Short Track Scene

ARCA CRA Championship Chase all but set entering Kalamazoo

Matt Weaver | STS

With two races remaining in the CRA Super Series regular season, the inaugural Super Late Model Chase for the Championship is coming into focus.

In fact, it’s basically already set.

Back in December, CRA officials Glenn Luckett and RJ Scott enacted a playoff format similar to what NASCAR used last season to determine the champion. The idea behind it was to encourage drivers to race for points even if they had to miss a quarter of the regular season.

Due to minimum full-time participation this season, the field is practically set, even with the final two races taking place over the next four days at Kalamazoo and Flat Rock Speedways in Michigan.

The playoff grid looks like this:

  1. John VanDoorn | 75% participation | 2 wins | 584 pts
  2. Josh Brock | 100% participation | 0 wins | 682 pts
  3. Hunter Jack | 100% participation | 0 wins | 672 pts
  4. Logan Runyon | 100% participation | 0 wins |655 pts
  5. Dalton Armstrong | 100% participation | 0 wins |639 pts
  6. Wes Griffith | 75% participation | 0 wins | 482 pts
  7. Travis Braden | 63% participation | 2 wins | 461 pts
  8. Brian Campbell | 63% participation | 1 win | 420 pts

Obviously, neither Braden nor Campbell meet the 75 percent playoff eligibility requirements, but neither does anyone in Super Late Model racing. Both are entered in Wednesday night’s Kalamazoo 125 and making Flat Rock on Saturday night gets them to 70 percent of the regular season.

Good enough.

So how does the Championship Race work? The three-race elimination round begins on Saturday night, August 26 for the Battle at Berlin 251 at Berlin Raceway. It continues on Monday September 4 for the Winchester Speedway 100 and concludes with the Toledo Speedway 100 on Saturday, September 16.

Playoff eligible winners automatically qualify for the four-driver CRA Championship at the Winchester 400 with the other remaining spots based on points accumulated during the round.

So in review, Josh Brock has led the standings for much of the summer, but only because the heavy hitters have missed several races.

“We’re going to fight strong, do a lot more testing,” Brock said. “We’re going to buckle down and race hard. We’re going to have to get a win this year. Right now there’s only one thing we can do – go fast and do something.”

The favorite has to be three-time champion Johnny VanDoorn. He’s been a proponent of the playoff format since it was first announced and has been the most efficient about it too, winning at Anderson and Baer Field while staying above the 75 percent threshold.

“I think this has been a good thing,” VanDoorn said. “There’s just too many races on the schedule now. People can’t afford to run them now, and it’s just not drawing people. I mean I’ve missed a race and I think I’m fifth in points. I think there’s only five or six guys that have run all of the races.

“People just don’t run all of the races anymore. So them taking a step in a direction of adding incentive to come back after you’ve missed a race is good. It’s going to make for an exciting night at Winchester too.”

So how does VanDoorn expect to get there and challenge for a record-setting fourth CRA title?

“I’ll just take it how I run every race,” VanDoorn said. “Just hammer down and try to win everything. If I’m on the track I want to be first.

“I feel like whenever I’m conserving or trying to race smart I always end up wrecking or doing something stupid, so I’m going to race it just like I race every race.”

Hunter Jack is only 10 points behind Brock for the regular season championship lead and he believes that consistency will be the key to winning the championship next month too.

“We sat down and talked about it the other day,” Jack said. “We said we need to have really smooth finishes, don’t wreck out and stay on the lead lap. If we can, we need to go for a win. That’s our game plan.”

And there’s Campbell, the 2010 championship runner-up, who’s not even sure he’s eligible due to the number of events he’s missed.

“I don’t even know,” Campbell said. “I think that’s a better question for Glenn.”

Assuming he’s in, his approach isn’t that complicated.

“Nothing different,” he said. “You’ve just gotta go out there and win. That’s it.”

The Kalamazoo Klash is the penultimate race of the CRA season. The race is the Super Late Model precursor to the Outlaw Late Model Kalamazoo Klash. Kyle Busch has entered both races. The event has a pay-per-view broadcast that can be purchased for $19.99. That can be purchased here.

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