MOPAR EXPRESS LANE NIGHT
Last week was a great program of racing at Scotia Speedworld from start to finish. After all, we’ve come to expect that from the boys and girls that comprise our Weekly Racing Series each week.
The two big stories that really headlined last week included three first time winners at the Speedworld and one rivalry in the ACE Lumbermart Thunder class that had the proverbial tea kettle whistling after 25 laps under the lights.
Let’s start with our first time winners as we mix them in with a divisional forecast for the show upcoming. I’ve been at this for seven seasons now and nothing beats a first time winner in victory lane. Five days prior to last Friday, I was standing in victory lane at Petty Raceway in New Brunswick with Dylan Gosbee, who had just won his first Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race. Gosbee and his crew were bouncing off the chip excited but I’m not sure who was more excited, Gosbee or Chris Dingle after Dingle won his first ever Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series last Friday. Dingle has come close on a few occasions and after finishing third a few weeks ago, you had to believe the win for the #71 Destiny Travel Chevrolet would be right around the corner.
If it wasn’t for Dingle missing the call to the green for the Lockhart Truck Center 50, we may be talking about Dingle in third or so in the standings. Instead, Dingle sits 11th in standings, 111 points (or a full race and change) behind Darren Wallage. Wallage gained a cushion over Aaron Boutilier after Boutilier pitted under the second caution of the evening and had to rally from the rear to finish eighth while the #3 car took home third.
The most intriguing battle is back from third to sixth in the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series. After a last place finish in the high handicap heat for DJ Casey, it allowed Harry Ross White to make up a total of 11 points on the rookie to surpass him in the standings by one point. Wade Slauenwhite also made gains, moving to within three points of Casey in fourth with a fifth place run in the #12 on Friday. Third year driver Brentley Pirri has his Revma Electric #37 car in sixth, five points out of fifth and only nine markers out of third in the standings.
These two battles, along with others throughout the field, still have just over half the season to sort themselves out. The Sportsman class has five regular point races left on the season plus the Dartmouth Dodge 100, which is traditionally contested for what we call “show points,” which is simple - show up and you get a set amount of points on the night. If you want a shot at the championship though and you’re in a position in the standings from third and back, with Darren and Aaron running the way they are, you best get a move on!
Craig MacDonald has been trying to get his foot in the door to victory lane all season in a main feature and on Friday night, the knocking was answered. The #9 car took home the win after holding off point leader Adam Meehan, who won the three previous features and was on the #9 at the checkers of this one. Meehan and Braden Langille’s crews each did a fine job getting their cars ready for the feature after a heat race wreck took them out of contention for the win in the qualifier on the last lap.
With the win, MacDonald is clawing his way back into the point picture after Week Two where he received last place points on the night. Meehan still has the lead by 18 points, which is an increase by three points, over Langille. MacDonald, the second year driver from Waverley, has now put himself into third, ten points behind Langille and 28 out of Meehan. Cole Tanner sits three points behind MacDonald and Luke Ettinger is just six points behind Ettinger. That’s how the standings seem to go throughout, with a single digit gap between drivers. With nine point races to go in this season in the class though, anything can happen!
Mike Brown told me when he pulled into the pit last Friday that Kiddie Night would be his only start of 2013. Brown wasn’t getting out of racing, rather he was focusing on other things and planning on another full time drive in the ACE Lumbermart Lightning class in 2014. With JR Lawson’s back up car on his trailer, he pulled into the Speedworld and at the end of the night, he pulled into victory lane as a first time winner in the class! Not only did he win, he did it by holding off his teammate for the night in Lawson, who made a hard charge at the end as Brown caught lapped traffic. Brown told me in victory lane that this may change his plans for the end of 2013, after all, it’s hard to walk away from a 100% winning percentage!
With his second place run in the feature combined with his heat win, Lawson moves to within a couple points of third place finisher “Rational” Richard Patrick in the #141, who continues to put up consistent finishes following his win on Opening Day.
It was good to see Jorden Smith and his brother Deven out at the track in their Neons on Friday. Jorden, who won the championship by a point gap equating to nearly two full races, said he will be trying to gain as many points as he can over what is now nine races to end 2013. Deven, who won the Petty Raceway Mini Stock championship in 2012, made his first start at the Speedworld by coming home a very respectable 11th. Keep your eyes on these two, because I don’t think it will be long before they get their Smith Brothers Racing Dodges dialed in to get them to victory lane!
Also returning was the #147 of Percy Harvey. Harvey finished second in the first season of ACE Lumbermart Lightning racing back in 2003, when the division was more of a novelty class rather than a full blown stock car division. Harvey finished 23 points behind Cassie Marriott that year and stands as the only full time driver from that inaugural year to still be racing at Scotia Speedworld. The fourth place finisher from that year, Keith Hopper, is one of our technical inspectors in Hotel California at the Speedworld each week.
The ACE Lumbermart Thunder class saw the boiling point in the rivalry of champions Stevie Lively and Kyle MacMillan, which has been fairly calm up to this point. Sure, there has been contact but nothing like what we saw on Friday. While there was some contact as the two made their way to the front of the field on Friday, it’s pretty clear what happened once they got there. When they were battling for the lead, Lively gave MacMillan a courtesy bump when he got to the back of the #5 car. After Lively passed for the lead, MacMillan took note of the contact and spun the #32 car. The race would stay green and when it came to the closing lap, Lively returned the favor, sending MacMillan for a wild ride through the infield, barely missing two of our light poles. The two were relegated to seventh and eighth respectively in the lineup.
At the end of the entire fracas out front, the win went to Matthew Warren, who celebrated his 31st birthday in style by passing Kyle Gammon to take the checkered flag. It is great to see Gammon running up front where he is accustomed to running after mechanical problems on his #98 Darkside Racing Honda prevented him from cracking the podium. With the points so tight, Gammon moved from tenth to fifth in the standings with his second place run but still has a ways to go to catch MacMillan, who sits 46 points up on Gammon. With the way MacMillan and Lively have been racing though, this championship battle has the makings of going down to the wire and the door could open up for the likes of Warren, Dave Matthews, Gammon and the rest of the field. Of note, MacMillan holds the point lead over new second place driver Warren by 16 points.
It was great to see some familiar faces back at the track behind the wheel of race cars. ACE Lumbermart Lightning star Nick Hurshman slid through the window of a four cylinder for the first time in a few seasons while Brandon Watson made his return for the first time since the dissolution of the Hobby Stock class in the #9 Matthews Racing entry.
We’ll talk Coors Light Trucks more next week, but a congratulations here to Dan Smith, who scored his first win of the season and became the fourth different winner in the class in as many races, joining Robbie Watts, point leader Ryan Goldsmith and Jason Fenton, who celebrated his birthday this past Monday.
The Strictly Hydraulics Legend cars return to the Speedworld on Friday night and we’ll see if Cole Butcher can continue to build on his eight point lead he has over Cy Harvey. The Legend division has seven races to go, but it is never too early to talk points and there is a great battle brewing for third. Currently holding down the spot is Emily Meehan, who has a four point lead on Danny Harvey. Harvey, in turn, has three points on Matt Moore and Moore only has three points on Jeff Cruickshank for the fifth place spot. Dan Michaud Jr is tagging on to the end of this battle as well, just three points off Cruickshank’s mark. If you are keeping score, that leaves us with five drivers within 13 points battling for the third place spot. One mistake here, or in the next seven point races to the finale on Friday the 13th and it could spell huge trouble when it comes to a championship dream.
If you are looking for some of the best Weekly Racing Series action in the region, Scotia Speedworld has what you are looking for. Not only in one or two divisions, each division that comprises our Weekly Racing Series has some pretty incredible storylines building and is worth coming out to check out if you haven’t already this Summer.
Until Friday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
|BACK TO ARCHIVES|