The 2018 Seekonk Sports Trucks season is setting up to be a tight battle right from the first green flag on May 6.

Mike Duarte stormed onto the scene at the 0.333-mile oval last year, winning just one feature, but capturing his first track championship behind the wheel of the No. 50. The Dighton, Massachusetts, driver scored top five finishes in all but a handful of races, which was the best among all drivers and helped propel him to the top. 

He only won the title by four points, but he is coming back in 2018 looking to capture a second straight championship. Duarte has a strong crew behind him, and his late-season success that allowed him to net the title should give him the experience he needs going forward. He will be coming into the season riding momentum and surely will be tough to beat right from the first feature.

Chase Belcher was the points leader for much of last year, even down to the final laps, before Duarte took control. Heading into 2018, Belcher will be moving on from the Sports Trucks and heading to the Late Model class, kicking the door wide open for new challengers to try and run down Duarte.

Josh Hedges, a native of Rochester, Massachusetts, purchased a new truck at the end of last year and scored the victory in the season-finale D.A.V. Fall Classic. He won four races in 2017 and finished inside the top 10 in all but three events, meaning he enters the season as the top challenger to take Duarte off the throne.

Although Belcher is moving on, someone else will step into the Everett’s Auto Parts truck. Former Pro Stock champion Bobby Tripp will be running a full-time schedule and will be chasing the championship. At the end of last year, Tripp was quoted saying “it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.” Expect the former track champion to get right to the top of the class, sooner rather than later. Although times have changed and the track has aged and setups are different, he definitely still knows how to get the job done.

If the past is any indication, you can expect Lenny Guy to return for another season in the Sports Trucks. He is coming off a season that saw him finish fifth in the point standings. Behind him, Rookie of the Year winner David Simpson, a native of Warwick, R.I., and a TTM Motorsports driver, finished sixth last season and will be looking to improve on that in 2018.

Former champion Mike Cavallaro is expected to at least start the season, and if he runs full-time, the veteran will surely be in contention for another championship. Other drivers to watch include former Fast Friday competitor Maddie Harkin, veteran Darryl Church, Barry Shaw Jr., and former Pure Stock champion Andrew Kun who is making a move to Saturday night racing.

The season will include regular 25 lap features, but will also include a special addition to the schedule in 2018. The “Power 5” races will move into the Sports Trucks, with five different 30-lap events planned as part of that series. The return of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series will begin on May 12, with the first of three 35-lap features.