October 13th, St. Augustine, FL - Stock car drivers from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida are gearing down and hitting the road this weekend in hopes of nabbing the inaugural American Racing Association Weekly Racing Series National...
October 13th, St. Augustine, FL - Stock car drivers from the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida are gearing down and hitting the road this weekend in hopes of nabbing the inaugural American Racing Association Weekly Racing Series National Championship, with final events at Florida Speed Park in St. Augustine and Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, Georgia wrapping up the season.
FSP's Robert Deal, Brad Pilinko and Chris Manucy are all entering into Saturday night's races positioned in the top 10 national standings, with legitimate chances to overtake current national points leader Shane Canipe, a Mini Stock driver at Hickory Motor Speedway. Not to be outdone, Canipe is taking his team on the road three hours south to Peach State Speedway in hopes of picking up a few extra points in the battle. Wild Bill Ihrie and Kevin Eby, second and third in points, are following suit, taking their Super Sports to Peach State to compete in the speedway's Sportsman division.
"It's incredible to see this kind of competitiveness exist at season's end," says ARA chief John Huffman. "These men have raced their hearts out all season, and they're battling each other right down to the wire."
The ARA Weekly Racing Series includes drivers competing in all local divisions at ARA-sanctioned speedways. The top 20 will lay claim to the series inaugural $50,000 points fund, and currently represent drivers of almost every local racing division including Mini Stocks, Super Sports, Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Late Models and Trucks. The points system awards points for wins, top 5 and top 10 finishes, plus qualifying points and the coveted "Charger" points, awarded for passing cars during the feature. Race night scores are weighted according to the number of cars in competition for that night versus the average number of cars normally competing in that division.
"It has been a complicated scoring system to say the least," says Louis Smith, head of ARA Public Relations. "But ultimately it's been a great method of determining who the best all-out race car drivers are. These points leaders, and those challenging to get on top, are the best you're going to find anywhere in the country."
Throwing a twist on Saturday night's finale in St. Augustine is a triple points night in all divisions. Rains had cancelled six out of the last eight scheduled races, devastating the second half of the season, and putting local drivers' chances at the ARA title in jeopardy. ARA officials agreed to triple points nights in order to allow for enough races for the St. Augustine drivers to effectively compete. The triple points format has also had a significant impact on FSP's local division races.
Jay Farris, Troy Kruse and Mickey Leth are all in the hunt for the Tattoo Dee's Old Rooster Mini Stock title. Farris, who has led from the first race of the season, will have to put together a strong effort Saturday night to keep his position.
Chris Manucy has slowly bridged the gap on Brad Pilinko in the Alpha Communications Hobby Stock throughout the season and stands within easy striking distance on the triple points night, trailing by a mere 7 points.
Ron Thomas is taking a 12 point lead over Les Burl into the triple points Thunder Trucks finale, a lead that could be easily lost on a crash or mechanical mishap.
Perhaps the most exciting climax is taking shape in the Late Model division, where Larry Osteen will attempt to repeat as division champion. Osteen must outperform current points leader Donnie Oden, who holds a tenuous 4.5 point lead entering the evening's competition.
Qualifying and heat races begin at 6:45 pm, with features rolling off at 8:00 pm. Saturday night will be the final local racing event of the season. Weather forecasters, fortunately, are calling for clear skies and cool temperatures. The only storms forecasted are those on the speedway.