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>Trenton, NJ --- The wins are down but the money is up.

And as driver Dan Noble likes to put it, “You can’t sign checks with wins.”

After a season in which he led all of North America with 773 wins, Noble is fifth this year with 391. But he seems a sure bet to surpass last year’s career-best earnings of $2.32 million, as he is already at $1.98 million in 2012.

“I’m just as happy with this year as last year,” Noble said. “Because of the money and just making newer contacts that are helping out.

“The wins look great as far as a resume goes. But money is what makes the world go around anymore.”

Noble is seeing more of the world this year -- at least more of the country -- with new contacts the result of extensive traveling.

For example, after racing almost exclusively in his home-state of Ohio and Lexington last August, Noble has won races this month at tracks in New York (Tioga, Batavia, Saratoga), Kentucky (The Red Mile), Ohio (Scioto, Northfield) and Pennsylvania (The Meadows).

In a summer that is turning into a blur, he’s hopping from his car, into the sulky and back into his car.

“I haven’t flown once this year, I’ve done all the driving,” he said. “I was at Saratoga, and I went from Saratoga right to Kentucky the next day. I’ve got satellite radio and I’m on the phone 90 percent of the time.

“It’s been real hectic, it’s been a lot of hustling and a lot of road time. It’s a little rough at first but you certainly get used to the traveling when you’re doing it every day. But I could use a big break right now.”

Fortunately for Noble, the traveling has paid off, which is why he made the decision to hit the road in the first place.

“I wasn’t sure how Ohio was going to look for slots and I made my mind up to go on the road,” he said. “The wins are great but money is more what I was looking at. I knew if I kind of ventured out and got to newer places the money would be better.”

And the wins are still coming, as the 29-year-old Noble is 55 victories from 3,000, and it wasn’t all that long ago he reached 2,000; May 2011, to be exact. Two of his biggest wins this year have been with Classic Rock Nroll, who he drove to triumphs in the $122,500 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial at Saratoga and the $111,500 Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield Park in Ohio.

“He’s been a great horse,” Noble said. “It’s been an awesome opportunity to drive a good horse like him. I’ve driven a lot of nice good horses but he’s probably one of the better horses I’ve ever driven.

“He’s been (an) all-around (performer) against the horses I’ve been up against. He’s just easy to drive, like driving a Cadillac. He sets in, and if you want him to go he goes. There’s really no work. It’s nice to have a horse like him.”

Both of Noble’s victories with Classic Rock Nroll came in the same manner.

“I got away third, the horse in the two-hole made a break, and I got a two-hole ride,” Noble said. “It was the same identical ride in both races.”

With the Delaware County Fair meet fast approaching in Ohio, Noble will attempt to be the top driver there for a second straight year. He is unsure yet, whether he will be driving in the Little Brown Jug; in 2010 he drove Doc’s Yankee to a sixth-place finish in the Jug.

As for the rest of the season, Noble said he will drive through the winter and depending on how the summer ends, may remain in one spot next year.

“If the summer ends well I’ll go back and stay stationary in Ohio and get all my clients back and stay put for the summer,” he said. “That’s just tentative. I’m not sure how the plans will work out. There might be something better out there to look into.”

If that something looks like it will pay off, it’s a good bet Noble will cash in.