CONCORD, N.C. - A pair of New Mexico drivers are locked in a battle for the championship of the inaugural DIRTcar Late Model Tri-Track Challenge.
A new points series designed to provide more opportunities and recognition for DIRTcar Late Model competitors in the New Mexico/West Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming areas, the Tri-Track Challenge is boiling down to a neighborly struggle between Garrett Alberson and Jimmy Ray, both of Las Cruces, N.M.
Alberson, 23, has the upper hand following the Labor Day weekend racing activities, leading the standings by 197 points (1,221-1,024) over the 62-year-old Ray. One month of action remains in the Challenge, which is focused on weekly DIRTcar-sanctioned racing at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces, Gillette (Wyo.) Thunder Speedway and I-76 Speedway in Fort Morgan, Colo., and also includes local events run at El Paso (Texas) Speedway Park, Aztec (N.M.) Speedway, Philips County Speedway in Holyoke, Colo., and Casper (Wyo.) Speedway.
The DIRTcar Late Model Tri-Track Challenge is doing exactly what we envisioned giving weekly Late Model drivers at tracks like Southern New Mexico Speedway, Gillette Thunder Speedway and I-76 Speedway a chance to race for another DIRTcar points title, said Chris Morgan, Director of Western Operations for World Racing Group/DIRTcar.
DIRTcar is committed to building Late Model racing and growing car counts across New Mexico, West Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming, and providing teams another opportunity to compete in a regional points program in 2012 certainly helps move us in the right direction.
The more excitement and financial incentives we can provide the regions DIRTcar Late Model class, the more likely it is that the division will grow stronger in the future.
The Tri-Track Challenge makes three separate points races that DIRTcar Late Model drivers in the region can chase in 2012, joining the DIRTcar State and national programs. Currently $1,000 in points-fund cash will be divided by the top-five finishers in the Tri-Track Challenge standings, and those drivers and others can also claim awards from the DIRTcar State ($5,860 total) and national ($65,000-plus) points funds.
On the strength of a spectacular season, Alberson is in the drivers seat for the Tri-Track Challenge crown. With drivers best 15 finishes/points nights counting toward their points total, the 2011 Championship Late Model Association DIRTcar Series Rookie of the Year already has 17 top-five finishes in 19 feature starts, highlighted by 11 victories (six at Southern New Mexico, five at El Paso).
Alberson spent the Labor Day weekend competing in the two-day Floyd Reynolds Memorial at Aztec Speedway. He finished fourth on Sept. 1 and third on Sept 2, continuing his string of solid performances in 2012.
Ray, meanwhile, also has 15 top-five finishes and hasnt finished worse than seventh in 18 feature starts, but his win total lags behind Albersons. The veteran driver, who co-owns Southern New Mexico Speedway with Royal Jones, owns two checkered flags at El Paso and one at SNMS. He did not compete in a DIRTcar-sanctioned Late Model event last weekend.
In the bigger DIRTcar Late Model points picture, entering Labor Day weekend Alberson was second in the Western States points standings and 88th in the national rankings. Ray was third and 92nd, respectively, in the pair of points battles.
Another driver from Las Cruces, N.M., Dave Deetz holds the third-place position in the Tri-Track Challenge points standings. While hes still looking for his first win of 12, he has only one finish outside the top 10 in 17 starts an 11th-place finish on Sept. 2 at Aztec.
Marty Erivez of Gillette, Wyo., is Gillette Thunder Speedways top representative in the Tri-Track Challenge points standings, sitting fourth. He has one win and 10 top-five finishes in 15 starts this season at the three-eighths-mile oval.
Cliff Hansen of El Paso, Texas, rounds out the top five in the Tri-Track Challenge points rankings.