By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Since this is our the Racing Notebook of the year -- we're giving way to high school football next week -- it seems appropriate to look back at the top 10 stories of the Quincy Raceways season.
1. The track is for sale: The July 28 revelation by owners Paul Holtschlag and Bob Rhinberger was expected by many, but the finality of the announcement still caught some off guard.
The current ownership is looking to sell or lease the 20-acre property at 8000 Broadway, and if neither is accomplished before the 2014 season the 39-year-old facility will be closed for weekly racing. Holtschlag said a few special shows might be run, but as far as weekly racing would be concerned the answer was a firm "no."
Negotiations are ongoing with several different parties, and Holtschlag said he remains confident a deal will get done in some form before the end of the calendar year.
Until then, local race fans can do nothing but keep their fingers crossed.
2. Most exciting class: The unofficial award would have to go to the modifieds, who most Sunday nights have slam-banged their way to both controversy and excitement.
Steven DeLonjay has dominated the series to this point with 10 feature wins in 14 weeks, but the excitement involving and around him has been tremendous.
3. Most dominant driver: Take your pick, Tony Dunker in the sport mods or Steven DeLonjay in the modifieds.
Dunker continued a run that started in 2012 that has seen him finish first or second in 27 consecutive features. DeLonjay might have added to his 10-feature total if not for three DNFs. No other driver in any of the remaining three weekly series has come close to these two in dominating an entire class.
4. Most exciting race: It would be hard to top Bobby Pierce edging Brandon Sheppard by 0.031 of a second last Sunday in the late model feature.
The race also showcased two of the future late model stars, not only on a regional level, but nationwide as well.
Pierce, of Danville, Ill., is 16, and Sheppard, of New Berlin, Ill., is 20. Sheppard is also the reigning UMP Summer Nationals Hell Tour champion.
5. Most popular victory: Without question, Shawn Deering's win in last week's modified main event.
When Deering, 39, accepted the checkered flag it ended a frustrating (and lengthy) winless run for him. Deering had raced since 2006 without a feature victory, a period that covered 132 races. He had finished second seven times.
6. Most unexpected success story: Brandon Savage showed up early this season with his No. 47 stock car, and he has taken the division by storm.
If he had been around all year it's conceivable he would be battling Abe Huls and Terry Houston for the series title.
As it stands, Savage has finished first or second in six of the last seven features.
7. Can she do it?: No female driver has ever won a track title at Quincy, but Kim Abbott in the sport compacts has a chance. She is tied with Austen Becerra for the series points lead going into Sunday night.
Incredibly, Abbott has positioned herself for a title shot without winning a feature or leading a feature lap. Barring rainouts, there are six weeks of racing left.
8. Most exciting show: Anytime the UMP Summer Nationals Hell Tour is in town it's usually a great night.
This year was no exception.
The largest crowd (more than 3,000) in roughly four years was on hand July 2 to see Shannon Babb win his third Hell Tour event at Quincy. Brian Shirley and Pierce filled out the podium.
9. The track: For the large majority of the season, the racing surface has been excellent.
There were a couple of rough weeks early, due largely to the spring rains, where the surface was a problem, but other than that Boomer Renard and the rest of the track crew deserve a major thumps up.
10. Best effort: The Dunkers, Pat and Tony, spearheaded an effort that raised a record sport mod purse for the "Battle of the Bullring" on July 2.
But only 19 cars in that class showed up -- when a minimum of 35 had been anticipated.
But that car count should not overshadow all of the legwork and fundraising the Dunkers and those who helped them put in for that show. The only losers that night were the sport mod drivers who did not show up.
Don't forget racing starts at 5:30 p.m. Sunday. That's an hour earlier than the summer schedule.
With school back in session, track ownership is making an effort to get everyone home at a decent time. The 5:30 starts will be in effect through the remainder of the schedule, which runs until the end of September.
PICKS TO CLICK
What to watch for Sunday night at 8000 Broadway:
Pick to click: Feeling a victory for the No. 27 car and driver Jason Perry.
Best bet for a comeback: The White (yes, White) Car Superstar is about due to flash some of that 2012 domination. Either that, or he's going to owe me a burger from the Butcher Block.
That's a fact, Jack: Michael Long (67), Ricky Frankel (61) and Brandon Sheppard (61) have led the most feature laps. And Bobby Pierce, who has won the last two features, is closing fast at 42.
Pick to click: This series is developing into a sheet-metal version of Wrestlemania. Last week's 11 cautions illustrate that point. With that in mind and "Only the Strong Survive" by Jerry Butler playing in mind, my choice for victory lane this week is points leader Steven DeLonjay. But I fully expect a lot more rubbin' to again accompany the racin'.
Best bet for a comeback: Dave Wietholder, who will be on even more of a mission than DeLonjay.
That's a fact, Jack: Counting last Sunday, there have been four features this season not won by DeLonjay. The first three times that happened he bounced back the ensuing week to take the checkered flag. Will he make it four times this Sunday?
Pick to click: Tony Dunker will tie the modern-era track record with his sixth straight main event victory.
Best bet for a comeback: In case you missed it last Sunday, Todd Reed is back at the Bullring. He made his debut in the sport mods and ran a strong third. He deserves the first-ever "honorary comeback" for that effort.
That's a fact, Jack: Dunker has now led more feature laps than all of the other drivers in the series combined.
Pick to click: Abe? Terry? Brandon? Abe Huls won last week, Brandon Savage the week before. That should make it Terry Houston's turn, eh?
Best bet for a comeback: Troy Brierton has shown flashes of brilliance, but has never been able to put a complete night together. Maybe this Sunday will be the night.
That's a fact, Jack: Abe Huls has won a heat race four straight weeks.
Pick to click: Laine Van Zant. He might not be mathematically able to win the title, but he'll play an important role in who does -- and doesn't.
Best bet for a comeback: Either Pat Dunker, or The Tire.
That's a fact, Jack: Austen Becerra's feature win last Sunday gave him back-to-back victories. He's the second sport compact driver in the series to accomplish that this season. He joins Dunker in that select club.