NT Sprintcar Title Begins Tonight
After winning last Saturday night James McFadden will hoping to add the NT Title this weekend (Phil Michell Photo)
James McFadden has driven in some of the biggest race meetings in the world, and won the biggest events in Australia.
But he's never won an NT Title.
In fact, he never raced in one. But the two-time Australian Champion will have his sights firmly set on winning the crown this weekend at Northline Speedway.
McFadden said Northline was a happy hunting ground – having won his first Australian title at the track back in 2010.
“It's awesome to be back - we've felt really welcomed here," he said.
McFadden left Alice Springs a decade ago as a fresh-faced 17-year-old to begin a professional sprintcar career.
On August 12, McFadden made it as far as the B-Main in the biggest sprintcar race in the world – the Knoxville nationals in the USA.
The very next weekend he was racing in Darwin. But the changes in track from the wide, high-speed 800m Knoxville track to the tight, 400m bullring at Northline is just a part of the challenge.
"You've just gotta adapt as quick as you can – it took me a few heat races to adjust, but the next night we were better.
"This track is perfect for me – being as slick as it is, it's super racey."
Last weekend, McFadden was leading the Defend the Top End race on Friday night, before a gremlin forced him infield with a handful of laps to go, leaving the win to Chace Karpenko.
On Saturday night he had no such issues – setting quicktime in hotlaps, before sweeping his heats, winning the pole shuffle, electing to start from 11th and winning the Pope65.
He reckons there's still more speed to be found in the Monte Motorsports machine.
After a solid week one, Karpenko finds himself leading the Chariots standings.
But to win this weekend, the three-time champion said he will have to lay it all on the line.
"I've been a little conservative – I haven't pushed too hard or taken too many risks," he said.
"We’re going to give it everything this weekend and if we get some luck and I make the right calls in traffic, we're in with a chance."
Karpenko said his biggest obstacle was undoubtedly McFadden.
"He's been full time in a race car for the past 10 years … (Monte Motorsports) are a professional outfit and he's a hell of a racer.
"It's awesome to have people of his caliber racing up here, because we all go to the next level.
"Everyone is beatable – I want to bring it home for the locals on the hill who come watch us every week."
Another former Australian champion, David Murcott will also be fast and eager to win the title, as will locals Ben Atkinson and Jason Gebert.
The NT Sprintcar Titles will be held over two nights starting this evening.
On the undercard is the NT Title for the AMCA nationals, held over both nights.
Formula 500 will also race both nights, while the Wingless Sprints will take to the track tonight, and the Speedway Karts tomorrow.