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West Wins Ventura TQ Main - Lopiccolo First-Time Champion

West Wins Ventura TQ Main - Lopiccolo First-Time Champion
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Racing tossed the NMRA-TQ Midget Association a curve during the major league baseball playoffs season. The departing promoter at Santa Maria Speedway had canceled the scheduled September 27 TQ race and on Tuesday, October 14 also canceled the Saturday, October 18 TQ season finale. NMRA leader West Evans met with Ventura Raceway promoter Jim Naylor on Wednesday, October 15 and they booked the first TQ race of the season in Ventura on October 18.

Two drivers seeking their initial TQ midget driving championship were only one point apart when the final two races were canceled. Anthony Lopiccolo had 536 points and Bruce Hiroshima 535 after nine completed TQ races this season. The two title contenders were past NMRA rookie of the year honorees—Hiroshima in 2004 and Lopiccolo in 2008. Both Evans and Naylor, as true racers, felt the NMRA championship should be decided on the race track and not by default.

The result on October 18 was a field of 12 TQ midgets, second highest car count of the season after only 13 cars at the season opener on March 15 at Bakersfield Speedway. TQ drivers put on one of their best events of the season with three leaders during the feature. The result according to NMRA leader Evans will be more TQ races at Ventura next season as a support series in conjunction with other racing divisions.

Five-time NMRA-TQ champion Chuck West won the 20-lap TQ feature after starting sixth and leading the final eight laps. The NMRA driving championship went to Lopiccolo, 28, over Hiroshima, 51, by six points—595-589. Both championship contenders raced in all ten races this season. Each title contender had nine top five and ten top ten main event finishes. Hiroshima won four features to one by Lopiccolo. However, Lopiccolo won four heat races to two by Hiroshima. Lopiccolo averaged 59.50 points per event to 58.90 by Hiroshima.

The car owner championship also was a close duel between Paul Lopiccolo and Hiroshima before the finale. Lopiccolo's No. 21 Stealth/Kawasaki led Hiroshima's No. 5 Stewart/Clerc Honda by four points—563-559. Lopiccolo won that contest and became a two-time NMRA-TQ champion car owner by nine points over Hiroshima. He won his first TQ owner title in 2007 when Kenny Wiley won the driving title in Lopiccolo's No. 21. Shortly thereafter the No. 21 ride went to Paul's son Anthony.

The 12-car TQ field had Scott Dobson on the pole with Lopiccolo and Hiroshima starting in row four in positions seven and eight respectively. Dobson led the first three laps. Then fourth starter Wiley, in his own No. 96 Wiley chassis with Honda power, led laps 4-12. C. West, who started sixth in the West Evans Motorsports No. 38 Spike/Bob Wirth Suzuki, led laps 14-20. He beat Wiley, Lopiccolo, fifth starter Evans and Hiroshima.

Don Kiefer (from 3rd), Dobson, Dave Lambert (from 5th) and Britt Grissom (from 9th) all completed 20 laps. Rick Poe and Doyle Mosley ran 19 laps and second starter Chris Thomas logged 17 laps. Heat races were eight laps each. West won the first heat over Lopiccolo and Hiroshima won the second heat over Evans. All six starters in each heat race completed eight laps.

A total of 15 drivers and 14 car owners earned 2014 NMRA points. Average car count was nine cars per event. Six drivers won the ten main events this season. Hiroshima took four, West two, and one each went to Lopiccolo, Evans, Wiley and Scott Niven. Three speedways hosted 2014 TQ events. Bakersfield Speedway hosted seven races, Santa Maria Speedway ran two and Ventura Raceway one.

Next for NMRA-TQ participants will be the annual championship awards dinner in early 2015. The 2015 racing schedule will be released about that time.

RESULTS:

Heat 1 – Chuck West, Anthony Lopiccolo, Scott Dobson, Kenny Wiley, Dave Lambert, Doyle Mosley.

Heat 2 – Bruce Hiroshima, West Evans, Don Kiefer, Chris Thomas, Britt Grissom, Rick Poe.

Main – West, Wiley, Lopiccolo, Evans, Hiroshima, Kiefer, Dobson, Lambert, Grissom, Poe, Mosley, Thomas.

FINAL POINT STANDINGS:

         Drivers                                          Car Owners

1 Anthony Lopiccolo    595      1 No. 21 Paul Lopiccolo     625

2 Bruce Hiroshima       589      2 No.  5 Bruce Hiroshima   616

3 West Evans              576      3 No.38 West Evans         614

4 Kenny Wiley             555      4 No.36 West Evans         606

5 Chuck West              531      5 No.96 Kenny Wiley       585

6 Don Kiefer                 431      6 No. 9 Don Kiefer           458

7 Britt Grissom            351       7 No.43 Britt Grissom      375

8 Chris Thomas            242      8 No.55 Dave Lambert      258

9 Dave Lambert            240      9 No.87 Doyle Mosley      247

10 Doyle Mosley          229     10 No.40 Ed Thomas         215