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Widger Leads, Canadians Victorious

Published: January 8, 2017 7:47 pm ET

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Sam Widger has raced out to a commanding early lead in the $25,000 North American Drivers Challenge currently taking place at Miami Valley Raceway in southwest Ohio.

On the strength of three winners in his first four preliminary round drives, the Illinois native and Hoosier Park regular has accumulated 99 points at the halfway point of the two preliminary legs.

Each of the 30 drivers participating had four drives on the Sunday (Jan. 8) matinee and will get another four on the Monday (Jan. 9) matinee. The top 10 point-getters after the two preliminary rounds will return Tuesday afternoon (Jan. 10) and compete head-to-head in eight races to determine the inaugural champion.

Widger impressed scoring the hat trick with Krusty The Clown, Dani Girl and Stucklikeglue. He was the only multiple-win reinsman on the first day.

Others with wins were Tony Hall and Doug McNair, who are tied for second at the midway point of the two preliminary rounds with 69 points each; Bob McClure (68), Marcus Miller (66), Ronnie Wrenn Jr. (59), John DeLong (58), Brett Miller (55), Jason Brewer (54) and Tyler Smith (49). Although they failed to win a heat, Simon Allard is tied for 10th with 54 points on the strength of two second-place finishes, and Randy Tharps is 11th with 50 points by notching a second, a third and a fourth-place finish in his four attempts.

The competition was spirited the first day, with just two favourites winning in the 12 contest races. Early speed held up well during the first half of the day, but as the 19 degree temperature started to drop, the closers prevailed during the final six races.

An even more exciting second day is expected with the same 30 top drivers all vying for one of 10 spots in Tuesday afternoon’s championship round, where the finalists will start with a clean scoreboard slate and be competing for the $10,000 first-place award and bragging rights as the North American Drivers Challenge champion for the next year.

Post time is 2:05 p.m. for both the Monday and Tuesday matinee programs.

(Miami Valley Raceway)

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