ANDREW Pezzutti will defend his NSW V8 Dirt Modified Championship this weekend at Lucas Oil Lismore Speedway.
The state title, which is the most open in years, will be decided over two nights of racing with qualifying heats and preliminary feature race held on the Saturday night, while the following evening culminates with the running of the championship final.
Pezzutti, who won the NSW title last May at the Grafton Speedway, is one of many form drivers entered for the 2012 event.
"This title will be tough, there's no doubt about that, but I have had a relatively good season and I am quietly confident of retaining the title," Pezzutti said yesterday.
And national champion Mark Robinson is hoping for a form reversal after a run of outs at Lismore.
Robinson is chasing his first home-track feature race victory of the season, though his results at other tracks have been impressive during the 2011/12 term.
He scored a brilliant main event win at Sydney Speedway last December and will be looking to repeat that effort this weekend on his home track.
Queenslanders Kelvin Hamilton and David Clark loom as strong contenders from north of the border, especially Clark who has previously enjoyed success in Lismore.
Former national champion Scott Cannon has nominated, while Grafton's Jai Stephenson was a last-start feature race victor at the Lismore Speedway.
Add in Victorians Steve Milthorpe and Trevor Perry, who have made the journey, and the meet will be of a high standard.
Both drivers are well-credentialed and these latest entries swell the nomination list to 25 cars for the two-night title event set down for Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Milthorpe, in particular, looms as one of the pre-race favourites as he has already proven himself on the testing Lismore Showground speedway bull ring.
Promoter David Lander believes this will be one of the most keenly contested NSW Championships in many seasons.
"There are so many drivers capable of winning the state title," he said yesterday.
"It is the most open in years and there are probably up to a dozen drivers who are capable of winning the championship.
"Then you have the next level of competitors below the favourites who also have shown good form this season, so it sets the scene for a very exciting championship final on Sunday night."
The Saturday night format will feature qualifying heats, culminating with the title final the following evening.
All children aged 12 and under accompanied by an adult will be admitted free.