Championship weekend is upon us. It seems like just yesterday we were kicking of opening day festivities, twice.
As we look into the championship chases for both our Fast Fridays and NWAAS Saturday racing, many of the titles are still up for grabs. While most of those are in focus, they aren’t clinched, and won’t be easy to hold onto.
Let’s take a look at the Fast Friday divisions first.
In the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero’s, the Bandit division, Devin Deshaies will only need to finish in the top 15 to clinch. Since our high in this class has been about 15, all he has to do is start. Now, if we gain several additional cars for this race, and he falters early or breaks early, (something that hasn’t happened all year) he could be in trouble. Giovanni Reggeiro sits second, but 30 points behind. Let’s say we have 15 cars on hand, regardless of what Reggeiro does, Devin would win by finishing last, which would put them into a tie. Devin would get the tiebreaker by having more wins than Giovanni. Heck, he has more wins that everyone else combined, coming into this week with 9 trips to Everett’s Auto Parts Victory Lane. Quite impressive for this youngster.
In the Outlaw division, Evan Marchand has taken control of the division over the past few weeks with his back to back wins. He currently holds a 20 point lead over earlier point leader Tyler Tomassi. With only 9 cars taking the green all year in this class, again, barring additional entries this week, he will clinch his second championship in his young career by taking the green. Evan is a former Mini Cup champion as well.
In the Sport4 division, AJ Manuel sits 60 points ahead of his closest competitor, Mike LeFort, who picked up the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Championship. While AJ has clinched the title, and could technically sit out the event (not that he will) Mike only has a six point cushion over last years’ champion, Dave Westgate.
In the South Coast Power Equipment Pure Stocks, Doug Benoit jumped out front from night one, picking up a pair of wins in the opening weeks, and never looked back. It wasn’t until late in the season that he even finished out of the top five. After missing the title last year, he missed a week which took him out of the hunt, he wasn’t going to let 2018 get away if he could help it.
DJ Pires sits second, with only a handful of points between he, Dave Derosiers, who is quietly having his best season, and Lenny Sousa, Greg Perry, Mike Henriques and Danny Massa. While the championship has been claimed, second is way up in the air.
While the rest of the divisions have some breathing room at the top, that cannot be said about the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends. Jake Matheson and Josh Parsons have taken their turns at the top of the standings, and neither one of them really had a great lead over the other.
Going into last week, the pair were tied. Well, that was until Matheson the win, and holds a slim six point lead over Parsons. Derek Gluchaki sits 26 points out, and while still mathematically in the hunt, he would need something to happen to both Matheson and Parsons early for him to be able to capitalize on the opportunity.
Let’s stay with Fridays for a minute. I have often said one of the best parts of my job is first time winners. It’s always exciting to talk to them the first time they celebrate a victory lap. I mention this because on Friday, I had the pleasure of interviewing probably the happiest first time winner after the Sport4 feature. Crystal Murray becomes I believe the sixth different winner from the Murray family. Her excitement could not be contained on the track when she climbed out of the car. It was very infectious to everyone that was there. Her brother Richie won earlier in the same car earlier this season, and even he and her father Rob both said there were no doubts she would get her win.
I found out Saturday that this was going to be her last race in the car for the season, as she has been sharing the ride with Richie. Both of these kids have continued the family tradition of winning races.
Let’s take a look at the NASCAR standings for Saturday nights.
The Sport Truck class has been more exciting this year than in the past few. The racing has been cleaner and harder, and kudos to the competitors. Bobby Tripp comes into the race with a 28 point lead over Josh Hedges. Bob returned this year after a several year absence, and has shown no signs of losing his touch. He has been fast since the opening lap, and has been at the top of the standings since day one. 2017 champion Mike Duarte has stayed in the hunt as well, and only sits eight points behind Hedges. A top 13 finish for the former Pro Stock champion, and he will add his name to the small list of Truck/Pro Stock champions.
The South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman division has seen its share of ups and downs on the track itself, but the title battle has been getting hotter and hotter as the season winds down. Two time champion Paul Lallier currently sits atop the standings over three time and defending division champion Scott Bruneau. The distance is a mere six points. Three positions on the track. If it came down to a tie, Lallier would get the tie breaker on wins. Both drivers have been as good as they ever have been this year, keeping their noses clean and out of trouble week in and week out. Three time champion Sparky Arsenault has stayed in the hunt, but sits 38 points out of the top spot. He would need some help catching the top two. But then again, last week we had 30 cars in the pit area for this class. Anything can happen. Don’t blink during this one.
The Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models have seen a few drivers sit atop the standings, and going into this week, it is sophomore driver Ryan Kuhn leading the parade to the final checkered. His lead sits at 14 over defending champion Ryan Lineham. Vinny Arrenegado is mathematically still in the hunt, but has an easier shot at second, as he sits 12 points behind Lineham.
The Pro Stocks have no surprise at the top of the standings, as Dave Darling jumped out front in week two and hasn’t looked back since. While he hasn’t looked back, the image in the rear view mirror is growing, as rookie contender Jake Johnson has become quite comfortable behind the wheel of his Pro Stock over the second half, and had closed in the gap to ten, and now sits at 16. Darling is no stranger to close points battles, as he has been in the fight almost every single year over the past 12 seasons. He slipped a little bit over the past couple of weeks before bouncing back (as he usually does) getting back to Everett’s Auto Parts Victory Lane last week. It would have to be a serious stumble for the five time champion for him to lose this one. Not something that is likely, given his success over his career.
The points battles are fun to watch with new faces going up against the familiar ones in all of the divisions. There have been some great moments this year, and we will get into that another time.
I would like to thank all of the families and friends that came out to show their allegiances this past week in the annual Fans on Parade. It’s a great way to get out there and cheer on your favorite driver. I was disappointed in the turnout, however. All of the Fast Friday teams/families/fans were invited and welcome, and there were a couple that did turn out. But unfortunately, only a couple. I do understand that some of these teams race on Fridays because they aren’t available to be here on Saturdays, but still. Maybe it was the rescheduling of the event that forced them to miss, I don’t know. I do hope we have a better turnout next year. I would love to see it bounce back to what we’ve had in the past.
I did talk to Rose Brightman, and she did tell me that while Mike still has the super support he always brings to the track, and especially the Fans on Parade, they decided to skip this year. It wasn’t in protest, it was simply because he is struggling on the track. Nothing more. Watch out for next year……
This week, we will also crown our 2018 Phil’s Propane triple Crown Champions. They will be crowned on Friday and Saturday nights. Phil has been a part of the Seekonk Speedway family for many years, and has continued his support for the Triple Crown for the past several seasons. I would like to see all of the competitors take a moment out of their night and personally thank Phil for his continued support of all of the teams here. He definitely deserves it.
While the championship season comes to a close this week, it does not mean the end of racing for the season here. We have the D.A.V. Fall Classic coming up, and the Haunted Hundred at the end of October. These will be some exciting events with extra laps and money up for grabs for all of our divisions at the Classic, and the Haunted Hundred will bring some of the best drivers in the northeast for the Tri Track Mods, Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, and the Late Models. These will be two great events. Add in two more thrill shows, and we aren’t close to being done.
There’s only one thing I ask for these shows. NO RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!