By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Showdown Sunday has arrived for the closest late model points chase in the 37-year history of Quincy Raceways.
Lonnie Bailey and Justin Reed are deadlocked for the lead, and Keith Pratt is just four points back. Barring a crash or mechanical issues, the championship will not be decided until the 30th and final lap of tonight's feature.
There will be genuine historical significance for whoever wins the championship. Here's a look at what's at stake this evening:
º Age: 46.
º Best late model points showings: first in 2009 and 2004, second in 2007, 2005, 2003 and 2002.
º A championship will give him four overall track titles (three in a late model). Only seven other drivers can claim that many: Mark Burgtorf (14), Hank DeLonjay (13), Steve Fraise (9), Steve Carlin (4), Eddie Dieker (4), Terry Gallaher (4) and Sam Burgtorf (4). A fourth title could all but cement what is probably already a Hall of Fame career.
º Bailey would become just the fourth late model driver with three or more championships, joining Mark Burgtorf, Fraise and Gallaher.
º If Bailey wins the championship or winds up runner-up, it will give him seven finishes in the last 10 years of either first or second.
º Age: 24.
º Best late model points showings: second in 2009, third in 2010 and 2008.
º A title for Reed would make him only the eighth driver to win championships in two classes. Reed won the 2009 modified title. A championship also would erase some of the pain from 2009, when Reed finished a close runner-up and Bailey won his second late model championship.
º Reed is all but guaranteed of a top-three points finish for a fourth straight season. In the IMCA era (since 1998) at the track, only Mark Burgtorf and Bailey can claim such an accomplishment.
º Age: 31.
º Best late model points showings: fifth in 2010, sixth in 2009 and 2000.
º Pratt has an opportunity to be only the second late model driver in the IMCA era to claim the track's unofficial "triple crown" -- winning the midseason and season championship races, plus the points title. Pratt won the June 29 midseason championship race, and he'll likely have to win tonight's season championship race to have a shot at the points title. The only other driver to win a late model triple crown since 1998 was Mark Burgtorf in 2006 and 2003. Jason Perry won last year's season championship race.
º If Pratt winds up fourth or better in the points, it will mark the third straight year he has improved his final points standing. That would be the longest such streak among active drivers. Perry had improved his standing four straight years going into 2010, but that skein will end tonight. He was second in points a year ago, but currently sits 12th with no mathematical chance of reaching the top 10.
º Once again, barring any unforeseen or unusual developments, this will go down as the closest late model points finish ever. The three previous are:
2004: Bailey held off Brent Slocum to win by four points. Slocum, who won the 2002 title, died the following season in an accident in the pits at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa.
2009: Bailey again was involved in a close championship call, turning back none other than Reed to win the crown by six points.
2010: Denny Woodworth won his first late model title by eight points over Jason Perry.
Showdown Sunday II
The rest of the weekly series -- modifieds, stock cars, hobby stocks, wild things and sport mods -- will have their championships decided Sept. 18. All of those classes are in action tonight. Racing starts at 6:30.