- 27 August 2014
Salem, NH - The culmination of the 2014 Atlantic Championship comes down to the final two races of the season at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. Daniel Burkett has the championship title tightly in his grasp, however, there are a couple extreme situations that could jeopardize it for him. The young Canadian driver’s biggest competition comes from American Atlantic Creations driver Jimmy Simpson, who currently sits second in points. It would take a very strong performance from Simpson at Thompson and some bad luck for Burkett in order for Simpson to take the title.
The last two races at Thompson are much more important for the remaining drivers in the top five positions. Without any drops calculated in, Polestar’s Keith Grant, sits third, with the K-Hill Motorsports father-son Kearby duo sitting right behind him, Conner fourth and Gaston fifth. Chomping at the bit to get into the five are Ethan Ringel and Matt Miller, who are currently sixth and seventh respectively. The points spread from Grant to Miller is only 56 points. The highest points value a single driver can earn in one race is 55 points.
All of these drivers have had good season finishes and have been very consistent. Most of them have had only one bad race or so, leaving them to possibly drop only one point. Ringel is one of the drivers who will only drop one point due to a race he did not complete. Ringel says that he is “going to try to gather as many points at as possible, and am hoping to win a race at Thompson”. Chances are, the drops that are allowed in the final points calculations at the end of the season will have little to impact on the final standings.
The Kearbys are right in the middle of the points battle for top positions to finish out the season. Conner only nine points ahead of his father, said: "I'm going to have my work cut out for me, and a few things will need to happen if I'm going to be able to move up into third before it's all said and done. I'm just going to try and get the most out of this weekend as I can, see where we end up, then begin looking forward to what next season holds."
Throughout the season, Gaston has been right on his son’s tail in every race. They have constantly battled each other for positions and proven to work well together. Although neither one will admit to hoping to beat the other, they both have highly competitive spirits. Gaston stated: "We turned an entire day's worth of laps at Thompson earlier this month in preparation for this weekend. Conner and I are in a good position to defend our spots in the top five, and perhaps even advance, so we'll need to stay focused to get it done. We have a great team with K-Hill, so I'm confident we can make things happen."
The Atlantic Challenge is also going to be highly contentious at Thompson Speedway. The points drops play a little bit more of a role in these standings, but currently Tyler Hunter sits on top either way the points are calculated. However, second, Dwight Rider, and third, Bruce Hamilton, are both within striking distance for the title.
These last two races at Thompson Speedway are what the whole season comes down to for these Atlantic drivers. They have spent the summer gaining points, but with most of them so close to each other in standings, they will all have a big fight on their hands. Some will be trying just to defend their position and many will be challenging them with everything they have to earn the last few points of the season.
Rounds nine and ten of the Atlantic Championship Series start at Thompson Speedway on Friday with official practice (Thursday is a full test day), followed by qualifying and race one on Saturday August 30th, and qualifying and race two on Sunday.