It’s been hard to bet against Seekonk Speedway Pro Stock driver David Darling this season. Behind the wheel of his No. 52 Bristol Toyota machine, Darling has a 26 point lead in the championship standings with just seven races remaining. Darling has four wins on the season, including the last time out. His worst finish of the season so far is sixth place and it’s hard to believe he is going to stumble going down the final stretch. His crew chief Jeff Belyea knows Super Late Models very well and Darling’s team has put a solid car under him each week.
However, just behind Darling, Ryan Vanasse has put together one of the best seasons in his Pro Stock career. The former Late Model champion sits 26 points from the lead with two feature wins so far this year. Much like Darling, it’s been rare to see Vanasse finish outside the top five. His worst finish of the season is ninth back on May 20th.
Defending champion Tom Scully Jr. has one victory this season and sits third in the standings entering the stretch run, 44 points from the lead. Scully is looking to become a repeat champion this year, but will need to turn things on if he wants to catch Darling. Scully has been consistent all year long, coming home with top five finishes in his last eight races.
Former champion Fred Astle hasn’t visited the winner’s circle this year, but sits fourth in the championship standings behind the wheel of his Everett’s Auto Parts No. 30. Astle is 82 points from the lead, but has nine top 10 finishes in the first 10 races of the season. If the top three stumble enough, Astle could put together a run towards a podium championship finish.
Rounding out the top five is former champion Rick Martin, who has been struggling with the handling on his No. 14 of late. Martin was able to visit Victory Lane once this season, but recently the team has been chasing the car. If they can find the handles before the season ends, he can secure a top five championship finish.
Just outside the top five, Kyle Casper rides sixth in his Bay State Sewage No. 7. With one win (his first career) on May 20, Casper has put up a season strong enough to have a shot at the top five before the season ends.
Behind him, Bobby Pelland is seventh, while Kevin Casper, Kenny Spencer and Dick Houlihan round out the top 10. In the first 10 races, Darling has four wins and Vanasse has two — they are the only multiple-time winners so far. Four other drivers also have one win.
With just seven races to go on the season, all of them will be 40 lap feature events except for one. On Saturday August 19, the Pro Stocks will compete in the finale of the Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series, a 65 lap feature. Darling, Vanasse, Scully Jr. and Kevin Casper are the final four drivers hoping to capture that crown.