Gerald Campbell has held the points lead since Week 2. The next four races saw this points lead continue to extend. John Weitendorf has had other ideas, as he has now taken a over the top spot after his first victory of the season Tuesday night at USA Speedway. Weitendorf began closing the gap three races ago after being behind by almost 100 points. We now have a two horse race for the title in the final three weeks.
Both Campbell and Weitendorf had average qualifying efforts, pinning them in the middle of the field to start the race. Strong qualifying runs for Seth Harrelson and Cooper Johnson had them on the front row with Harrelson grabbing the pole. An early first lap caution took contenders Bo Brady and Jeff Green out of the hunt for a win. Harrelson went on to lead the first 18 laps before short track prodigy Blaine Akin took the lead from his 10th place starting spot.
Multiple cautions kept the field from running a green flag run more than 15-20 laps. The top 7 drivers kept single file bumper to bumper for mostly the entire race battling for position every restart. It became clear by lap 50 this race would be a strategy game based on who could position their car at the front through pit stops. Early trouble for Campbell had the points standings looking very different from the beginning of the race. Campbell was able to pull strategy by staying out as long as possible, putting his car up front with less than 20 laps to go.
Restarts were the best point to grab extra spots due to the difficulty of passing. Most passes under green flag conditions were due to someone charging the corner too hard and unable to keep their line. Many cars were able to run side by side for laps at a time but gave up a lot of time to the drivers in front of them. With three restarts in the final 20 laps, the race would be won from the first 3 positions. Akin held the lead for two of the final three restarts but Weitendorf was able to track him down and pass him before the final caution with fresher tires.
The USA race marked the end of Week 9 in which the single drop week was taken into account giving Weitendorf a 5 point advantage over Campbell heading into Iowa. The rest of the top 10 had some movers and shakers but stayed with relatively the same names. With three races left Campbell and Weitendorf look like the only two contenders barring two awful races from both contenders. Standings can be seen below and full stats can be found at this link G-Force Grand National Series Championship Standings (sim-helper.com)