Doug Galullo entered the weekend with a solid points lead after having won the largest online tournament (P1) and the smaller in-person tournament held at PrezCon in addition to winning 3 individual races.
Don Tatum was 2nd in the standings -- trailing Doug by less than 40 points -- a sum he could make up if he won WBC. Chris Long and Michael Polcen were also contenders. Ranked 4th and 5th respectively before WBC they were separated by less than a point in the standings and trailed Doug by roughly 43 points.
Qualifying at WBC was dominated by three drivers. Chris Long won all three heats he was in while Tim Mossman and Doug Galullo each won 2 heats. No other driver won a qualifying heat.
Going into that final race of the season the top four drivers on the season all had some shot at the title with Doug sitting at 190.34 pts, Chris with 170.53, Don at 147.28, and Michael Polcen at 143.23. If any of those four drivers won the race they would also claim the Organize Play title. Doug probably could have finished 2nd to anyone but Chris and still won the title.
Tim Mossman was also in that final race and had climbed the rankings to 9th after his WBC qualifying run but still sat nearly 80 points behind Doug. Not even the win at the WBC finals would have vaulted him to the OP title.
|Organized Play 2018 Top 20|
WBC was representative of Michael's whole season -- characterized by excellent timing. Michael did not win a qualifying heat but a 2nd and 3rd got him into the finals. In fact, Michael won only 3 races all season. Three race wins is nothing to sneeze at but Doug and Chris both had 5 wins on the season and several other drivers picked up 4 wins this year. But Michael picked excellent races to win. The WBC Finals rated as the most competitive single race all season. Michael also won the 5th most competitive race this season (race 2 in the top tier of Redscape). Michael also won two tournaments including the 2nd (WBC) and 3rd (Redscape) most competitive events of the year.
Doug Gallulo was a worthy runner-up. Doug won 5 races and 2 events and is one of two drivers to finish top 5 in OP both years. Chris Long came up just short of the OP title this year and also won 5 races this year. Despite the 5 race wins, he finished 2nd in two tournaments -- WBC and P1. Michael, Doug, and Chris ended the season with a mere 12 points between them.
Rookie of the Year
I erased some of my older rankings data so the definition of a rookie has changed a little this year to mean having not participated before in an official Organized Play event. By which count 70 drivers of this years 144 were rookies and 8 placed in the top 25 on the season.
But Gainluca Lari was clearly the best of that bunch. He did not race once in the inaugural OP season of 2017 but won 4 of the 10 races he participated in this year and won the San Marino season to end up 5th in the rankings! Honorable mention to Gary Sturgeon who won 2 races and won the Detroit season this year to finish 9th overall.
Most Improved Driver of the Year
Mike Aubuchon had a difficult 2017 -- scoring points in only 1 race of the 5 he participated in. Mike came back strong this year -- finishing 2nd in a WBC qualifying heat and 3rd in the WBC finals to improve his rank from 85th last season to 29th this year.
Honorable mention to Claudio Orlandi for improving 41 spots this year from 79th to 38th.
Steward of the Year
Every year is a tough year to pick out a steward for special recognition. This year saw many new seasons spring up including Detroit and San Marino and Washington DC. The time and effort of every steward is the reason this community continues to grow.
But this year, I'll tap Chris Long as Steward of the Year. Chris runs what is easily the largest in-person tournament on the calendar -- regularly involving two or three races running simultaneously. Chris also went through a lot of effort this year to collect feedback and input to make sure that his event was as good as it can be.