Setting the Stage for Two 50s
Two Bandolero Features
It’s 250 weekend! That’s right, two fifties, the Toursec Twin 50s that is.
Our four cylinder teams, both in the Toursec Thunder and Lightning divisions, put a lot of effort into their race cars and racing programs and this will be their night to shine. This is their Daytona 500, their Atlantic Cat 250, they’ll have extended laps on Friday night and (weather permitting) have some face time with the crowd during Driver Introductions.
Not to mention, this is typically one of the best races of the year. I’d put it up there with some of the monster Pro Stock, Sportsman and Legend shows we see. It’s a race night you need to see for yourself.
Let’s start with the Toursec Lightning class. Yes, the consistency by Deven Smith has him on top and so far in cruise control after five events as he searches for a second straight championship. A lot can happen on Twin 50 night, the feature is double the length these drivers are accustomed to, so if there is a crack to be found in the foundation of a championship run, this is the easiest place for it to show up.
Smith is one of three feature winners this season. He has won two races, so has “Rational” Richard Drake and his brother Jorden Smith has also won a main feature thus far in 2016. Rational Richard won both ends of a double header the last time we were to the track, being able to close the deal at the end of the race when others had a slight fumble of the proverbial ball trying to keep up.
We could potentially see a fourth different winner this season when Rob Bowness throws the checkered flag on Friday. While Scott Thibodeau is out of town heading to the NASCAR Weekend in New Hampshire, it may open the door for a guy like Marc MacMillan or Jamie Dillman to strike gold on Friday night. Both have had solid runs this year and while each own two top five finishes, they both have missed the podium this year.
There are a couple wildcards that could surprise the field on Friday, including Steve Matthews, Darrell Sullivan and the Bezanson boys, Garth and Marshall. Kenny Hopper had a strong run last week out and it was great to see Richie Moore back at the wheel the last time we ran.
As unpredictable as the Toursec Lightning 50 is sure to be, the Toursec Thunder 50 will probably play out the same way.
The competition so far has been tremendous in the class and while the numbers have dropped to around 14-16 a show, it does not mean the talent level has suffered. On track you still have the best drivers around strapping into Honda Civics and putting on an incredible show week in and week out.
Up top are Dave Matthews and Stevie Lively with one point between them in the standings. Here you have two drivers who are fiercely competitive, have both won championships and dozens of races and still have that fire to win in arguably the top four cylinder class in Atlantic Canada.
Maybe the coolest statistic about the division is that while we have 12 teams that have ran every race this year, we have five different winners in six races with Lively being the only repeat winner. Merle Corbin and Andrew Lively have both been to victory lane for the first time in their careers and Kyle Gammon along with reigning champion Matthew Warren have held the checkered flag in one off appearances this season.
The obvious choice on paper would be Matthews to win his first feature of the season on Friday if that trend was to continue but it is not that easy. Chris Hatcher has been stepping it up tenfold this season and if he did not have a couple of overheating issues earlier this year, he’d probably be in the top five in points and within the championship hunt. Instead, he sits seventh sandwiched between Drew MacEachern and Tim Webster in the standings - two veterans that could ultimately grab their first wins of the year in Halifax if the stars align.
JR Lawson has been consistent with four top five finishes in six races with a worst finish of eighth. He’s got the chops to win a championship, he’s won track titles at four other race tracks, but with Matthews and Lively racking up trophies like they are, Lawson might need to find a second gear in his championship quest. Keep in mind, like Hatcher, he is a seasoned vet of Scotia Speedworld that is still in search of his first feature win here. He will look to extend the four winners in five races trend to five winners in six races on Friday.
Lawson’s girlfriend Chantel Ackles has stepped up her game recently as well but has yet to throw a finish on the board that is indicative of how she has run. Ackles has led a handful of feature laps and has come within a whisker of winning a couple heat races but only has a best feature finish of eighth to show for her newly found strength at her home track.
With the right adjustment, expect to see a guy like Nic Baker, Mitchell Hopkins, Greg Mckay or Jesse Deveau near the top of the heap on Friday night.
The Hydraulics Plus Bandolero combined Outlaw and Bandit class will run not only a regularly scheduled 15-lap feature but will also make up their feature from May 22nd. The top four in the Outlaw division are close with only 15 points between the quartet, seven between the top three and one point between leader Josh Langille and second place Nathan Blackburn. Like Matthews in the Toursec Thunder class, Langille has yet to win a race this year but four second place efforts leave him top of the table.
The Bandits belong to Josh’s brother Nathan at the moment, but one stumble on Friday would knock him from eight points up on Owen Mahar and the rest of the field back to the pack. With two features to contend on Friday, it will shape the landscape of the point picture a lot more as we leave Scotia Speedworld this weekend.
The Beginner Bandits are back at it for a single 15-lapper this weekend and Tyler Hutchinson and Malcolm Jollimore have begun to pull away as they try to settle the championship amongst themselves. There are only two points between them and another 20 back to the Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year battle between Brooke Dowe and Dylan MacMillan. Morgan Mosher and Chase MacKay are tucked up tight in that battle for third and that could easily be shaken up on Friday night.
As mentioned last week, I have my eye on Kevin Clark on Friday night. Of the top five drivers, he is the only one to not win a feature in the Coors Light Truck class this season and only full time driver besides Adam Carter to not win a feature race. He’ll be in tough though against Dan Smith, Jason Fenton, Matt Vaughan, Megan Parrott and the rest of the field as they go at it on Friday.
It will be an exciting night of racing and I hope you can all make it out to cheer on your favorite Thunder and Lightning drivers on their biggest night of the year.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track.
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