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Napolitano wins 7 in Philly to keep dash lead

December 07, 2015
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When the advantage George Napolitano Jr. had over Aaron Merriman in the 2015 North American dash-winning derby dropped from its high of 24 on Nov. 21 to zero this past Tuesday, combined with the fact that this week is the last week of racing at Harrah's Philadelphia for "George Nap" -- and his other main track, The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, is closed for the year-- it was assumed that George's chance for a second dash-winning championship (he won in 2010) were dead.
 
Well, hold on a second.

It's true that Merriman looks to have a definite edge in opportunities for victories, with both of his driving ovals, The Meadows and Northfield, extending their seasons well beyond this Sunday. But on Sunday, with Merriman not in action at Northfield, George Napolitano Jr. won seven races -- half the 14-race card at the riverside oval just south of Philadelphia -- and has regained that much of a lead in this back-and-forth derby.

Napolitano guided the winners of the first three races at Philly yesterday -- none of them favorites -- then added victories in races five, eight, and 11 before bookending the card with a 5-1 win in race 14. The win with Charger Blue Chip was his 381st of the year at Harrah's, allowing him to break the single-season total for victories, the 380 total registered in 2011 by Tim Tetrick (who, semi-ironically, is in Australia for a driving tournament connected with the Inter-Dominion Championship).

Napolitano is now scheduled to drive next at Harrah's on Wednesday afternoon, while Merriman is penciled for day-night action at The Meadows and Northfield Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

In last week's Napolitano-Merriman matchup, the big winner was Ron Wrenn Jr., two-time defending dash champion and third at this point in 2015; he had 19 Northfield victories to raise his year's total to 738; Merriman had 17, and Napolitano 14.

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