XENIA — It takes some good fortune, driving talent, a good team and plenty of consistency to win a season points championship in auto racing, and drivers Drew Charleson, Jack Jones, Phil Gussler Jr. and Dusty Harding had plenty of that to claim their respective driving championships after the inaugural Gem City Auto Racing series championship wrapped up on Sept. 29 at Kil-Kare Raceway.
Charleson of New Bremen finished with 310 points to edge Xenia’s Ryan Fleming to win the inaugural GCAR Late Model division crown.
He won the late model series feature on June 4 and never finished worse than third during the seven-race late model schedule. While Fleming finished with three feature wins, a seventh-place finish (Charleson was third) on May 7 allowed Charleson to pull away in points, then a fifth-place finish on Aug. 27 (to Charleson’s runner-up finish) dropped Fleming further behind the eventual champion.
In the E-Modified series points race, Kettering’s Jamie Sites may have racked up more feature wins (4) than Beavercreek’s Jack Jones (who had three), but Jones placed among the top-4 finishers in all but one race this season. Sites, on the other hand, finished sixth or worse in the four feature races that he didn’t win.
As a result, Jones won the points chase by a solid margin, 375.5 to 279.5.
The Street Stock and Compact divisions ended their seasons on Aug. 27.
Street Stocks came down to a battle between Columbus drivers Phil Gussler Jr. and Jacob Muncy, with Gussler Jr. earning points with more on-track consistency to claim a 350 to 290 points margin for the win.
Gussler Jr. ran in all seven Street Stock features, placing fourth or better in each race with three wins.
Muncy claimed three feature wins as well, and never finished lower than second in any race in which he competed. But he lost valuable points when he did not compete in the opening and closing events of the season.
The Compact division battle came down to consistency as well.
Columbus’s Dusty Harding had a sixth-place finish on Aug. 13 as his only Compact feature finish outside the top five. Meanwhile, fellow Columbusite Corey Kyer lost valuable points with an 11th-place finish in the series’ second event on April 23 (while Harding placed fifth). Harding finished with 315 popints to Kyer’s 279.
The points system was devised by Greene County News sports editor John Bombatch. A total of 50 points went to each feature race winner, with second receiving 45 points, and each subsequent finisher receiving five points less, down to 5 points for a 10th-place finish. Points were then awarded in single-point increments down to 14th, then 15th place earned half a point.
While there has been no official word on whether the GCAR series will return to Kil-Kare Raceway in 2018, the series’ website posted this message:
“We are looking forward to our next season … We want to thank everyone for coming out to the race this season. Let’s give a big thanks to all the people who made this happen. Big thanks to Oakley Blacktop for opening the track up and getting things started. Let’s keep the cars rolling and the track hot!”
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.