SEEKONK, Mass. -- As Bruce Buffer would say, “IT’S TIME!!!!!!” No, not for five rounds in the lightweight division, but the first-ever Drive For The Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuels at Seekonk Speedway. We were supposed to race two weeks ago, however, Mother Nature had other plans for us and the playoff standings were not to change.
Many wondered what the playoff field would wind up to be. Who would grab those last spots? Would there be movement up top? Now, all questions have been answered. Let’s preview the Fast Friday racing for September 9 in the first round of the Drive For The Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuels.
Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Bandits
Three weeks ago, we saw Milania Shilosky overtake first place in the points standings while Darren Krantz fell to second after a DNF. They’ll do battle along with Ryan Vanasse Jr., Collin Vanasse, Sam Macedo and Nick Uhrig Jr. to decide the 2022 Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Bandit champion.
Krantz is the reigning champion and won many races in the regular season, and has to enter as one of the favorites. Shilosky has constantly found herself on the podium along with Ryan Vanasse. These three are expected to go far in the playoffs and very well could make the Final Four. However, it’s anyone’s guess who will join them.
Collin Vanasse has been one of the more consistent drivers in this division. While he hasn’t held a checkered flag yet, consistently being in the top-five has led him to a playoff berth. Sam “The Green Hornet” Macedo fought some mechanical troubles throughout the season, and the same can be said for Nick Uhrig. In addition to mechanical problems, Uhrig had to miss a week due to his appendix wanting out of his body. Any one of these drivers can make it to the Fastest Four, it’ll just be a matter of who has a strong race at the right time. Remember, the first round could tell us a lot. With only six drivers involved in the Bandolero playoffs, only one of them will be eliminated after the first round on Friday, September 9. The lowest finishing of the six is out. Will it be a top contender?
Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero Outlaws
Chase Silvia has to be the clear favorite to win the Bandolero Outlaw title. With the speed and pure consistency this rising star has shown this year, it would be wrong to count him out. Silvia has nine victories in 12 races and has been on the podium in every single event. Even though a mechanical failure or wreck could knock him out early, a Final Four berth is a near guarantee for the driver of the No. 17 it looks like. Behind him, Bradley Strickland and Andrew Gomes have both recently proved that they can be consistent, and race with Silvia. Both of them have been to Victory Lane, and beat Silvia in a duel on those nights to do it. Can one of them compete with him in the playoffs?
Brent Robidoux enters the playoffs as the fourth seed, and after a year filled with ups and downs, including a victory and a night where one of his tires fell right off the car at speed, Robidoux has a good shot at becoming champion. Over the last two months, the speed has consistently improved in the No. 25 and he is more confident than ever before.
Adam Harrison and Joey LeMay are the two wild cards in the Bandolero Outlaws. Neither of them have been to Victory Lane this season and if you look at their stats, they are up and down, all over the place. Can one of them get the spark they need at the right time?
Similar to the Bandits, the Outlaw playoff field will dwindle from six to five after round one.
Everett’s Auto Parts Sport 4’s
Points wise, Crystal Murray and Tyler Duhancik ended the regular season neck and neck in the Everett’s Auto Parts Sport 4 division. Murray grabbed the first seed, with Tyler settling for second after 12 events. Entering the playoffs, it seems these two are the clear favorites in the eight-car field. Crystal Murray has won three times this year and Tyler has two victories. If they both don’t make the Final Four, it would be a surprise. Who would win between the two? It’s anyone’s guess. The numbers and 38 and 48 are the top drivers to contend with here.
Behind them, names like Henry Lavallee, Jarrod Freitas and Taylor Bowser are among the challengers who are likely to join them in the Final Four. The first two have won this year, and Bowser grabbed a career best podium just over a month ago. Will any of these drivers have two strong runs to make the Final Four, then give Murray and Duhancik a run for the crown? Only time will tell.
The three dark horses in the Sport 4 class are Stephanie Brunueau, Daniel Hayes and Justin Leduc. Based on what we have seen on the track this year, it would be hard to imagine they are going to compete to win the title. But with this new playoffs system, you really never know. Can they sneak their way into the Final Four?
Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Pure Stocks
The Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Pure Stocks title chase might be the most wide open of all of them entering the playoffs. Danny Massa and Sam Lincoln were together at the top of the point standings when the regular season ended, with Greg Perry not far behind. All three of them have shown consistent speed and each have been to Victory Lane in their 2022 campaign. Massa and Perry have the most experience in the group, and should be good bets to make the Final Four. Lincoln might be the new man to the group up front, but with the speed in that No. 34, and former division champion Doug Benoit on his side, look out for Lincoln to get there.
Mike Henriques, Jordan Threlfall, Jeremy Lambert, Mike Rotondo and Ethan Souza will join them in the Drive For The Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuels. It’s hard to pick the favorites out of this group, as all of them have been consistent at times, and not at others. Henriques is a multiple-time winner this season and should be a major threat to make the Final Four and win the crown out of this group. Threlfall, Lambert and Souza have also won this year, but been all over the place with consistency for most of the summer. In the No. 12, Rotondo is certainly a dark horse heading into the playoffs, a driver who has speed, but hasn’t been able to break onto the podium yet. Now would be a good time for him to get there.
Who will make the Final Four in this division? It seems like a toss-up, but it’s sure to be exciting as their playoffs begin this week.
Nick’s Pit Stop Legends
Devin Deshaies drove away with the number one playoff seed in the final laps of the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars season, but he’s far from the only threat to race for the title. Driving the same car Luke Lebrun won the championship with last year in the Nick Lascuola Racing stable, Deshaies is going to be one of the favorites, and it would be no surprise to see him hoist the crown after three rounds. But he has to get to the Final Four first.
Brendon Hammann, Nicholaus Bulkeley, Reese Bogue, Isaiah Newcomb, Mason Tessier, Jake Silvia and Josh Parsons are joining Deshaies in the battle. Each of them have their own unique story from 2022. Hammann won two of the first three races, then went quiet, then returned with a vengeance at the end of the regular season. Bulkeley has never won, but man, has he been consistent towards the end of the summer, up there every week. Bogue, a regular in the NASCAR Late Models on Saturday as well, has been up and down this year. Newcomb is a winner, and has speed, while Tessier started off slow, but came on strong in the summer with multiple wins.
Silvia got suspended for two races early in the season then stormed back to make the playoffs and Parsons has been quiet for most of the year, but did grab one win.
Who will make the Final Four here? No one knows. This is a wide open race. And any of the eight could end up champion and no one at the track would be surprised!
The Seekonk Speedway Drive For The Cup presented by Sunoco Race Fuels begins on Friday, September 9. In the first round the Bandolero fields will be cut from six to five drivers. In the remaining divisions, the field will be cut from eight to six drivers. Racing on Friday begins at 7 p.m., and tickets are available in advance today by visiting SeekonkSpeedway.com. You can also follow the track on social media for the latest information and news.
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Seekonk Speedway Features stories on the Stars and Cars that race at Seekonk Speedway