This weekend, the Sunset Speedway Limited Late Model Championship comes down to one race and 13 points. After 13 races this season, Mike Bentley heads into the final night with a 13 point lead over Tom Walters.
Bentley is looking for his first career championship behind the wheel of his No. 51 Lattitude Land Effects Late Model. In the 13 features run this year, he has two wins, 10 top fives and 12 top 10s. If Bentley can continue that string of consistency and escape trouble the final night, you could see him wrap it up.
However, the driver he is up against is no slouch either. Tom Walters is looking for his 31st Championship and his second straight behind the wheel of his No. 47 Pro Floors/McColl Racing Late Model. In the 13 features run this year, Walters has won a pair and had 11 top fives and 13 top 10s. Walters is known for his never give up attitude so look for him to put up a strong fight on the final night.
Now looking at those numbers, you’d think Bentley was behind Walters in points. However, as stated that is not true as Bentley holds the 13 point advantage. How is that possible? Simple – the heats. Bentley has 13 wins and 24 top fives in 26 heats this year, while Walters has six wins and 24 top fives. Those extra points that Bentley got with those seven wins are part of the difference between the pair in points. Also, the night Bentley did finish outside of the top 10, he wasn’t that far out either.
With the numbers laid down, what is the magic number heading into the night?
Let’s say the pair stay even throughout the heats and head into the feature 13 points apart. If Walters wins the feature, Bentley would have to finish inside of the top 10 to take home the championship. Given the stats, that is highly likely. However, if Bentley finishes 11th and Walters win the feature, Walters wins the tie-breaker given that he’d have three feature wins with Bentley having only two.
Now this could very likely change due to the pair of heat qualifying races ran before the feature. The winner of the heat gets eight points, while second gets seven, third gets six and so forth down to one point. If Bentley has a problem in one of his heats while Walters does well in both, that could erase half the deficit right there.
The key for Bentley to win the championship will be to stay out of trouble. Now, that’s easier said than done. Sometimes you can find yourself in the middle of somebody else’s wreck. Bentley will start about 12th in the feature as the points leader and if a wreck happens in front of him, who’s to say he may not miss it? Though also, Bentley has over the years found himself finding his own trouble. With run-ins with Jason Witty and Chris Morrow among others, Bentley has sometimes hurt himself in the process. The key will be, as I said, to stay out of trouble and play it smart. All he has to do is be consistent like he has all year and he will be this year’s champion.
Beyond the top two, we have a heck of a battle on our hands for third on back. There is no telling what could happen between the drivers and who will end up finishing at the top of the heap.
Going into the night, here’s how it looks:
Andy Kamrath currently holds down third in his first year at Sunset Speedway with 1332 points. He has yet to win a feature this year, though has 11 top fives and 13 top 10s.
Dwayne Baker is fourth after winning the championship at Barrie Speedway last year, one point behind Kamrath. He has one feature win along with seven top fives and 13 top 10s.
Taylor Holdaway is fifth and looking for his first feature win of the season, 33 points behind Kamrath. Holdaway has five top fives and 12 top 10s.
Chris Morrow is sixth and tied with Holdaway for fifth as he also is looking for his first feature win of the season. Morrow has eight top fives and 10 top 10s.
Sean Grosman is seventh after winning a feature last month, 43 points behind Kamrath. He has five top fives and eight top 10s.
Scott Beatty is eighth and looking for his first feature win of the season, 45 points behind Kamrath. He has four top fives and 12 top 10s.
Lastly, Billy Zardo is ninth with two feature wins, 56 points behind Kamarath. He has seven top fives and 11 top 10s.
56 points separate third through ninth. In theory if Kamrath and Zardo stay even through the heats, Zardo could win the feature and Kamrath could finish 27th, causing the pair to flip positions. Now okay okay….I get it….the maximum cars that we start in a feature is 24 so that isn’t possible. But yet, if Zardo gains three points on Kamrath in the heats and then wins with Kamrath finishing last, you have the flip. Anything is possible, right?
The battle to watch will be for third with Kamrath and Baker separated by one point, which is equal to one position on the track. Baker would have the tie breaker as it stand right now, too, due to his feature win this year. Maybe that’s why these guys have been battling so hard the past couple of weeks. If you have watched the features the past two weeks, you may have seen the pair of them trade paint a couple of times. Kamrath has gotten Baker sideways a bit and Baker has done the same right back. Their epic moment of the season came two weeks ago in the third heat. Kamrath edge out Baker for the win at the line in a close finish, but that was just the peak of this deal. About halfway through the heat, contact was made between the two, resulting in them both sliding completely sideways through turns one and two. Both drivers managed to get their cars back straight and keep their top two positions. Now that’s what I call driving. Look for them to continue their battle on Saturday night.
Holdaway and Morrow could catch Kamrath and Baker in theory, but it’s highly unlikely given the amount of points between them. instead, looks like these two will most likely finish fifth and sixth. Though in what order? Come see us Saturday night. Both drivers have been strong this year, running at the front of the feature – but neither has won that feature yet. They both had nights where they came close to winning. Middle of August, Holdaway stalked Grosman for the final 10 laps of the feature, looking for any way by him, though wasn’t able to go by as he finished second. Then two weeks ago, Morrow did the same thing with Witty. Witty had taken the lead on the opening lap of the feature and led all the way till a late caution with three laps to go. On the restart, Witty and Morrow ran side-by-side all the way till the caution flew on lap 28 for a piece of debris in turn four. Morrow had the edge on Witty so he would restart on the inside as the leader with Witty to his outside. On the restart, Morrow and Witty battled side-by-side for the lead once again with Witty getting a run off of turn two on the outside on the last lap to take the lead. Witty led the rest of the way to grab his fifth victory of the season.
To see either Morrow or Holdaway complete the season without a feature win will be a shock to many so look for both drivers to be trying hard to become our eighth different feature winner of the season.
Alright……that’s it for now. That’s the set-up and all that should scream this – I NEED TO BE AT SUNSET SPEEDWAY ON SATURDAY NIGHT. With that said, I shall see you at the track for some exciting racing. And oh, don’t forget – it’s also fan appreciation night. so make sure to come early so you can get some autographs and some yummy treats.