Traditionally, the st0cks have put up some of the closest points races among the weekly series. The last two years, however, have not been the case — but I imagine 2012 and 2013 were probably more of an aberration than a coming trend.
I’m expecting 2014 to be a magnificent points battle among at least three drivers: Abe Huls, Terry Houston and Brandon Savage. There are a few more drivers on the periphery that could join the fun, too.
Here’s a look at how close the points races have been in the stock car division. The last two seasons the title had been decided before the final points feature. The first four years saw the championship remain a question until the final checkered flag:
STOCK CAR CHAMPIONS, MARGIN OF CHAMPIONSHIP
2013: Abe Huls, 24 points over Terry Houston
2012: Terry Houston, 21 points over Abe Huls
2011: Aaron Brocksieck, 1 point over Terry Houston
2010: Terry Houston, 12 points over Abe Huls
2009: Abe Huls, 4 points over Kevin Tomlinson
2008: Jeff Mueller, 0* points over Chris Wibbell (Mueller won tiebreaker on features won)
Here’s out first forecast of the (new) season for the stocks:
STOCK CARS 2014
The champ: Abe Huls has this stock car thing figured out pretty well right now, and I have to think he will be the first driver to go back-to-back since the series’ inception in 2008.
The runner-up: That doesn’t mean Terry Houston can’t win a third championship — unless he opts to drive in Jacksonville over Quincy. Terry hasn’t finished first or second in points four straight years by accident.
Third place: If Brandon Savage races a full season, Abe and Terry will have their work cut out for them to hold him off. Brandon’s plans at the end of 2013 were uncertain, so let’s keep our fingers crossed he is there opening night in April — and every Sunday afterward.
Dark horse: If you remember, Jake Powers’ first season in a four-cylinder was not pretty. His first couple of years in a hobby stock were also not anything to write home about. But that Snake, he’s a quick learner and soon had it figured out. Look for that same kind of pattern to continue in a stock car.
Disclaimer: If Houston does not race in Quincy, and Savage is not full-time, I would lean toward moving Powers and Jerry Jansen into the top three.