On Saturday night the season long points season came to a dramatic finale with as many as four drivers battling for a championship in six divisions. The Night of Champions event was as good as expected or maybe even better.
The biggest race of the night was the Mini Stocks with 20 cars starting the field with invaders from as far away as Vermont and everyone was chasing a bounty on championship contender Barry Wilson. Wilson meanwhile was locked in a four-way battle for the championship with Chad Burnopp, Wayne Gillespie and Brittany Cockram.
Dennis Holdren put his Ford Mustang Mini Stock on the pole for the race just ahead of AJ Sanders and Wilson. Holdren took the lead from the drop of the green flag with Sanders in tow but Wilson fighting to take the second spot. Wilson would soon get the second position and the three were locked into one of the most epic battles for the top spot seen on any short track. Wilson could get a wheel alongside Holdren but couldn’t complete the pass while Sanders could get to Wilson’s bumper but couldn’t get around him.
The three drivers stayed that way for approximately 33 laps of the 35 lap event as the green flag stayed out for the remainder of the race. Holdren would take home the win over Wilson, who would collect the championship. Sander finished third ahead of Matthew Sonnhalter and Stephen Sanders. Sonnhalter made the trip down from Vermont and had a tough go of it breaking a clutch on Friday night and not being able to practice and then getting caught up in a practice crash and having to rebuild the front of his car before the race. Stephen Sanders recovered from a missed shift by his father AJ and rallied to finish fifth in a great performance in the drivers second start this season.
Title contenders Chad Burnopp, Brittany Cockram and Wayne Gillespie finished sixth, seventh and ninth respectively. Thomas Parmalee made his first return since a bad crash on Labor Day weekend to finish eighth with Tim Giesen completing the top ten of the 20 car field.
The Late Models also featured a four-way battle for the championship under the Chase Elimination format utilized this season. Kyle Dudley, Devin Steele, Ricky Gillespie and Wesley Thomason came into the day tied in points but the race would separate the contenders from the pretenders. Dudley put his car on the pole for the event ahead of Dennis Holdren, who was making just his second start of the season after collecting a bounty on Steele earlier in the season. Steele would line up third.
These three drivers would put on a great show up front as well. Much like the Mini Stock race Holdren dominated, Dudley put his car out front and stayed there but that wasn’t without a challenge from both Holdren and Steele. Holdren ran second for much of the race but was never able to get by Dudley. Steele had a great chance to get by Dudley after one of the races restarts but drove the leader clean and eventually settled for third place behind Dudley and Holdren.
Ricky Gillespie never was able to mount much of challenge up front but he solidly ran fourth for the entire race. Brian Sutphin made his first start of the season at Franklin County Speedway and raced up to finish fifth in the end. Thomason the fourth of the title contenders finish sixth after a brush with the inside wall under green as his car got loose. Josh Leedy, Drew Dicesare, Karl Budzevski and Jonathan Hall completed the top ten finishers.
The U-Cars were also locked in a four-way championship battle with WJ Altizer, Larry Isley Jr, Mikey Reed and Derek Radford settling the season amongst themselves. Altizer put his car on the pole but from the drop of the green flag it was obvious that Reed had come with all intentions of winning the race. He and Altizer raced hard for the lead until about lap 13 when they made hard contact and sent both cars into the outside wall in turn four. Reed was done but Altizer was able to continue.
Unfortunately for Altizer he would be unable to make his way back to the front of the field as Larry Isley looked to hold off Derek Radford for the championship on multiple restarts. Meanwhile out front was Tony Housman and he would stay there despite the late race restarts. Isley and Radford looked to be locked into a battle for the top spot until a spin by Michael Bennett put the caution out for the final time. Radford wouldn’t get as good of a restart and Isley would drive off to the championship finishing second on the track behind Housman.
Radford would finish third in a dead heat with Patrick Janney for the position. Alex Whatley finished fifth with Altizer making it back to finish sixth. JR Heath, Bennett, Kenny Mills Jr and Reed would complete the top ten of the 13 car field.
Jason Warsing came into the Night of Champions with the Street Stock championship wrapped up. He would lead the race early but Lynn Phoenix making his second start of the season would get by him after contact with Danny Bush slowed Warsing down. Phoenix would pick up the time shortened race ahead of Warsing, Bush, Eddie Rocke, James Woods, Tracy Scott and EL Webb.
Jason Quintrell drove off from Jeff Davis for the victory and the title in the Mini Cup division. Aaron Quintrell inherited the win and the championship in the Future Stars division after Abby Altice and Jay Quintrell got together while battling for the lead. Quintrell would finish ahead of Ethan Heath, Altice and Quintrell.
The $1,000 to win Any Car race was a wild one with 18 total entries and some incredible crashing and bashing to the fans delight. Ricky Gillespie led most of the race but was taken out with four laps to go handing the lead and the win to Nick Willard, who had just purchased the car days before the event. Danny Thompson, Leon Moles, Ricky Harmon and Michael Worthington completed the top five finishers in the 18-car field.