Tim's Corner
The Calm Before the Storm

Welcome to 2018!

As we get closer to the official start of Spring, we near closer to the green flag and the start of the 2018 season.

It has been pretty quiet over the last few months but expect things to pick up as we get closer to the month of May. Rules packages for the five Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Series divisions have been released in the last week and everyone is now anticipating the schedule to come out.

While we haven’t seen the full schedule yet, we do have our four Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour dates finalized with the first taking place on Saturday, May 26th. It has been a few seasons since the Tour did not run on Victoria Day weekend in Halifax or for that matter opened somewhere else other than Scotia Speedworld. Will that be the only change we see in the 2018 schedule? I’m waiting as anxiously as you are.

The Scotia Speedworld registration office does not open until April, so we are still a month or so away from going through registrations and making lists to find out who is officially going to be joining us in 2018. As we’ve heard already, Megan Parrott will move from the defunct Truck division to run the Number One Racing car for Mitch Blanchard in the Affordable Fuels Sportsman class.

From all indications, our Sportsman division could potentially be the healthiest in Atlantic Canada to start the year. After the numbers we saw car count wise at the end of 2017, it is not a farfetched prediction.

We saw the likes of John Acker, Deven Smith and Adam Carter make their Late Model debuts late last season and Cory Leonard hopped into a Sportsman car again in a limited appearance last year. As long as they meet rookie requirements, that could be five rookies running for the Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year Award - and that doesn’t include anyone else we may not have heard from yet.

Word on the street is that former Hobby Stock champion Larry Fisher will be back again this year. Marie and Vernon Brown were at the rules meeting and who knows who else may be in the garage planning a return. We may even see 2016 champion Pete Miller more than we did in 2017.

Oh, and we haven’t talked about the regulars that will be back to defend their turf.

Jordan Veinotte has to be considered a favorite after a couple close championship runs in the last two years. He jabs at me when I talk about him being a veteran, but in recent years you might be able to start comparing him to Mark Martin. Martin, who competed at the IWK 250 at Riverside last season, is one of the most successful NASCAR Cup Series drivers without a series championship or a Daytona 500 win. Veinotte has finished second in the 2016 and 2017 championship chase, falling short by an average of 14 points over those two years. By the looks of it, the competition pool will be deep in 2018 but Veinotte has to be near the top as we enter the season.

I spoke with Kirk Ryan briefly at the Scotia Speedworld rules meetings and he seemed confident that he will be in the championship discussion by the end of 2018. Ryan was strong at the end of last year and I wouldn’t count him out. Travis Roma, Brentley Pirri, Chris Dingle, Alex Johnson and the likes will have to be near the top of your favorites list. Not to mention the likes of Aaron Boutilier and Russell Smith Jr if they decide to run a full or partial season.

They’ll all be gunning for Matt Vaughan. Usually, you would look back and say the sophomore driver would try to improve but how do you improve from a championship? Sure, win more races or maybe take one of the crown jewel type races like the Affordable Fuels Friday Night Feature on 250 weekend or the Shriners Classic. Either way, the Bedford driver made his mark in 2017 and will look to back that up in 2018.

Speaking of Vaughan, he and his championship ride will be with us during the Atlantic Outdoor Sports and RV Show at the Halifax Exhibition Centre from March 9th to 11th. Like last year, we are hoping to invite some guests in to chat with us and you’ll be able to watch on the Scotia Speedworld social media channels. If you are a driver that wants some extra face time, let us know and we’ll give you more details on how you can visit us throughout the weekend. If you are a fan, we want to see you too! Drop by and check out Vaughan’s ride for the year. By the looks of what I’ve seen on social media, it may look a bit different than it did in 2017.

Congratulations need to go out to a number of drivers who competed during Speedweeks in Florida. Cory Hall led the pack at INEX Winter Nationals by taking home the Pro Legends title at the five race event at Citrus County Speedway. Braden Langille won two of the five races on the week in the Pro division, while Sam Rogers took home two victories in the Bandolero Outlaw class. Danny Chisholm was second overall in points for the event in the Outlaw class while Owen Mahar was fifth on the week in the Bandolero Bandits.

Our Scotia Speedworld champion Paul Goulden was fifth for the week in the Legends Masters division, which featured over 35 cars. In total, over 170 cars hauled to Florida and as Langille told me in victory lane, the competition up home prepared him (and others) to compete with the best in the world at this Bandolero and Legend car event. Really goes to show how the proving ground of Scotia Speedworld can help our drivers on the bigger stages.

Let’s give a tip of the cap to Nicholas Naugle as well, who competed at New Smyrna Speedway in the Pro and Super Late Model divisions during the World Series of Asphalt. Naugle had a pair of podium finishes in the Pro Late Model division and improved every night as the nine-day event rolled on. Naugle cut his teeth racing at Scotia Speedworld and we see him during select Legend races and on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.

Congratulations to all of those who took part in Florida Speedweeks and those that will race between now and May when we throw the green flag at Scotia Speedworld. It just goes to show that if you can master Scotia Speedworld and the 3/10-mile oval, you can master most anywhere!

Until next time, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!