The Boys (and Sarah) are Back in Town
For those that know me, they know it’s pretty easy for me to wake up on race day, wherever that may take me. We have some really great teams around Atlantic Canada that put on a great show for our fans week in and week out.
But, there is nothing like a week when the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour is at Scotia Speedworld. Not only do we get to see the best drivers in Canada duke it out Saturday for 150 green flag laps in the Nova Truck Centres Make a Wish 150, we get to see all six of our Weekly Racing Series divisions over two days of exciting, door-to-door competition.
The weekend opens with double features for our Toursec Thunder cars as they will make up their feature from May 22nd. This could shake up the point picture pretty drastically, one that is pretty tight heading into Friday night. Stevie Lively finished third last week but was closing late before time ran out on the #32 car. He holds a seven point advantage in the standings after Dave Matthews struggled a bit to a sixth place finish. Let’s call a spade a spade, Matthews is probably a little disappointed with sixth last week but every major front runner will have an off night from time to time. It’s how you rebound that defines a champion and a major rebound with two features on Friday could be huge.
After two completed features, Matthews has four other competitors hot on his heels with ten points between himself and multi-time New Brunswick Mini Stock champ JR Lawson. Of the group from third to sixth in the standings, only “The Ironman” Drew MacEachern has won a main feature at Scotia Speedworld in the Toursec Thunder division. Andrew Lively came darn close last week to doing so though as he was at “The Sheriff” Kyle Gammon’s bumper as the laps faded away. Merle Corbin has been pretty strong this season and has two heat wins to his credit this season. Lawson struggled to find a handle on his #81 Gates Canada Honda as his car glided sideways at times around the corners at Scotia Speedworld like it was driving on black ice and not blacktop.
The Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year Award battle is tight too with only three points between former Lightning standout Mitchell Hopkins and the team of Greg McKay and Justin Rowe. Two features worth of seat time, or 50 laps, on Friday night will really help their development as drivers. All three have shown skill early in the year and I’m looking forward to see what Summer brings for these three.
The Strictly Hydraulics Legends are taking to the track Friday for the INEX Asphalt National Qualifier. The INEX Asphalt Nationals are being held at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl in Waterford, Connecticut. The Shoreline Oval is a great place to watch a race and I had the opportunity to take one in about five years ago when “Kid Roc” Keith Rocco was on his NASCAR Whelen All American Series title run. The winner of each respective INEX division will punch their ticket to the event, meaning they will not have to worry about qualifying for the event and will have an automatic provisional into the big dance.
Nicholas Naugle has already done just that after winning a qualifier earlier this season at Anderson Motor Speedway in Anderson, South Carolina. Drivers like reigning track champion Jarrett Butcher, Cory Hall, siblings Adam and Emily Meehan and “The Legend” Cy Harvey, to name a few, have make the trek south in the past to race and a win in this event might get those wheels turning to do the trip in Conneticut.
Maybe as importantly for our drivers, this extended 50-lap feature is for Scotia Speedworld championship points as well. Butcher won the first race of the year while Hall rebounded from a tough first night to win last week in a thrilling finish between him, Butcher and Naugle. Naugle’s consistency of two podium runs has him second to Butcher by six points after two races.
The pleasant surprises may be the third and fourth place drivers in the standings. Adam Meehan was pretty impressive on the first night of the season and after a sixth place run last week, he finds himself in third in the standings, two points ahead of leading Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie Craig MacDonald in the #2 Overall Experience ride. MacDonald, in his first two weekly shows at his home track, has finished fourth in each race. Not bad for a kid that has been out of the seat for the last couple of years. Mark my words, the way he is driving, MacDonald will win a race this year and it might be sooner rather than later.
The Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros will also run 25-laps in their INEX National Championship Point Race. The Beginner division will run a regular 15-lap feature and while they are still learning the ropes, there is a lot of potential in that class. The top three might have a slight edge at this point but don’t expect that to be the case as we continue through the season. I will also add that those podium finishers last week, winner Malcolm Jollimore, Brooke Dowe and Tyler Hutchinson were very well spoken in their victory lane interviews, well beyond their years. The fans also enjoyed hearing from our top three and awarded them with a loud cheer and applause after their feature last Friday during Fanfest.
The more experienced drivers got up on the wheel last week too with Sam Rogers making a pretty nifty move around lapped traffic and leader Josh Langille to put his first win at Scotia Speedworld on the board for 2016. I mentioned off the top last week that Nathan Blackburn had speed and he backed it up on track with a third place run. Austin MacDonald and Nathan Langille complete the top five in the standings after one completed night.
Now, this night could potentially be big for those chasing INEX National points and each one of those top five are doing just that this year. All five, along with Michael Cormier and Owen Mahar, competed at INEX Winter Nationals in Orlando last February and the Langilles and MacDonald have also done some racing between then and the season opening. Rumors are swirling that one of those top five will be making an appearance or appearances this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the iconic Bojangles Summer Shootout this summer as well. These kids in both Bandolero classes are our future and we will be treated to two incredible features this Friday I’m sure.
The Affordable Fuels and Metro Home Heating Sportsman will also be on the bill Friday for a 50-lap feature. The battle between Aaron Boutilier and Jordan Veinotte for third at the end of the second Sportsman feature last weekend was incredible and even included some late race exchange of paint on the two Fords. They lead the standings after three races and have what is a comfortable margin on third after only a trio of races. Pete Miller and Travis Roma battled for the win in that second feature last week with Roma driving the wheels off the car, almost literally, to win his second career feature over Miller, who was setting up Roma in the final five laps but couldn’t get the car to bite enough on the outside.
The rest of the field isn’t too far behind Miller and Roma. Alex Johnson was so strong the first night of the season but missed the mark a bit last week. If you listened to last week’s Race Time Radio show from the Wooden Door Bistro, we had Johnson in “studio” and chatting about his racing career. If you did not listen in, go to their website and listen to the archive, it’s worth it!
Matt Moore had a fire under the hood of his #1 Hants Insulators Dodge last week caused by the power steering system. Moore told me in the pits after the race, with a smile and a little chuckle, that he wasn’t worried about it as much as the race officials were and it was just a little fire. He runs seventh in the standings after that setback last week with Kirk Ryan just in front and Wayne Miller, Brentley Pirri, Alex Painting, Joey Livingstone and Richard Salter not too far back. It was great seeing Tony Mason on track this past weekend and while his car had a miss in it, he was still all smiles during Fanfest. Welcome back, Tony!
Before we look at Saturday, I want to send well wishes out to Fred Schofield on his road to recovery. Not to get into any detail, Fred did not feel well after practicing his Sportsman on June 3rd and it turned out to be something serious that will more than likely keep Fred out of competition for the rest of 2016. Fred and his crew are a great group and are a vital part of our Weekly Racing Series family at Scotia Speedworld. If you’ve ever encountered Fred, you know he’s always up for a good conversation about racing and I was absolutely thrilled to call him down to his first feature win last year. We’re all thinking about you Fred - get well soon!
The Toursec Lightning and Coors Light Trucks will play support to the Nova Truck Centres Make A Wish 150 on Saturday afternoon. In 2014, Steve Matthews scored a popular first win in the Toursec Lightning debut on a Pro Stock card after a decade. Last year, Deven Smith was the winner on the undercard for the Pro Stock Tour race. Smith is two-for-two this year but it was far from easy last week with him, Matthews, Marc MacMillan, Scott Thibodeau, Jamie Dillman and Tom Stewart, among others, having a shot at the win last weekend. If last week is any indication, this could be one of the best undercard features the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour fans will see anywhere all season long.
The Coors Light Trucks are back and it is sure to be an exciting show as it was the last time they were on track. Dan Smith leads on his “drive for five” by only one point over Kevin Clark Jr. Jason Fenton is third after getting tangled up in the second feature on June 3rd with the Harvey Family Racing truck, driven that night by Harry Ross White. Matt Vaughan’s truck came to life, almost literally, after a spark plug issue had the #08 down on power during the May 22nd makeup feature. Expect Vaughan to mix it up with the top three in the standings, while Megan Parrott, Adam Carter, Danny Harvey and Jamie Creamer try to prove themselves as feature winners this Saturday prior to the big boys hitting the track.
If you want to get an idea of what to expect when the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour hits the track for the Nova Truck Centres Make a Wish 150, head over to MaritimeProStockTour.com to check out my preview. In short, the race at Riverside last weekend was exceptional with battles and storylines from tip to tip in the 26 car field. Many of those storylines will bleed over to this race which could make this one of the most exciting 150-lappers we’ve seen for the series in Halifax in a while.
It’ll be a big weekend at the track and I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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