Tim's Corner
Two of the Best Ready for
Thunder Title Tilt

It is hard to dispute that the last five years have distinguished  Dave Matthews and Matthew Warren as two of the best Four Cylinder drivers in this region.

Combined, the two have won three of the last four Chickenburger Thunder car championships, and in each of those three it was Matthews and Warren fighting for the title.

Their championship “rivalry” began in 2011, when Matthews won his first track championship at Scotia Speedworld by a single point over Warren. Stevie Lively, the champion from the year prior, finished 23 points behind that year while Tylor Hawes, currently a Legend car driver at the Speedworld, went in to the finale that year in the thick of the title hunt but finished 29 points back.

The 2012 championship in the Chickenburger Thunder is the only championship in the last five seasons in this division that Matthews and Warren have not had their hand in. Both ran part-time in the Thunder division while also running in the Legend division. Matthews had a short stint in the Legends class, while Matthew and his brother Andrew split an entry that finished second in the Cathy Ledwidge Memorial Rookie of the Year battle to Cole Butcher.

Both entries returned full time to the Thunder division in 2013, with Matthew Warren coming back to win the championship by six points over Matthews. The “you need to know how to lose a championship before you really know what it means to win one” slogan goes nicely here, after the #31 Markland Associates Civic lost the 2011 title by a single point.

Matthews stayed consistent last year with a string of second place finishes before reeling off two wins late in the season to win his second career Chickenburger Thunder championship. The gap was 25 points over two-time champion Tim Webster and 38 over Matthew Warren. The championship gap was the biggest since Derek MacCallum won his second championship over Matthews in 2009 by 60 points. That 2009 season was Warren’s rookie year, where he finished second in the freshman hunt to Jordan Pirri.

This season almost plays out like the MacMillan/Lively battle of 2012, where Matthews came out of the gate in 2015 hot to trot. Matthews won three of the first five features this season and has since put it on “cruise control” following motor issues with his car. His worst finish has been ninth place during the Atlantic Cat 250 weekend. Matthew Warren, who has been splitting the car with his brother Andrew, combined with his sibling to win three straight races in August and have been on a tear up the point standings.

At the end of the day, the difference is two points between the top two in the standings. That equates to two positions in a heat race or one position in the main feature. The most recent race meet saw Matthews get two spots on Matthew Warren in the heat race, but it was the #31 finishing two spots ahead of the #99 in the feature, giving Warren a two point advantage heading into this final race.

Sure, the field will not make this easy on either competitor Friday night. While there is a ton of respect between the boys (and Chantel) in this division, they all want to win and carry the momentum of the final checkered flag of the year into the winter. Kyle Gammon is a feature winner this year, so is Stevie Lively. While Shane Lively has won a feature, reports are that he sold his car and will join us Friday in a Legend ride as he prepares for 2016. Guys like Drew MacEachern, Webster, MacMillan, Brad Hayes and others will be looking for their first feature win of the season.

With two races to go in our other five Weekly Racing Series divisions, we will have plenty of time and space next week to go over those point pictures next weekend, or you can look back at last week’s archive of Tim’s Corner to preview this week. With the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour closing their season Saturday with an incredibly close point battle, a big crowd is expected all weekend, so our Weekly Racing Series guys and girls will be on their game to put on a show on both Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday, we will see the Scotia Speedworld debut of Shane Coffen. Coffen is from Victoria, Newfoundland. Coffen recently purchased a Sportsman car formerly campaigned by Wade Slauenwhite. It will be interesting to see what Coffen can do on our Speedworld oval.

To the point of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour battle, we have two drivers who began cutting their teeth in this sport at Scotia Speedworld in our Bandolero division. Both Cole Butcher and Dylan Blenkhorn won Bandolero championships before moving to the Legend division, where the both won championships. In the case of Butcher, he won three straight championships in the class, something his brother Jarrett is looking to extend for the team. Both ran for the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year title on the Parts for Trucks Tour in 2013, with Blenkhorn edging Butcher in that head-to-head battle. Blenkhorn won his first Pro Stock Tour race here in 2014 and then went on to win the Atlantic Cat 250 that year. Butcher went to victory lane this year for his first Tour win at the Nova Truck Centers 150.

Both enter the battle tied for second in the standings, 20 points behind veteran Donald Chisholm. Question is, can either of these Scotia Speedworld grads upset the championship apple cart and win their first Pro Stock Tour title?! You’ll want to be here Saturday to find out!

If you are around Dartmouth on Friday, stop in to Dartmouth Dodge for their pre-race meet and greet from 11am to 1pm. You’ll have a chance to win tickets to the race on Saturday and you can meet five-time champion John Flemming and Greg Proude. Denyse Sibley will be there, and so will I for a bit prior to heading to the track!

It is going to be an incredible weekend of racing, and hopefully you can make it out to witness what will be two championships coming down to the final laps of the season.

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