XENIA — In very quiet fashion, the Gem City Auto Racing series crowned its first points champion.
With his third-place finish in Sunday’s Aug. 27 Street Stock feature race, Columbus driver Phil Gussler Jr. earned enough points to claim the Street Stock title. Gussler now has 350 total points this season, to lead Riverside’s Jacob Muncy by 60 points heading into the series’ final race.
Muncy did not compete on Sunday.
Based on a points system configured by Aim Media Midwest sports editor John Bombatch, the most a driver can earn in a weekend is 50 points. So, Gussler Jr. wouldn’t even have to show up for the Sept. 24 finale, and he’d still win the Street Stock crown.
Kettering’s Jamie Sites won the 20-lap Street Stock feature with Matt Jackson of New Carlisle finishing second, and Gussler Jr. third. Sites is the only GCAR series driver to win in two racing divisions. He has four wins in the E-Modified division; and Sunday’s Street Stock win was his first of the season in that bracket.
In the series’ other feature races, Kettering driver and former Kil-Kare Late Model champion Cody Robinson won his second straight Late Model feature. Robinson won this one in dominating fashion, finishing almost a half a lap ahead of the rest of the field.
Robinson won the 40-lap feature by 5.264 seconds ahead of points leader Drew Charlson of New Bremen, with Grove City’s Chad Pendleton finishing third. Charlson leads the Late Model points with 265 so far this season. Xenia’s Ryan Fleming, who finished fifth in Sunday’s feature, is second overall, just 30 points behind.
The E-Modified class saw a first-time winner for this season: Jerry Stapleton of Troy nipped series points leader Jack Jones of Beavercreek by 0.567 seconds at the finish line to win the 35-lap feature race. Fleming placed third to keep his E-Modified hopes barely alive.
With his feature win, Jones stays atop the points standings with 300.5 points. Sites, who finished sixth in the feature, is second in points with 279, just 21.5 points back, and Fleming is third, some 45.5 points out.
Congratulations goes out to 2017 Shady Bowl Modifieds points champion Shane Shirk, of Springfield. In his first race at Kil-Kare this season, Shirk placed a solid fourth. In an exciting race, the top four drivers finished within 1.6 seconds of each other.
In Sunday’s practice session, Evan Smith, 14, of Columbus was injured when his E-Modified race car appeared to break a steering piece. Smith’s car hit nearly head on into the Turn 3 wall. He was transported to Dayton Children’s Hospital where it was later reported he had sustained a broken left leg.
In the Compacts division, Columbus’s Dusty Harding solidified his lead in the points chase with his first feature win of the season. Harding edged Bill Honious by 0.681 seconds to take Sunday’s 15-lap feature win.
Harding sits atop the Compacts season points standings with 315 points. Only fellow Columbus driver Corey Kyer has a chance at catching him for the season title. Harding enters the final race with 315 points, just 36 points ahead of Kyer’s 279.
The final race of the inaugural Gem City Auto Racing series will take place Sept. 24 at Kil-Kare Raceway. The highlight of that final weekend will be the Lee Raymond 100 late model feature. A full schedule of Late Models, E-Modifieds, Street Stocks and Compacts is on tap.
Grandstands open at 11:30 a.m. Tickets at the gate are $15 for adults, $5 for kids 6-10. Kids 5 and under get in free with a paid adult. Pit passes are $30 per person.