By Larry Woody
NASHVILLE – It’s a three-driver sprint to the championship, with three to go.
Lebanon’s Dylan Fetcho, the defending and two-time Fairgrounds Speedway champion, will try to protect his lead in the standings over charging challengers Hunter Wright and Jackson Boone in Saturday’s Pro Late Model feature.
Fetcho gained a bit of breathing room with a win two weeks ago, although Boone and Wright finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, to keep close on his heels.
Fetcho holds a 21-point lead over Wright and Boone, who are deadlocked for second.
“I feel pretty comfortable where I’m at,” says Fetcho, who won the season opener in April and has held the lead ever since. “I won’t do anything different in these last three races. I’ll keep doing what got me here.”
As for the building pressure?
“There’s pressure in every race,” Fetcho says. “That’s all part of this sport.”
Wright has one win this season as he chases his first championship. He lost last season’s title to Fetcho in the last race, and expects this one to be just as close.
“I’ve got a shot, and that’s all I can ask,” he says.
Boone, the track’s 2019 champion, had rattled off three consecutive wins before last race’s runner-up finish.
“Everything went our way during that stretch,” Boone says. “We built a lot of momentum, and I hope to keep riding it.”
“These days you have to be just about perfect to win a race,” Fetcho says. “We lost a little during Jackson’s hot streak, but we found it in our last race. I like where we are right now.”
In their most recent duel, Fetcho started on the pole and led every lap, with Boone running side-by-side at times.
Another Lebanon racer, rookie Dawson Sutton, is 4th in the standings and mathematically in championship contention. But he would need all three frontrunners to stumble in the final three races to assume the lead. Regardless, the 17-year-old is having a spectacular season and is a cinch for Rookie of the Year.
Mt. Juliet racers Bennie Hamlett and Chase Johnson are not in the title hunt, but will try to continue their string of strong finishes.
Hamlett’s sons Dawson and Peyton are in the top 10 in the Limited Late Model standings.
After Saturday’s race, the next test comes Oct. 7. The season concludes Nov. 4 in a championship-deciding showdown that is part of the premier All-American 400 weekend.