Ty Gibbs, driver of the #18 Monster / Terrible Herbst / ORCA Toyota, and Sam Mayer, driver of the #21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet, talk during a weather delay in the Menards 200 presented by Crosley Brands for the ARCA Menards Series on August 1, 2020 at at Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio. (Nic Antaya/ARCA Racing)
Ty Gibbs, driver of the #18 Monster / Terrible Herbst / ORCA Toyota, and Sam Mayer, driver of the #21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet, talk during a weather delay in the Menards 200 presented by Crosley Brands for the ARCA Menards Series on August 1, 2020 at at Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio. (Nic Antaya/ARCA Racing)

Sioux Chief Showdown Preview: Six Points Separate Sam Mayer And Ty Gibbs Heading To Memphis Finale

Over six months after the Sioux Chief Showdown kicked off with the debut of the ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix Raceway, the ten-race chase is set to conclude at Memphis International Raceway with the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200. The inaugural champion under the Showdown banner will be crowned when the checkered flag waves on Saturday evening, closing out the first AMS race at Memphis since 2001.

Sioux Chief Showdown Logo 2020 4Formerly known as the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge, an expanded partnership with Sioux Chief will increase the event purse and point fund significantly, as well as add prestige and a variety of venues to the in-season championship. New guidelines and common rule packages are aimed at drawing AMSE and AMSW teams and drivers as well, having previously been run as distinct separate entities from the ARCA Menards Series. Christian Eckes, now a challenger for rookie of the year honors in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, won both the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge and the ARCA Menards Series overall championship in 2019, clinching both titles in the final race of each championship.

In the penultimate Sioux Chief Showdown race at Bristol, Sam Mayer took his fifth ARCA Menards Series win of 2020 and his fourth in a Showdown event just hours after winning his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race. Mayer started the Showdown in a deep hole when his car overheated in the first race at Phoenix, leaving him 20th at the finish with a lot of ground to make up over the next nine races. Mayer leads the standings with 362 points, an advantage of six points over second-place Ty Gibbs’ 356 – likely the only competitor with a shot at leapfrogging Mayer for the title, barring something drastic.

So how did we get here? In the ARCA Menards Series’ maiden voyage to Phoenix in March, Ty Gibbs dominated the show but Chandler Smith swooped in with 11 laps to go and stole the win. Smith made it two in a row when he won the second round at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, though it was in a much more comfortable manner as Gibbs dropped out halfway through with an engine failure. Gibbs was finally able to close the deal at Iowa with a win before the series moved to ARCA’s backyard of Toledo for a doubleheader weekend. Sam Mayer finally broke through to win both contests, benefitting from Smith dropping out late in the first race and Gibbs spinning while racing with Mayer for the lead as rain closed in on the track. Smith still led the Sioux Chief Showdown standings at its halfway point, but a shakeup would be in order with a wild card looming: the Daytona road course.

Smith had no road racing background and struggled at times during the night, finishing back in ninth while Venturini teammate Michael Self pulled away from Gibbs at the end to win the race. The win propelled Self to the top of the Sioux Chief Showdown standings after six races, marking the first occasion that the point leader was someone other than Chandler Smith. Self’s time on top was short-lived when he had a single-car crash in the closing stages of race seven at WWT Raceway at Gateway, though Self and his #25 team made a commendable effort to keep Self on the track and minimize his loss of points. Self limped to a 15th-place finish, five laps down, while Gibbs and Smith crossed the stripe 1-2 and allowed Smith to regain his Showdown points lead.

Another first for the ARCA Menards Series was on tap with the first race at Lebanon I-44 Speedway, and the race was not short on drama by any means. A classic beat-and-bang short track affair saw Smith spin out four times after bumps from behind, and the rest of the leaders were not spared from incidents themselves during the night. Sam Mayer pulled his lightly-damaged Chevrolet into victory lane and took over the top spot in the Sioux Chief Showdown standings as well, completing his comeback after just eight races. Mayer led the standings by five points over Ty Gibbs and Smith entering Bristol and came out on the other side with his current six-point cushion over Gibbs, the second-place finisher. Swaybar issues plagued Smith all night and he eventually found the outside wall when it broke on lap 71, leaving him 23rd and all but out of the Showdown hunt.

The six-point deficit for Gibbs is far from insurmountable in the final race, but he will need some help in the form of a miscue from Sam Mayer. Mayer has not finished any worse than third in the eight Showdown races since his DNF at Phoenix, and a win alone at Memphis won’t be enough for Gibbs to swipe the crown away from Mayer. Michael Self and Bret Holmes may be longshot contenders should the starting field be large enough, but they too would need Mayer – and Gibbs as well – to find misfortune early on. For 2019 East series champion Mayer, the Sioux Chief Showdown trophy would make a fine addition to his collection.

2020 Sioux Chief Showdown Schedule & Current Top 25 Standings

#21 Sam Mayer Maury Gallagher 24 42 42 43 43 41 41 43 43 362
#18 Ty Gibbs Coy Gibbs 41 29 43 42 34 42 43 40 42 356
#25 Michael Self Cathy Venturini 42 36 38 39 40 43 29 38 39 344
#23 Bret Holmes Stacy Holmes 29 37 41 40 41 36 38 42 36 340
#20 Chandler Smith Billy Venturini 43 43 40 33 42 35 42 36 21 335
#4 Hailie Deegan David Gilliland 37 41 26 36 38 38 35 39 38 328
#17 Taylor Gray David Gilliland 40 39 41 33 40 36 41 37 307
#15 Drew Dollar Bill Venturini 30 30 27 38 35 32 37 35 26 290
#11 Mike Basham Andy Hillenburg 25 24 30 29 29 24 34 20 215
#48 Brad Smith Brad Smith 27 25 31 30 25 25 31 19 213
#46 Thad Moffitt Bo LeMastus 26 39 34 32 36 33 200
#1 Max McLaughlin Shigeaki Hattori 38 37 37 40 41 193
#06 Tim Richmond Wayne Peterson 21 3 31 35 32 28 33 183
#22 Derek Griffith Chad Bryant 32 37 39 35 143
#11 Owen Smith Andy Hillenburg 28 28 23 32 22 133
#6 Nick Sanchez Max Siegel 38 30 33 101
#19 Jesse Love Alex McAnally 28 32 39 99
#16 Gio Scelzi Mike Curb 34 33 31 98
#10 Rick Clifton Andy Hillenburg 30 34 31 95
#41 Kyle Sieg Bruce Cook 34 33 27 94
#4 Chase Cabre Max Siegel 36 34 23 93
#22 Kris Wright Chad Bryant 26 37 29 92
#99 Gracie Trotter Bill McAnally 22 35 32 89
#32 Howie DiSavino III Kevin Cywinski 23 35 28 86
#91 Justin Carroll Terry Carroll 31 34 65