To say that I knew Ted Christopher is to say I knew his name. Yes, I have introduced myself to him in the past, but our conversations were nothing more than a couple of questions I asked about the event coming up during the few times he visited Seekonk over his career.
I did get to interview him once in Victory Lane, when he came to Seekonk for an SK race at the DAV Fall Classic about 17 years ago. But while he didn’t enjoy coming to Seekonk, he always gave it everything he had. I always did enjoy watching him race whether it was here or anywhere else he ran.
It was a shock to all of us here hearing the rumors, and then the reality that he was gone. Will there ever be another driver to bring such excitement, emotion and passion to our sport? No one can say, but you can be sure the talent to drive several types of racecars with as much success as he did will be all but impossible to duplicate.
This past week did have some great racing, and a championship battle get tighter with one more event left.
Scott Bruneau, with his runner up finish, clinched the Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman Championship for the third time. His success this season has come from his consistency. Out of the 15 races this season, he has only finished outside the top ten once. On top of that he sits in the top four of the National NASCAR Whelen All American Series standings. All of this with only one win. Congrats to the entire 74 team.
In the Late Models, Ryan Lineham had a rough night and wasn’t able to clinch the title, but still holds a commanding advantage over two time defending champ Dylan Estrella. It’s a 38 point cushion, which he needs to finish in the top 19 to lay claim as champion for the second time in his career, and his first in the Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models. He’s a former champion in the now Sportsman division.
Dave Darling picked up his seventh win of the season, and holds a 35 point lead over Ryan Vanasse. But look at the numbers of the top three. All three have 15 races under their belt, 15 top ten finishes, and an astounding 13 top five finishes. The biggest difference is the seven wins vs. the two each for Ryan Vanasse and Tom Scully Jr. Nine out of ten times, those numbers, taking the win totals out of the equation, would be a classic three way battle to the title. But not this year. David and his team have that Camry bodied machine on a literal rail. If our car count remains average, all Darling has to do is take the green, and he will clinch his fifth Pro Stock title.
The Sport Trucks are a different beast this year. Chase Belcher has only a 4 point advantage over Mike Duarte and 12 points over Barry Shaw Jr, who is coming off his third win of the season, a week after falling 22 points behind after blowing both head gaskets in the engine. Josh Hedges is only 16 points out. If Chase finishes 8 positions behind Hedges, six behind Shaw and two behind Duarte, he can claim his second Sport Truck title. This one will be fun to watch to the final lap.
Our Fast Friday championship chases are very similar.
Joe Marfeo needs to finish in the top 24 to clinch the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends crown which will be his first. Coly Lambert would have to finish out of the top 25 in the Pure Stocks to lose his 50 point advantage. Dave Westgate holds a 14 point lead over AJ Manual with one event remaining. Devin Deshaies holds 24 on RJ Marcotte in the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandalero’s Bandit division, while Mason Tessier is 24 points ahead of Evan Marchand and Tyler Tomassi.
In the Mini Cup division, Ava Chouinard is about to become the second female champion in Seekonk’s 72 year history, joining Shelby Donovan as the only young ladies to sit at the head table. She has a 14 point lead over Nick Frechette going into the final event. With the counts averaging 6 over the past several weeks, all she will have to is take the green to win the title.
The Rookie of the Year battles are being settles as well. Chad Baxter leads the ROY fight in the Sportsman division, sitting only one position ahead of Chris Gomes, but has over 100 points on the former Spectator Drag champion.
In the Sport Trucks, Dave Simpson leads the Rookie battle and looks to be picking up that title.
Unfortunately, there was only one driver to run as a rookie this year, Nick Johnson. I will say I am not sure if he was running for the title this year, or if he was getting his feet wet to get ready for next season.
The Late Models however, was a battle that will continue to the final checkered flag. Jake Johnson, on the heels of his second win, took over the Rookie of the Year lead with one race remaining. It’s not much of a cushion however, as Ryan Kuhn finished third, and sits 4 points behind in that battle.
Everett’s Auto Parts made their announcement on their lineup for 2018 Saturday. Dylan Estrella will make the move up and join Fred Astle in the Pro Stocks next year. Chase Belcher is making the jump into the Late Models, joining Ryan Kuhn, and former Pro Stock Champion Bobby Tripp is getting back into the swing of things as he will be taking over the Sport Truck ride. Vinny Pangelinan will continue to carry the Everett’s colors. That’s a pretty good lineup if you ask me.
The DAV Fall Classic is coming up the following couple of weeks. You may be asking why the management separated the Fast Friday and Saturday shows. There’s a simple reason for that. For the past two seasons, Mother Nature has cost us the Fast Friday portion of the DAV weekend. With no chance at running the show, the teams and the fans lose out. This year the management decided to run it on an open Friday night and be able to use Saturday as a rain date if needed.
This week in addition to introducing our 72nd season champions, we will honor our 2017 Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Champions. These drivers worked hard in all the divisions to win a championship within a championship. Join us on this title night and see who clinches our titles for the season.