By: Ashley McCubbin
Each week, I am going to try and put together five thoughts on something in relation to short track racing based on what happened on track. Some of these will be positive, and others will be….well, not as pretty. Hopefully there is lots to talk about this year.
Peterborough Speedway came out of the gates this year with a bang, set to kick off their 50th Anniversary party in a big way. It goes without saying that the competition on-track this year has been bar none, and should only escalate as the year continues. With four nights of competition in the books, here are your five thoughts to consider…..
Late Models – Betts vs McHattie
With only three features in the books, it’s hard to already set down in stone where the focus of the championship battle will be. However, two drivers are emerging ahead of everybody else, thus far – Tyler Betts and Dan McHattie, with Betts currently holding down a nine-point advantage.
Both drivers have started off the year with feature victories as Betts won opening night and the latest event, with McHattie snagging the win in the middle. They’ve also each scored a finish outside of the top-eight, but yet their pair of podiums a piece have helped make that an already distant memory, for now. By the way, they both have a feature average finish of fourth thus far.
McHattie also leads the heat category with three wins, with Betts as the only other driver to have won more than one qualifier this season to date. Notably, Betts has the best average of drivers that have ran all the races at 2.17, while McHattie’s average is 3.
The battle could be spread to three competitors, though, as Bryan Mercer sits only 18 points behind Betts for the top spot, and boosts the best feature average of those to run every night (3.33) ahead of James Horner’s 3.67. Mercer also has done well in the heats, boasting an average of 3.5
Late Models – More Winners?
Only having two different feature winners on a season is something you certainly don’t see often – and don’t plan on that happening this year. There are plenty of other drivers that could reach victory lane – such as the aforementioned Mercer. However, there’s another pair to keep an eye on.
Chris Mitchell is running the full APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Tour schedule, but has ran at Peterborough when the series was off. He proved he was fast in both appearances, posting runner-up finishes, and has an average finish of 2.5 across his four heats. By the way, he visited feature victory lane last season.
Amanda Balson is running a limited schedule while the team’s primary focus is Kelly Balson’s super late model event effort. She posted a fifth in her first and only feature thus far, followed by a win and runner-up in her pair of heats.
Needless to say, both Mitchell and Balson are two names to keep an eye on.
Thunder Car – DiBello and Archibald Are Running Away…..
After both spending last season at Sunset Speedway, Anthony DiBello and Dan Archibald are turning Peterborough Speedway into their own playground this year. Currently, DiBello leads Archibald by 11 points heading into June 17. Now how far are they ahead of third? James Townsend sits 28 markers back of DiBello, with Bailey Jacobs at 29 behind.
The success for DiBello is no surprise, as he won the 2015 Peterborough Speedway Championship, prior to racing at Sunset last year and scoring three top-fives and eight top-10’s. Archibald, meanwhile, has yet to contend for a championship at the patch, but has been a front runner at the Autumn Colours Classic in the past. Notably, he began his season at Sunset this year, posting two top-10’s with a best-finish of third in three starts.
The statistics speak for themselves as in three features, DiBello snagged a pair with Archibald winning the other. However, Archibald has the higher average finish at second, versus DiBello’s 2.33. Jacobs hasn’t done that badly, considering, as his average stands at 3 with no finishes outside the top-four.
When it comes to the heats, DiBello has five wins and a runner-up. The only one to come close? Well, that’s Archibald with four wins, a second, and a ninth. Needless to say, averages favor DiBello at 1.17 with Archibald at 2.5. Howie Crowe has a 2.5 as well, with the four heats that he ran in two appearances, scoring a pair of wins.
It’s a long season so other drivers could definitely join the fray, but if it remains as these two, you saw the signs right here.
Mini Stock – Let It Snow, Let It Snow…..
Snow is normally cold, but Noel Snow is bringing some heat to the words with his stellar campaign thus far with four nights in the books, as he currently leads the points standings by 12 points over Donovan Price.
Snow’s success is easy to recognize as he has a feature win, with no finishes outside of the top-six thus far this year, allowing him to boost the best average finish (3.5) of drivers to compete every night. The consistency is key here, given that Price is the only other driver inside the top-five in points to escape having a bad night thus far in 2017.
Snow has also shown speed in the qualifiers, winning three of them for the best average finish of all drivers at 2.375, compared to Kris Khan with the second most at 2.875.
It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up, given that is hard to escape trouble at the patch with the features always bringing the entertainment value.
Mini Stock – Four Straight Different Winners
Khan. Snow. Neil Hannah. Ryan Oosterholt. Four nights of competition, four different feature winners. Can we make it five in a row? You betcha as there are plenty of drivers in the field that can make it happen, including a pair that sit in the top-five in points.
As previously mentioned, Price is currently sitting second in points – but he has yet to win a feature this season. It doesn’t mean he hasn’t come close, boosting the second best average at 4.25 following three straight top-fives and a seventh. He also leads all drivers in heat victories this season with 5, boosting the fourth best average at 3.25.
Since scoring a 19th-place finish on opening night, Kevin Strutt has been solid ever since with no finishes outside of the top-five in the three events to follow. This has allowed him to climb up into the top-five in points, currently fifth, 23 markers behind Snow. He knows how to win as evident by picking up a heat victory this season, and boosting the third best heat average at 3.
I could give you more options, but keeping an eye on these two will probably be enough for you to be busy.
Article Photos Courtesy of “Trackside Photos by Debbie Spence” – https://www.facebook.com/Trackside-Photos-By-Debbie-Spence-648202065280551/?ref=br_rs.