The 2010 racing season at the Bullring could again be ripe for some “sleeper picks” to win track titles.
A year ago at this time, how many were tabbing Justin Reed to win the modified championship? How about Abe Huls in the stock cars?
Here are four names to ponder as we all await next year to arrive:
Late models: Jason Perry intrigues me, and if a semi-dark horse is to emerge in this class I can see it being Perry. He has improved each of the last three years and shown he knows how to run up front once he gets there. Few probably realize he finished fourth in points behind Lonnie Bailey, Justin Reed and Mark Burgtorf. There’s an intangible involved here, too. If you have ever talked with Perry it is obvious how much he loves this sport. His commitment oozes from every comment. I always look for those kind of things in drivers. Horsepower is important, but so is desire channeled in the proper means.
Modifieds: I’m sure Jared Schlipman will wind up in a late model some day (don’t forget who is dad is), but before that day arrives there could be some nice modified rewards, too. Schlipman looks like he’s ready to take the last step toward being a serious title contender in this series. He has proven he can win the heats and dashes, and he has shown he can lead a feature. What we need to see next is his ability to close the deal. The modified are a brutal division to earn your stripes in because there are so many bona fide contenders. And I think Schlipman could be the next true championship threat.
Stock cars: I would not necessarily call Aaron Brocksieck a “sleeper,” but when you mention stock cars the first names likely to roll off your tongue are Abe Huls, Kevin Tomlinson, Terry Houston and Chris Wibbell. Brocksieck proved with his second half of 2009 he is ready to duplicate that hobby stock title he won in 2008. I think Houston is the man to beat going into 2010, but Brocksieck should be right in the mix, too.
Hobby stocks: There was little doubt who the most improved driver in this series was over the final couple of months. Tanner Klingele, 15, proved he could drive the wheels off his fire-engine red No. 3. I know at least one modified team that was looking to add him as a driver, but his family will keep him in that hobby stock for the foreseeable future — and that’s a great idea. Klingele’s dad is a former track champ and it should not be surprising to see Tanner duplicate that feat at some point — maybe as soon as 2010.