4 Championships Sealed Saturday

Plenty At Stake as Championship Night Arrives for Locals

By Chuck Corder

Two dates remain on the regular season schedule at Five Flags Speedway.

Fortunately, for drivers and fans of the half-mile asphalt oval, the next two Saturdays will hold a lot of intrigue and joyous moments as track champions will be crowned.

It all begins at 7 p.m. this Saturday when the local drivers will be the first group to try and earn some hardware. The Faith Chapel Outlaws, WCIparts.com Pro Trucks, The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen, and Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks will all share the marquee when the gates open at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military, and students; and free for all kids 11-and-under.

In addition to a highly anticipated night of racing, Five Flags is looking forward to hosting Saturday night a bevy of former drivers that at one time etched their names into Pensacola’s high banks. The retired drivers, led by the likes of Dickie Davis, will gather near the Turn No. 4 party deck for a night of fun. They will be introduced on track at 7pm by Bill Roth and former driver Marty White.

With healthy point leads heading into Saturday, teenager Joshua Hicks of Senoia, Ga.,

and Mobile-area driver Mark Barnhill have seemingly sewed up track titles in the Pro Trucks and Sportsmen classes, respectively.

So, most of the night’s attention will be on the battles for the Outlaw and Pure Stock championships.

After years of frustration behind the wheel of Modifieds and other series, Milton driver Chris Cotto has experienced a rebirth in the Outlaws division this year.

A three-time winner this season, Cotto has scored a top-five finish in all but one of the seven features the Outlaws have raced this season. He will carry a slim, 11-point lead into Saturday night against Bill Tutchtone II.

Tutchtone, 46, has exploded onto the Outlaws scene this year following a nearly-decade-long layoff from short-track racing. He, like Cotto, has found in his groove with the Outlaws and has recorded one win and six top-fives, also like Cotto.

With the scoring system decreasing by increments of two points, Tutchtone would need to finish six spots ahead of Cotto at the time of the checkered flag to claim what would be some historic hardware.

The other battle that will have everyone’s attention come Saturday night will reside with the Pure Stocks.

Pensacola’s Robert Balkum finally secured his first career track crown last season and hopes to defend it successfully. But, he’s in a dogfight with Mobile-area driver Michael Moody, who trails Balkum by just three points or one, lone position on the racetrack.

Moody has had a dominant season, winning an incredible six of the nine Pure Stock features waged at Five Flags this season. An early-season “DNF” for Moody proved costly. He was involved in an accident with another car and is one of the main reasons why Moody trails Balkum currently.

Despite that, Balkum’s season shouldn’t be ignored. He owns a win and has finished top-five or on the podium in all nine features this year.