Can McFadden equal Rush's Classic and Aussie title double?
Two-Time Australian Sprintcar Champion, James McFadden is undoubtedly the hottest pre-event favourite ahead of the 2016/17 Rod Bowen Prestige Smash Repairs Australian Sprintcar Title at Sydney’s Valvoline Raceway after his emphatic victory at the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic last weekend and three round wins in the ongoing World Series Sprintcars championship.
And if he can win the title this weekend, he will be only the second racer in history to achieve the National Title and Classic in the same season.
“The Master Blaster” Garry Rush is the only driver to win both major blue ribbon events in the same season, achieving the feat an incredible four times over fourteen years and spanning three decades, in 1977, 1984, 1986 and 1990.
McFadden however believes that the playing field is considerably more even in modern times and “luck” could be the only difference between achieving history and falling short of the goal this weekend.
“We’re all as fast as each other these days, so luck is sometimes the only difference,” he said philosophically, playing down the reality that he and his Monte Motorsport outfit are the most tipped team to win.
It’s a welcome return to form for McFadden who struggled in recent years to stand on the top step of the podium, with the President’s Cup last season his only Blue Ribbon victory since his 2012/13 domination that claimed his second Australian Title, World Series, Brisbane’s Australian Open and Adelaide’s Sprintcar Nationals all in one season.
“Every one has good years and bad years and last season we were fast, but just seemed to get caught up in every crash we were near, but this year I’ve changed my style a little and everything seems to be rolling really well, but Sydney is different to every other track. We will need something extra there to get out front and hopefully we can find it.”
McFadden’s motives for winning both events in the same season are refreshingly unselfish, and labelled his team as the people who he wants to win for more than anything.
“Obviously for me to win the Title and the Classic in the same season would be really cool, but what means more to me would be to get the win for Luch Monte who’s never won a Title and for our Crew Chief, Buzzy who hasn’t won the Title since 1985 with Ron Krikke, so actually that would mean more to me to see them get what they deserve.”
An extensive list of the cr�me of Australia’s drivers have come painfully close to achieving the feat of winning both of Australia’s biggest Sprintcar events over their 44 year shared history.
The Legendary Jimmy Sills was the only American to come close winning the Classic in 1978 and running second in the Title before non-Australian racers were ruled out of competing in the National championship event.
Max Dumesny won the Classic in 1992 and 2004 and fell just short of the double with runner-ups in the title in both seasons, while Garry Brazier and Brooke Tatnell have both felt the pain of running second in the same calendar as one of their multiple Title wins.
Skip Jackson, Steve Lines and Jamie Veal have also come close running third in the same season as their respective Classic wins.
Place the racing shoe on the other foot and an even larger list of luminaries have almost kissed the glory of a Classic win in the same season as their Title victory, with Garry Rush amassing three runner up spots in the same season as three of his Classic wins.
Steve Brazier claimed a third and second in 1979 and 1980 in the Classic in the same year as his Title wins while his son Garry ran second in the Classic in 1995.
Max Dumesny also filled both minor podium spots in his Title winning years of 1990/91 and 2001/02 while Brooke Tatnell was runner up at the Warrnambool event in 2007 and 2011, however the most recent heartbreaker was for the reigning Australian Champion Kerry Madsen who ran second to Jamie Veal in the 2016 Classic.
History has already been made with a record entry list of 104 cars for 2016/17 Title.
To be apart of it, buy your tickets online at speedwaytickets.com.au or if you can’t be at the venue, watch all three nights on clayperview.com