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 20 features in the books, the Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Late Models have put on a show so far for the fans, with great action across the board. As we head into a pair of off-weeks, here are your five thoughts to consider….
Back in June, I released the first edition of Five Thoughts to Ponder…. for the Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Late Models based on the first three nights of the season. So how much of that has remained true?
Gord Shepherd is still as consistent as ever, posting an average finish of 2.7 with 19 top-fives across the 20 features. However, he isn’t as sneaky about it as normal. He’s won more features than last year (five compared to two) and set the quickest time in qualifying four different times this season, highlighted by the quickest lap of the year at 14.962 seconds. As a result, he currently holds a decent advantage ahead of the field. Surprise? I told you to keep an eye on him after winning last year’s championship with just two finishes outside of the top-10.
Lane Zardo – as well as his brother Billy for that matter, are still searching for the rabbit’s foot. The pair have only posted 10 top-10’s between them, highlighted by a single top-five by Billy. The wrecks and mechanical problems continue to plague them each week, which sucks after both drivers ran strongly last season.
While we had five different winners in the first five races, only seven competitors can say they have won this year as of 20 events. You can thank the five wins for Shepherd and Rick Spencer-Walt, as well as Nick Goetz’s four victories for that. Recall prior to the season, there was mention that we should hit 10 different winners before year’s end, and that’s still possible. If you could consider Chris Morrow being up front weekly, combined with Danny Benedict getting his program in the right direction, that would give you nine. Then you just need to add one more name to the list, which you can all debate.
Speaking of Spencer-Walt, he hasn’t slowed down any since June as he has continued winning races and enters the break off of seven consecutive top-fours, for an average finish of 4.8 in the last 10 events. The only thing hindering this year? You can’t equal Shepherd’s consistency when you have four finishes outside of the top-10.
Remember Danny Benedict’s rough start to the year? Well, that’s been put in the rearview over the past few weeks as he seems to have figured out his Shaw Chassis. The sophomore has posted three straight top-fives, including a runner-up last Saturday night. Want to see a fresh face in victory lane? Hmmm……
Go Goetz Go
We have discussed the season’s so far for Shepherd and Spencer-Walt, but there’s also one driver who has a season average finish right up there with him. If you guessed Nick Goetz, give yourself a point as you’re right.
With 20 features in the books, Goetz has been solid on a weekly basis, posting a 5.05 average finish – and looked poised to give Shepherd a challenge for the championship. After all, he has posted 10 straight top-eight finishes including a night sweep of victories entering the second feature on Saturday night. However, a late-race spin resulted in a 15th-place finish, something that he didn’t need when trying to track down a guy like Shepherd.
Goetz has proven to have the fastest car on more than one occasion, becoming the top qualifier on four occasions. If he can get into a string of posting podium finishes with wins, and sees Shepherd slip up a touch, it could be the right opportunity for him to pounce and take advantage.
Strong Second Half?
If you look at May through July for Travis Hallyburton, you could say that things have been rocky to say the least. Four finishes outside of the top-10 saw him fall back in points, despite being able to run right there at the front with the top drivers of the division.
However, you could say that is in the rearview for him now. Over the past four features, he has posted three third-places and a fourth. With speed being found in his team’s program, could he be the driver to watch in the second half and close out strong? Keep an eye on him!
Often missed in the discussions this year by fans, Chris Morrow is a driver that you need to keep a better eye on. With five top-fives in the past eight races, he is quietly putting himself at the front of the field.
Morrow may not have led laps this season – except for one night, but don’t let that fool you. The veteran knows how to sneak in for a victory during the summer, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he won a feature before the year was over.
What happened to Holdaway?
Remember when Taylor Holdaway was in the discussion of top drivers? That wasn’t unwarranted, either, with 14 top-nine finishes including two victories to start off the season.
You could say that’s been totally forgotten the past six features, with four finishes outside of the top-10 and unable to really put himself in contention for the win.
His team has been working hard to try and figure out a way to turn around their program, and given their smarts, it wouldn’t surprise me if they found the secret during this time off.