Ron Sheridan knows what it’s like to almost win a track title. Now the 56-year-old veteran from Mt. Brydges, Ontario, has kicked off the 2010 season at Delaware Speedway looking very much like he may finally bring home that championship trophy.
Sheridan has won three of the first eight races in the Late Model division at the half-mile paved oval outside of London, Ontario. He is also 41st in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship standings, although his per-race average is sixth best.
Sheridan had a strong run last year, Delaware’s first as a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned track, and finished ninth overall. But finishing just ahead of him in the national standings, as well as the Ontario province and Delaware track points, was Steve Robblee. While Sheriden went into the final race of the season with the points lead, Robblee was able to pass him on the final weekend.
“We just missed the setup a little bit and lost out there,” said Sheriden, who has raced for 18 years, including the last 12 in the Late Model division. “We just came up a little bit short. I bet you we’ve finished second five times. One year we missed it by four points. And then there was last year.
“This year, we just fine-tuned a little bit on the car. We’ve worked hard on it. We just came up with a package that is working and is comfortable for me. And we’ve been very fast the last couple weeks.”
Sheridan had a win and a fourth-place finish in twin features this past weekend.
Keith Rocco, of Wallingford, Conn., earned his series-leading 14th victory of the season this past Friday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway in the asphalt Modified division. He was also second at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Thursday and eighth at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl on Saturday. Rocco has 21 top fives and 25 top 10s in 25 starts.
The win allowed him to drop a 34-point fourth-place finish from earlier in the season and increase his points total to 768 to maintain his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points lead.
A driver’s best 18 results are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total.
Craig Preble, of Yutan, Neb., remains second in points with 692. He was fourth in the dirt Late Model division at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., on Saturday and fourth at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday. Preble has 12 wins and 19 top fives in 19 starts.
Justin Johnson was sixth and first in double asphalt Late Model features at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., to move up two spots to third. He has nine wins, 13 top fives and 16 top 10s in 16 starts.
Bill Leighton Jr. (584 points) and Matt Buller (557), who race against Preble at the two Nebraska tracks, are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the national standings.
Under the points structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner received two points for every car in the event up to 20. Second place received two fewer points, and so-on through the field. Race winners received an additional five bonus points. For example, if there are 20 cars, the winner received 45 points, second gets 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner received 35 points, second gets 28 and third 26.
For Sheridan, it’s too early to think about points, but there is always time to think about racing.
He was loading up the go-kart for his son Jake, 7, Tuesday night. Sheridan and his wife, Georgia, also have a five-year-old son, Nicholas. Sheridan will run his Late Model at Delaware Speedway on Friday, and then he and the crew will head down to Autodrome St. Eustache in Quebec on Saturday to run in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 race.
Then it’s back home to get the Late Model ready for a special Summer Showdown non-points race on Wednesday, July 7. The event will also feature NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and David Reutimann, as well as NASCAR Nationwide Series veteran Jason Leffler.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” Sheridan said. “There’s no points on the line, so I’m looking forward to going at it and racing hard with those guys.”
And then it’s back to the championship chase. While Robblee has encountered some early-season misfortune, Sheridan knows the key to wrapping up that sought-after crown be avoiding similar bad luck.
“It’s so competitive up here, that it’s going to come down to having one less bad night, one less flat tire,” Sheridan said. “Part of our success this year is we just go down there and try to do the best we can, and it’s just worked out for us.”
Track, state and provincial champions and the top three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet. The winner of the national championship will also earn a secure spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders
Pos Driver Track Starts Wins T-5 T-10 Points
1 Keith Rocco Waterford Speedbowl 25 14 21 25 768
2 Craig Preble I-80 Speedway 19 12 19 19 692
3 Justin T Johnson South Boston Speedway 16 9 13 16 603
4 Bill Leighton, Jr I-80 Speedway 20 0 16 19 584
5 Matt Buller I-80 Speedway 19 3 14 17 557
6 Marty Ward Greenville-Pickens Speedway 16 9 16 16 495
7 C E Falk, Iii Langley Speedway 15 5 10 13 471
8 Ted Christopher Thompson Intl Speedway 15 4 10 12 466
9 Toby Porter Greenville-Pickens Speedway 16 5 14 15 455
10 Duane Howard Grandview Speedway 12 2 11 12 444
11 Woody Howard Langley Speedway 14 1 11 12 425
12 Woody Pitkat Stafford Motor Speedway 15 1 7 13 413
13 Burt Myers Bowman Gray Stadium 12 4 7 11 402
14 Philip Morris Motor Mile Speedway 12 4 9 10 398
15 Lee Jeffreys Bowman Gray Stadium 12 2 7 11 386
16 Adam Royle Raceway Park 18 7 15 17 375
17 Tommy Lemons, Jr Motor Mile Speedway 15 1 4 10 375
18 Greg Edwards Langley Speedway 11 2 10 11 368
19 Jeremy Burns Greenville-Pickens Speedway 17 0 12 16 366
20 Travis Swaim Caraway Speedway 13 4 11 13 350
21 Ron Yuhas, Jr Waterford Speedbowl 10 0 9 10 348
22 Micah Veleba Junction Motor Speedway 19 0 3 11 346
23 Wes Falk Langley Speedway 14 1 3 11 335
24 Craig Von Dohren Grandview Speedway 11 5 7 8 329
25 Ralph Carnes Greenville-Pickens Speedway 16 0 6 15 328