Coming off a BIG Weekend,
Moving on with the Twins
Where do we start?
Last weekend was pretty exciting. From the delay on Friday night to some wonderful Sunday afternoon racing to one of the finest 250s we’ve ever seen at the Speedworld, it was a pretty awesome weekend. For my little look back at the Atlantic CAT 250 itself, head over to my column on MaritimeProStockTour.com and you can check out Maritime League of Legends Tour results at TimsCorner.ca. Before looking ahead on what’s next for our Weekly Racing Series, let’s look back for a few moments at the Atlantic CAT 250 weekend.
Let’s begin with the Dartmouth Dodge 100. Russell Smith Jr. had the field covered in the Dartmouth Dodge 100 as he added another big race win to his resume. That team has hit on something in the last couple seasons. Keep in mind, to be successful in this sport, more often than not you need the complete package. A well prepared race car, a crew to keep on top of it that knows their stuff, some luck and a driver that can wheel with the best of them are just some of the ingredients in the recipe for success for the #44 K. Hubley Woodworking and Contracting Dodge. When it all comes together (including the luck as transmissions and rear ends have been common failures in this division across the region this season), you have a team that is really difficult to beat. In the words of Craig Slaunwhite, “he (Russell) is a wheelman and he’s going to win races around the Maritimes for many years to come!”
It’s been a rough week for a lot of us in this tight knit community with the passing of Mike Stevens. It was great to see the generosity of our fans on Saturday as we raised over $11,200 for Mike’s two boys. The Brody and David Stevens Living Memorial also got some support from Smith when Russell pledged his winnings from Sunday afternoon to the fund! Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for all of our kindness and support for the Stevens family!
The pleasant surprise out of Sunday has to be Darren Price. The team from Sydney that calls the NAPA Sportsman Series home started 19th on Sunday and worked his way through the field to the third place spot (which ended up being second after tech) at the end of the race, and he did it with many quality, clean passes throughout the 100 lap event. Darren told me after the race that being on the podium at Scotia Speedworld felt like a win to him and with the NAPA Sportsman Series wrapped up a week before our Dartmouth Dodge 50 on September 14th, Price may have to head back and try his hand at getting one better in a month from now.
Was great seeing all the teams down from Cape Breton and New Brunswick for the second round of the Maritime Sportsman Challenge on Friday and into Sunday. Easily the biggest attendance for a Sportsman Series race in the last seven years at the Speedworld and the race itself was pretty exciting. You had guys that had never seen the track prior to Friday, some veterans that have been racing here for decades and then some drivers who had been out to the track a few times with some success, like Miramichi’s Brady Creamer, West Chezzetcook’s Travis Roman and Prospect Road’s DJ Casey.
Larry Fisher had a big day at the Speedworld. It’s been an up and down season for the MacPhee Ford/Halifax Limo Service/R&R Kinsman Auto Salvage Ford after blowing a motor on Lockhart 50 day and scrambling to find another. When everything became official, Fisher took third on the day, which I’m sure he is more than happy about! He beat another Scotia Speedworld regular in Brentley Pirri to the stripe, making Fisher and Pirri the only two full time Speedworld drivers in the top five after the Dartmouth Dodge 100.
So many stories but so little space - we’ll pick up some more with the Sportsman when we preview Kiddie Night on August 30th.
Dan Smith has one of the biggest leads we’ve seen in the Coors Light Truck division with a four point advantage on Ryan Goldsmith heading into ACE Lumbermart Night. Smith scored his second win of the season Sunday and it was Goldsmith shadowing the defending champion to the line Sunday in the feature and Friday in the heat when the two lost out in the qualifier to rookie Robbie Watts. Jason Fenton got a bit hot under the collar during the Sunday feature after contact with Larry Vaughan. After a failed attempt to sail it in underneath Vaughan in Turn One (we call that a Jordan Hightower in the sim racing world), he ended up heading pit side before coming back out and finishing seven laps down. The end result is an 18 point loss to Smith and now he sits 25 points back with four races to go and unless he can make some major gains, it appears that we may be down to a two horse race for the title.
The Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros saw Adam Meehan capture his fifth win of the season in eight races. We saw Cole Boudreau take a handful of wins last season and come up short of the title and I know a lot can happen with four races to go in the Bandoleros, but what Meehan has been able to accomplish is pretty special. His point lead though is only 25 points. One slip and you best believe Braden Langille will be there. In turn, if Langille slips, he will have Cole Tanner, Craig MacDonald and the rest of the field on his tail. The battle may be for fifth in the division heading down to the wire between Nicholas Naugle and Wyatt McCulloch, who each have picked up podium finishes in the last few weeks, and Luke Ettinger. Eight points is the gap as they prepare for battle on Friday night.
Nobody wanted the rain more on Friday night than the Warrens. The #31 car blew a transmission on Friday and would not be able to get it together if the features ran on Friday. The heat ran without Warren but then the rain came, giving the team the chance to work on the car though the Warren brothers didn’t have much time to do so. Matthew was married on Saturday and handed the car over to Andrew on Sunday, who went out and won his first main feature of his career in exciting fashion. The heat race loss though is going to let Dave Matthews retake the lead after his charge back to third in the feature. Not to open up old wounds, but I seem to remember the championship a few years back coming down to a few points and a missed heat race on Opening Day making a difference. Like we said with Smith, it comes down to opportunity sometimes in this sport - if you are a Warren fan, hopefully the missed opportunity on Friday night isn’t the difference between hoisting the 2013 crown and seeing another do so.
Right now, that gap is only one point between the #99 and #31, which will make things very interesting coming down to the wire. Kyle Gammon is third in points, 23 back of Matthews and like Warren, a dismal heat race on Friday could have prevented the #98 from gaining more points than he did. Tim Webster, who had Mark Williams subbing for him Sunday, is nine points behind Gammon in fourth while Jordan Pirri is all by himself right now in fifth with two dozen points between him and fourth and over 30 back to sixth.
The most interesting point battle I have seen in the seven years I’ve worked at the Speedworld is transpiring in the ACE Lumbermart Lightning division. After four races this year, it was the story of “Rational” Richard Patrick and JR Lawson as the two battled for the point championship. Following a disqualification on night one with Richie Moore and Jorden Smith only running part time, it appeared that it was going to be a two way fight as Patrick and Lawson began to distance themselves from the field.
Week Five saw a timing belt break on the #141 Covey’s Auto Recyclers Dodge in the heat, preventing Patrick from making the feature. Without starting the feature, it put him deep in the standings.
Atlantic CAT 250 weekend has seen Lawson miss the feature after running his heat race Friday and like Patrick did, he took a tumble in the standings. I haven’t been talking to Lawson yet but it’s a heartbreak for a team who has worked so hard on this car to get it perfect.
Enter BJ Nicholson - your new ACE Lumbermart Lightning car point leader.
Nicholson has been consistent in the series and now sits a dozen points up on Marc MacMillan, who won his first feature of his Lightning car career last weekend. Jamie Dillman is third, 20 points back with the MacDonald brothers completing the top five.
Here’s some interesting numbers for you though. Patrick sits 50 points back in seventh and Moore sits in ninth, 55 points back. With five races to go, Patrick would have to gain an average of 50 points on Nicholson to take the title and Moore would have to gain an average of 11 if all races are run. In the five races that Patrick and Nicholson have both competed in this season - Patrick has finished an average of 8.8 points ahead of Nicholson at the end of the night. Moore’s average on Nicholson is 8.2.
The more interesting numbers come in this battle when you compare numbers of MacMillan to Patrick and Moore sans the two breakdowns MacMillan had to begin the season. When you take out the races Patrick and MacMillan both break down, you have three races the two raced all the laps and when you total them together, Patrick has only outscored MacMillan by three points. There have been four races Moore and MacMillan have each finished all the laps and Moore has only outscored MacMillan in those four races by two points. Bottom line? Moore and Patrick are still not out of it. Nicholson is your leader, but will have to be on his “A Game” these remaining five weeks to keep one of the hottest drivers in the class over the last month at bay and MacMillan is going to have to make sure his car stays together if he wants to keep himself in the hunt. Longevity is the name of the game this week, so we’ll find out who is the first to crack under the pressure over 50 laps this week.
Regardless what happens in points, let’s focus on the present. This is a special night for our Four Cylinder drivers as they prepare for their longest race of the season. Billed by some former winners as “their Daytona 500,” this one sticks a winner for a very long time. I hope you can get out Friday to the Speedworld to cheer on our Four Cylinder guys and gal as they try to get into victory lane in this prestigious event.
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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