What is done is done, what will be is excitement! The United States Lawn Mower Racing Association STA-BIL Lawn & Garden Mower Racing Series heads to MOWHIO. Yes, the grass has settled on the regular season and the STA-BIL Keeps Gas Fresh Finals are upon us! Shops, garages, sheds, porches and driveways across the nation are in full swing in preparation. One race left to culminate a years labor. 229 drivers entered 20 races over 5 months and in a few short days 7 Mowchines will carry their helmet clad turf warriors to glory. A permanent place in the history of lawn mower racing will be owned by the racer who finishes atop their class. Many drivers have earned their spots at the top of the leader board, but in the end there can be only 7!
How did these soon to be legends of the year 2011 get here? Let’s look first at how the points are set. Quick and dirty it is like this: 600 points go to the winner of each event. Top 5 places drop 50 points with 5th place being awarded 400. Anyone who enters and completes a race earns 300 points. Each driver’s top 4 scores of the regular season are combined with the points received at finals to determine a racers final points for the season. Simply enough the driver with the most points in each class becomes the champion.
Already the first “What if” has hit us! What if there is a tie? Well then we look back at the season and things like who attended the most races, placed the best, etc. are taken into consideration. The scenarios I am about to give you do account for those considerations. A national champion is a driver who performs at the top of the field consistently. You will notice I did not say the top of “their game”, this is a case where “doing your best” will not always pay off! To be a champion you cannot be your best, you must be THE best!
So now you understand a little better how the system works, let’s start looking at classes and who is, who could be, who has a chance and who just doesn’t! There are some assumptions that will be made simply for the sake of brevity, to cover every possible “what if” would be insane and we would all be at home still reading this instead of cheering on our favorites in Ohio! We are going to assume for the most part that the drivers at the top of the standings are going to show up & finish the race, after all they usually do, that’s how they got to the top of the list! With that assumption made, and the fact that they will receive 300 points simply for finishing the Finals there is no reason to consider any driver more than 300 points behind the leader as even a contender for the top spots. Usually these points updates talk about what happened last weekend, who did what, what effect that had on the Series points standings, yadda, yadda, turf, turf Cocka Doodle Snoozy who cares it doesn’t matter now! So, On with the MOW!
- JP – John Michael Bell has to be the hands down favorite with 7 season wins and his only finish not a win being a 3rd place in Englewood, Tn. If #497 from Tennessee keeps one of the top2 places he is Champ! However should he fall back to the #3 spot or farther, things can happen! Should Hayden Martin or Lauren Filos beat John Michael by 2 places or more, they will take his big Trophy home with them. JP Rookie sensation Wyatt Sullivan could do it with a 3-mower spread over John Michael so long as Lauren is behind him and Hayden is at least 2 back. Mariah Peeler has an outside chance at it but it is a real long shot, and the final driver with even a glimmer of hope is another Rookie, Jordan Brown from Maryland. For Jordan to take top honors she would have to win and about every other top driver finish outside the top 5. As always the JP Class will boil down to who gets out fast and doesn’t mess it up!
- IMOW – Wally Bender is going to win, Unless Pat Sullivan or Chris Van Maastricht beat him, other than that do we really even need to talk about it? Dawn Filos does have a chance, but she has to win and none of the 3 drivers who own 14 of 20 wins can finish better than 5th! Though Jim Keech and Tommy Hawley are mathematical possibilities, for Jim to be Champion he would have to win and all 3 top dogs finish outside of the top 5. Wally Pat and Chris would have to all break down for Tommy to take the Championship! IMOW is going to be a 3 way race, which ever one finishes in front of the other 2 inside of the top 5 will be champion!
- AP – Wally Bender is going to win, unless Pat Sullivan beats him (where have I heard that before?). If Tommy Hawley beats Wally by 3 or the Outside chance that Pete Sullivan beats Wally by 4 and Pat by 2 . Pretty cut and dried isn’t it? However, AP is a class full of Spoilers this year, Tony Thompson, Lee Grover, Dan Mongan and Matt Tucker are all outside the top 5 and all have found the winners circle this year. It would be easy for the top qualifiers to find themselves unseated in Mowhio!
- SP – Wally Bender is going to win, if he beats Richard Webb and he needs to beat Jason Brown by 2 spots. Should Wally beat Jason by only one spot, the championship would actually boil down to the drawing of lots! Michael Paccione needs to gain 100 points on Wally and 150 on Webb and Brown which would be a tall order indeed, but we are playing “what if” remember! Jackie Andrews is our long shot here; if them rambunctious boys up front get too rambunctious Jackie could capitalize!
- CP – Lee Grover comes in with the only quad in CP and 66% win average making him the bookmaker’s man. However with his low race count even though he has a 50 point advantage over 2 time and defending class champion Pete Sullivan, Pete only needs to finish in front of Grover and no more than one spot behind his Rocket Man Racing Teammate Michael Paccione to become Three-Pete! That would have Mike really hating that one fall out of the top five in McDonough Georgia early this season! If Mike is able to keep only one mower between both Pete and Lee, he does have a valid shot at the Title. Tom Hawley would need 2 spots on Paccione with Lee and Pete behind him to get the job done. Bill Campbell could be a wild card win and Tommy Hawley has had an up and down season but managed to keep himself in theoretical contention for the Trophy he let slip away after leading the points most of the 2010 season. It would take several top-notch drivers having low rung days to put one of those two in the books!
- BP – How do you not call Jayson Mikula the man to beat? We could start with the fact that Ronald Rollman has finished in front of Jayson 3 out of the 4 times they met this season, Chuck Miller has gone 50-50 with the 5 time champ, as a matter of fact the Boogie Woogie Man gained 3 of his quad by beating the big target! So we have the USLMRA’s most experienced veteran, most accomplished BP Champion and the Class rookie battling for this years top spot in the top class! Jason Brown and Jim Mikula could be champ, assuming a 3-mower pile up and Jamie Maurice would need the race scored in reverse!
- FX – Wally Bender is NOT going to win! OK, so he might win Finals, but he is the last man possible for the Championship, and some good guys have to go down for that to happen! OK I called AP the class of spoilers, well FX should have everyone on their feet! USLMRA newcomer Chris Cox shares the top spot with Crafty Veteran Greg Honchell. Either one of those two have an excellent shot at the championship. But I think FX will not be about who is in contention, but about the guys who are not! Manny Torres is coming off an injury in Bowles Farm, will he be able to race? We will most likely have to wait until Saturday for that answer! Mark Moran has a very viable shot at glory being only 100 points back. But look at who does not have a shot at the title…Kevin Penne, Mike Miller, Tony Hinson, Matt Tucker and Dan Mongan all know how to find the fast way around Delaware blind folded! It would not be surprising at all for the points leaders to find themselves running outside the top 5! I would not want to take bets on that class but if I must I would call Honchell the Odds on favorite.
As in everything, you get out of racing what you put into it. The drivers sitting on top of the class at the end of the day will be the ones who worked all year for it and did not slow down for anyone. There is a reason we call them Champ, and it is always a title earned the hard way. We all go to Mowhio with less than we take away from Mowhio though! Win lose or draw you are guaranteed to have more friends and better memories on September 5th than you did On September 2nd and that makes us all winners. If that were not true, I wouldn’t go! So pack up the trailer, tell the boss to go eat grass and I will see you in MOWHIO !!!