Not only do they tend to give you an idea of how the current season is progressing, but they can also give provide an eye to the future. The modifieds are a great example of this, at least since we started keeping track of these numbers in 2007.
Remember back in 2007-08 when Michael Long completely destroyed the division, winning a combined 31 features and 71 total races over those two seasons? He easily won track titles both summers. Lost by many, however, in the 2008 season was the second-half performance of a young driver beginning to make his own mark.
While Long dominated the headlines and much of the talk in 2008, teenager Steven DeLonjay began to make his presence felt in the second half of that campaign. That was DeLonjay’s first year in a modified (after winning back-to-back four-cylinder titles in 2006-07) and there was little doubt by September 2008 he would be a force of the future in that series. DeLonjay led the class in second-half points in 2008, and only one year since has he not done the same.
DeLonjay has never finished lower than third in points in his six seasons in the famous No. 35 car first piloted by his dad, Hank “The Crank” DeLonjay, who won 10 of his 13 track championships in the old “A” mod class.
More years than not, though, Steven DeLonjay’s overall strength in the division did not surface until the second half. He has been a notorious slow starter in most seasons — and then tends to blow away the rest of the class the second half of the schedule.
DdeLonjay has led the series in second-half points four straight years, winning the last three track titles. (In 2010, he could never quite run down eventual champ Jared Schlipman.)
Long is currently off to his best second-half start in six years, but whether or not that winds up leading to his first track title since 2008 remains to be seen. There’s still that DeLonjay guy to deal with. Long (210), Dave Wietholder (190), DeLonjay (184), Craig Spegal (153) and Shawn Deering (133) are currently atop the second-half leaderboard.
Here’s a look at what has transpired in recent years when it comes to second-half points among the modified drivers. We’ll also be looking at the second-half performances in other divisions as the season progresses.
SECOND-HALF MODIFIED POINTS LEADERS
2014: Michael Long, 210 (through Aug. 3)
2013: Steven DeLonjay, 730 (UMP) (won track title)
2012: Steven DeLonjay, 609 (UMP) (won track title)
2011: Steven DeLonjay, 766 (UMP) (won track title)
2010: Steven DeLonjay, 383 (UMP) (Jared Schlipman track champion)
2009: Donovan Lodge, 478 ((UMP) (Justin Reed track champion)
2008: Steven DeLonjay, 334 (Michael Long track champion)
2007: Michael Long, 364 (won track title)
Career Leaders (UMP years, through Aug. 3, 2014)
Steven DeLonjay, 3,075
Dave Wietholder, 2,584
Shawn Deering, 2,337
Jared Schlipman, 1,929
Michael Long, 1,784
Other top active local drivers
Robbie Reed, 1,478
Jake Griffin, 1,477
Ryan Meyer, 902
Russ Coultas, 754
Career Leaders (since 2007)
Minimum 2,000 points
Steven DeLonjay, 3,389 (did not race modifieds until 2008)
Dave Wietholder, 3,289
Michael Long, 2,449
Jared Schlipman, 2,434
Robbie Reed, 2,022