It’s the night of the season that fans love and hate at the same time. It marks the end of the season (sad face), but the crowning of three new champions (happy face). Also, once the night is in the books, the next week starts off Ontario Playoff Short Track season. September 13th marks Sunset Speedway’s final points night of the year as three champions looked to be crowned. With two of the three divisions having a tight point standings, the racing promises to be hot on the track.
Graham Landscape Mini Stocks
As long as Brandon McFerran starts the feature, the young teenager will have his first career Mini Stock Championship in hand. The driver of the No. 64 Mustang has been on a terror this season, winning eight features over the course of the season to hold a 77-point lead over Samantha Shaw. Look for the young stud to try and cap off the year in victory lane.
Even with the championship sealed up, the night promises to produce a lot of action. The field of over 30 cars brings forth drama in seeing who makes the field and who is sent home early, and a dramatic slew of three, sometimes four-wide racing in the 35-lap feature. Beyond that, the points is close in certain spots for other positions so expect drivers to be trying to their hardest to finish with the best finish possible to end off their year on the best note.
There’s also the simple back for the checkered flag. Samantha Shaw, rookie Jordan Howse and Ben Melenhorst have each shown speed this year, but have yet to reach victory lane. Could one of them end their season off on the best note possible? For Shaw, it’d mark her second career feature win and her first since 2012. For Howse, it’d mark his first career feature victory. For Melenhorst, it’d mark his first feature win since mid-season last year. Or will someone else step up to the plate, like Warren Paxton or Andy Kamrath?
The Super Stock division currently holds the award for the closest points battle across the three divisions as Cayden Lapcevich enters this weekend leading Randy Rusnell by a single point. Rusnell is looking for his third straight championship in a row at Sunset Speedway after dominating last year. The veteran has always been up front challenging for championships and most times, comes out on top. Meanwhile, for Lapcevich, he is looking to become the track’s youngest Super Stock division champion with his first championship at the age of 14. In his third year of competition, Lapcevich has figured out just what he needs to go fast on the 3/8 mile oval, reaching victory lane on four different occasions. Could the kid dethrone the champ?
There’s also another possibility – if both Lapcevich and Rusnell post poor finishes, another driver is within reach to capitalize. Suffering from poor finishes due to cut tires and mechanical issues throughout the year, Lane Zardo has got himself in mathematical position to capitalize, only 24 points behind Lapcevich. Zardo knows what it takes as he won the series championship in 2011. He also has been on a roll recently with a couple wins over the past month so expect Zardo to be strong on Saturday night.
Like the Mini Stock division, there are plenty of other drivers looking to close their years on good notes. Both Johnny Morrison and Paul Geniole Jr. have impressed the crowd recently in running inside the top three, contending for the victory. Could either of them snatch up the flag for their first victory of the year? Either would mark a strong Cinderella story as both young drivers are well-loved by fans and their fellow competitors.
Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Late Models
The Late Models are entering the night with a long feature to cap off the year – a 100 lapper instead of the normal 50 laps. With that said, they may not have the closest points battle, but there’s a lot of math and drama that could happen throughout the evening.
Dwayne Baker comes into the night leading Jason Witty by five points. Baker is known as one of the strongest drivers in long distance features, having won the Pro Late Model special earlier this year, the Autumn Colors Classic twice and other prominent events. The key with the veteran is he knows how to save his tires for the second half of the feature, rather than use his equipment up near the first half. If Baker can claim the title, he’ll become one of the few in the province who have won titles at both Barrie Speedway and Sunset Speedway, following his 2012 crown at Barrie.
On the flip side, Jason is one of the younger drivers of the division and is looking to win his first championship. The strength for Witty is he has shown the most pure speed this year en route to victory lane on a couple different occasions. Now, Saturday night, it’ll be about balancing that pure speed and maintaining the equipment for the long haul. He has proven that he can do it, having won a couple of Sunset Speedway’s 75 lap invitational features.
On the outside shot that either Baker or Witty find themselves finishing mid-pack, Chris Morrow and Taylor Holdaway both have a shot at the title. Morrow and Holdaway enter the final night of racing, sitting 21 and 22 points behind Baker, respectively. Morrow is a seven-time Late Model Champion and has experience on his side heading into this situation. He also won the 100 lap feature to start off the season back in May. Could Mr. Excitement bookend the season with wins? Meanwhile, Holdaway doesn’t have as much experience, but has been pure solid the last couple of weeks. While he hasn’t reached victory lane this year, he has been posting podiums and top-fives on a weekly basis to keep himself within striking distance. If Holdaway could end the season with a win, it’d be a great way to enter the Playoff season.
Beyond these four, everybody will have their eyes on Mike Bentley to see if he can bounce back from his recent struggles, Tom Walters as he has yet to win a feature this year despite being the 2012 track champion and Sean Cronan to see how he does following his dominating performance in the last feature event at Sunset. With over 20 of the most talented Late Model drivers in Ontario all set to hit the track together, it promises to be an exciting show from top to bottom with action on every lap.
The weather forecast doesn’t look too promising but mind you, the weather man has been wrong before. There have been nights that it has said it’d rain and the races have ran without a problem. Beyond that, it shows the racing stopping mid-afternoon and if that’s the case, the track officials can get the track dry and having racing on track as scheduled. Racing is scheduled to start at 4:30 pm EST with an on-track autograph session at 4pm. Full details can be found at http://www.sunsetspeedway.ca.