in his final event as a stockcar driver, star Auckland Alleycat Bernie Fox is hopeful he'll be taking the national teams' stockcar title back up State Highway 1 tomorrow.
With one of their strongest teams in years, Auckland will begin tonight's qualifying as one of the favourites..
"We've definitely got one of the best teams we've had in quite a few years," Fox said. "But really other than Palmerston North and Wellington, everyone is pretty close."
"We're as desperate as all the other teams, except maybe Palmerston North and Wellington who have won plenty of times."
Asked if he was confident of Auckland making tomorrow's semifinals, a thoughtful Fox said.
"I'm hopeful, not confident.
"Getting through qualifying is the goal; then if you're in the semifinal anything can happen."
Last season's national runner-up, Fox is one of a small group who will compete at both the stockcar teams and for the superstock Auckland Allstars at the teams' champs in three weeks time.
"This is it for me. I'm going to concentrate on superstocks from next season and leave the stockcars up to the young drivers."
Fox, 47, who owns a small truck company in Auckland, has surprisingly only been back racing for three seasons after a long layoff.
"I raced for three seasons then had a 20-year break before I had the money to come back."
Fox admits Auckland has been strengthened with the addition of Palmerston North-contracted driver Aaron Ironmonger, who has plenty of teams' racing experience.
"Youngster Scott Tennant has had a great season and will be a key for us, but with Gary Lonergan, Hayden Cossey and Shannon Savage, we've got a team to do the business. with a bit of luck."
Auckland have a mixed draw, meeting little-fancied Stratford Stormers first up before facing multiple former champions, Wellington Young Guns.
"Lets hope we can get a good win over Stratford and that Rotorua [Rascals] can inflict a lot of damage on Wellington before we face have to them."
Fox puts the resurgence of stockcars at Waikaraka Park down to the influence Robertson Holden Speedway promoter Bruce Robertson has had promoting the Auckland venue.
"We've seen a big increase in stockcar competitors," he said. "We had no superstocks two seasons ago; now we have 12 regulars."
The Waikato Raiders look to have the best run to a semifinal place, facing Blenheim's Eastern State Titans before meeting Gisborne in their second race.
The big clashes tonight include two hard-hitting teams, the Wanganui Vulcans and Meeanee Maulers clashing.
Rotorua will be the most deserving team if they make the semifinal. They meet heavyweights Palmerston North and Wellington.
Eastern State Titans v Meeanee Maulers. Canterbury Crushers v Wanganui Vulcans. Stratford Stormers v Auckland Alleycats. Wellington Young Guns v Rotorua Rascals. Gisborne Gladiators v Palmerston North Pumas. Waikato Raiders v Eastern State Titans. Wanganui Vulcans v Meeanee Maulers. Canterbury Crushers v Stratford Stormers. Auckland Alleycats v Wellington Young Guns. Palmerston North Pumas v Rotorua Rascals. Gisborne Gladiators v Waikato Raiders.
- © Fairfax NZ News