Depending on your point of view, there can be a downside to the depth we expect to see in driver talent this season at the Bullring. Those magic numbers — 20 overall victories and 10 feature wins — will be that much more difficult to reach.
Only 11 times since 1999 has the 20 overall win mark been attained, by six different drivers. Only five times has the 10-feature victory milestone been cracked, and by just three different drivers.
If the stars do happen to align just right, however, here are my picks in each class to possibly reach the 20-win mark. I don’t see any chance of any driver winning 10 features:
Late models: Brandon Sheppard. I think the kid is in for a big, big season.
Modifieds: Michael Long. (No explanation needed for the guy who holds track records for both single-season overall wins and feature victories.)
Sport mods: Tony Dunker. If he reaches 20 wins, there will be one heckuva party at the Pat Dunker compound.
Stock cars: Abe Huls. Fewer cars in the class help the law of percentages. No driver in this class has come close to 20 in the first four years of the series.
Hobby stocks: Jake Powers. Can anyone catch The Snake this season?
Sport compacts: Kimberly Abbott. If not Kimberly, Seth Woodruff might be a good choice.
THE 20-VICTORY CLUB
Michael Long, modifieds, 36, 2007
Michael Long, modifieds, 35, 2008
Mark Burgtorf, late models, 28, 2006
Hank DeLonjay, “A” modifieds, 25. 2006
Mark Burgtorf, late models, 24, 2007
Wyatt Lantz, “B” modifieds, 24, 2004
Steve Carlin, hobby stocks, 23, 2007
Hank DeLonjay, “A” modifieds, 23, 2005
Tony Dunker, “B” modifieds, 21, 2005
Michael Long, modifieds, 20, 2010
Mark Burgtorf, late models, 20, 2002
THE 10-VICTORY FEATURE CLUB
Michael Long, modifieds, 16, 2007
Michael Long, modifieds, 15, 2008
Mark Burgtorf, late models, 13, 2006
Steve Carlin, hobby stocks, 12, 2007
Michael Long, modifieds, 10, 2010