Short-track stock car racing fans will be able to double their pleasure on Saturday night at Kern County Raceway.
The October Classic, a two-day event last year, has been condensed into a one night show featuring the top two Western touring series: The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and the Spears Southwest Tour.
“We’re just trying to put on the best show possible,” said KCRP General Manager Larry Collins.
It’s a throwback event for the Southwest Tour Series and a bit of a throwback in the West series as well as a good old fashioned rivalry has developed among a pair of rookies.
Both have some unique storylines heading into the penultimate points race for each series.
First, a look at the Southwest Tour:
Several drivers will have their cars wrapped in throwback themes, some resembling old Cup cars, others a throwback to earlier Southwest Tour or Late Model times. The best-looking car will win a free set of Hoosier Tires.
On the racing side, there will be more than usual. The top eight qualifiers will compete in an 8-lap trophy dash to determine the top spots in the Bulwark FR 100 feature. A pair of 8-lap heat races will set the rest of the starting order.
“We’ve never done this before in the series, we’re doing it because of the whole throwback theme,” Collins said.
“Back in the day you got to see trophy dashes and heat races. It will be interesting.”
The preliminary events add a bit of intrigue as good or bad fortune there could play into a points battle where the top three drivers are separated by just 49 points.
Cole Moore leads the way with Linny White 29 behind. Lurking in third, 49 back, is four-time series champ Derek Thorn, who missed a race yet has a shot at another title.
A win is worth 180 points, with 170 for second. The difference between first and fifth is 25 points.
Thorn is coming off a win at Madera, his fourth of the year.
“Winning three straight won’t get him the championship by itself, but he puts a lot of pressure on guys,” Collins said.
On the West side, Derek Kraus (four wins, nine top fives) holds a 40-point lead over Trevor Huddleston (two wins, six top fives).
Kraus has won three straight races at KCRP — the finale in 2017 and the opener and finale in 2018 — and is looking for his first West championship
While Kraus has a solid cushion (the maximum points difference between first and 10th is just 14), it’s a tight battle right behind him.
Jagger Jones, coming off his first career West win at Roseville on Oct. 12, is just a point behind Huddleston and Haillie Deegan (one win) is three points behind Jones.
Jones (six top fives) and Deegan are battling for rookie of the year honors and a simmering feud between the two heated up in Roseville when Jones sent Deegan, who was running second, spinning on the 25th lap.
Deegan stayed on the lead lap and recovered to finish second but was none too happy about the early contact.
“When it comes to Jagger, I’d say I run people how they run me,” she told NASCAR.com. “It comes and goes. I moved him for a win, I didn’t take him out, but I definitely gave him one of those (bumps) to move him up the track just a little bit. I didn’t clean him out. You get what you give.”
It’s been a bump-and run season at many tracks.
Deegan bumped Jones out of the way on the last lap for a win.
Kraus sent Jones spinning with just over a lap to go in Idaho on Sept. 28, causing a multi-car wreck that also collected Deegan and Huddleston.
Heck, Deegan even moved teammate Kraus for a last-lap win in Colorado back in June.
Kraus and Deegan are Bill McAnally Racing teammates while Jones and Huddleston compete for Bob Bruncati racing.
Tug those belts tight. It could be a wild night in the Napa Auto Parts/ENEOS 150.