Author

Joseph Terrell
Posted:
Short Track Racing Junkie (Sprints or Stock Car, Dirt or Pavement - I enjoy it all). Went to the first Trophy Cup at San Jose Speedway. Check out Joseph's website: www.wcsprintscene.com Currently lives in Olympia, Washington -- Home Track: Skagit/Grays Harbor; make at least two trips to California each year including Trophy Cup - A weekly contributor to hoseheads.com (West Coast Sprint Car Scene).
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by Joseph TerrellWest Coast Sprint Car Scene

(Roseburg, Oregon – Oct 17, 2023) – It’s late Tuesday night as this is written and the Trophy Cup is set to kick off in less than 48 hours. The actual start will be some time early Thursday evening when the first of two groups begin qualifying.
 
And make no mistake about it, Qualifying at the Trophy Cup might be the most important laps a driver takes all weekend. Thursday night is especially important because if a driver can qualify well, it starts their weekend ahead. Let me explain.

Trophy Cup Qualifying

In the Trophy Cup format qualifying is worth 150 points and then drops by one. With qualifying split into two groups it means two drivers will get 150. Last year Shane Golobic won with 451 points. Get those 150 points first thing Thursday, and a driver already has a third of the total points that won the year before.
 
Now to be clear this doesn’t guarantee anything. A good qualifying lap followed up by lackluster rest of the weekend will obviously not work. But start with a bad qualifying lap Thursday and the pressure is on. Every lap around the Thunderbowl will become that much more important.
 
Yes, drivers still have Friday night to get a lot of qualifying points and get right due to the fact the best preliminary is chosen going into Saturday. However the pressure only ratchets up if you struggle on Thursday.
 
No driver wants to go into Friday knowing they have to have a good night. They would rather score those points Thursday and be in a good spot points wise, which is usually 270 or above. Friday is when desperation rises and carnage usually follows. A good Thursday is key to avoiding this.

Friday is when desperation rises and carnage usually follows

Now, the way the Trophy Cup format is laid out, qualifying and the Saturday Main Event are huge. Saturday’s Main Event gives out 150 to the winner and then down by three. If a driver can qualify in the top five and finish in the top five on Saturday night that in itself would net at least 285 points.
 
But it all starts with qualifying. Unlike any other race the winner is not necessarily, and usually isn’t, the driver who crosses the finish line first on Saturday. The winner is the driver that has the most points. Qualifying 20th in your group would be a lot to overcome.
 
Unlike the Dirt Cup, where qualifying is huge but winning races can get you out of that hole sometimes, the Trophy Cup doesn’t work that way. With points added up through Saturday’s Main Event, getting a good lap the first time out Thursday is a way to feel confident and get ahead of the game.
 
A driver never knows what will happen the second night with qualifying and what the track may be like when they come out, even with the split groups. A really good driver cannot just race himself into contention like they could at the Dirt Cup.
 
This is what Zeb Wise tried to do last year when he scored a perfect 186 points Saturday night. The result, though, was still only a fourth place finish overall. It wasn’t enough. He had given up too many points on the preliminary nights.
 
The extra pressure of points being awarded every time out makes Thursday qualifying one of the most important and exciting qualifying sessions all year and a must watch.
 
Furthermore Thursday is when the field is finally set. All year summer drivers and entries are added to the Trophy Cup list and subtracted. The driver roster is moving piece all the way until load in day on Thursday. That is when the field is finally set and the cream can start to rise.
 
For the cream to rise, it all starts with a good qualifying lap Thursday and the huge amount of points that come with it.
 

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Author

Joseph Terrell
Posted
Short Track Racing Junkie (Sprints or Stock Car, Dirt or Pavement - I enjoy it all). Went to the first Trophy Cup at San Jose Speedway. Check out Joseph's website: www.wcsprintscene.com Currently lives in Olympia, Washington -- Home Track: Skagit/Grays Harbor; make at least two trips to California each year including Trophy Cup - A weekly contributor to hoseheads.com (West Coast Sprint Car Scene).
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