The IHRA has only twelve
races in their countdown for a championship and their format seems to work
well. For the second year in a row, more than half of their Knoll Gas Nitro Jam
championships could come down to the wire this weekend. When you add in
scenarios such as the IHRA’s Last Man Standing and oildown penalties, it makes
for a lot of added drama.
The tightest of the
championship battles is in the Torco’s CompetitionPlus Pro Stock division where
only seven points separate defending champion Pete Berner and Robert Patrick.
The point lead in the
class has been a seesaw battle between the two for much of the season, with a
brief interruption from John Montecalvo, who is no longer in contention.
Frank Gugliotta has an
outside chance of wrestling the title away but it’s a slim one.
A ten-point Last Man
Standing Award (2 possible in a weekend) or a better qualifying effort by
Patrick could spell the difference between the two drivers. Based on the last
event where the record was set and re-set as many as four times, an additional
twenty points could be on the line as well.
Neither driver will admit
to counting points headed into this weekend.
“Whatever happens is going
to happen, I’m just going out to do the best job I can,” Berner said. “We have
a really good team that is really capable of making good runs but there are two
other teams in the running that can do the same thing. I really don’t put a lot
of pressure on myself nor do I allow others to do that. We’ll go out there and
do the best we can. We are ahead and all we have to do is maintain that pace.”