(The following is the second 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 stock cars.)
Terry Houston has earned a spot in a very select class of drivers at the Bullring. Week in, week out, the Mayor of Mount Sterling is as consistent as they come. He hits his marks virtually every lap, and come checkered flag time he is always in the hunt. He may not win the most races, but he understands consistency is the key to championships.
It’s better to run second than take a last-lap gamble, spin out and wind up getting little more than tow money. It’s no accident he is one point shy of having won three straight track championships. He won the 2012 and 2010 stock car titles and fell one point short in 2011.
And I think in 2013 he will make it three track titles in four years. Here’s how I see the season shaping up:
1. Terry Houston: There are about five drivers at the track I would have no problem choosing to wheel my car if my championship life depended on it. And Terry is one of those drivers.
Why he’ll win: He doesn’t make mistakes, he doesn’t tear up his equipment and he understands points racing, especially late in the season.
Why he won’t win:If he listens too much to Dave “Mr. GM” Moore.
2. Abe Huls: Abe had one of those once-in-a-decade seasons in 2012. Two in a row might be too much to ask the gods of chance.
3. Michael Larsen: All things point to the Green Machine having a breakout summer. It wouldn’t surprise me i the least to see “Taco” in the thick of the points race come late September.
Dark horse: Jerry Jansen, who next to Houston might be the steadiest wheel man in the series. Mr. Ford simply has to figure out how to get a few more checkered flags.
Comeback of the year: Gabe Harrison, whose promising 2011 campaign went up in smoke last year. Nothing went right. I think 2013 will be different.
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:
HOW WE SEE THE STOCK CARS FINISHING
1. Terry Houston: He missed a second straight title by one point in 2011, but during the second half of last season he was definitely the No. 1 car on the track. I look for that momentum to continue into 2012.
(Terry is at the top of his game right now. It’s going to take a heck of a run by on of his rivals to wrestle that big iron away from him. A year ago, Honest Abe was racking up those incredible victory totals, but in the end it was Houston sitting atop the podium.)
2. Aaron Brocksieck: Aaron has this series figured out, no question. But can he hold off Houston a second straight year?
(Aaron decided to pack it in shortly after midseason during a year when little went right. We are told he has opted out of racing — at least for awhile — and that’s a shame. He and his family are one class act.)
3. Abe Huls: Abe tied for the series lead in points features won, but what cost him a second stock car championship was missing three points weeks. I’m guessing he’ll be on hand every week this time around.
(If there is a driver that can unseat Houston, it’s probably No. 30c, but he can’t afford to miss a key week here and there. Abe, are you all in this season?)
Dark horse: Andrew Griffin. More times than not, my theory about whichever non-champion wins the most heat races the preceding year is a big-time title contender the next season normally pans out. Andrew fills that bill in the stock cars.
(Andrew chose family over racing, which is the right choice every time. Hopefully, we’ll see him back at some point. The pits aren’t quite the same when one of the Griffins is missing.)
Comeback of the year: Huls, who finished a distant seventh in points because he did not run a full points schedule.
(All I have for this are two words: Nailed it! Abe’s as good as they come. We just have to talk him out of those vacation trips in the middle of the season.)
2012 POINTS LEADERS
Terry Houston, 619
Jerry Jansen, 598
Abe Huls, 595
Darin Weisinger, 580
Michael Larsen, 556
2011 POINTS LEADERS
Aaron Brocksieck, 438
Terry Houston, 437
Jerry Jansen, 417
Andrew Griffin, 414
Gabe Harrison, 398
2010 POINTS LEADERS
Terry Houston, 448
Abe Huls, 436
Steve Steinkuhler, 432
Jerry Jansen, 424
Andrew Griffin, 416
STOCK CAR TRACK CHAMPIONS
2012: Terry Houston
2011: Aaron Brocksieck
2010: Terry Houston
2009: Abe Huls
2008: Jeff Mueller