Sunday night marks the start of the second half of the Quincy Raceways season, but before green flag falls let’s review the first half, division by division:
Driver of the first half: Even though he has yet to win a feature, the nod goes to points leader Mark Burgtorf. The 14-time track champ has been the most consistent driver, accented by his four second-place finishes in seven features.
Biggest surprise: Some of the small fields. The class is headed for the lowest average car count in the years numbers are available (beginning in 1991). Heading into Sunday night, the average starting feature field has been 12.3 cars, which includes a 26-car field for the May 18 “Scottie 40” race. That 12.3 norm is down more than 50 percent from the 2006 average of 25.
Since the sanctioned with UMP prior to the 2012 seasons, the car counts have averaged 18 (2012) and 16 (2013). The final year with IMCA saw the track average 15 late models in 2011.
Second-half key: Due to missed time by two major players, Justin Perry and Justin Reed, there are realistically only two drivers vying for the track championship — Burgtorf and Denny Woodworth. Burgtorf seems determined to win that 15th title and his first since 2007.
Driver of the first half: Steven DeLonjay, who quickly recovered from a slow start to take control of the series by mid-June.
Biggest surprise: Speaking of surprise car-count declines, the mods are averaging just 13.9, which is the lowest since 1998 when the “A” mods averaged 13 cars. A year ago, the mods averaged 19 cars each Sunday night.
Second-half key: DeLonjay’s top challenger among the drivers who are there on a weekly basis is Dave Wietholder. He needs to keep DeLonjay within striking distance over the first few weeks of the second half or Steve-O’s fourth straight title will quickly become a foregone conclusion.
Driver of the first half: Who else can you pick by two-time defending champ Tony Dunker? Granted, he did not win his first feature until last Sunday, but don’t forget about those six runner-up finishes. That healthy points lead is no accident.
Biggest surprise: The emergence of Brad Holtmeyer from apprentice to contender.
Second-half key: Much like DeLonjay in the modifieds, if the competition does not reel in Dunker early in the second half this championship race is all but over.
Driver of the first half: This was the toughest call of them all, but I lean toward Abe Huls. He closed the first half with a flourish and leads the series with three feature victories.
Biggest surprise: Iowa driver Jim Lynch opting to race full-time at Quincy has been not only a pleasant surprise, but a welcome addition to the field.
Second-half key: The title chase appears to be a three-man show among Huls, Lynch and Brandon Savage. With the outdated IMCA scoring system, it is incredibly difficult to make up positions in the standings, so if one of those three can go on a tear in the next month it will force the other two to play catch-up. And that is next to impossible with the IMCA format.
Driver of the first half: Austen Becerra. No one else is even a close second.
Biggest surprise: The emergence of Bryce Baker, who should be a name to remember in 2015.
Second-half key: To see if the rest of the field can keep Becerra under 15 feature victories.