18 DOWN, 9 to GO: The Battle for the 2018 HNS Championship

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18 DOWN, 9 to GO: The Battle for the 2018 HNS Championship Empty 18 DOWN, 9 to GO: The Battle for the 2018 HNS Championship

Post by CJ Racing on September 5th 2018, 11:47 pm

It's coming down to it in the 2018 Hardee's National Series Season! With 2/3rds of the season down, and only 9 races left to go, the Championship battle is looking like it is going to come down to these 10 drivers. Let's take a look at each driver's stats so far this season and see how they rate up, as well as the chances they have of competing for the Championship:

---THE FAVORITES---
---1. Number/Name: #71 TJ Martin
Team: Turner Performance Racing
Points Situation: 658 Points(LEADER)
Stats: Poles(1) Wins(2), Top 5's(7), Top 10's(11)
AVG Starting Position: 10.94
AVG Finishing Position: 8.22
Laps Led: 78
Laps Completed: 1325/1326(99.9%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship:
10/10
Note: TJ Martin sure has taken some lessons from his father hasn't he? The driver of the #71 has been the most consistent driver this year, and despite having less wins, Top 5's, and Top 10's then some of his major competitors, his sheer consistency(his WORST finish is 19TH!) this year has put him on Top of the Standings, and with his 2nd win of the Season at New Hampshire this past weekend, the rest of the field should be very worried.

---2. Number/Name: #4 Jake West
Team: Kurtis Racing
Points Situation: 648 Points(-10 back)
Stats: Poles(0) Wins(4), Top 5's(11), Top 10's(13)
AVG Starting Position: 11.72
AVG Finishing Position: 9.17
Laps Led: 110
Laps Completed: 1216/1326(91.7%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 10/10
Note: Jake West has undoubtedly been the most dominant driver in the series this season, leading the series in wins, Top 5's, and(T-1st) Top 10's. But 2 DNF's have severely hurt the #4 team in the Championship hunt, and if last week is any indication, the battle between West and Martin is looking like it will come down to the very end.

---THE CONTENDERS---
---3. Number/Name: #66 Anthony Marchesi
Team: Rodriguez Racing
Points Situation: 631 Points(-27 back)
Stats: Poles(0) Wins(0), Top 5's(4), Top 10's(12)
AVG Starting Position: 15.28
AVG Finishing Position: 9.22
Laps Led: 16
Laps Completed: 1324/1326(99.8%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 7.5/10
Note: Anthony Marchesi may be the quietest driver in the series this year, but his consistency rivals if not beats the Top 2 contenders for the Championship. Get this: Over the last 12 races, his worst qualifying and finishing position is 13th! However, the #66 team has not had the sheer speed of the drivers around him, nor has he led many laps this year. It's going to take the ability to win races over these last 9 races to continue to be a factor for the Championship, so while Marchesi's consistency may keep him with a good shot, the lack of top-end speed may ultimately may be what keeps him out of the Championship hunt.

---4. Number/Name: #88 John Arndt
Team: CM Racing
Points Situation: 619 Points(-39 back)
Stats: Poles(2) Wins(1), Top 5's(8.), Top 10's(11)
AVG Starting Position: 6.67
AVG Finishing Position: 10.33
Laps Led: 253
Laps Completed: 1297/1326(97.8%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 7/10
Note: John Arndt may possibly be the most dangerous of the drivers in this "Contenders" category. He has led by far the most laps this season, his AVG starting position is 2nd best in the series, and most importantly, over the last 8 races his numbers have been sky-high:
AVG Starting Position over the last 8 races: 3.50
AVG Finishing Position(Besides Michigan): 4.14
Unfortunately, his DNF at Michigan, plus his known bout of horrendous luck the first 3 races of the year have put him almost 40 points out of the points lead, and it will take him continuing this phenomenal streak of performances to get back into the fight.

---5. Number/Name: #17 James Richardson
Team: Turner Performance Racing
Points Situation: 615 Points(-43 back) (NOTE: DID NOT RUN R1 @DAYTONA)
Stats: Poles(3) Wins(3), Top 5's(10), Top 10's(13)
AVG Starting Position: 6.41
AVG Finishing Position: 9.00
Laps Led: 78
Laps Completed: 1191/1326(89.8%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 7/10
Note: Oh what a difference a couple races make. James Richardson has been, in short, phenomenal this year. His worst starting finish is 13TH, and he is 2nd in wins, Top 5's and(T-1st) in Top 10's this year. There was a 10 race stretch where he had 3 wins, 8 Top 5's and 9 Top 10's. Alas, much just Jake West and John Arndt, a couple DNF's as well as him not racing at Daytona could be the difference between Richardson possibly being the Points leader to where he is now. It also feels like the #17 team may be missing a small step more recently, as while they have finished well, they haven't quite had the sheer Top-end speed.

---6. Number/Name: #8 Alex Benyacko
Team: CM Racing
Points Situation: 613 Points(-45 back)
Stats: Poles(0) Wins(1), Top 5's(7), Top 10's(12)
AVG Starting Position: 8.11
AVG Finishing Position: 10.56
Laps Led: 85
Laps Completed: 1269/1326(95.7%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 5.5/10
Note: Alex Benyacko and the #8 CM Racing team have had their fair share of ups and downs this year. From being the first of the CM Racing cars to make it to victory lane(Round 6 @Road America), to having an unfortunate penalty at Charlotte(Round 15) that possibly costing them a shot of another great run, Benyacko's season has been a bit of a wild and inconsistent one, particularly compared to the Championship competitors in front of him. For the #8 team to get back in the hunt for the Championship, they need to be more consistent and have a strong end to the season.

---LONGSHOTS---
---7. Number/Name: #14 Cory Williams
Team: Kurtis Racing
Points Situation: 607 Points(-51 back)
Stats: Poles(1) Wins(1), Top 5's(5), Top 10's(11)
AVG Starting Position: 7.89
AVG Finishing Position: 10.67
Laps Led: 35
Laps Completed: 1270/1326(95.8%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 4.99/10
Note: It was surprising to find out in our research that besides his DNF at Darlington(Round 5), Cory Williams has actually had a pretty solid season overall. He has been consistent both in starting and finishing for the most part. However the #14 team has not had the same level of speed his Kurtis Racing teammate has had this season, and besides his win at Las Vegas(Round 4), he has not had quite that level of performance(including not having led a lap since Round 8 @Gateway) that would give him a real shot at the Championship in 2018. It is going to take a step up in speed for Williams to be able to have a chance.

---8. Number/Name: #0 Hannah Allen
Team: CM Racing
Points Situation: 601 Points(-57 back)
Stats: Poles(1) Wins(1), Top 5's(8.), Top 10's(12)
AVG Starting Position: 7.44
AVG Finishing Position: 11.33
Laps Led: 158
Laps Completed: 1263/1326(95.2%)

Chance of Competing for the Championship: 4/10
Note: Through 13 races, Hannah Allen was looking like she was going to be a very serious contender for the Championship, as she was Tied for 2nd, only 7 points behind the Points leader, and a 5-race Top 5 streak that included a win at Myrtle Beach(Round 10). Alas, the next 3 races looks to have been her undoing, with an unfortunate penalty at Charlotte, a tire problem at Iowa, and a late-race crash at Michigan put her almost 50 points back. A mediocre run at New Hampshire last week has pushed that gap to 57 points, and unless the #0 can quickly turn it around, that Hannah's chances of a Championship may be over for 2018.

---9. Number/Name: #95 Jek Porkins
Team: CM Racing
Points Situation: 578 Points(-80 back)
Stats: Poles(1) Wins(2), Top 5's(7), Top 10's(9)
AVG Starting Position: 9.78
AVG Finishing Position: 12.44
Laps Led: 132
Laps Completed: 1268/1326(95.6%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship: 1.5/10
Note: Jek Porkins's season started off very strong, with a 2nd and 3rd to start the season. However 2 rough patches between Rounds 3-6 and Rounds 12-15 have taken Jek Porkins pretty much out of the Championship hunt. However, the #95 team has shown moments of being a contender this year, including a win at Gateway(Round 8.) where he started and finished on pole, and at Myrtle Beach(Round 10) where he led 84 of 120 laps and only lost to his teammate Hannah Allen at the end. He has also had a 4th place AVG finishing position over the last 3 races(3rd, 3rd, and 6th), so while it may be too little too late at this point, never say never if the #95 team gets on a roll.

---10. Number/Name: #6 Sean Angel
Team: Rodriguez Racing
Points Situation: 578 Points(-80 back)
Stats: Poles(1) Wins(0), Top 5's(5), Top 10's(11)
AVG Starting Position: 13.06
AVG Finishing Position: 12.28
Laps Led: 35
Laps Completed: 1231/1326(92.8%)

Chances of Competing for the Championship:
1.45/10
Note: Up until this past weekend, Sean Angel's 2018 season could be surmised in 2 parts: The first 4 races of the season where they finished no better then 14th with 2 finishes outside the Top 25, and the next 13 races after that where he had quite possibly the most consistent string of performances this year, 11 Top 10's in 13 races including an 8-race stretch where his worst finish was 8th. Alas, his comeback came crashing down at New Hampshire this past weekend, where he got turned on a lap 1 crash that took him out of not only the race, but quite likely the Championship. We give Angel about the same chance that Porkins has if the #6 team can get on a roll, but another knock on the team is that despite some really solid runs this season, they have not gotten over the hump and won a race, which they are going to have to do especially in these last 9 races if they have any chance.
_______________________________________________________________________

Final Thoughts
This 2018 HNS season has been a great one so far, and the Championship is looking like it will come down to the wire. TJ Martin and Jake West seem to be the class of the field, but just one mistake could bring 4 or 5 drivers into the fix. Who will be holding up the Championship trophy at the end of the year? We are just 9 races away from finding out!

_________________
________________________
Chris Dodd:
2018 SCS: Driver of the #15 Oreo's Ford for Martin Motorsports
Wins: None(Yet Smile ...)
DNF's: Too Many
Amount of Fun: Priceless

Memorable Moments:
1st Daytona 500 win(as an owner); PNOCS S2 Daytona 500!! (As a Driver); 2-Time Daytona 500 Winner
S1 Duraflame National Racing Series CHAMP, S2 Hershey's Cup Series CHAMP, S3 DASCAR Martini Endurance Series CHAMP!

Motto: Always remember... WATCH OUT FOR THE ORANGE CONE!!
CJ Racing
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