Sunday, July 24th, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - 19 Points. In three divisions, that number separates would be champions from their rivals. As the season heads into the final month one can begin to look at the title chases and determine the contenders.
So just who is looking solid and which divisions have the closest title chases?
First, let's look at the point system.
Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway awards 40 points to the winner of a feature race. For every position behind the winner the points drop by one. As a result second place scores 39 points, third scores 38 and so forth. The 20th position in a feature scores 21 points.
Therefore there is a 19 point difference between first and 20th. What this simply means, is one of the keys in the title stretch is to avoid dropping from a contest early in an event due to an accident or mechanical problem. The largest point swings usually occur when one driver has a top five finish, while another has an early DNF.
Jeff Jungwirth has proven consistency is the key to holding the point lead in the Total Power Sales Street Stock division.An even bigger point tradeoff can happen if one driver wins a feature event and the other fails to make the main event as even the last place starting position in the feature, pays more points than the first car not transferring from the consolation race. Transferring into the big show each night is key to the title effort.
The final piece of the puzzle are the heat races. While a good heat race performance is essential to make the main event the heat races themselves award points.
Three points are given for winning a heat, two points are awarded for second and a single point is given for third. The balance of the field does not score points. Given that most divisions have five race nights yet this year, a total of 15 points are available in just heat races.
This all goes to show while a 19 point lead is nice to have in the closing weeks, it's not nearly enough to allow one much comfort in the title chases.
Now looking at the divisions, Brian Drexler sits atop the standings in the Modifieds by 19 markers over Eddie Muenster. The Automotive Supply Company Modifieds have four point races left this season as they are off during the IRA Sprint special. Assuming both drivers qualify for every feature.
Muenster would have to beat Drexler by five positions in every feature race to overtake him for the title.
Consider now the heat races, with 12 points up for grabs in the heats, if Muenster were to score the maximum points and Drexler would fail to score any it would create a situation where Muenster would only have to finish two spots ahead of Drexler in each feature to win the championship. That is a very narrow margin.
While Drexler and Muenster sits atop the standings it's also worth noting that Mike Klenz, Tim Lemirande and Travis Spaulding are all within 25 points of the top spot easily within striking distance of the title in the closing weeks.
19 points is also the gap in both the Total Power Sales Street Stocks and Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils. These divisions have five nights of point racing left on the 2011 season schedule. This gives even greater opportunity to score points making 200 points as a maximum available in all the remaining feature races.
In the Street Stocks Jeff Jungwirth's 19 point lead is over Jerry Winkler with Jon Schultz just three additional markers back, a total of 22 points from the lead. For Jungwirth the difference has been consistency. While Jungwirth has completed the vast majority of the main events, both Winkler and Schultz have encountered DNF's. The division is a prime example of the need to finish each feature race and it is likely that which will determine which of the three drivers is crowned the 2011 Total Power Sales Street Stock champion.
The Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil division shows Jason Fairbank ahead by 19 points over Dan Juszczyk. Again the difference? Avoiding DNF's. Juszczyk, though he has more wins on the season, has had more DNF's, and the result is Fairbank holding the point lead with five point nights left. Erik Kollmann has also quietly worked his way into contention in the closing weeks having continued to finish races week after week and he sits 28 points back from Fairbank.
The closest title chase is in the Miller Lite Grand National division. In fact, six drivers are within 17 points of the lead, currently held by T.J. Smith. Terry Van Roy, by virtue of a victory this past week has closed to within 6 points of the top spot. Former point leader Tim Warner sits in third, just 7 markers from the top of the standings. Jim Rhode, defending champion Larry Richards, and Brian Henry are all within 17 points of the top spot.
In this class, to win the championship, the key will be finishing every race and finding a way to victory lane in heats and feature events. It's simply too close to call with five point nights left.
So who has the most secure shot at a title this year?
Well, while it's not secure but, Zeke Bishofberger, with a 28 point gap on Kevin Bethke appears to have the most comfortable lead as he heads up the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified division. The Sport Modifieds have four point nights left as they are also off during the IRA Sprint Special. Bethke would have to finish an average of seven positions ahead of Bishofberger in each feature event and then score more points in the heat races to secure the title.
The key for Bishofberger is to finish each and every race and avoid dropping from any contest early in the event. For Bethke, he will need to make sure he finds a way to victory lane more often than Bishofberger in the final races of the season.
The point battle continues with our next event on Friday Night July 29th!
This article was posted to the website on July 24th, 2011