Gregg Haskell is on the verge of a second straight season points championship, but he would gladly trade places with second-place Dale Glassford.
Or to be more specific, trade cars with Glassford.
The Chatham native will have his hands full on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway, attempting to win his dad’s memorial race for the first time while holding on to his shrinking points lead atop Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Models.
Haskell takes a 48-point lead over the Ridgetown native Glassford into tonight’s action, highlighted by the annual Rick Haskell Late Model memorial feature, a race held in honour of Gregg’s father Rick, a long time track worker at South Buxton who died of a heart attack at the age of 51 in 2007.
Haskell took the points lead on May 25 and won his only feature of the season on June 15.
Glassford, meanwhile, has won eight feature races this season, including two straight and seven of the last eight to erase a triple-digit deficit to put the heat on Haskell with three points nights remaining in the season, including the Sept. 21 championship night.
When asked if he’d rather be the points leader or be like Glassford, running up front every night and rolling up the wins, Haskell answered without hesitation.
“Definitely be like Glassford,” he said, “he’s been unstoppable, no one’s even in the same league as him this year.
“It’s going to be tough to beat him … but anything can happen,” said Haskell, who said winning his father’s memorial race would be the biggest of his career.
“My goal is definitely to win each feature and the points,” he added.
Haskell is the first to admit he’s only in the points lead because he’s raced every week while Glassford missed two nights early in the season with motor issues.
“He’s closed the gap with all the problems I’ve had lately, and that makes things interesting for the last couple of weeks for the fans,” said Haskell.
“I’d rather it be close like this than having a 200-point lead.”
Haskell has had his own motor issues that has kept him from contending for the win on many nights.
“Frustrating,” Haskell summed up his season.
“We’ve had motor problems since the beginning and it finally expired on the Gord DeWael memorial night (Aug. 10),” Haskell said.
Haskell’s motor blew up in the heat race, as borrowed Mike Dale’s car to run the DeWael feature for points and put his old body on Brent Colby’s car the following week.
In the meantime, Haskell purchased a used motor out of Mississippi to finish the season.
Between 12-14 Late Model cars are expected for Saturday’s Haskell memorial.
Jason Haskell, Gregg’s younger brother, will be in the race, driving for Windsor’s Paul Trepanier for the fourth time this season.
Glassford is the defending 2012 Haskell memorial race winner. Glassford won the Don Hendricks memorial race this year and has won feature races on the Victoria Day, Canada Day and Civic Day holiday weekends.
One driver is in position to clinch a division championship on Saturday.
Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere will become a three-time Windride Transportation Sport Stocks champion on Saturday if he leaves the track with a 98-point lead.
Vanderiviere, an eight-time feature winner each of the last two seasons, takes a 116-point lead over Merlin’s Steve Shaw into Saturday’s action.
The most points a driver can accumulate in a night is 97 points by winning the feature and heat.
Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon, who became the first driver other than Vanderiviere and Shaw to win a feature this season with his dramatic win last Saturday, has climbed to within 17 points of Shaw in third.
Fourth through seventh is separate by just six points - Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse has 1035, followed by brother Doris Lajeunesse of Essex with 1032, Kingsville’s Rob Young 1030 and Windsor’s West Bertozzi 1029.
The other two division leaders have comfortable advantages heading into Saturday.
Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra leads two-time reigning champion Jim Dale Jr., of Shrewsbury, by 120 points going into Saturday’s action in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.
Hoekstra took over the points lead in mid-July while Dale Jr., who was as low as sixth in the standings this season, moved into second last week but only has three race nights left to overtake Hoekstra.
Cottam’s Denis DeSerrano leads Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. by 57 points going into Saturday in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods, with their championship race next Saturday, Sept. 7.
The Country 92.9 FM/CFCO AM 630 Pace Car will be at the track Saturday, publicizing the station’s Westside Performance Plus NASCAR Pick-Em Racing Challenge.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and racing starts at 7 p.m.