Clinching his first career points title is inevitable.
But Darryl Hoekstra will be looking to double his pleasure on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.
The 31-year-old Chatham driver will lock up the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified points title by starting the 30-lap championship race.
“It would mean a lot to my dad and the entire race team,” Hoekstra said about becoming the 2013 Modified points champion.
His father Eugene is a seven-time points champion (1979-83 Street Stocks, ‘89 Late Model and ‘92 Pro-IMCA).
The Hoekstra would join the Brett Reaume (’85 Sportsmen, ‘04 Great Lakes Late Models) and his son Andrew (’07-08 Late Models) as the only father-son championship duos in the 42-year track history.
“It would be neat to win the championship race too, there’s not too many father-sons who have won championship races,” Hoekstra said.
Eugene has won eight championship races, including sweeps of the points and race six times, the last coming in 1992.
Steve Shaw Jr., who won the Tirecraft Mini-Mod championship race two weeks, joined his father Steve Shaw, a five-time winner, as only the second father-son race winners in track history.
John Pinsonneault (’91 Stinger) and John Pinsonneault Jr. (’99 and ‘02 Comp 4) were the first.
With drivers lining up according to points, Hoekstra will have the option of starting inside or outside on the front row, as he takes an 80-point lead over Leamington’s Joel Dick into the night.
“We’ll see what the track is like, I’m thinking it’s going to be tacky so we might up taking the top,” Hoekstra said about where he will start and run the championship race.
“I enjoy running with Jimmy Dale Jr. and Joel Dick, they’re both clean drivers, so that will be nice for a change,” Hoekstra said about the second and third points drivers going into the night, who have combined to win the last three championship races.
Eugene Hoekstra, making his return to racing after a 15-year hiatus, is 14th in the standings. He gave up his car for his son to drive in June when Darryl’s car was severely damaged in a wreck.
With more than 20 cars expected to be in the starting grid, and the tendency for some rough races in recent weeks, Hoekstra is hoping for a clean 30 laps.
“I’m hoping there’s only a couple of cautions at the beginning of the race and the second half goes caution free, unless we’re running second or third,” he said with a laugh.
“When you’re running third, you’re only chance may be on a restart.
“I’m sure it’s going to get rough with guys jockeying for their positions in the second half, especially if there’s a lot of late cautions.”
Hoekstra has two feature wins and a division leading 10 checkered flags heading into championship night in just his second full-time season in the 36D Modified.
“I think it’s showing up every night to race, having a good crew and good equipment, and honestly, we’re a little more comfortable running the same car two years in a row,” Hoekstra said of his consistency.
“It’s been a phenomenal year, we just want a top-three finish for the championship night.”
Dick, the 2011 championship race winner, will have the other front-row starting position, as the Leamington driver leads the division with five features, including three in a row and four-of-five during a hot streak in late June-early July.
Dale Jr. won the last two points crowns as well as championship races in’10 and ‘12.
But after a feature win on opening night and four checkereds in the first three race nights, the Shrewsbury driver only managed five more checkereds the rest of the season.
“I can’t figure out how I’m that high, that’s the amazing part,” Dale Jr. said about his third-place standing.
“After opening night, I’ve done nothing,” added Dale Jr., who has gone through three motors and will be running on a patchwork power plant on Saturday in his bid for a second straight championship race win.
“More people have to have bad luck than me having good luck,” he said of his chances of winning.
Dale Jr. is one of two eight-time track champions in the race as Merlin’s Brad McLeod, who only ran a partial schedule, is 20th in points going into the night.
Two strong challengers starting deep in the field will be Merlin’s Joe Brosseau, a three-feature race winner who is 16th in points, and Leamington’s Justin Coulter, who has two feature wins in three nights including Aug. 10 when he won from the back of the field. He is 23rd in points and will start near the back.
The Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Models will also run their championship race tonight.
Chatham’s Gregg Haskell has already clinched a second consecutive points championship as he takes a 121-point lead over Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford. The most points a driver can accumulate on a single race night is 97 by winning the feature and heat races.
Haskell, the only Late Model driver to compete every race night in 2013, has one feature win, four checkered flags and a division leading 12 top-five feature finishes.
Glassford has dominated the second half as he won five straight and seven of eight features starting in mid-June. He leads the division with eight feature wins and 16 checkered flags but he fell out of points contention when he missed two nights early in the season.
Chatham drivers Jim Jones, Brad Authier and Erick Walker round out the top five.
Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis is a legitimate threat as he will start the 25-lap championship race in the third row, as he enters the night sixth in points after missing the first five weeks of the season. He has 10 top-five finishes in 11 features and is second in checkered flags with nine.
Another serious challenger will be Chatham’s Kirk Hooker, who will be in his No. 38 car which is two-for-two in features and five-for-six in two race nights.
Hooker, a three-time championship race winner including 2010, won the feature and heat on Sept. 7 after Blenheim’s Andrew Reaume went three-for-three on Aug. 10.
The Tirecraft Mini-Mods, Windride Transportation Sport Stocks and Bombers will run non-points races. The three classes held its championship nights on Sept. 7.
The grandstand opens at 5:30p.m. and racing starts at 7 p.m.