WHEELERSBURG, OH-The chase for the 2013 Southern Ohio Speedway GCP Engines Sport Mod presented by Tomahawk Race Car championship began nearly six months ago and will conclude this Saturday, September 28th.  With one race remaining in the championship hunt, three drivers could mathematically walk away with the track championship on Saturday.  Let’s take a look at how those three drivers; Danny Hamilton, Eric Dennison, and Colten Wright put themselves into championship contention heading into the final points race.

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Danny Hamilton
Veteran Scioto County racer Danny Hamilton started the 2013 season on fire, winning the first two feature events of the season to set himself up as a championship contender from the get-go.  During the third race of the season on April 26th, adversity struck for Hamilton in a big way as coming to the checkered flag to win the nights first heat race, Hamilton’s engine exploded.  This left Hamilton with a DNS for the A-Main, earning him no points, and left the #99 team without their primary motor.  To make things worse, Hamilton’s championship rival Eric Dennison scored maximum points with a win on April 26th.

In the face of adversity on April 26th, Hamilton rebounded strong and came back the following week on May 3rd to score a strong second place finish.  This started an incredible four race run for Hamilton that would see him take the $400 win in the “Robinson’s Auto Sales & Parts Sport Mod Championships” on May 24th and score two top five finishes the following two races.  Outside of the month of the DNS on April 26th, Hamilton finished no worse than fourth position in a feature heading into the month of July.

On July 12th, Hamilton experienced a DNF that allowed Dennison to make up 30 points on him and Wright to make up 20 points.  Hamilton rebounded the following race with a strong third place finish to gain back some of the points lost the following week.  The last race held on August 1st, Hamilton was running strong in the top three until a flat tire late in the event forced him back with an 8th place finish.

That is what has set the stage to this Saturday, September 28th with Hamilton currently leading Dennison by 15 points and Wright by 65 points.

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Eric Dennison
Last year’s Sport Mod track champion Eric Dennison is once again in contention for the track championship heading into the final points race this Saturday.  For Dennison, the 2013 season got off to a rough start as he experienced motor issues in hot laps that sidelined him for the rest of the night during the Opening Night races.  This gave Dennison a DNS and no points to start the season while his championship rival Danny Hamilton scored maximum points on Opening Night with a win.

After the adversity on Opening Night, Dennison would come out on fire with an incredible spring run.  In the next five races, Dennison scored two feature wins, one second place finish, and two third place finishes.  One of those feature wins was the $400 to win “McGowan Race Parts 20″ special event.  That strong streak of races set Dennison up to make another championship run in the summer and fall months.

As the weather began to warm up and the summer events took center stage, Dennison experienced bad luck in a couple of races.  On June 14th, Dennison was caught up in someone elses wreck and forced with a DNF.  The following race on July 12th, Dennison was also had an eighth place finish but was the highest finishing of his two championship rivals.  Dennison then came out with two strong fifth place finishes in the last two races up to this point to set himself up with only a 15 point deficit to overcome to win his second track championship in a row on September 28th.

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Colten Wright
Colten Wright, a rookie driver last season, showed from the start of the year that he had matured into a championship contender.  On Opening Night, Wright finished third to already set himself up front in the year long championship battle.  He came back with another strong finish the second race of the season to finish fourth and then suffered some bad luck the next two weeks to set him back a little bit in the championship.  Wright was able to rebound the following race with a third place finish in the “Robinson Auto Sales & Parts 20″.

Just like the other two championship contenders, Wright experienced a race of adversity that forced him to take a DNS and not earn any points.  For Wright, that night came on June 7th.  But just like his championship rivals, Wright came back the next week on fire and led several laps of the June 14th feature before finishing in fifth.  That started a strong summer for Wright as he had a top ten on July 12th.

Wright showed just how strong a championship contender he was on July 26th as the youngster, only 14 years old at the time, scored his first career feature win and in the process became the youngest feature winner in the SOS modern era and perhaps track history.  Wright backed that win up the next week with a strong third place finish.  Wright carries the most momentum heading into Saturday as in the last three races, Wright has scored more points than both of his championship rivals.   Wright goes into Saturday needing to make up 65 points on Danny Hamilton and 15 points on Eric Dennison to claim the track championship.

Race Format Twist
With the Sport Mod class the feature class on the September 28th “Free General Admission Night”, the class will time trial.  The top six fastest cars in time trials will compete in the dash race that will determine the first three rows for the feature event.  There is no doubt that getting a strong qualifying lap in Saturday will be crucial for all three of the championship contenders championship hopes.  The three championship contenders will all set their sights to qualify in the top 6 to make the dash and start up front in the feature event.  Not making the dash and starting midpack in the feature event heightens the chances of being involved in an accident that could ruin championship hopes.

Clinching Scenarios
First, it should be noted that should a tiebreaker occur the tiebreaker will be broken by wins, top 3′s, top 5′s, and top 10′s in that order.  The way those numbers stand is Danny Hamilton has 3 wins, 5 top 3′s, 7 top 5′s, and 10 top 10′s.  Eric Dennison has 2 wins, 5 top 3′s, 7 top 5′s, and 8 top 10′s.  Colten Wright has 1 win, 4 top 3′s,  6 top 5′s, and 9 top 10′s.  That is important information that could no doubt come into serious play on Saturday.  Below are the clinching scenarios for each driver.  Obviously, there are other scenarios in which each driver could win the championship, but below is what they have to do to 100% guarantee a track championship.

Danny Hamilton clinches by finishing in front of Eric Dennison and Colten Wright, or by finishing no worse than 3 positions behind Dennison and 13 positions behind Colten Wright.

Eric Dennison clinches by finishing 4 positions ahead of Danny Hamilton and 10 positions ahead of Colten Wright.

Colten Wright clinches by finishing 14 positions ahead of Danny Hamilton and 11 positions ahead of Eric Dennison.

There is one scenario that Eric Dennison could clinch if he finishes 3 positions ahead of Hamilton.  If Dennison were to win and Hamilton finished fourth, the two would tie.  Here is the kicker, if that happened, the two would tie on win totals, top 3 totals, top 5 totals, and top 10 totals.  If the two are tied up on those, we then go back to the number of second place finishes, then number of third place finishes, fourth place finishes, and so on until there is a difference.  In that situation, the two would also tie on second place finishes.  Dennison would win the track championship on that scenario by having two third place finishes while Hamilton only has one third place finish.  That is how close this championship race is.

You are going to want to be at SOS on Saturday to see how this championship race plays out.  The best part?  You get to see this FREE of charge as general admission is 100% FREE!  In addition to the Sport Mods, you will get to see Pure Stocks, 4 cylinders, the Ohio Valley Roofing Legends Cars, and Enduros.  Gates open at 4:00 pm Saturday with hot laps at 6:00 pm.  For more information visit www.southernohiospeedway.com.