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.
The Signs of Innovation Mini Stock division has been known for being one of the most competitive entertaining divisions for the longest time with a whole spectrum of talent throughout the field. With the competition heating up just ahead of the summer, here are your five thoughts to consider….
1. Emerging Title Favourite
In the first edition of the mini stocks five thoughts, it was mentioned that Andy Kamrath shouldn’t be on your title contenders list so to look elsewhere, but it was wide open otherwise. Let’s go back and review now. How many of you put Eric Yorke down as a contender, and the champion?
If you didn’t, I have one question – why not? He is a past champion of the division, and was solid last season with four victories and nine top-fives, backing up the win and seven top-fives from 2015. Needless to say, he’s always ran up front.
But regardless, he must be on your list now as he boast the best average finish of all drivers at 2.83 with six feature events in the books, with two feature victories and no finishes outside of the top-five in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition. Oh, and it’s actually three feature wins on the year adding in the Spring Velocity non-points invitational win, too. Just how quick has he been? It took him just two laps to go from 18th to ninth on Saturday night, and the next best average finish is a 5.33, thanks to Charlie Smith.
2. Remember The Last Five Thoughts?
So when each of these editions come out, there is the duty of glancing back at the previous edition to make sure that we’re spreading the love to everybody. But before we do that, let’s clear up some things from there, shall we?
While Nic Montanari started off the season with two finishes outside of the top-10 in the first three nights, he has been solid ever since with a sixth, win, and a second to bring his average finish down to 7.83. If Yorke runs into any bad luck, it’ll make the championship battle wide-open once again and there’s a chance he may repeat.
Cameron McGlashan is still magnificent, by the way. He currently boosts the third best average finish at 5.67 with a top-10 finish each night, despite facing some adversity. There was one night he even had to run his teammate Robert Toope’s mustang instead of his own due to breaking in practice, but yet still drove it to a 10th-place finish despite spinning early in the event. If you can face adversity and still walk away with solid performances, you’re doing pretty good.
The first night of competition, we saw Dave Crumbie win the b-main and come through for a 15th-place finish in the feature, with Stefan Woyslaw turning a b-main runner-up into a 16th main. Woyslaw returned to win the b-main on the second night of competition, turning into a ninth-place finish in the feature. Warren Paxton then won the third b-main of the season on June 3, backing it up with a seventh in the feature. So even if you’re sent to the last chance race, just know – your chances for a solid finish aren’t out of the picture, totally.
Mike Robinson Jr.’s season has taken the up-and-down road, to be honest. While he has a pair of fourths and a ninth, he’s matched it with a pair of finishes outside of the top-10. Both those events he failed to post a solid finish, by the way, came after trouble in the late going as he was a front runner in those cases. It’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.
3. Feature Winner Count: Five
So far this season, five different drivers have won a feature, with Eric Yorke as the only repeat winner. Joining Yorke in victory lane this year – Kamrath, Doug Butler, Samantha Shaw.
Now five isn’t too shabby of a number and is actually on-par with past years. In 2015, there were six different Mini Stock race winners and seven Mighty Mini victors. Last season, there were seven different race winners in each division. What does the number become in 2017? Recall I went for the high scale pre-season, predicting a total of 10 different winners – and let’s face it – we still have three and a half months to go. So let me introduce you to who should join those listed above.
Warren Paxton and Charlie Smith were feature winners for the Mini Stocks in 2016. Needless to say, both of those drivers should visit victory lane before the year is over. Paxton has ran three races with a top-seven finish in each of those, while Smith boasts the second highest average finish as previously mentioned. How has Smith done that? Four top-10 finishes so far his year, including four podiums.
Johnny Paradzinski and Daniel Montanari were feature winners for the Mighty Minis in 2016, and both have adapted well to combining the divisions together. Paradzinski has three top-10’s this year, while Montanari has five top-10’s. Some of those runs, by the way, have been top-fives for both drivers and Paradzinski has led feature laps, too.
Also, how could forget the Magnificent McGlashan? I won’t break down his statistics a second time, as I did that previously – but you can’t count him off this list, either.
4. Speedy Shaw
She started off the season with a 12th-place finish on her first night of competition, backing it up with a ninth two weeks later. She then hit her stride to kick off June, scoring a victory followed by a fifth-place finish this past Saturday night.
Now, with the new handicap format, the first two finishes of the year allowed her to start ahead of some of the top-five points contenders. So it’ll be interesting to see whether she can keep the momentum flowing as the starting grid shifts each week.
1 – The kid is very quick on his feet as when his car caught fire, he was outta there quickly and safely. That’s always what you want to see.
2 – His team had the car ready to go for competition just a week later, and he put together a solid night of competition.
Going from racing mighty mini to mini stock this year hasn’t been the easiest transition for him, but he is certainly showing signs of getting better with each passing week.