000. He was number 12 at this point last year but is at 21 in 2017. He was third at The Meadowlands and seventh at Harrah’s. Brett, who gets plenty of live drives from the Takter Barn during stakes season, was seventh at the close of 2016.

Tony Morgan dropped from 18 to 25. He had 53 fewer wins on 194 fewer drives and he was short $254,000. Morgan was number two at Dover Downs, number four at Harrington and eighth at Harrah’s.

Josh Sutton dropped from 19 to 28. He had 81 fewer wins on 262 fewer drives and was short $279,000. His UDRS was up from 0.284 to 0.301. Sutton was number six at Miami Valley, has been second at Scioto, and wins at a 23 per cent clip at Northfield. This is all about the number of drives.

Sylvain Filion went from number 20 last year to 41. He drove in 151 fewer races, converted on 60 fewer wins and fell $773,000 short of this time last year. Sylvain has been fourth on the WEG circuit.

All-time dash leader Dave Palone, 55, has dropped from 14 to 26 on the money list. He had 48 fewer wins on 136 fewer drives and was short more than $634,000. He’s still number one at The Meadows, where he won at a 23 per cent clip. He was number 14 on the dash list.