Ten interesting items to monitor as we enter the final month of points racing:
1. Jason Frankel’s pursuit of three late model track championships.
Comment: Frankel can — and I think WILL do it — although that Lee County Speedway title may wind up having an asterisk attached. Lee County has run only two nights of late models and must get in three more before points end in late August. Whether or not less than five would actually "count" as a championship could be up for debate.
2. Rookie Steven DeLonjay trying to hold off mighty Michael Long in the modified series.
Comment: There will be multiple championships in this talented 16-year-old’s future, but I think this year will ultimately belong to Long.
3. Can Mark Burgtorf can miss a week of points racing and still win the late model title?
Comment: Unless Frankel misses a week for some unknown reason, 24 points is a lot of ground to overcome at this point of the season. Plus, Burgtorf, a 14-time track champion, also has to get past Lonnie Bailey and Justin Reed. Burgtorf may get as close as 15 points or so, but that 15th title may have to wait. This is all assuming, of course, Burgtorf races each of the remaining points nights at the track.
4. Can Justin Reed win a late model crown without winning a points feature?
Comment: Robbie Reed did just that in the modified division in 2006, so yes, it can be done. Will it again? Reed’s first track title will come in the future, but not this year. I simply don’t see anyone wrestling that championship away from Frankel, who waited a decade for this opportunity.
5. Best season no one is talking about.Here’s a vote for
the No. 16 modified driver, Shawn Deering. He has learned how to contend this season and currently sits fifth in points, which would be a career best. This his third year as an apprentice. Season No. 4 should be the breakthrough year. Watch him in 2009.
6. The most disappointing season might be found in the hobby stock division.
Comment: Two-time track champion Steve Carlin has never really gotten untracked this season, and while there is still time to mount his normal late-season charge, there have been no signs such a comeback is in the works. Carlin sits in third place, 14 points behind Aaron Brocksieck, arguably the steadiest driver in the series since week one.
7. Best title race down the stretch.
Comment: It might just materialize in the first-year stock car division, where Chris Wibbell and Jeff Mueller look primed for a photo finish. John Oliver Jr. is still lurking, but missing last week was at least the second nail in the coffin. Mueller is going to be awfully tough to deny at the rate he is going. Mueller has won a series-best six features and looks like his best racing of the summer is still ahead of him.
8. Drivers who need to finish strong.
In the late models, Keith Pratt has been snakebitten much of the season. He started fast, then anything that could have gone wrong seemingly did. If he could salvage a top-10 points finish that would alleviate some of the sting. In the modifieds, Robbie Reed was torpedoed by health problems early in the season, so a top-10 finish for him would be extremely satisfying. Stock car driver Bruce Hatfield has struggled with horsepower all summer and hobby stocker Bobby Anders looked like a legitimate contender in April and May, but a string of mechanical woes deep-sixed his championship hopes. A strong finish would set the table for a title bid in ’09.
9. Best bets to win their first features of the season before the end of the month.
Comment: I like the chances of Jason Perry in the late models, Jared Schlipman in the modifieds, Abe Huls in stock cars and Bobby Anders in hobby stocks.
10. Best improvements this season.
Overall, Sarah Woodhurst in the stock cars deserves the nod. She was a human caution flag early in the season. Now the teenager from Mark Twain High School is a threat to win every week. Jerry Weisenberger has rebounded nicely from a slow start in the late model division, Rob Carter has done likewise in the modifieds and Andrew Griffin in the stock cars.
QUINCY RACEWAYS SUNDAY NIGHT GUIDE
Race time: 6:30 p.m.
Weather forecast: Sunny, nice, dry. That’s bound to change. Better start building the ark.
Late Models: Looking for an early dark horse contender pick for 2009? How about Matt Bailey? Bailey has more heat-race points than any series driver and consistently runs up front early in many features, but has had trouble staving off some of the veterans. That kind of improvement often comes only through experience, which he continues to get. Former track champ Lonnie Bailey’s son could be in line for his breakout season a year from now … We hear Kevin Tomlinson might not be racing next summer. Hopefully, that’s not true. No. 49 is one of the good guys … The late model car count has averaged 20 or better four straight years and currently sits at 20.7, but that string may be in jeopardy. Only once in the last eight shows has the count reached the magic 20 mark.
Most recent feature winner: Jason Frankel, July 20.
Pick to click: Jason Frankel.
Modifieds: Have the modifieds turned the corner as far as yellow flags are concerned? After going seven straight weeks earlier in the season with double-digit cautions, only twice in the last six shows have the mods been at 10 or higher … Longest feature winless streak for a modified driver currently belongs to Joe Hooper at 90 races. The Camp Point driver’s last checkered flag came Aug. 15, 2004 … The modifieds have had the fewest number of different feature winners. Of course, that’s all Michael Long’s fault for winning 11 of 14. Dave Wietholder (2) and Robbie Reed own the others.
Most recent feature winner: Michael Long, July 20.
Pick to click: Michael Long.
Stock Cars: Jeff Mueller turned a 62.388 mph feature lap last Sunday when he won his sixth feature. That gives him the two fastest circuits of the season. Mueller notched a 62.373 mph lap the week before … If Mueller can win a third straight feature Sunday he will become only the second driver in any series to do so this season. Michael Long won six in a row in the modifieds … Points leader Chris Wibbell leads the series in both top-five (9) and top-10 (12) feature performances … Six different stock car drivers have won features.
Most recent feature winner: Jeff Mueller, July 27.
Pick to click: Jeff Mueller. He’s on a roll.
Hobby Stocks: Steve Carlin (1,066) and Aaron Brocksieck (1,054) have the most track points since the series switched from being "bombers" to "hobby stocks" at the start of the 2007 season. Mike Wiley (868) and Bobby Anders (868) are tied for third … The leaders in total wins that time are Carlin (29), Brocksieck (15), James Leffew (10), Todd Reichert (9) and Anders (8). Feature-wise, the pacesetters are Carlin (13), Brocksieck (6), Leffew (3) and Travis Booher (3) … Twelve drivers have amassed 2,000 or more track points since the inception of the series in 1987. No. 13 could be Michael Larsen, who currently sits at 1,992.
Most recent feature winner: Jim Powell, July 20.
Pick to click: James Leffew.
QUINCY RACEWAYS LEADERS
Track Points (includes Sunday night’s limited results)
Late Models: Jason Frankel 363, Justin Reed 345, Lonnie Bailey 339, Mark Burgtorf 339.
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay 376, Michael Long 373, Tony Dunker 372, Dave Wietholder 354.
Stock Cars: Chris Wibbell 474, Jeff Mueller 472, Steve Steinkuhler 435, Abe Huls 434.
Hobby Stocks: Aaron Brocksieck 387, Wes Mayfield 378, Steve Carlin 373, James Leffew 361.
Second-Half Points (includes Sunday night’s limited results)
Late Models: Mark Burgtorf 162, Jason Frankel 155, Justin Reed 143, Lonnie Bailey 139.
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay 151, Shawn Deering 144, Tony Dunker 143, Dave Wietholder 142.
Stock Cars: Jeff Mueller 188, Chris Wibbell 179, Abe Huls 179, Dave Wietholder 170, Andrew Griffin 170.
Hobby Stocks: Jim Leffew 169, Aaron Brocksieck 160, Wes Mayfield 154, Steve Carlin 148.
Late Models: Jason Frankel 354, Justin Reed 335, Mark Burgtorf 327, Lonnie Bailey 326.
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay 360, Tony Dunker 359, Michael Long 346, Dave Wietholder 337.
Stock Cars: Chris Wibbell 439, Jeff Mueller 432, John Oliver Jr. 430.
Hobby Stocks: Aaron Brocksieck 371, Wes Mayfield 364, Steve Carlin 351.
Heat Points (includes Sunday night’s results)
Late Models: Matt Bailey 17, Lonnie Bailey 13,
Jerry Weisenberger 12, Mark Burgtorf 12, Dustin Griffin 12, Bill
Genenbacher 11, Jason Perry 10.
Modifieds: Michael Long 27, Dave Wietholder 17, Steven DeLonjay 16, Jared Schlipman 16.
Hobby Stocks: Steve Carlin 22, James Leffew 21, Bobby Anders 18, Aaron Brocksieck 16.
Herald-Whig Performance Points (includes Sunday night’s limited results)
Late Models: Mark Burgtorf 144, Jason Frankel 85, Denny Woodworth 79, Kevin Tomlinson 49.
Modifieds: Michael Long 202, Daved Wietholder 78, Steven DeLonjay 73, Robbie Reed 63, Tony Dunker 62.
Stock Cars: Jeff Mueller 112, John Oliver Jr. 92, Dave Wietholder 64, Abe Huls 63, Doug Huls 60.
Hobby Stocks: James Leffew 109, Aaron Brocksieck 101, Jim Powell 91, Wes Mayfield 76.
Money Earned (Points races only)
Late Models: Jason Frankel $5,445, Mark Burgtorf
$5,075, Justin Reed $3,115, Lonnie Bailey $2,705, Kevin Tomlinson $2,630. (Terry Neal has $3,100
from the recent Titan Wheel Shootout, but he is
not a track regular.)
Modifieds: Michael Long $3,530, Tony Dunker $2,130, Steven DeLonjay $2,050, Dave Wietholder $1,990.
Stock Cars: Jeff Mueller $3,375, John Oliver Jr, $2,785, Abe Huls $2,640, Chris Wibbell $2,435.
Hobby Stocks: James Leffew $1,100, Aaron Brocksieck $1,085, Jim Powell $895, Travis Booher $870.
TROUBLE IN TURN 3
More from our favorite contributor to this blog:
NASCAR MULTISERIES STANDINGS
If you combine the top three NASCAR series, here are the standings:
1. Kyle Busch (7334)
2. Carl Edwards (5720)
3. Clint Bowyer (5578)
4. David Ragan (5245)
5. David Reutimann (4716)
6. Denny Hamlin (4253)
7. Kevin Harvick (4250)
8. Greg Biffle (3286)
9. Jeff Burton (3790)
10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (3771)
1. Kyle Busch (15)
2. Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart (5)
4. Denny Hamlin (4)
5. Johnny Benson, Jr., Ron Hornaday, Jr. (3)
1. Kyle Busch (27)
2. Carl Edwards (17)
3. Denny Hamlin (13)
4. Clint Bowyer (12)
5. Tony Stewart (11)
1. Kyle Busch (32)
2. Clint Bowyer (27)
3. Carl Edwards (25)
4. David Ragan (20)
5. Denny Hamlin (19)
1. Kyle Busch (4640)
2. Tony Stewart (1032)
3. Denny Hamlin (988)
4. Carl Edwards (715)
5. Jimmie Johnson (691)