Tim's Corner

Mother Nature has not been kind to us this season.

Compared to last season, we were perfect at the first week of July when it come to getting our race in. Compared to other tracks this season, we are on par with other tracks in the region. New Brunswick’s Petty Raceway and Speedway 660 have lost at least two events each while Speedway Miramichi and Oyster Bed Speedway in PEI have also had events fall to Mother Nature this year. Hey, even NASCAR had to postpone the start of their race at Kentucky on the weekend. You get the point, everyone has felt the wrath of the weather.

This week we will have Kiddie Rides ahead of the scheduled racing for July 5th, which includes our Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series, Coors Light Trucks, Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros and ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning classes. For previews on four of these divisions, you can head back to my preview from last week. Nothing has changed point wise, because we didn’t race, so there’s no need to repeat ourselves here.

The division we didn’t talk about last week was the ACE Lumbermart Thunder class because they were off. So, without further adieu, let’s chat about the division that has what I’ve coined as “the BEST Four Cylinder Drivers in Atlantic Canada.” In fact, this moniker can be shared amongst our two four cylinder classes. For example, last weekend at Petty Raceway where Jorden Smith, making his debut for the season, bested Thunder driver Tim Webster for the top spot in the Mini Stock race. Not to toot our own horn but these two honed their skills on our 3/10-mile oval. In recent years, Kyle MacMillan, Stevie Lively, Dave Matthews, Andrew Cluett, Drew MacEachern, JR Lawson, Chevy MacDonald, Richie Moore and others have gone outside our provincial borders and have come back with trophies. It’s no secret - our drivers who climb through the window of their four cylinder speed machines are good and have proved it on many different occasions and have represented Scotia Speedworld and the ACE Lumbermart sponsored divisions very well!

Back on topic to our ACE Lumbermart Thunder division, which sees Kyle MacMillan on top after three race meets. Like Adam Meehan in the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero class, MacMillan has won five of six races he has entered, missing out on a heat race which Dave Matthews laid claim to. MacMillan finished second in that qualifier and is one point off maximum points through the first month and change of the 2013 campaign.

His biggest competition suffered a setback last season, though Stevie Lively fans shouldn’t panic yet. Lively found himself in a hole in the standings to begin his 2010 championship season and rallied to take the top spot when the checkers flew on the final race of that Summer. After two runner-up finishes to the #5 Scotia Tire Wyse Road Civic, Lively suffered a mechanical problem to his #32 Hubley Auto Sales Honda and fell to 33 points behind the defending champion in fourth in the standings. It is not an impossible mark to make up, especially when we are talking about a proven champion but with the way MacMillan and Mother Nature are running, it will be an uphill battle for Lively.

Now second in the standings is Matthews, the 2011 champion of the ACE Lumbermart Thunder class. Dave, who sits 17 points back of MacMillan, will have some new colors on his #99 Sangsters Automotive Civic, which will be a change to our fans from the blue and yellow we are accustomed to seeing the car. Rumor is that we may also see a second car out of the shop soon as well, which is a welcome sign to a class that has seen numbers decline by a few compared to last year.  

Matthew Warren finds himself third in the standings, a dozen markers out of Matthews at second. Matthew and his brother Andrew took to the Legend division in 2012 but Matthew now finds himself back in his comfort zone in the ACE Lumbermart Thunder class. Between Warren, Matthews, Drew MacEachern and Tim Webster, the battle for what has became third spot on the track most weeks has been one of the most exciting and intriguing battles to watch throughout all six weekly divisions. Not only are these guys out there to put on a show, they do it with a boatload of respect between each other and while we may see a couple of these guys trade paint samples, we don’t see them wadding each other up in the fence on a weekly basis.

When you look at the standings, you see Webster and MacEachern a bit farther down the order after Webster came home 15th the last time we raced while MacEachern did not pass post race inspection, relegating him to 12th in the standings. Webster finds himself in another close battle as well, this one in the standings between sixth and tenth. The pack is led by “Big Daddy” Kenny Hopper in the #59 car, who is having a very respectable season and is coming off a sixth place run at AMP Energy Night two weeks back. He leads Webster and Patrick Riley, who are tied for seventh in the standings, by just five points after three weeks of racing. Riley was the one putting on the show in Heat One two weeks ago by driving to victory while his hood was up on the #07 car, obstructing his view for half the heat race.

Ninth place in the standings, one point behind Riley and Webster, is the #4 car which usually is driven by Kirk Mullane but has had three different drivers in it in the last two weeks as Mullane felt under the weather come race time. In race two, Andrew Warren drove the #4 in the heat race while Andrew Cluett slid through the window for the feature. Two weeks ago it was Travis Brewer, brother of former Hobby Stock standout and Legend car Rookie of the Year Billy Brewer, wheeling the #4 Honda. The preliminary report out of the camp is that Mullane will be back in the car this week while the team that also fields the #5 car for champion MacMillan is looking at putting together a third car for Brewer in the coming weeks.

Rounding out the top ten in points, one point out of ninth and seven points out of sixth place, is Kyle Gammon. Gammon knows his way to victory lane in this class but has struggled with some mechanical issues on his #98 car to get it up to speed and competitive with the front runners. Once he finds what the Civic is missing, keep an eye on him, because the former ACE Lumbermart 50 winner will be on the hunt for as many checkered flags he can get before the season is out.

Not to forget one of the pleasant surprises in the top ten - sitting in fifth place is the #20 of Jordan Pirri. Pirri began his ACE Lumbermart Thunder car career back in 2009, winning the Rookie of the Year in the class that year, beating two drivers mentioned already in this piece in Matthew Warren and Stevie Lively. Pirri has finished sixth in the standings twice, taking the spot in 2010 and last season. He is on pace for his best season of his career as he sits just eleven 11 points out of Lively in fourth and 15 out of third place Warren. One mistake though will put him in that clump just eight points behind him in sixth through tenth.

Chantel Ackles sits 11th in the standings, 19 points off the caboose of the hornet’s nest at tenth. The sophomore driver from Halifax has had to fight through some mysteries with her new-to-her Civic that her and her team built in the off-season and after a tie rod breaking two weeks ago, the team finds themselves in a deeper hole in the points. It is a long season though and Chantel is determined to make a climb up through the standings before we throw the checkers on Friday the 13th.

We’ve documented MacEachern’s troubles two weeks ago and now the #13 sits in 12th in the standings. It’s tough to see one of the nicest guys in the pit area have trouble and be in a hole in the point picture but you have to believe the Darkside Racing driver will rebound to win at least one feature this season.

Colin Hallahan is continuing to learn his #33 car and while he has missed one event, he sits 13th in the standings. Cluett, rookie John MacLennan, Jamie Crowther, Steven Pickles and Richard Ramsay have ran in one event this season and will continue to look for those coveted checkered flags this season.

There you go, you are now up to speed on the ACE Lumbermart Thunder class through three races this season. The Civic class continues to put on one of the best shows of any division each week and is well worth sticking around for as they close our show out this coming Friday night.

Hope to see everyone out on Friday night, and if you could, do a sun dance or two this week!

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