OCALA, Fla. — The $20,000 2012 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Championship is on the line between Matthew Turner and David Earl Gentry in the $10,000-to-win 100-lap 8th Annual Chevrolet Performance World Championship Race at Bubba Raceway Park Thursday through Saturday.
The grand finale for the 2012 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series 2012 season will take place on a level playing field, as Bubba Raceway Park is a new venue for the series. Not only is it the most prestigious race of the year for the tour, but it is also the most important. Turner heads to the unique tri-oval with a 16-point lead over Gentry.
For Turner, the road to compete for the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Championship has been a long one. Known as “The Ironman” of the series, Turner has competed in 145 consecutive series events over eight seasons, or every event the series has held since its inception in 2005. He’s finished outside of the top 10 in the standings only once when he was 11th.
In 21 races this season, Turner has accumulated 1,782 points with one win, nine top five finishes, 16 top ten finishes, and one fast time award driving the Hedman Husler Special. Turner has completed 907 of a possible 910 laps of NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series competition in 2012, and he also leads the Hedman Husler Hard Charger point standings.
Turner has finished third in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series point standings twice, and was the series championship runner-up once. This week he is closer than he has ever been to capturing the NeSmith Cup and the $20,000 check that goes with it. As close as he is, Turner is still going to have to earn the title because Gentry is ready to race him hard for it.
Gentry knows how to win championships, as he has two NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series titles on his resume. Gentry would love to put the NeSmith Cup in between his 2006 and 2007 Championship trophies in his impressive trophy case.
In 2012 NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series competition, Gentry has 1,766 points with three wins, 11 top five finishes, 14 top ten finishes, and two fast time awards in 21 starts driving the Eads Farms/Hardy & Associates Warrior. Gentry hasn’t had the smoothest season in his career, as he and Turner have traded the point lead a couple of times this season, but Gentry still has a legitimate shot at his third title.
The championship scenario going into the eighth annual World Championship Race at Bubba Raceway Park shows that Turner has to finish seventh or better to clinch the championship. If Gentry wins the race and Turner finishes eighth, the two drivers would be tied in points, but Gentry would win the tiebreaker with more wins than Turner.
If Gentry doesn’t win the race, he would have to finish at least eight spots ahead of Turner to win the title. For Turner to keep the point lead and win the championship, all he has to do is keep Gentry close by and finish within seven spots of Gentry.