Titles won on the dirt tracks

There were several points titles settled in the two major dirt late model series.

The Lucas Oil SLM series crowned Shinston’s Josh Richards Champion after his win in the Dirt Track World Championship race two weeks ago in Portsmouth, Ohio. This past weekend all eyes were focused on the dirt track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the World of Outlaws World Finals.

A total of 76 of the very best SLM race teams were on hand and the crowd saw great racing both Friday and Saturday nights. Brandon Sheppard won Friday night’s feature and also took the Points Championship in the Rocket Racecar’s house car for 2017. He was followed across the line by Dennis Erb Jr. Mike Marlar finished third. Jimmy Owens and Dale McDowell rounded out the top five. Josh Richards finished eighth and Scott Bloomquist could only manage a 13th place finish.

Three last chance races were run and several local drivers saw their evening end early. Race one saw Mason Ziegler, Freddie Carpenter and Tyler Carpenter eliminated. Jared Hawkins finished fourth in the second race but only two cars transferred. Bob Gordon finished 11th in the third last chance race. These races were filled with the best of the best and only two cars would race their way into the feature event.

Saturday night, the same drivers had to fight their way into the final WoOSLM feature of the year. Dennis Erb Jr. grabbed that final victory of 2017 over Mike Marlar. Jimmy Owens finished third and Brandon Sheppard finished fourth. Tim McCreadie finished fifth.

Other notable finishers were Josh Richards at eighth, Scott Bloomquist in eleventh and Jared Hawkins in 25th. Bob Gordon, Corey Conley and Tyler Carpenter saw their nights end in Last Chance races once again.

The WoO Winged Sprint cars and the open wheeled Big Block Northern Modifieds also finished out their championships and seasons at Charlotte but there is very little interest in these cars here in our area so I will use the remaining space for NASCAR news from Texas.

All three traveling NASCAR divisions are winding down their Playoffs and were in action at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend.

First up, the Camping World Truck series ran a 200-mile event on Friday night. Christopher Bell and Rookie Noah Gragson took the first two stage victories. When the checkered flag fell it was the veteran Johnny Sauter grabbing the victory and a guaranteed spot in the final race for the championship. Austin Cindric finished second with Christopher Bell third. Chase Briscoe and Justin Haley rounded out the top five.

There are now only three spots open at Homestead and a win could shake up the points race this week at Phoenix. Matt Crafton and Austin Cindric are in the top four in points. Ben Rhodes and John Hunter Nemecheck find themselves outside looking for a win or at least a great points day to keep their hopes alive. This should make for an exciting race Friday in Phoenix.

The Xfinity series had their turn for a 300-mile event on Saturday evening.

Cup star Eric Jones dominated the event in his JGR Toyota wining both stages and the race. Cup stars Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson were second and third. Elliott Sadler recaptured the point’s lead, finishing fourth. Cole Custer finished fifth.

No one has locked into the final Playoff race at Homestead. Eight drivers are challenging for four spots in that Playoff race for the Championship. A win at Phoenix would lock an eligible driver into the race.

The drivers that are fighting for that shot at the Championship are Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Brennan Poole, Matt Tifft, Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric and Ryan Reed. Literally any of these drivers could be looking at a NASCAR Championship trophy in victory lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. Only a great run or win at Phoenix will decide the final four. Every point will be ultra-important Saturday night at Phoenix Raceway.

Last Sunday the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series did battle at Texas for 500 fast miles. Kurt Busch captured the pole position with a speed of almost 201 MPH! That is flying for a mile-and-a-half track!

Kevin Harvick showed he had a strong Ford and took the first stage win. Kyle Larson took the second stage win but once again fell out of the event early. Martin Truex Jr. took the lead late and it appeared ‘Mr. Mile and a Half’ was headed for another win.

Harvick was on the move and during the last 25 laps he ran down Truex and passed him for the win, showing he will be a challenger for the Championship once again. Truex held on to finish second and locked himself into the Playoffs based on points.

Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five at Texas. There will be only one Playoff spot open at Phoenix and a win is the only real way to lock in.

Martin Truex, Kyle Busch and Harvick are locked in. Brad Keselowski stands fourth in the point’s battle.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson find themselves outside looking in and truly in need of a win at Phoenix to stay alive for the Championship.

Like it or not the Playoff battle is proving to be exciting as the year is winding down. You don’t want to miss a lap to see how each of these titles plays out.

Locally the 2017 Elkins Raceway Awards Banquet is set for Saturday night at the Beverly Fire Hall and should be a fun time for everyone. No tickets will be sold at the door so I hope you have yours and I’ll see you there as the trophies are handed out. Remember, at the end of the straightaway there’s Another Left Turn and Championships are on the line.


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