1. There have never been a whole lot of ’em.
2. But the ones who are there put on a heckuva show.
This is probably the most balanced class at the track. There simply is not much separation from top to bottom. On any given Sunday night, Abe Huls, Terry Houston, Aaron Brocksieck, Andrew Griffin, Jerry Jansen, Gabe Harrison and a handful of others have demonstrated they can win — and have. I don’t think there’s any reason to expect anything different in 2012.
We’ve never had a repeat titlist in this series, and I don’t think next season will be any different. But I do think we’ll see the first two-time track champ in this class:
1. Terry Houston: He missed by one point of turning in back-to-back championships and will enter 2012 as the No. 1-ranked driver in the four-year history of the series. He has won more races than any other stock car driver — and wasn’t even involved in the inaugural 2008 season. I think we’ll see the pride of Mount Sterling win that second championship come next August.
STILL THE FASTEST
Houston turned a 65.603 mph feature lap in 2009, a speed that still stands as the fastest — by over a mile per hour — in the stock class. Here’s a look at the top five since the 2008 inception of the series:
1. Terry Houston, 65.603 mph, Aug. 30, 2009
2. Abe Huls, 64.586 mph, June 20, 2010
3. Terry Houston, 64.418 mph, Aug. 22, 2010
4. Shawn Johnson, 64.393 mph, July 3, 2009
5. Abe Huls, 64.379 mph, June 6, 2010
2. Aaron Brocksieck: It was incredibly difficult not to pick Aaron to win a second straight title, but what made me place him second was I wasn’t sure which version of the pink car we would see at the outset of 2012. Would it be the dominant one of the first half of 2011, or the one that struggled at times in the second half? What has separated Houston from the rest of the class for most of his three years in the stocks has been that week-in, week-out consistency. That’s why I picked him to win his second championship.
3. Abe Huls: If I were sure No. 30c would be there the entire points season, you could throw a blanket over Houston, Brocksieck and Honest Abe right now. I’m placing him third, expecting a week or two of missed points racing.
4. Andrew Griffin: He’s got the heats mastered. If he can do the same with the features, watch out. His career continues to remind me quite a bit of Jared Schlipman in the modifieds. Schlipman was a terror in the heats his first few years, but could not carry that same consistency over to the main events. And then 2010 happened. Will 2012 be Andrew Griffin’s “2010”?
5. Jerry Jansen: Jansen is an extremely underrated racer. His only downfall is not being able to get one of those feature checkered flags. He finished third in points, despite winning just one (heat) race. That takes a pretty good driver.