Tim's Corner
That Springtime Feeling

Do you ever get that pre-season feeling that we could be in for change in the new year?

I’ve got that feeling that we could be seeing a slew of new race winners and champions in 2017.

Test n Tune on Saturday seemed to go well for most. As the name implies, a lot of teams go into the open practice with different agendas and different things to try on their cars over the four hour session. Some of those things work and can be added to the setup notebook to apply for the season, some of those can be scratched from the pages and never thought about again.

The only major issue I had heard from the CARSTAR Weekly Racing Series garage was Megan Parrott’s #10 Pulse Heavy Duty Truck team dropping a motor on Saturday. If you tuned into our Facebook Live chat, Megan had said that the team had an oil pump go bad on them, though a message from Megan on Sunday had said upon further inspection that the problem was much worse than just the oil pump. She expects to have something on the race track for Sunday to compete in the season opener.

Three drivers made their way out to Test n Tune on Saturday and will each make their long awaited return to competition at Scotia Speedworld this Sunday. Former Pulse Heavy Duty Truck champion Gordie Ritchie was one of the first on track for the division on Saturday and looked solid in the early sessions. The last time we saw Ritchie race was in a part time season in 2011 following two championship seasons in 2010 and 2009.

It hasn’t been as long for Chris Dingle, but we haven’t seen the Elmsdale driver on track for two seasons. He returns to a Sportsman car this year with the familiar red and white #71 and has Frankie Fraser helping tune in the car in the pits. Dingle has seen success at the track, including a podium finish at the Shriners Classic a number of years ago. If he can come out of the box strong in 2017, I would not put it past him to win a championship in the Affordable Fuels Sportsman division this year.

It was great to see Shelby Baker back at the race track in a Legend car. Baker was a standout in the Bandolero division, winning the championship in 2007 and was one of the original drivers when the class was formed in 2006. Baker also ran a number of Legend seasons and won his share of features before taking a hiatus from racing after the 2012 season. No pressure for Baker though as his Atlantic Tiltload teammates have won the last five Strictly Hydraulics Legends championships.

I think that’s where we will see the most exciting racing this year is in our Strictly Hydraulics Legends division. The car count is growing in the class and we have four rookies looking to take home the dough(nuts) in the Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year Award. Yes, quantity is always great but I’ll take quality of racing any day. For example, our Toursec Thunder division did not have booming numbers last year for cars but continued to put on one of the best shows each week with the talent in the class. I believe the Strictly Hydraulics Legends division has both. You’ve got talent at the top with Baker, Cory Hall, Nicholas Naugle, Adam and Emily Meehan, Tylor Hawes, Jeff Cruickshank, Scott Cunning and Danny Harvey along with the addition of Waylon Farrell in 2017 and you have the makings of a great field at the front each week.

Add in your four freshmen in Kyle Shipley, Robin Lowthers, Kody Quinn and Andrew Lively, along with guys like Wayne Nichols, Shane Lively, Dylan Sutherland, Harry Breimer Jr and Richie Nicholson who are looking for a breakthrough and you have both quality and quantity in the field.

It should be noted that the Lowthers team broke a rear end midway through the practice session on Saturday. The team had former Legend feature winner Matt Moore in the car to shake it down when the problem arose. Of note, you can see Moore make his Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour debut alongside Toursec Thunder champion Stevie Lively on Saturday during the Lucas Oil 150.

The Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros continue to grow in numbers as well. Ayden Christensen, who had a beautiful looking Jeff Gordon-esque scheme on his car, Gabby Dillman, daughter of Jeff “D8 Dozer” Dillman and Cameron Mosher, brother of Morgan Mosher, all made their on track debuts at Test n Tune. Matthew Rushton tested the #2 Overall Experience Bandolero for Lily Whynot and looked quick on track. By the looks of the numbers, we might see a second year of the Beginner Bandits class.

The veterans of the Bandolero class also showed speed on Saturday, including Colton Noble in his Josh Collins Racing and Edward Collins Contracting ride, Nathan Langille in the new colors from Kings Produce, Nathan Blackburn who unveiled a black and blue livery and Josh Langille in the familiar yellow #18 car. A number of fast cars, including Tanner MacLean, Owen Mahar, Danny Chisholm and Sam Rogers, were not at the practice but you can expect them to be contenders on Sunday.

I had the chance to chat with Austin MacDonald last Saturday as well. MacDonald suffered a head injury last summer in an off track accident and has been on the road to recovery. He tested a Bandolero last month in North Carolina and is itching to get back on track at Scotia Speedworld, something he hinted could happen sooner rather than later.

With the aforementioned Stevie Lively moving to the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and Andrew Lively moving to the Strictly Hydraulics Legend ranks, I look to a guy like Merle Corbin or Chris Hatcher to be a championship favorite come this season in the Toursec Thunder class. Dave Matthews will be a contender if he runs the full season and I heard rumors that we might see a return of JR Lawson, who is still looking for that first career feature win at Scotia Speedworld.

Greg McKay is back in 2017, so is Nic Baker and the #88 car. Richard Ramsay returns after a couple of years away from the stock car side of things. Ramsay ran for the Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year Award in 2011 at the young age of 61 years and has been keeping his skills sharp with the AMKA karting club on Saturday mornings at the Speedworld. Neil Miousse and Darren Flemming are among those looking to win the Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year Award.

We’ll quickly see on Sunday if anything has changed in the Toursec Lightning class. Neither Deven Smith, Richard Drake or Scott Thibodeau, the three headliners in the class from 2016, were at Test n Tune on Saturday but Marc MacMillan and Tom Stewart were there tweaking on the rides for the upcoming year. Mike Jollimore, reigning Tim Hortons at the Airport Rookie of the Year, will have David Jollimore join his stable and compete for the newcomer award in 2017 against Travis Keefe and possibly more that could join before the green flag drops on Sunday.

Alex Painting and Matt Vaughan showed off new rides in the Affordable Fuels Sportsman division on Saturday. You could not wipe the smile off Painting’s face as he climbed in his refurbished ride that the Wallage crew helped him with over the offseason. Vaughan purchased the former car of Darren Price over the winter, a car that was on the podium in the Affordable Fuels 100 the last time it was at Scotia Speedworld. Both got valuable track time on Saturday ahead of their first race this coming Sunday.

So what can we expect Sunday? We’ll just have to wait and see. With Pete Miller scaling back to part-time competition in Sportsman, Jarrett Butcher moving up to the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour from Legends and Stevie Lively doing the same from the Thunder class, we could have ourselves with at least three new champions. We might even see more than that, I’ve just got that feeling.

We go green on Sunday at 2pm - I hope you can join us because it is sure to be an exciting kick off to the 30th Anniversary season of racing at Scotia Speedworld.

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