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.
After a long grueling season full of twists, turns, and interesting technical discussions, the Signs of Innovation Mini Stocks are set for the final night of 2017 on Saturday, September 16. With just 26 markers separating the top-two, and one of Sunset Speedway’s own having a shot at winning the NASCAR Whelen All-American Division III title, here are your five thoughts to ponder.
1. Reflecting back to May…
So who recalls the first edition of FIVE THOUGHTS for the Mini Stocks in May? I do! Strangely, those thoughts mostly still apply as we close out the season.
It was mentioned that Eric Yorke was emerging as a title favourite. I mean, the reasons were obvious – past champion, solid last season, and best average finish through the first six features this year including three feature wins. Well, news flash – he’s currently leading both the Sunset Speedway standings (26 over Cameron McGlashan) and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Division III Standings (10 points ahead). So does that mean we get double points for correctness? Oh, and for the record, he enters Saturday night with momentum following seven straight top-four finishes, including a pair of wins.
Andy Kamrath has impressed, as we predicted he would, but only on a limited basis. The Instant Classic has only ran six features this season, with just one finish outside of the top-six. He’s also always quick when it comes to the Short Track Playoffs, which by the way begin officially next weekend with the Velocity 250. Needless to say, it’s time for him to start rising to the occasion.
Nic Montanari has been solid this year, and most certainly kept Eric Yorke honest at the top of the standings – as we believed he would. It’s unfortunate that the news came out this week following a surprising disqualification as it was shaping up to be an exciting battle between him and his brother Daniel for the championship.
Oh, and our Magnificent McGlashan – how can I forget the fact that we called him in the first two editions? Realistically, Cameron McGlashan is living up to the nickname, still. He sits second in the standings entering the final night with two wins and 14 top-10’s, despite having some of the worst luck throughout the summer, and to close out the campaign. I mean, he’s not even racing his own car right now due to a mechanical failure in his entry. Thankfully, Dave Middel allowed him to borrow the No. 25, which McGlashan piloted to a heat victory and 11th last weekend. He will once again be behind the wheel of that car on Saturday night, with hopes of being even faster.
And yes, Mike Robinson Jr.’s season is still reminding me of a yo-yo, unfortunately. He’s had some luck with three top-fives, but continues to fight bad luck each week, as well.
2. Reflecting Back to June….
So the second edition of FIVE THOUGHTS for the Mini Stocks was released in June, and strangely, there has been’t been one since. So let’s do some reflecting, shall we?
With six features in the books, there had been five different feature winners – Yorke, Nic Montanari, Kamrath, Doug Butler, and Samantha Shaw, which was on par with previous seasons. So I kept the original pre-season prediction that we would have 10 different winners in victory lane.
Now as we close into the last feature of 2017, I can confirm this – we have had nine different feature winners. Not too shabby if I do say myself. Joining those five drivers mentioned above was Warren Paxton, Cameron McGlashan, Daniel Montanari, and Johnny Paradzinski. By the way, I predicted those people would win too – not that I am looking for some extra praise.
So who are we missing? Charlie Smith was predicted as a winner as he had four podiums in those first six races. The problem is he encountered some issues mid-season, which saw everything fall off. Other than Smith, I didn’t add another name – but I got an idea for you now. Josh Bullen has been coming on strong to close out the year, leading laps at the front of the field and scored a fifth-place finish last Saturday. Is it time for him to break through? Cory Young began the year at Sunset, but strayed away. Since returning, he has been impressive with three top-six finishes in three starts, including a third last week. Lastly, Kyle Fetterly also has three straight top-six finishes, including his fourth last week.
Needless to say, I haven’t given up on that magic number quite yet.
3. Closing Out Strong
Throughout the middle portion of the season, Randi Seguin was finishing just outside of the top-10, including four 11th-place finishes. However, she’s one of those that has turned the wick up for the second half. She has put the car dubbed NASHCAR up front, scoring six top-10’s in the last seven weeks, including a fifth two weeks ago.
If you’re looking for an underdog to keep an eye on, she could be the person for you to cheer for.
4. Where’d he come from?
Ah, it’s the game that we always play each year. You count someone right out of the money, and boom – they surprise you like no tomorrow. This edition – Pat MacDonald.
MacDonald made his 2017 debut mid-summer, scoring a sub-par 18th-place finish. Nothing to write home about, really. However, since then, it has been a different story. The five races have resulted in three top-10’s, including a third two weeks ago. It proves that all it takes is finding that right bit you need and you can have success.
By the way, I am not totally surprised, though. The car he is driving was the same one piloted by Daniel Montanari to three Mighty Mini feature wins last season. So we know the car has a good history.
5. Clean and Green
This article wouldn’t be complete without this one mention – everybody in the division, please give yourself a big pat on the back.
Sure, there’s been some hectic moments this year. Sure, we’ve had some messy nights of racing – including the memorable caution after caution shortened frustrating feature. And sure, we’ve spun some cars. But one bad night in a sea of 17? That deserves a round of applause and cheers as that shows the caliber of drivers we have to put on a display every week going three-wide, sometimes even four-wide, and not crash everything. I mean, three features in a row this year went to green to checkered without a caution. Insane!
Now please, don’t make me regret saying this by having a disaster fest to close out the year.