The wild and wacky Buzzbombers or Stadium Stocks have once again found a way to steal the season from the other three divisions. The points battle is pretty intense as we settle a champion this weekend.
This season we’ve seen insane three-wide racing, many different first time winners, incredibly impressive racing by the rookies and even a five-wide finish! These four-cylinder cars have the smallest motors, but they somehow managed to have the best racing this year. The two best stadium stock or mini stock names in the region Chuck Wall and A.J. Sanders have fought hard all season long and now the pair have found themselves 1-2 in the points.
The three-time consecutive champion Wall has a lot of experience around racing and is one of the top drivers at Bowman Gray. Last weekend he held off some hard charges from fellow champion and contender A.J. Sanders and Grayson Keaton to win his series and top gun leading fourth race of the year.
Speaking of Sanders, the former two-time champion has had a good year and is only 8 points out of the lead, but contrary to what the stats say, Sanders thinks otherwise.
“It’s been a good season,” Sanders told RACE22. “But, I have not got the draws to show what the car could really do. We have drew 12th or worse 90% of the time this year and that has reflected on our finishes. Then got wrecked in the 50-lapper so, between the wrecks and bad draws, it has really killed us this year.”
Sanders has been in this position plenty of times, so he explains what a two-time champion and multi-time race winner needs to do to get his third championship.
“I know this got to run my race and let it play out,” Sanders continued. “It’s going to come down to the draw. I’m sure that got to finish three spots ahead of him, but I’m not going to do nothing stupid. If I win it I win it if I lose it. He’s (Chuck Wall) one of my good friends and I don’t want to hurt his or my chances.”
Brandon Brendle has established himself as a front runner since he got back behind the wheel a few years ago. He’s grabbed a series-high seven wins since his return to competition in 2018. Brendle has battled for the title in almost every season is participated in and he’s becoming one of the veterans of the division.
The youngest driver in the points battle Grayson Keaton has been impressive since making his debut. The son of the 2010 champion Jason Keaton started the season off on fire with two wins and a third-place finish. He’s had a few mishaps that have plagued him, but he’s still in the running for his first championship.
“Really it’s gonna come down to just what happens to them,” Keaton told RACE22. “Obviously AJ and Chuck have to have a bad night for me to even get close to them. We got beat Brendle by a few cars, realistically all I can do is watch and see what happens. My goal is to win the race and whatever happens happens.”
If Grayson is able to do what he says and he comes out on top as a champion, he’ll join his father as a champion, but most importantly the Keaton family name will be cemented in history as they’ll become the first father-son duo to win a championship in the stadium stock division.
The season finale for the stadium Stocks is limited to only the top 26 in points, so that means there is a chance drivers can make up 96 points, so that means the last contender Tyler McDonald can overcome the massive 76 point gap.
“Honestly this year I don’t see it happening,” McDonald told RACE22. “There’s guys ahead of me that are way fast and consistent each week, although all it takes is just a little bad luck and all that can change especially with it being the last race a double points night. With tension still with the other drivers throughout the whole field, from the stats I saw earlier in the week there is a possibility we could win it, but that has a lot of factors having to fall into place just perfect. All we can do is show up Saturday with our best stuff hope for the best and see what happens. It sure would be awesome to be able to put my guys and sponsors back in victory circle one last time this season and even better if it was for the championship!”
The season will officially come to a close with the stadium stocks, the division IV series under NASCAR sanction as traditionally ran the last year of the year and this year will be no different. It’ll be bittersweet to see the season end for fans as it just felt like last month everyone was descending on the famed quarter-mile facility for the season opener. For some mini stock drivers, the season is just heating up as there are many races left to run.
Cover photo by Corey Latham.