When the 2016 season began, not everyone would have bet on the two drivers currently vying for the People's Natural Gas Sprint Car Championship title on the final fab four Friday night at Lernerville Speedway to be the two drivers going after the crown Not that they're not talented enough. Oh no!
Jack Sodeman Jr. and AJ Flick have had much success in their time racing at the action track. Sodeman currently ranks in a nice place on the all time sprint feature wins list while Flick in just a brief period of time both at Lernerville and in a sprint, took home the honors as the 2015 sprint champion. Once again...why would anyone be surprised either are where they are?
For Sodeman who currently sits 28 markers ahead of Flick going into the final night, the chances winning on any given night are always right up there with the best of them. But the luck factor. That's been a different story. Besieged by far too many mishaps over the years, Sodeman has been injured, had too much damage to continue from week to week and has been bitten by a turn two monster a few too many times. If you can name a way to lose a race over the years, odds are Sodeman's experienced it. But not this year. In 2016, Sodeman has avoided those mishaps, stayed consistent, and won features when he needed to. The pieces of a championship puzzle have come together for him, and it has been thrilling to see!
For Flick, it was supposed to be a year with a little more travelling, and perhaps a little less emphasis on perfect attendance. A recipe which normally dictates that a track championship would not be a complete top priority. And yet, here he is, just 28 points away on the final night. And if it hadn't been for a few tumbles here and there, the fight for the fourth crown would be much closer. He might not have anticipated he'd be close to repeating as track champion when the year started, but will find himself in position...but will need some help for sure.
How They Can Pull Off The Title:
For Sodeman, it appears easy. Simply race clean and avoid catastrophe. But at the same time, it also means racing and not gliding around the track. The easiest way to bring it home, is simply to treat it as any other night. He needs to keep racing to win and not to lose. If he can do that, the trophy will be his and comfortably so, when all is said and done.
For Flick, he'll need some luck, and if he gets it early on by way of helping himself to a heat win with a good draw, he'll be off to the start he'll need. If he can get lucky again and redraw near the front of the feature, or if Sodeman should have issues in his heat and miss the redraw, it becomes intriguing. 28 points basically lists as 14 positions during the feature. But remember, heat wins get you 10 and minus one point for all following positions. If Flick can shave say three or four points down early in the night, he may only need 10 positions come feature time and that's not out of the realm of possibility. However, it's not very likely. Flick fans might need every good luck charm they can bring in through the gate. But stranger things have happened.
Other things to look for...
- In the Diehl Automotive Modifieds, Mat Williamson has already taken care of business as the 2016 Champion, but will be down to make an attempt at an 8th feature victory. Behind him though, Rex King Jr. and Brian Swartzlander are separated by a mere 10 points. And whomever can snag second place can look forward to that much more of the point fund in March. Plus, every driver wants one more spot better, it's the nature of the beast.
- In Precise Racing Products Late Model action, Russ King has sealed the deal, and Alex Ferree looks to be unchallenged for second on the year. However, there's a tie for third between Mike Norris and Matt Lux with 319 points each and Lux has yet to visit Dlubac Victory Lane in 2016.
- In the Millerstown Pic-A-Part Sportman Stocks, Corey McPherson sealed the deal with the rain out last week but would love one more win to put an exclamation point on things before years end. Behind him just eight points separate Tyler Dietz, Joey Zambotti and Aaron Easler meaning the final feature of the fab four season might will have added importance in the final standings.