A ROYAL START WITH ROYALTY
The World Crown 300 is one of those elite events that has stood the test of time. When Dick Trickle won the first race back in 1983, many were wondering if that would be the only 300 lapper for Late Models and the North Georgia track. The race paid out $50,000-plus to the winner, but financially, the race was a failure. The car count was 60, but promoter Bob Harmon promoted the first World Crown with hopes of a 100-plus car count and high ticket sales to cover the purse. That didn’t happen.
Even though the first World Crown was a financial letdown, it wasn’t at all disappointing on the track. What's more impressive is to look back, now close to 30 years later, to see who was in the field. The roster of drivers who made up the 36 car field read like short track royalty. Names like Allison, Waltrip, Hanley and more were the headliners.
The field was so stacked that we looked up the numbers associated with the field (most of these things happened after the fact, but it's still a very good gauge)
3 Daytona 500 Winners
5 Sprint Cup Champions
The first 9 All American 400 wins
10 Overall Snowball Derby Wins
14 Winchester 400 wins
18 ASA National Tour Titles
Over 270 ASA Wins
290-plus Sprint Cup Wins
It might not be so farfetched to say this might have been the greatest field ever assembled in short track racing history. There were lots of ASA accomplishments listed above, but the World Crown was not an ASA event. There were lots of Cup stats, as well, but it wasn’t a NASCAR race. What seemed like a failure at the time might have been the best race in short track history and it laid the ground work for the things to come.
The World Crown 300 is one race that was seemingly made for Paul Kelley. He's out-run them, out-smarted them and out-tech’ed them to win his record four World Crown 300's. In fact, Kelley has four wins and six top five finishes in the event. His career average finish in the event is 5.14. He is to the World Crown like Rich Bickle was to the Derby and what Bob Senneker was to the Winchester 400.
This year he will try to win one on top of the pit box as a crew chief for RS Senter in the Pro Late Model race on Saturday night. It would be a great addition to his list of achievements.
DON'T GO TOO FAST
The curse of the World Crown 300 is the run for the pole. Only once in its history has a driver won the pole and the race in the same season. Fredrick Moore took both back in 2004 in his one and only World Crown win to date.
Drivers from all over have won the prestigious World Crown 300, but it's a 10-win streak currently for the Georgia boys. Four times the runner-up has been from outside of the Peach State, so its shows 60% of the time Georgia racers are coming home one and two in this one.
PICK A WINNER
Should we even pick a winner…or try to? We are going to hold our cards on this one and wait for the final 25 laps. With three segments, it's hard to think of who could plan to be best in each segment, especially the final one. Last year, the World Crown had a stacked field; so stacked that half of the field was taken out in one early crash. We didn't expect to see the 98 of Just Wakefield dominate, but he did and won.
If Dale Earnhardt couldn't win the Daytona 500 for 20 years, it might take Bubba Pollard that long to win his Daytona, the World Crown 300. The Senoia, Georgia driver has won a total of seven Late Model events at the Georgia track, but never the World Crown 300. Pollard has led laps, wrecked in the final laps, been upside-down and came home third in a tight battle, but he's never gotten this one off the check list. Perhaps the one that hurt the most was 2008 when Pollard was black-flagged twice, made up the laps the old-fashioned way, and passed close to 50 cars to get to 10th. Pollard comes rolling into GMP on a hot streak as he's won twice there this season and overall 18 times in 2011.
MONEY MONEY MONEY
If one driver were to win all three segments and both of the Pro Late Model segments, lucky may not even be the proper word to describe the accomplishment. The chances are slim, but the pay off would be huge with over $26,000 going to the winner.
One thing that is should not be overlooked is that if a driver starts all three segments of the Super Late Model race, then the driver earns $1,350. That’s more to start than just about any other short track race.
If a driver were to take fifth in each of the three segments, they would earn close to $3,000. There is a lot of money on the line for the race weekend in all classes.