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Search for the Ultimate Street Car

Posted: Jul 18, 2019

Classic Car Liquidators GTV Points Projections So Far

Four of seven events are now in the books for OPTIMA's 2019 Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts. Two of those events (Las Vegas & Pike's Peak) are considered "West Coast" events, while the other two (Daytona & NCM Motorsports Park) are considered "East Coast" events. That split has made it a logistical challenge for any competitor to run even three of the first four events, which is important, because a competitor's best three events count toward their season-long point totals. As a result, it should come as no surprise that those who were able to run three events are currently leading the points in the Classic Car Liquidators GTV Class.

John McKissack's 1966 Ford Fairlane currently leads the pack with 1,020 points, followed by Valerie Pichette's '88 Pontiac GTA, with 1,002 points. However, if history is any indicator, neither of those totals will likely even be in the top-10 by the time all seven events are run. Pichette & McKissack will have more opportunities to add to their point totals, but we expect to see a significant shake-up in points after the next event at Road America, when nearly a dozen competitors will have accumulated points in at least three events.

As we look at projections on how the points chase could play out, it's important to remember that some events tend to offer better opportunities for points than other events. For instance, nearly every competitor who ran at Daytona earlier this season, scored more points there, than at any other event they ran this year. Chris Smith's '70 Camaro posted a 480 at Daytona, while it only posted a 456 at NCM Motorsports Park. The same thing happened to Brian Hobaugh's Camaro, which saw a 20-point spread between it's winning scores at Las Vegas and Pike's Peak. The question then becomes, will Road America, Auto Club Speedway and NOLA be easier for competitors to accumulate points at, more difficult or somewhere in between?

Not knowing the answer does provide an advantage to competitors that choose to run in more events, as they'll have more opportunities to accumulate points. The answer isn't as simple as eyeing up the field of registered vehicles and trying to figure out who is fastest, as the Lingenfelter Design & Engineering Challenge is also a significant factor. Some cars that score well in all segments could have a significant impact on the availability of points at a given event, as well as cars that are strong in D&E, but may not be as competitive in the track events.

There are also some wildcards in the form of cars like Larry Woo's Camaro, which has not yet run in an event this season, but could make the final three events, score very well in all three, grab an invitation and contend for the class championship. Defending class champion, Dusty Nixon's Camaro has only run one event and that may prove to be one of the toughest to accumulate points at, so his remaining two events could yield a significantly higher point total than our projections below. We've tried to reach out to as many competitors as we could, to find out what their plans are for the remaining events, but those could obviously be fluid and impact the final outcome. There could also be some vehicles that weren't running at peak levels in events so far, which could skew the points projections for remaining events. With those caveats in mind, here's how the points could shake out at the end of the season:

1. Chris Smith 1,404 points*
2. Brian Hobaugh 1,386 points*
3. Dusty Nixon 1,323 points*
4. Efrain Diaz 1,293 points
5. Nick Relampagos 1,280 points
6. Bret Voelkel 1,215 points
7. Michael Cuthbertson 1,211 points
8. Jim Stehlin 1,196 points
9. Chris King 1,137 points
10. Alan Miller 1,103 points
11. Steve Merryman 1,071 points
12. John McKissack 1,020 points
13. Valerie Pichette 1,016 points
14. Tater Matthews 971 points
15. Jim McIlvaine 969 points
16. Ed Michalak 930 points
17. Charles Davis 909 points
18. Robert Britton 885 points
19. Henry Crawn 875 points*
20. Chad Ryker 870 points

Vehicles with asterisks already have secured OUSCI invitations, so the question would then arise as to who might secure invitations at the remaining three events. There are even more variables at play here, including someone receiving a Spectre Spirit of the Event invitation, but for the purposes of these estimates, we'll expect Jim Stehlin to win the invitation at Road America, Chad Ryker at Auto Club Speedway and wildcard Kyle Tucker to grab the invitation at NOLA Motorsports Park.

Each class is awarded three OUSCI entries to the top finishers, who did not already receive invitation during the regular season, which could then mean Diaz, Relampagos and Voelkel would get GTV Class points entries. There are also ten more invitations handed out across all the classes, based on point totals. Historically, the cut-off for those ten entries has fallen above 1,000 points. That could mean Michael Cuthbertson, Chris King, Alan Miller, Steve Merryman, John McKissack and Valerie Pichette could all secure at-large points entries. However, there is no guarantee that will happen. It would be highly unlikely that the CCL GTV Class would grab six of ten at-large points entries.

It's also possible some folks may bow out before or upon being offered entries to the OUSCI. Vernon Jolley had to decline the GTE Class entry at PPIR because of a schedule conflict, so that could also move people up on the list. However, once an invitation is offered an accepted, if an invitee is unable to attend, that invitation does not go to anyone else, it is simply a lost invitation and that has already happened this season, with the sale of an invited vehicle. Don't miss a single episode of OPTIMA's Search for the Ultimate Street Car, presented by Advance Auto Parts. Download the OPTIMA Network for free on Roku and watch all past episodes on-demand, anytime you'd like!

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