The chase for the All Iowa Points Championship is taking shape as we near the mid-point of the 2012 racing season and, while there are several familiar names at or near the top of the standings, there are some drivers who are putting themselves in a position to earn their first title.
The Late Model standings are as tight as they have been in several years with just a two week hot streak needed from anybody in the top thirteen to find themselves at or near the top. Mike Murphy Jr. has been leading the standings since April after some early wins on the Deery Brothers Summer Series, but his lead has dwindled to just two points this week and the guy just behind him has had some success in this point system. Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Ray Guss Jr. is the three-time defending All Iowa Points Late Model champion and with six titles overall he is steadily working his way to what could be his seventh championship. Todd Cooney and Tyler Bruening are tied for third and while he has not yet won an AIP championship, Cooney has been close before. His challenge though comes when his Friday night track at the State Fairgrounds closes down four weeks earlier than the other weekly Late Model tracks. The rest of the top ten, Andy Eckrich, Darrel DeFrance, Nate Beuseling, Jason O’Brien, Denny Eckrich and Chad Cooney could all jump into the hunt at anytime.
Richie Gustin and Ryan Dolan are in a dead heat this week at the top of the Modified standings and while Gustin is aiming for his first state championship, Dolan is looking to make it three in a row. Richie’s brother Jimmy Gustin is close behind in the third spot while two-time champion Mark Schulte is fourth. After doing some travelling last year, Mike Hansen is sticking closer to home this year and is a threat out of the northwest corner of the state in fifth as is 2005 AIP Modified champion Jay Noteboom who is currently tied for eighth.
The Stock Car standings are tight at the top as well and as of right now provide one of the best chances at seeing a first-time champion although the 2005 king, Kevin Opheim, is currently tied for fourth. Perennial contender Damon Murty is the current leader with Matt Greiner and Nathan Wood chasing in second and third. Jerry Miles is tied with Opheim in fourth while Abe Huls is one point behind them in sixth.
Barring something unforeseen happening it already looks as though Jesse Sobbing will win his third straight All Iowa Points Limited Modified championship as he has captured wins in seventeen points paying events and has eclipsed the 100-point mark. The only question now seems to be can Sobbing win more than fifty this year and be the first driver to reach 300 points in the current system. Quincy’s Tony Dunker is putting up impressive numbers himself and is solidly in second ahead of Nick Roberts, Racer Hulin and Danny Dvorak.
Some impressive point totals for mid-June are being posted as well by the top four in the Hobby Stock division with John Watson leading the way. Two-time champ Shannon Anderson is in second while the two-time defending champ Devin Smith is third and Scott Pippert sits in fourth.
At this time it looks as though the Four Cylinder title will be decided between two drivers that race often and usually against each other as veteran Merv Chandler leads Bill Whalen Jr. While both drivers have been near the top of the standings over the past couple of years, neither has yet to win an All Iowa Points title although Merv’s son Nathan did last season. Jacob Ellithorpe is a distant third, but could still gain ground.
In the Sprint Car divisions the 410’s have Terry McCarl and Mark Dobmeier sitting one-two at this point. These two drivers represent fifteen of the last eighteen All Iowa Points championships for the class. Clint Garner holds a ten point lead in the 360’s as he looks to earn his second title ten years after winning in 2002. They are packed in tightly behind him though as only six points separate the drivers ranked second through tenth. Burlington area drivers control the 305 division right now as 34 Raceway has staged more races this year than any other All Iowa Points paying track so far. Donnie Steward, the 2008 champion, leads the way.
For a full rundown of the All Iowa Points standings and to see where your favorite driver ranks, visit the Points page at Positively Racing.