(The following is the third of our annual mid-winter looks at the coming Quincy Raceways season, plus a look back to see how we fared with the previous year’s picks. Today we examine the IMCA sport compacts.)
One of the true highlights of the 2012 season at Quincy Raceways was the entertainment provided by the sport compacts, those wild and crazy four-cylinder rides that week in, week out gave us more smiles — and drama — than Kenny Pratt at a cheeseburger-eating contest in downtown Mendon.
And look for the good times to continue this season in this fast-growing class, ruled last summer by Austen Becerra, who will unquestionably be the driver to beat. Before we make our annual mid-winter picks, however, here are a few questions about the sport compacts:
• Is Seth Woodruff capable of a three-peat?
• Can Kim Abbott finally give the track its first female champion?
• Is Pat Dunker the real deal, or does he just have cool hair?
• Will Tony Dunker join his brother, Pat, at some point in the 2013 season? I don’t think there is a “No. 4” — yet — in the sport compact field.
• Is anyone capable of ovrehauling Becerra’s No. 22?
Here’s how I see the 2013 sport compact season shaping up at this point on the calendar:
1. Austen Becerra: It would be unrealistic to think Austen could maintain the pace he established in the second half of 2012, but I think that No. 22 car will still have enough muscle to dominate this class. Right now, he looks unbeatable.
2. Seth Woodruff: The title streak is stopped at two. Sorry about that, Seth.
3. Kim Abbott: Kim cannot afford to get buried in the points early in the season. Playing catch-up to Becerra and Woodruff could prove to be next to impossible.
Dark horse: Lane Van Zandt. Call it a hunch. Or maybe Brandon Lambert. Call it another hunch.
Comeback of the year: Andrew Davis (if he races again in Quincy). He had a dominant car the first half of the season, and then disappeared.
A LOOK BACK AT HOW WE SAW THE 2012 PRESEASON
This is what we said a year ago at this time, plus with updated comments:
1. Kimberly Abbott: I’m sensing a historical run from Ms. Abbott. She’s the one to beat.
(There’s no question she has the talent to win the title, but some unexpected mechanical issues did her in down the stretch in 2012. Will the third time be the charm in 2013?)
2. Seth Woodruff: I doubt, however, if the defending champion will relinquish the throne without a fight. This should be a great season in the wild things.
(In the end, it was again Woodruff holding the big iron. Maybe I should revise that title pick for 2013.)
3. Craig Bangert: He has one of the best-looking cars, regardless of class.
(Craig raced well when he was there in 2012. He just wasn’t there enough.)