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Buckle up for big finish

Wayne Walsh of C.B.S. is the current NASCAR Division I leaders in the NAPA Autoparts Sportsman Division at Avondale’s Eastbound Speedway. The 2017 season winds up this weekend.
Wayne Walsh of C.B.S. is the current NASCAR Division I leaders in the NAPA Autoparts Sportsman Division at Avondale’s Eastbound Speedway. The 2017 season winds up this weekend.

By Tim Terry Special to The Telegram

The final two races of the season, the Parts for Trucks 150 Finale and the Wounded Warriors Memorial Race Day, are set for Saturday and Sunday at Eastbound Speedway in Avondale, culminating with the 2017 NASCAR championship.

The NAPA Auto Parts Sportsman division has seen victory lane virtually owned by Wayne Walsh of C.B.S. and Chance Cove’s Shane Coffen. The pair has won eight of the 12 feature races contested in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Division I at Eastbound, with Walsh registering five victories to Coffen’s trio of wins.

Walsh has a comfortable 61-point lead over Jason Groves, the 2016 provincial NASCAR champion from Heart’s Desire who typically finds his way to the front of the field when it counts. While he has a big gap to make up on finale weekend, nothing is out of the question with three feature races on the table, including the Parts for Trucks 150 Saturday evening.

Coffen, Mitchell Fahey of Carbonear and Sportsman freshman Mark Best from the Goulds find themselves deadlocked for third in the standings. They, along with the ageless Ches Cole of Torbay, will look to battle it out for the top five in points with three races on tap this weekend.

Five drivers have visited victory lane in NAPA Auto Parts Sportsman feature action. In addition to Walsh and Coffen, Best, Brandon McFarlane of Placentia and Dean Martin of Torbay each own wins on the season.

A total of 30 drivers have participated in the class this season, making it one of the healthiest Late Model type divisions in Eastern Canada.

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The battle in the Atlantic Dodge Dealers Hobby Stock division is sure to go down to the last laps on Sunday afternoon to determine a 2017 champion. Shane Collins of Placentia enters the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Division II title fight with a slim three-point edge on Shayne Petten of C.B.S.

Both have been in a see-saw battle all year. Collins has a slight edge on feature wins with three, while Petten has two to his resume in 2017. Of note, Collins was the most recent winner, taking two wins during the K&N Filters Night festivities last month.

Third through sixth in the standings find themselves with an 18-point window heading into Saturday and Sunday’s main events. Robbie Cable of Conception Bay South has the advantage, holding the third place spot with Carbonear’s Andrew Morgan, Cody Lake of Placentia and Randy Cable of Conception Bay South all fighting for the final valuable championship points on the line.

Mark Best, Devon Morgan and Andrew Morgan each have single feature wins in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Division II Atlantic Dodge Dealers Hobby Stocks, with two races on the table this weekend.

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The closest point battle at Eastbound Park heading into the final weekend of the year is in the Hanlon Realty Legend division. The INEX-sanctioned division sees Lloyd Eason Jr. of C.B.S. lead the standings by five points over Chris Cooper of Old Shop, and by six points over Johnaton Norman of Shea Heights.

Eason Jr. and Norman each have a pair of feature wins on the season, while Cooper scored a popular win on Hickman Automotive Night in late July. Winterton’s Ryan St. George won the opening two features of the season back in May.

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The youngest stock car drivers in the province will duke it out once more in the Automotive Supplies Bandolero division. The drivers, aged eight to 15, thrill fans every time out on the track and will have two more chances this weekend to grab checkered flags before the snow flies.

Owen Groves of Hearts Desire leads sophomore driver Michael Neary of Portugal Cove-St. Philips by nine points heading into the double header weekend. Groves was the 2015 champion of the division, and has won five straight races on the season.

The only other feature winner on the season has been reigning champion Sara Thorne of Chance Cove. Thorne will be focused on defending third place over the two days of racing, with Torbay’s Nick Codner and Matthew Rideout of C.B.S. hot on her heels.

The Parts for Trucks 150 and the Wounded Warriors 75 Memorial Race will close off the 2017 season at Eastbound Park and is the final stock car race in the province on the year.

The Parts for Trucks 150 gets under way 2 p.m. Saturday with grandstand gates opening at 1 p.m. Sunday’s Wounded Warriors 75 Memorial Race, honoring No. 59 Dennis Weir and No. 68 Chris Ryan, will see the green flag fly at 1 p.m. with grandstands opening at noon.

Tickets are available at the gate or in advance at North Atlantic Orange Stores, and online at EastboundPark.com.

In addition to the racing, Eastbound stage the Spirit Riders Chase The Ace on both days, and Sunday will host “Coats for Kids”, allowing free admission of a child under 12 with every winter coat donated.

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