Just when it appeared the Late Model Stock Car points race was down to a two-man competition, defending champion Dale DeLozier proved otherwise.
The Alexandria resident--who won last year's title despite not winning a race--won the Late Model race at Old Dominion Speedway on Saturday night for the first time in his five years in the division. The victory moved DeLozier within 30 points of overall leader Mike Colabucci and just 12 points behind second-place Mark McFarland.
"Winning is definitely a plus," DeLozier said.
DeLozier led the points standings until roughly a month ago, when he began experiencing mechanical problems in the rear of his car. The problems persisted in the following weeks, leaving DeLozier with subpar finishes and a fall to third place. Before Saturday's race, he installed the rear-end from his backup car, and the results were obvious.
He just hopes it's not too late.
"The pressure is on me, that's for sure," DeLozier said. "Between Mike and Mark, even if they finish one position ahead of me, they beat me. I just have to keep focused. I have a good car and a good team and all, so I just have to see what I have to do."
McFarland, meanwhile, was slowed by a cut tire in his quest for a national championship. If McFarland overtakes Colabucci, he almost certainly would win the NASCAR national title, which is determined by a points system based on a driver's number of wins, number of races competed in and the average number of cars in the field. A rating is created from those categories, and the driver with the highest rating who leads his local track in points is named the national champion. McFarland currently has the highest rating, but because he trails Colabucci in points, he is not eligible for the title.
McFarland finished 12th after blowing a tire with 40 laps remaining in the 200-lap race. He now trails Colabucci by 18 points.
The pressure of winning a local and national title was not a factor Saturday night, McFarland said. He said he is simply trying to ignore all talk of a championship.
"I hear it everywhere," McFarland said. "I just try not to pay any attention to it. I just try and focus on what we have to do, which is win races. If we do that, everything will take care of itself."
Colabucci failed to take advantage of McFarland's woes, finishing seventh after suffering mechanical problems of his own.
Dustin Storm finished second and continues to be among the points leaders in sixth place. Danny Fair followed Storm across the finish line and was trailed by Dickie Boswell and Jack Bailey. . . .
Tom Dyson also is hot on the trail of a national championship. The current Old Dominion Speedway Grand Stock points leader and NASCAR Short Track leader placed second to Chris Donnelly, who earned his third victory of the season.
Late Model: 1, Dale DeLozier, Alexandria; 2, Dustin Storm, Prince Frederick, Md.; 3, Danny Fair, Manassas; 4, Dickie Boswell, Friendship, Md.; 5, Jack Bailey Jr., Stafford.
Grand Stock: 1, Chris Donnelly, Stafford; 2, Tom Dyson, Manassas; 3, Jeff Callihan, Fredericksburg; 4, Stan Owens, Haymarket; 5, Randy Bragg, Annandale.
Mini-Stock: 1, Mike Bryant, Midland; 2, Doug Freeman, Fredericksburg; 3, Rick Bowman, Catlett; 4, Jason Lineweaver, Stephens City; 5, Steve Coleman, Fredericksburg.
Speedway Sportsman: 1, Dennis Tobin, Stafford; 2, Scott Lunceford, Burke; 3, Ted Queen, Manassas; 4, Ray Miller, Manassas; 5, Jeff Sisak, Linden.
Late Model: 1, Mike Colabucci, Waldorf, 724; 2, Mark McFarland, Winchester, 706; 3, DeLozier, 694.
Grand Stock: 1, Dyson, 752; 2, Owens, 736; 3, Callihan, 708.
Mini-Stock: 1, Freeman, 636; 2, Bryant, 632; 3, Lineweaver, 630.
Speedway Sportsman: 1, Jim Todd Jr., Casanova, 702; 2, Lunceford, 672; 3, Sisak, 642.