Just under five months before the drop of the first green flag, the 2018 Seekonk Sports Trucks season is already setting up to be a tight battle for the championship.
In 2017, Mike Duarte stormed onto the scene at the 0.333-mile oval, winning just one feature, but capturing his first track championship behind the wheel of the No. 50. The Dighton, Mass. driver scored top five finishes in all but five races, which was the best among all drivers. He celebrated his title in November at the Venus De Milo.
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 opening day.
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.
Josh Hedges, a native of Rochester, Mass., 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. Hedges enters the season as the top challenger to take Duarte off the throne, but it isn’t going to be easy.
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, 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.
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.