Friday, September 24, 2010

Antioch Point Race Comes To A Close With Four Division Show

We enter the final point race of the season at Antioch with not much expected to change in the standings. The most potential appears to be in the Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Four Bangers, but I wouldn't count on it. However, if there is a chance, anything can happen. It has been a chore at times to get results from the races, and I feel good about having a place here where people can look back on the 2010 season at Antioch. As I get ready to step away from this, it is my hope that the track will hire somebody to do the job of handling the track's publicity.

The Over/Under number for this race is 42. Though they could have over 50 cars for this four division show, I wouldn't count on it.

Winged 360 Sprint Cars (10), Super Stocks (12), Hobby Stocks (12), Four Bangers (8).

First of all, the audit has been completed for the Wingless Spec Sprint point race, and your champion is Tommy LaLiberte by ten points over David Press, according to the track's web site. At the end of last week's race, it appeared as if Press has won by two points. I typed a blog that wasn't posted that cautioned that this could be the case. I also wanted to point out that this was a mistake in point calculating, and nothing devious, in my opinion. There have been mistakes from time to time in other classes that I have noticed just from a glance, and I've been told the track hasn't had a problem correcting things as they are pointed out. It might be a good idea to audit things at the top in the other classes, just in case. I'm not suggesting anything is wrong here, but as i said, honest mistakes happen. It also might be a good idea to examine how things are being done with the points, and make a change. There are plenty of options out there.

Even with three wins in five races, Craig Smith still holds just an 18 point lead over rookie Ryan Rusconi in the Winged 360 Sprint Car race. This may be because Rusconi is still winning heat races and made an impressive charge to finish second last time out. Risconi and Smith both started in the back of the ten car field last time, and with only a red flag at the start, they had to hustle their way trough the pack.

Past champion Art McCarthy was third in the previous race, leaving him just 24 points behind Rusconi for second. After Jeremy Burt's victory last time out, he is 20 points behind McCarthy for third. Though it isn't likely to happen, there could still be a change in the top five of the standings. The bigger picture is Antioch's attempt to establish it's own 360 Sprint Car division. The track has a desire to be a player on the Sprint Car scene, and with 8-10 cars showing up so far, it won't be a surprise to see the division on the schedule next season.

When a season high 13 cars showed up last time, it showed that drivers are still interested in supporting the Super Stock division. Throughout the first half of the season, just six or seven cars were showing up, leaving many to wonder what happened to this division. The more cars that show for this division, the better the racing will be. Despite the car count issues, Mitch Machado and Larry Damitz have had a nice battle for the championship.

Last time out, Machado scored the victory to maintain his status as the winner of the most features in this division this season. Damitz did make a charge into the top three, but the point damage has been done. Most likely, all Machado will need to do is start this feature to win this championship. Machado has not made it a big goal of his to win championships in his impressive racing career, though he has track titles at Petaluma and Sacramento, but he wanted this one.

The added bonus of competing against a legend like Damitz had to make it special. In fact, Machado's Street Stock title at Petaluma came the same year as one of Damitz's Late Model titles. At 81 years old, it's amazing to see Damitz racing, let alone doing it as well as he still does. I'm not sure how much fans realize how special this is. Damitz got his start racing in the 1950's at tracks like Contra Costa Speedway in Pacheco and Vallejo Speedway, tracks that no longer exist. Whether or not this is it for Larry, I certainly want to thank him for all the memories and for doing it with the class and style that he always has.

Fred Ryland won two features this season, but the rookie stumbled just slightly to fall out of the hunt. As of now, the likely "Rookie Of The Year" holds a 22 point lead over the steady Eric Berendsen for third. As a double digit car count is expected, something could happen here. The same can be said for fifth, where three time Antioch champion Mike Gustafson, a three time winner this year, now has a nine point lead over Lloyd Cline. Cline tried his best to hold him off as Gustafson gained a little every week, but he will need to bring something special to reclaim the position from a veteran like Gustafson.

With a second last time out, two time Street Stock champion Michael Newman would have to be considered a threat to win the finale if he shows. Other drivers to look for include two time track champion Melissa Hansen, Jon Haney, Lori Brown and Mike Calhoun. Last time out, 2009 champion Danny Mendes and Mikey Slaney made their season debuts, showing further proof that interest is growing in this division as the season comes to a close. Another season high car count is possible this week.

With Hansen anticipated in the Super Stocks this week, it could mean rookie Brad Myers will get to finish the season in the Hobby Stocks for the Team 33 car. Myers made a rare mistake last time out when he spun taking early in the race, but he did manage to recover for a top three finish. That put him 36 points ahead of Chris Sorensen going into this race. He will likely only need to start this feature to claim the championship. The idea of a car owner champion and a driving champion still sounds appealing to this writer.

In the case of a driver champion, or second in points, it would be a battle between Sorensen and past champion Dan McCown, who picked up a top three finish last time out. Sorensen is 15 points ahead of McCown in a close battle. This one could get interesting as both drivers are feature winners this season and capable of doing it again. At this stage in the game, the Team 99 car of Jack Jonker and Jim Freethy and the #98 of Joe Cancilla appear to have a good hold on fourth and fifth.

Wes Bentley's top five finish last time out allowed him to take a four point lead over Pat Gooding in the battle for sixth. Gooding finished in the top ten in the 14 car field as he continues a strong late season run. Speaking of strong runs, after his second place finish two races ago, Dave Lincoln kicked it up a notch with a win last time out, to push him into 14th in points after a late start. As with the Super Stocks, this should be a good show that could possibly field one of the best car counts for the division this season.

Ken Radabaugh did what he could last week in the Four Bangers, but luck simply was not on his side. 2009 champion Patty Ryland won the heat and the Main Event to continue her charge. Radabaugh, the 2009 point runner up, was second in the heat, had problems and came back to finish third. He was second early in the feature, but he ended up in the pits and finished the race laps down. The bottom line was the two were tied going into the night, and Ryland now leads by 16 points.

Though it's still close, Ryland is clearly the class of the field, and short of a DNF in the Main Event or some other problem, she will be champion again. Radabaugh can't worry about what Patty does. He needs to get out there and win his first feature of the season and let the points fall where they may. With another strong top three run, Justin Silveira is a solid fourth in points, but he won't catch third ranked Dayna Andreesen, who looked good out there last week. However, as mentioned last week, Justin is making a good case for himself as driver to beat in 2011.

Another driver looking good after a late start is Mike Felt. Mike had a top three run to move into sixth in the standings, but he won't catch Dominique Myers. Myers holds fifth in points despite a DNF last week. Another Myers in the field was Brad Myers, who enjoyed a top five finish in his first start, basically just making laps. There were eight cars last week, and if a few more drivers show up, it could increase the possibility of a change at the top of the point list.