With five races to go before the line-up is set for the Cup playoffs, will Watkins Glen see a new winner for 2014? In six races at The Glen, Ambrose has two wins and his lowest finish was third before a wreck last year relegated him to 31st. With 11 winners, there are only five spots open for guys to sneak in by points.
If the playoffs started today, the 16 in would be Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch, all with wins.
And in this, the year where it’s all about wins and not points, the five in by points would be Matt Kenseth (668), Ryan Newman (642), Clint Bowyer (617), Kyle Larson (595) and Greg Biffle with 590 points. Kasey Kahne is a single point behind Biffle and only a single point ahead of Austin Dillon. Ambrose is 21 points behind Dillon.
Therrien sent out an e-mail earlier this week saying, “I am no longer employed by Oxford Plains Speedway. I want to thank you very much for your support.”
I chatted with Dick, who for the past 11 months has worked for track owner Tom Mayberry. His job included getting sponsors for the speedway and on race dates he was on the microphone as well as traveling with the Pro All Star Series Tour.
Dick and I are childhood friends, but he refused to go into a lot of details “on the record” which I respect.
He told me Mayberry and he had a different philosophy on how things should be handled. He also said, “It started with a handshake and it ended with a handshake.”
He has a few “irons in the fire” but it’s too early to tell what he’ll do from here.
Glenn Andrews, the 1960 Northeastern Speedway Champion, died on August 6. More about Glen next week.
Things That Drive Me Nuts
I’ll never understand why short-track race directors feel the need to draw for starting positions for any point-counting weekly shows where they have a handicap system already in place. White Mountain has done it before and they did it again last Saturday night for their Strictly Minis.
The plan was to run a three-segment race. Silly me figured the first segment would be lined up by handicap and then they’d invert the field after segments one and two. Great I thought, we’re going to watch the top dogs race through the field three times. But no – they drew for the first segment and wouldn’t you know it the point leader started on the outside pole and went on to lead EVERY lap.
Short tracks are hurting for fans and no one I talk to buys a ticket to watch a race with very little passing. Starting faster cars in front of slower cars just doesn’t make any sense to me.
Of course if the guy leading all the laps is your guy, you like it, I guess.
I realize when I go to the track I’m not “emotionally invested” so my race is never ruined because one of my favorites finished fifth and didn’t win.
Some will say, “So Big, you’re a big Thunder Road lover and the first segment of the Milk Bowl is lined up by time trials which put all the fast cars up front. What’s the difference?”
The Milk Bowl is all about tradition and they started doing that back in 1962. Plus, by running time trials and not just using the luck of a draw, most of the fast cars start up front so you can still have some decent racing and a bad draw does not have your point leader starting on the pole and the guy second in points starting 23rd.
Others will say these “special” events bring some outside cars in who are not regulars and they’d be forced to start in the rear. To that I say the regulars dedicate their summers to your track, they should get special treatment. They’re the teams who spent the cash to go to your track on those nights with a bad weather forecast while those non-regulars stayed home.
Thunder Road does the same thing a few times a year. They do it for the Late Models Governors Cup, which does bring in a few non-regulars, but it’s a point race for the regulars.
I’m guessing the plus/minus will be used for the Labor Day Classic at The Road because we may very well see a couple of dozen or so outsiders showing up. It’s not an ACT Late Model Tour race as it has been in the past, but it is the last point race for the Thunder Road Late Models. If I had a vote, I’d vote no points for Thunder Road either and just make it an open type event. It’ll be too bad to have the 2014 King of the Road decided by the luck of the draw in a race that may see 40 cars attempting to qualify.
• I forgot to add double points to my list of rants two weeks ago. In my opinion, this was the dumbest idea in all of motorsports until Brian France bumped his head and came up with his daffy idea of playoffs.
Every time you run double points, a few guys who have a bad night get double whammied because that was the night someone randomly chose to be double points. Had it been the week before or the next week, driver X may have won the championship – but he didn’t because his one and only really bad race came on double point night.
I still chuckle when I think of years ago when the late Bobby Shores, Tom Curley and I were talking about double points. After quite a discussion, Bobby said, “So tell me, Tom, what’s the best reason to run double points?” Tom replied, “It’s exciting.” Bobby, without a hint of hesitation, said, “Then why not make them all double points?” Tom half smiled, turned and walked away without saying a word.
• At most short tracks, the guy on the inside has a major advantage at the drop of the green. So why is it 75 percent of the time the pole sitter gets away with jumping the green? I’m talking on average a car length to a car length and a half jump? Seldom does the flagman throw the yellow and most of the time when he does the next time is worse than the first try.
I understand the leader sets the pace but he shouldn’t get away with mashing the gas before the green flag is displayed.
• If I’m “protecting” the bottom groove, you have no right to be banging into me trying to knock me up the track so you can drive under me. If you’re faster, drive around me.
• OK race directors, it’s August and we’ve run somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 race meets. You’ve pointed black flags and waved piggy flags (ACT uses a pink piggy flag) at the same guys more than enough. It’s time to simply throw the black flag at them and send them to the pits. Like that brat kid we all seem to get stuck beside in the restaurant with the mother saying 74 times, “I’m going to count to three and if you don’t straighten out you won’t be going to the water park later.”
When, in fact, Mom has counted to two 73 times and the brat has stopped listening long ago and everyone knows he will be going to the water park.
Nick Sweet picked up his 13th career Thunder Road Late Model feature win July 31. He drove through the field from his 12th starting position and moved around Shawn Fleury with just under 10 laps to go en route to his second win of the 2014 season.
Rookie Caleb Nelson claimed his first career Tiger Sportsmen feature win and Kevin Dodge won the Street Stock main event.
LATE MODEL POINTS going into August 7 – 1. Nick Sweet 718, 2. Derrick O’Donnell 699, 3. Trampas Demers 691, 4. Dave Pembroke 673, 5. #Eric Badore 651, 6. Cody Blake 640, 7. Scott Dragon and Phil Scott 633, 9. Shawn Fleury 627, 10. Jason Corliss 624.
• The Road races every Thursday night right through August, with a post time of 6:30 p.m.
LATE MODEL RESULTS, August 2 – 1. Ryan Olsen, 2. Brandon Allbee, 3. Stacy Cahoon, 4. Michael Jurkowski, 5. Glenn Martel, 6. Russell Clark, 7. Oren Remick, 8. Jerry Lesage, 9. Jeremy Harclerode, 10. Norm Andrews, 11. Bernard Lantagne, 12. David LaBrecque.
POINTS after August 2 – 1. Jurkowski 605, 2. Cahoon 602, 3. Remick 591, 4. Martel 590, 5. Harclerode 568, 6. Olsen 562, 7. Allbee 561, 8. Lantagne 543, 9. Clark 491, 10. LaBrecque 332.
August 9, it’s a Regular Event for all six divisions, Late Models, Tigers, Strictly Stocks, Strictly Stock Minis, Dwarf Cars and Kids Trucks. Post time is 6 p.m.
The Tour had last weekend off.
August 9 they head to the Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, ME. Pits open at 2 p.m., practice starts at 3 p.m. and post time is 7 p.m.
•POINTS – 1. Joey Polewarczyk Jr. 548, 2. Jimmy Hebert and Emily Packard 492, 4. Ray Parent 481, 5. Wayne Helliwell Jr. 474, 6. Stephane Descoste 445, 7. Bobby Therrien 430, 8. Kyle Welch 421, 9. Ben Ashline 397, 10. Rowland Robinson Jr. 392.
RESULTS from Autodrome Chaudiere, August 5 – 1. Kyle Busch, 2. Alex Labbe, 3. Joey Doiron, 4. DJ Shaw, 5. Mike Rowe, 6. Glen Luce, 7. Ben Rowe, 8. Cassius Clark, 9. Martin Latulippe, 10. Johnny Clark, 11. Donald Theetge, 12. Dany Poulin, 13. Etienne Cliché, 14. Michael Lavoie, 15. Karl Allard, 16. Eric St. Gelais, 17. Jean Duchesneau, 18. Jacques Poulin, 19. Kevin Roberge, 20. Alex Guenette, 21. Curtis Geary, 22. Patrick Laperle, DNS Martin Goulet Jr.
• Make a note the race at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, NH scheduled for August 9 was canceled.
The PASS guys take a few weeks off before heading to Speedway 95, August 24.
LATE MODEL RESULTS: August 2 – 1. Luke Shannon, 2. Bryan Mason, 3. Mike Bailey, 4. Aaron Smith, 5. Doug Laleme.
August 9 – The front gate admission will be just $5 per person. The front gate opens at 4 p.m. and the racing begins at 6 p.m.
In the Sportsman Modifieds, August 2, Kevin Chaffee started 17th and took the lead away from DJ Robinson with two to go and held him off for the win. It was his third win of the season.
RESULTS: August 2, Sportsman Modifieds – 1. Kevin Chaffee, 2. DJ Robinson, 3. Ed Patterson, 4. Jason Gray, 5. Gary Siemons, 6. Chris Donnelly, 7. Richie Simmons, 8. TC Forward, 9. Bob Shepard, 10. Mike Gendron, 11. Josh Currier, 12. Derek Graham, 13. Ryan Christian, 14. Jordan Fornwalt, 15. Travis Shinn, 16. Tim Tucker, 17. Gene Pierson, 18. Allan Hammond, 19. Mike Dunn, 20. Bryan King, 21. Robert Tucker, 22. Travis Barker.
August 9, the card will include the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified, DIRTcar Pro Stock Sportsman Coupe, USAC DMA Midgets, Limited Late Model, Fast Four, and the Hornets.
The Sportsman Coupes will be doing battle for over $8,000 on their madness night. Post time 6 p.m.