ďSizingĒ Up a Season
So, another issue of Timís Corner and Iím here to chat about the age old question - does size matter?
No, not the size of what youíre thinking of.
The debate amongst drivers, fans and Iím sure the guys and gals that run the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour are the length of our feature races. In recent years, we have seen laps in certain races grow. Keep in mind, when the series began in 2001, each race was 100 laps. Soon after that first season, the finale grew to a 200-lap feature at Scotia Speedworld. As the years have gone on, we have seen extended races scattered throughout the Pro Stock Tour history - a 200 lap to re-open Riverside in 2006 and a 200-lap feature at Oyster Bed Speedway in 2009 come to mind as one-off extended races. Not to mention, the IWK 250 and the Atlantic CAT 250 have been staples on the Tour for a few seasons now.
In 2012, two 150 lap features were added to the 12 race schedule at Oyster Bed Speedway and Petty International Raceway. In addition to the two aforementioned 250s and the Dartmouth Dodge 200, it left us with five extended lap races in the 12 race schedule. All of those races came in the second half of the season, making the teams step up their game just that extra bit to end up in victory lane after 50, 100 or 150 extra feature laps.
Now, letís look at 2013. The Tour has released some feature length info, including the addition of three 150 lap races we did not have in 2013. The two 100 lap events at Scotia Speedworld are now 150s (including our season opener) and the Riverside Speedway opener in June is also a 150. Pettyís races are not announced as of yet, but letís assume at least the International weekend remains a 150. At minimum, there are seven extended races in 2013 and five 100 lap races.
Ask most fans, and they will tell you that 150 lap features can become pretty exciting. So many different things can happen in those last 50 laps that can not only change the complexity of the race, but also the championship picture. You donít have to look too far in the rearview mirror to see that those 50 laps changed the outcome of the Irving MAX1 - 150 at Petty Raceway in August 2012. If it was a 100-lap feature, Jonathan Hicken would have had a sweep of the two races at PIR. Instead, a panhard bar broke in those final 50 laps, preventing him from not only punching his ticket to victory lane, but to having a chance at the title in the finale.
The other exciting thing is that, other than the cost of race fuel and 50 extra laps on the tires, there isnít a whole lot of extra expense to our teams. Hereís something to think about. During our 200+ lap features, we have a halfway break for teams to be able to refuel or change tires so they can make the adjustments needed to their cars for the second half of the race. The 150 lap races do not require a pit stop and we do not have a halfway break, meaning most front running drivers finish on the same tires than what they start on and go the distance without making adjustments to their cars. It really shows who can wheel a car over the long haul and who can adjust with an adjusting and changing car throughout a run!
The 100 lap races can be sprints, but in turn some can also have a few cautions to them. The event that may stick out on the schedule when you initially look at it is the 100 lapper at Riverside. You may be thinking, 100 laps in the penultimate race of the season? In my opinion, the length of the feature in this case does not change the excitement of the event. It is the second last race of the season and even when this race wasnít as deep in the schedule over recent years, it has still produced its share of excitement. Look back to 2010, Wayne Smith had a point lead and it looked like he could put a good pad on the title - until the final Riverside event of that year where he finished dead last and that coasting to the title become a dogfight for what ended up being Shawn Tucker’s championship. Mark that on your calendar for September!
While two of our 100 lap races were run without a caution, it doesnít mean they had any less excitement in them. The opener at Scotia last year had a battle ongoing every lap throughout the field while the 100-lap race at Riverside saw Mike Stevens having to harness his horsepower to not burn the tires up on his #4 car. While the leaders wrote their own story, the other 20+ drivers behind him put on a show that kept our fans on the edge of their seats.
In the end, each race is its own chapter towards writing a book that is a racing season. Each chapter is different and I believe thatís one of the reasons that makes us one of the best Late Model touring series in the land. No matter of length, we have a dozen or more drivers that could win each race when we pull in the track for the day and when the dust settles after 100, 150, 200 or 250 laps, one will go to victory lane as the ďbig storyĒ of the night while most of the others will have a battle on track they and the fans will be talking about for days, weeks and years to come.
It will be an exciting season, as it always is! You can mark my words!
Until next time, keep the hammer down and weíll see you at the track!
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