13 weekends of the racing in the books. 1 weekend to go. It all comes down to one night and the champion will be crowned. Who will that be? Well……..
Warren Paxton heads into the final night leading by 61 points ahead of Ben Melenhorst. Paxton has won five features this year, and finished in the top five on any night that he hasn’t won a feature. If he starts the feature, crown him your championship. If he runs into problems during the heats and isn’t able to get his car back out or hop in another car, well, we may have a different story. But that’s highly unlikely so look for the driver of the No. 33 Honda to pick up his first championship.
Ben Melenhorst sits second (as mentioned above) with 10 top fives and 12 top 10s in 12 features this year. The night that Ben couldn’t be there, younger brother Billy drove the car to a second place finish to score some solid points. Ben will be looking to close the season with a win after coming close throughout last month.
However, Ben also has to watch his back. Last year’s champion Eric Yorke sits third in points, only three points back of him. If Yorke can pull off his first feature win of the season or do better than Ben, look for him to possibly grab the second spot in points on the final night. Yorke has eight top fives and 13 top 10s this year.
Gehrig Halliday sits fourth in points and will most likely finish there in his sophomore season as he is 83 points behind Yorke and 90 points ahead of Terry Woodley. Halliday could end his season on a high with a feature victory, though. He has two feature top fives this year, with a best finish of fourth, and 11 top 10s.
Terry Woodley comes into the weekend looking to finish off his season on a solid note. For Woodley to finish fifth would be a feat in itself following a major wreck that saw his car suffer heavy damage. Woodley couldn’t be at Sunset Speedway on August 25th so he got Trevor Hemingway to drive the car to get him some points. Well, let’s say it didn’t go that well as Hemingway spun on the last lap and then got hit pretty hard by Kendra Adams. The result was Woodley’s primary car done and he had to pull out his back-up car, which he hadn’t run since 2011. Woodley has three top 10s this season.
The problem is….he is currently only seven points ahead of Brian Love. Love enters the final night of the season sitting sixth in points with 10 top 10s this season. Depending which of the two drivers can get through the traffic and stay up near the front will determine who gets to finish fifth overall.
Rookie Shawn Gerrior currently sits seventh in points with three top 10s this year, 51 points behind Love. Unless Love has problems, Gerrior can’t improve his position. However, that’s not the key for Gerrior. If Gerrior can stay where he is, he will be this year’s rookie of the year.
Though it’s not as easy as it sounds as he’s only one point ahead of fellow rookie Steve Belanger, who sits seventh in points. Belanger has one top five and six top 10s this year. Both Gerrior and Belanger have quick cars so look for this battle to go down to the last lap of the Mini Stock feature.
But well we’re at it, why don’t we make this a three-way battle? Kendra Adams currently sits ninth in points, six points behind Gerrior. She could also find herself in the middle of the battle and maybe ahead of them at the end as she has also ran strong this year at times. She hasn’t finished top 10 in the feature yet this year, though has 10 heat top fives in the 22 heats she has run this year. She missed a pair of nights due to a concussion, though had her father Brendan Adams in the car to get points.
The thing is…..the battle doesn’t end here. Ken Townsend currently sits 10th in points, only 16 points behind Adams. Townsend has one of the quickest cars in the field, having won a feature this year, though suffered a pretty hard wreck followed by some nights of trying to figure out why his car wouldn’t stay running. It looked like Townsend solved his problems the last time we were out so look for him to run upfront. Townsend has five top fives and six top 10s to go with his feature win.
I hate to go beyond the top 10, but I’m going to. Why? Chris Free sits 11th in points going into the final night, only four points behind Townsend. If Free can have a good solid run, he could move himself in the top 10 in points to finish off the season. Free has yet to finish in the top 10 in a feature this year, but did win a pair of heats early in the year.
With there being battles throughout the field for points positions, it being a fan appreciation night – yes, candy and autographs, and the top mini stock drivers vowing for the victory, I suggest that you make your way to Sunset Speedway on Saturday night. You won’t be left disappointed.