As short track racing enters the championship phase of the 2017 season, the ARCA/CRA Super Series is getting ready with a new approach to crowning their next champion. The first ever championship chase will be put to the test for the final four races beginning with the Battle at Berlin 251 on August 26 at Berlin Raceway in Michigan.
On Tuesday, Champion Racing Association (CRA) officials confirmed the six drivers who are locked into the inaugural championship chase.
The inaugural class of chase drivers is an impressive mixture of youth and experience; Josh Brock, Hunter Jack, and Logan Runyon are not just the top three in points, but are all rookies to the series in 2017. They will go up against veterans Dalton Armstrong, Johnny Van Doorn and Wes Griffith to make up the six drivers competing for a championship.
Though originally the top eight in points were to be selected, both Travis Braden and Brian Campbell are ineligible for the championship chase since they did not compete in 75% of the season’s first 11 events. Braden (three wins) and Campbell (two wins) combined to win half of the series’ points-counting races; however, neither driver met the threshold to be eligible for the championship chase.
In the big picture, the 2017 season has been a season of continued growth for the ARCA/CRA Super Series, due in part to the new championship format.
“With the change to the new championship chase system, we were hoping to see more people compete for more races throughout the season, and thus compete for a championship; that is exactly what we got,” said CRA Managing Partner R.J. Scott. “In the Super Series alone we doubled the number of cars over last year that were seriously competing for a championship and we have seen similar improvement across all of our divisions. Its new, it’s change and some people might struggle with going from the old ways to new ways, but at the end of the day the tracks and fans have benefitted from more cars competing for the championship, and a real sense of excitement coming down the stretch. Who can argue with that?”
While the six drivers compete for the championship, it is expected that the number of challengers will not diminish, especially with two of the biggest CRA events still to go.
“The big difference for racing (compared to other sports) is that even for teams that aren’t in the chase, they can still chase trophies and big wins,” Scott stated. “That will help them finish up the year great and give them big momentum going into next year. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Following the Battle at Berlin, teams will make a beeline for Winchester Speedway (IN) Labor Day weekend for the World Stock Car Festival. Then on September 16, the championship field will be narrowed at Toledo Speedway (OH) from six to four. Those four teams will go flat out with the highest finisher of the four at the season finale Winchester 400 getting the trophy and check.
“We expect to see the intensity picked up a bunch in these remaining four races,” Scott began. “With that comes pressure for the teams, but excitement for the fans. These next three races we will pair down to four teams for the final event at Winchester. And as if the Winchester 400 didn’t have enough excitement and pressure already, four teams will be on pins and needles for 400 laps to see if they can reel in a championship at the same time they are trying to win one of the biggest races in the country.”
Be sure to follow the ARCA/CRA Super Series championship chase right here on Speed51.com.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com