Twin 50’s to Follow Wild Fan Appreciation Night
There is no other word to describe last Friday night’s problem other than wild.
From the Jack Daniel’s Trucks feature, which had more fireworks than any Canada Day celebration I’ve ever seen, to an exciting 18th Annual Shriner’s Classic for Sportsman which resulted in Jeff Dillman taking his third Classic win to Stevie Lively taking his third feature win of the season, there was no shortage of action on Fan Appreciation Night. If you missed the action, let me take you through a very, very small snippet of what you missed!
Dillman and Darren Wallage have had a few battles this season and this one was another highlight reel battle. Wallage kept Dillman pushing his car to the limits to win that race on Friday night. I believe Joe Jr said it during the Dartmouth Dodge 100, Wallage runs his car hard each and every lap, not letting up an ounce on that race track. Remember folks, Wallage and the #3 Blair’s Custom Metals Chevrolet missed the second race of our season. If it wasn’t for that, we would be talking about Aaron Boutilier and Wallage going for the title. Instead, we are talking about Wallage knocking on the door of the top five in points, racing against drivers who have one more event in the books than him this season. While 2012 might be Boutilier’s year (to this point, we still have two races to go) when it comes to the championship, give Wallage some credit for the season he has strung together.
The driver who Wallage is chasing for that fifth spot in the standings? Phil Barkhouse Jr. Barkhouse returned to the seat full-time this season and has had an up and down year. From winning his first feature in years earlier this summer to only completing eight laps last weekend, it has been a roller coaster on the results sheet for the #54. Phil did tell me last week they have a new car coming for next year and their season is far from over yet. In addition to Scotia races to close off 2012, they are planning on heading to Speedweekend 2012 at Speedway 660 this weekend to run in their 150 lap Sportsman event - a race in which Barkhouse won a heat for last year but a mechanical problem sidelined the #54 from a sure top five run.
Good to see those four numbers that are listed in the third to sixth positions during the Classic last week. Brian Jollimore has been running extremely well in the few starts we have seen him here this season, including a top ten run during the Dartmouth Dodge 100, which ended up in an 11th place finish out of 33 cars that were in the pits. I know Brian was frustrated with the lapped cars being mixed in with our lead lap drivers on the final trio of restarts of that event, but the rule states in the book that the race must be 80% complete before the scorers will pull lapped cars from the lineup. Did he have anything in the late going for Dillman or Wallage? We won’t know, but we do know that Jollimore does have a good piece under him and will be one to watch in the final two races in 2012.
Kirk Ryan, Bronson Shanessy and Alex Johnson all got great finishes on Friday night as well. Johnson has been strong all season and is a top ten point contender this season. I can remember back to the Hobby Stock days and watching Alex light up the division in his final year in that division, and you have to believe with experience in this Sportsman class that the team will be up there doing the same in this class before long. Bronson has been running strong this season as well but some of those finishes he’s put up on the board hasn’t really been indicative of where he’s been running in the field, so it is great to see the top five finish in the Classic for the #66 team. Kirk Ryan has been running a limited schedule this season and in what was his third start of the season, the #2 Eric Noble Trucking ride finishes in fourth. All three are great guys, as are most in the pit area each week, and it’s great to see them with those finishes this week.
We can’t leave talking about the Shriner’s Classic without talking about the debut of Travis Roma in the seat of the #38. As you may have heard on Friday, I talked to Travis prior to the race (and the full interview can be heard at TimsCorner.ca on Wednesday) and he had some simple goals after practice, which he accomplished at the end of 50 laps. Roma finished 12th and most importantly in one piece, something that his father would tell me many times was one of his goals in every race. For his first race in a Sportsman, Travis really impressed me, on and off the track and will be a contender for that Wooden Door Bistro Debbie Hallahan Memorial Rookie of the Year Award in 2013. Before that though, we maaaay see the 38 on track prior to the completion of this season… stay tuned!
The ACE Lumbermart Lightning point chase took another turn behind Jorden Smith last week. Mike Brown, second place in points, was involved in a Lap One incident on the backstraight, as was “Crazy” Craig Cordeau, Jeffrey Breen and “Rational” Richard Patrick. Fifth place point driver Jamie Creamer was in the middle of it, but he managed to escape big damage to finish in eighth. Sixth place driver Harry Breimer Jr blew a motor in his car with three to go. While that was all happening, Smith was sitting in victory lane with fourth place point driver Marc MacMillan in third, ninth place driver Chevy MacDonald (with a fantastic run may I add) in fourth and BJ Nicholson in fifth spot after 25 laps. It will certainly tighten up some of the standings behind Smith, who will have well over a hundred point advantage on second heading into the ACE Lumbermart 50, an event that Smith has won many times before!
The ACE Lumbermart Thunder cars are going 50 laps this weekend as well. The way he’s run the last couple weeks, it’d be hard to bet against Stevie Lively in these final two races when it comes to race wins. Though, as we saw Friday, Kyle MacMillan isn’t letting a point battle stop him. The #5 looked hooked up at the end of that feature but ran out of time at the end to catch the #32. Andrew Cluett had problems during the 25-lapper last week, so look for him to rebound this week as well. Names like Matthews, MacEachern, Harvie and many, many more will be there vying for the race that most four cylinder guys describe as “their Daytona 500.”
The Strictly Hydraulics Legend cars once again put on a show last weekend as they always do and was one of the cleanest features of the evening. Richard Salter pulled out a well deserved victory and “Miss Rawdon Rocket” Emily Meehan came home with a well earned second place finish. Jeff Cruickshank, who has been having a career season to this point had to hold off a determined Cy Harvey for third. There were pockets of battles throughout the field, making the feature entertaining. With one race to go, Cole Butcher has a 19 point lead over Paul Blenkhorn. Will it be the 15 year old young gun or the racing veteran and former champion taking the coveted top spot this season? Find out on September 7th!
The Legends had to follow up one of the wildest Jack Daniel’s Truck races I have ever seen in division history. With two laps to go, a wreck on the back straight took out a few contenders, including point leader Dan Smith and heat winner Ryan Goldsmith. The restart set up a shootout between Cale MacMillan and JP Arsenault, which was side by side until Turn Four, when the two made contact, sending Arsenault into the wall and Jason Fenton to victory lane. MacMillan had been out Wednesday to test his truck and it looked like the tuning worked as that Dodge came to life on Friday!
Fenton and the team have been working hard this season and it’s hard to believe that this was his first win on 2012. The #3 team has come close so many times this season, but this was that breakthrough race that got him into the spotlight. It is certainly a victory everyone at the track will not soon forget, and you better believe Fenton will look to follow that up with two more victories to close out 2012!
Back this week is the Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros for their 2012 championship run. Cole Boudreau wrapped up the Bandolero title at Speedway 660 last weekend and will look to close in on current point leader Jarrett Butcher with two to go this weekend. Should those two stumble at all, it opens the door for Braden Langille, who only sits 23 points out of the lead. Adam Meehan, Cole Tanner and rookie Craig MacDonald are putting on a show at fourth in the standings, which is sure to tilt one way or another on Friday night!
It’s the final Kiddie Ride Night of the season as well. Bring the kids down and let them take a ride around the oval with their favorite driver. It’s nights like these that make memories for a lifetime - so why not come down and enjoy a great Friday night out? After all, there’s only two Fridays left in this 2012 season. It’s also the biggest race of the season for our four cylinder boys and girls, so come on out and cheer them on this Friday!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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