In what has become the tightest points race in the history of Columbus Motor Speedway, Saturdays season championship finds Donnie Hill (1,474), Kyle Purvis (1,468) and Chad Pendleton (1,460) locked in a epic battle for O’Reilly Auto Parts late model history while. Hill’s six point margin over closest pursuer Purvis is closer than the 2005 battle when Tim Ice led Hill by eleven markers going into the final event. In that season finale Ice suffered engine failure while leading, just eight laps of the checkered flag and requisite championship honors. This season there are three drivers locked in to the a chance at the title.
Hill has led most of the 2014 campaign through, that is, early August when Pendleton took control thanks to a string of five top two finishes and five weeks ending last Saturday when he brought his Shamrock Towing entry home sixth. Having erased a 66-point lead by Hill, Pendleton’s stumble in the Labor Day Championship along with Hill’s win dropped him to third in the chase. Purvis has lurked second or third in the standings throughout and parlayed a runner-up result in last Saturday’s event into a serious shot at the title; just six points out.
Hill’s seven feature wins are one better than Pendleton’s six victories while Purvis has accumulated just two but one of them the inaugural Jim Nuckles Memorial was “the greatest win ever for he and the car owner Steve Scott.” Saturday’s 50-lap season championship feature event and the preceding qualification will award drivers double points. With 100 points to win the feature and 50 for fast qualifying effort, a slip by any three of the drivers will end their hope at the crown. Hill is the most recent feature winner coming back from a late season slump when the Architect Glass crew struggled but that all ended when he powered to victory in the Labor Day championship. Pendleton battled back after a tough early season and caught stride in the dog days of August claiming three victories in the previous five events. Leading going into last Saturday’s Labor Day championship event, however, Pendleton slipped to third in the standings by virtue of a sixth place feature run. Hill’s win propelled him into the late lead while Purvis’ runner-up finish moved him to second in the standings.
All three drivers will have their “A-Game” on this Saturday with Pendleton looking 3-pete and secure his third track championship in a row. Hill is looking to regain his form after a long hiatus from like model action which ended in 2013. The second-generation driver scored five consecutive track championships from 2005 through 2009. For Purvis it would be a first ever championship in his first full season of late-model action.
Gates swing open at 5 PM Saturday, qualifications at six and racing set for 7 PM.
-Columbus Motor Speedway Press Release