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.
With the halfway point of the year approaching for tracks across Ontario, the championship battles appear closer than ever. Just take a glance at Peterborough Speedway’s standings, and you’ll see that all the divisions appear to be heading right down to the wire. Approaching this weekend, here are your five thoughts to consider…..
Late Models – One Bad Night Could Prove Costly
The last edition of the five thoughts cited the fact that with three features in the books, the championship battle appeared to be heading in the direction of Tyler Betts vs Dan McHattie. Welp, we spoke too soon as McHattie missed the fourth event of 2017, taking him out of contention as with the talent here, you cannot miss a night and win.
Now that doesn’t mean you should start locking in Betts as the champion just yet, though as a new driver has emerged on the radar for the conversation. Say hello to Bryan Mercer.
With four features in the books, Mercer has the best average finish of drivers to race each weekend at 2.75, with no finishes outside of the top-four, and highlighted by a victory on July 8. In comparison, Betts average is at four, following a 10th-place finish on the second night of competition to go along with his pair of wins.
By the way, if you’re looking for an underdog, say hello to James Horner. He also has an average finish of four in the four events, with no finishes outside of the top-five.
Late Models – More Winners?
Welp, there was one prediction that was correct – the fact there will be more than two different winners this season, as the aforementioned Mercer joined Betts and McHattie to give us three. If you want to expand upon that, Rick Spencer-Walt was the Chase for the Colours winner, giving us unofficially four.
Now, I am not backing away from the original claim that the number will grow, and I am leaving the previous two mentioned drivers on the list. Chris Mitchell’s pair of runner-up finishes make him a good candidate for when he gets a break in the APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Tour schedule, and Amanda Balson placing third on July 8 to go along with a previous fifth keeps her name in the conversation.
Additionally, Ryan Kimball is someone you can never count out when it comes to Peterborough Speedway. The past track champion finished second at the Chase for the Colours, and runner-up to Mercer on July 8.
So now that’s five winners (six unofficially). Am I on to something? Hmm…..
Thunder Car – DiBello and Archibald Are Running Away, still
The more things change, the more they stay the same……or so they say. I guess that theory is playing true as Dan Archibald and Anthony DiBello are still leading the way in the thunder car division, as they did throughout the first stretch of the season. In the five features to date, DeBello has won three with Archibald picking up the other two.
Currently, DiBello leads Archibald by 18 points heading into July 15, and the gap has further extended back to third. Going into June 17, they were only 28 markers ahead of James Townsend. Now, DiBello currently sits 34 points ahead of Townsend, with Rob Rickards now up to fourth, 48 points back.
The success for DiBello is no surprise, as we know he won the 2015 Peterborough Speedway Championship prior to racing at Sunset Speedway last year. And as noted, Archibald has always ran up front at the Autumn Colours Classic, having finished runner-up in the Chase for the Colours on a couple different occasions.
By the way, I don’t think we need to rehash this but the statistics are still as beautiful as they were last month for the pair. DiBello has the highest average finish at 1.25, compared to Archibald’s 2.125. James Townsend gets the nod in third with an average of 3.25.
It’s a long season so other drivers could definitely join the fray. If you want to place a bet, go with Townsend as he should win a feature before we’re done this year with two fourths, two runner-ups, and a sixth in the five events to date.
Mini Stock – Let It Snow, Let It Snow…..(Winter, please do not listen even if I sing this, again)
Snow is normally cold, but Noel Snow is bringing some heat to the words with his stellar campaign thus far, with a 33-point lead over Bulldog Racing teammate Kris Khan and an average feature finish of 2.83.
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. The consistency is key here, given that the rest of his competitors have found at least one bad night to date. Just ask Kevin Strutt, who’s second-highest 5.83 comes following a 19th-place finish on opening night.
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 Different Winners
Khan. Snow. Neil Hannah. Ryan Oosterholt. Four nights of competition, four different feature winners. Can we make it five in a row? Yeah, I was wishful hoping there, but repeats from Snow and Oosterholt ended that dream quickly.
With that said, there is still a chance that we can increase the winners to five, six, possibly seven before the checkered flag flies on the season.
We mentioned Donovan Price on the list of possibilities last time around, but a bad wreck last weekend has put his season in jeopardy with questions surrounding repairs and whether he can make it out for the next event. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
We also mentioned Strutt, and I am not going to remove his name from the list yet. Since scoring a 19th-place finish on opening night, he has been solid ever since with no finishes outside of the top-five in the five events to follow. This has allowed him to climb up into the top-five in points, currently fourth, 31 markers behind Snow.
Need an underdog? Keep an eye on Gil Brooks. He currently has the third highest average at 6.25 with no finishes outside of the top-seven in four starts. However, it will take some work on his part as he has yet to score a podium. Erin Kearns comes up next on the average chart at 6.67 following a fourth and a pair of eighths in three features – same scenario as Brooks.
Article Photos Courtesy of “Trackside Photos by Debbie Spence” – https://www.facebook.com/Trackside-Photos-By-Debbie-Spence-648202065280551/?ref=br_rs.