Final preparations are underway for the 2018 short track racing season. The green flag will soon wave on another season, but before it does we wanted to give you a few numbers to watch during the new racing season.
3: The most wins a single driver has recorded during a PASS North season since 2012. This goes to show that parity is the name of the game for the ultra-competitive Super Late Model Series. Johnny Clark's seven-win season in 2011 was the last truly dominant season for a PASS North driver. Since then, Cassius Clark (2012), DJ Shaw (2013 & 2014), Mike Rowe (2015) and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (2016) have recorded three-win seasons.
5: The Southern Super Series enters its sixth season without a repeat champion. Daniel Hemric, Bubba Pollard, Casey Smith, Donnie Wilson and Stephen Nasse have all won championships, but none of those drivers have been able to do it more than once. Another interesting stat nugget is that all five winners have come from different home states (North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma and Florida).
5: The number of times that Scott Payea visited American-Canadian Tour victory lane in 2017. His five wins last season tied the single-season record set previously held by Brian Hoar and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. Payea and the RPM Racing team are back together for another run. It will be interesting to see if they can better their season from one year ago.
12: The number of Super DIRTcar Series victories that Matt Sheppard has earned the last two seasons. Despite missing two races while serving a suspension in 2017, Sheppard matched his mark from the 2016 season. If he can get off to a better start in 2018, he could very well break his own record next season.
16: At the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, the Super Late Model championship has been awarded to 16 different drivers in the last 16 years. Champions have hailed from Maine, California and Wisconsin to name a few. Will this year be the year for a repeat champion?
18: The total keeps rising as Burt Myers and Tim Brown enter another season at Bowman Gray Stadium with 18 total championships between the two of them. Since 1996, only four times the title did not go to one of these drivers.
19: Late Model Stock drivers will have their sights set on Langley Speedway for the return of the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on April 19.
32: Derek Thorn has 32 career SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour wins. How many more will he tack on this year? The four-time series champion has won the most or tied for the most wins in each of the last seven seasons.
37: At the age of 37, Doug Coby is in the prime of his career. The now five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion seeks a fifth-straight crown as he continues to put his name in the record books. Mike Stefanik won seven tour championships and Richie Evans won nine total. Stefanik and Evans both won titles into their 40s, so we will have to wait and see where Coby’s numbers end up.
57: The Tony Bettenhausen Classic for the ARCA Midwest Tour will reach its 57th year at Grundy County Speedway.
68: The Race of Champions 250 for the RoC Asphalt Modified Series will reach its 68th year. That makes it one of the longest running races; not only in short track racing but in all forms of motorsports.
300: A new event on the schedule is the Southern Super Series 300-lap event at Mobile to end the season in October. By our records, Mobile has not hosted a 200-lap Late Model race since the 2002 World Classic. As far as 300 laps, it was 1983 when the All-Pro Series came to town.
$10,000: More and more short track races seem to be offering $10,000-plus to win. That's a great thing for short track racing. Recently, the Southern Super Series, Pro All Stars Series (PASS), CARS Tour and CRA all announced additional races that will pay $10,000 or more during the 2018 season. On the Modified side, the addition of a 250-lap race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will offer big money to those teams. Of course, there are many other previously established $10,000-to-win races that will be returning once again in 2018. Look for a future story on Speed51.com detailing the number of big-money races in 2018.
-Text by Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Editor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com