Friday, September 17, 2010

Four Divisions In Action This Saturday At Antioch

If I didn't know any better, I'd say John was doing a rain dance this week in the hopes of canceling this one due to weather. A big part of this show was to be the West Coast Enduro, but that race has been dropped due to lack of interest. I believe John put this one in the hands of the WCE people to drum up support, and I'm not sure how much effort was made on either front to get cars. Reportedly, seven drivers signed up for this race, and that just won't due.

Two divisions, the Wingless Spec Sprints and Dwarf Cars, will be under pressure to have big nights, because the other two classes, Four Bangers and Mini Trucks, aren't likely to break into double digits based on what they've done so far this year. I guess it's too late to add a class, but perhaps a division will get time trials or maybe all four classes get Trophy Dashes to help round out the show a little better. We'll see.

The Over/Under Number for this is 46.

It's worth noting the past couple point races have been above our projected number, which is always good to see. The track appears to be ending the 2010 season on a high note.

Wingless Spec Sprints (16), Dwarf Cars (16), Four Bangers (7), Mini Trucks (7).

The Wingless Spec Sprints, Dwarf Car and Four Bangers still have championships to decide, while the other one appears to be over. Actually, the Mini Trucks were over a long time ago.

In 12 seasons of Wingless Spec Sprint racing at Antioch Speedway, only one driver has won the championship more than once. That would be open wheel racing veteran Darrel Hanestad, who won back to back championships in 2002-03. Two drivers, Tommy LaLiberte and David Press, have just 20 points separating them in favor of LaLiberte. It is likely that a Trophy Dash will also be part of the preliminaries, which means there could be as big as a 12 point swing in either direction entering the final Main Event.

This is amazing when you consider how much winning LaLiberte has been doing this season. It's a good bet that both drivers would like to have the previous race back. In that race, won by Petaluma racer Geoff Ensign, Press was eliminated early, while LaLiberte took a hard hit into the Turn 4 wall late in the race going for the lead. Actually, the past month or so of racing for LaLiberte has made him thankful that the rest of the season went as well as it did for him. For Press, consistency has kept him in the game, which is no surprise considering the championships he's won at other tracks.

Actually, the last race saw Petaluma racers Ensign, Zach Lynsky and Scott Dupont grab first, second and fourth, respectively. It was a particularly nice comeback for Lynsky, who had spun out earlier in the race. With his third place finish, Nick Larsen moved to within six points of Rick Sharp for tenth. Though not a Petaluma regular, Chuck Bradshaw ranks top ten there as well as at Ocean Speedway. The rookie Bradshaw finished fifth in the most recent race to stay 14 points ahead of Trevor Press, who has been coming on strong of late. Trevor was eight in the most recent feature.

After back to back disappointing nights, it looks as if third is the best that five time champion Ricardo Rivera can do in the Dwarf Car championship chase. It's likely he wasn't too worried about it after missing a race this year, but he still came oh so close. With that being the case, Nick Squatrito holds an eight point lead over Jerry Doty. It was just a few races ago when Rivera had taken over the point lead, putting the pressure on the other two drivers to step up. A week later, Doty responded with a feature win of his own to claim the point lead, but he was trumped by a feature win for Squatritto a week later that regained him the lead.

Seeing these two drivers come up big has made this perhaps the most exciting battle at the track. Most fans would have provably expected Rivera to take over as he has so many times before, but it's moments like these when stars are born. Last week, both Squatritto and Doty were second in their respective heat races before Squatritto finished second in front of Doty in the Main Event. All Squatritto was able to gain on the persistent Doty was a mere two points. It will be interesting to see what happens in the finale.

Tony Carmignani has been there before, only to lose to Rivera by a slim margin. With the pressure off, Tony continues to run impressively in recent races. Coming into the previous race with two seconds and a third in his last three starts, Tony may be the hottest driver in the division at the moment in his green #11 car. In last week's race, he took it up a notch to collect the victory. Tony is 11 points behind Charlie Correia for seventh. The other battle to watch is for fifth in points. With a 32 point advantage over Mike Corsaro for fourth, the steady Clayton Dortzback may be safe, but Corsaro is just two points ahead of Dan Liston for fifth.

The Four Banger battle will probably not end after this race, but momentum seems to be in Patty Ryland's favor at the moment. Despite missing a race for vacation, the 2009 champion Ryland leads the class in feature wins and has moved into a tie with Ken Radabaugh after her second place finish last time out. The Ryland's recently won the Four Banger portion of the Tri Holiday Series at Chowchilla with Fred Ryland behind the wheel, and the 2010 Antioch championship trophy is starting to look very appealing to Patty.

All indicators are that she will win this championship again. Sure, it's a tie for the lead, but Radabaugh has not given any indication that he can step up and beat her for it. Ken is still searching for his first feature win of the season, though he has finished as high as second, and his last outing had to be a miserable experience for him. Still, anything is possible, and this is the time of the season when champions step up to claim their prize. With this race and next week left, it's anybody's title to win.

Dayna Andreesen's July slump dropped her from first to third in the race, but it looks like she should be able to hold on to third as long as she starts the last two races. She will need to do that, because 52 points behind her and closing in is the most recent winner, Justin Silveira. The way Justin has been running lately, he may be the early favorite to win the 2011 championship if he returns. As is, he will be a threat to win these last two races and he has a good hold on fourth in the standings.

Travis Dutra has simply dominated the Mini Truck division this season, so it is no surprise to see that he will take it up from second in points last season to the 2010 championship. He has earned it. What was a bit of a surprise was that he didn't win a race last week, getting beat by Dean Cline in the heat race and first time winner Mike Harmon in the Main Event. As it appears he may be headed for Dwarf Cars next season, Travis will likely be out to make a big statement with one more win before he leaves.

This could open the door for the steady Dan Wagner to be the early favorite in 2011, but the season isn't over. After his disappointing DNF last week, Wagner will be out to try and get one more win himself. First and second are not up for grabs at this point, but this week's winner's plaque would still look nice on the wall for Wagner.

With Ray Bunn out of the picture, a fourth place finish moved Ron Mayberry into third in points, six ahead of Bunn. Unless Bunn returns, Mayberry will end up with a top three season. Not bad for somebody who wasn't even top five ranked a few races ago. Meanwhile, Dean Cline will end up fifth in the standings thanks to winning his first heat race of the season and stating the most recent feature. It's nice to see the ageless veteran still ranked among the track's top drivers after all these years.