Four Cylinder Finale Friday/Lumbermart 50’s Preview
From all indications, the Lumbermart 50’s this Friday night at Scotia Speedworld will be some of the best short track racing we’ve seen in years on the 3/10-mile oval. The first leg of the Lumbermart 50’s back in July saw some of the best four cylinder racing that our Thunder and Lightning classes have put on in years. With so much more on the line on Friday, you better believe these guys will be going that extra mile to get those extra spots by the time Ralph Vokey throws the checkered flag.
Let’s first look at the Lumbermart Lightning division, where the champion is beginning to hear the proverbial fat lady going through her practice cords. Jorden Smith (Lakeside) has a 92 point advantage heading into Friday’s festivities and will only have to start the main feature to lock down his first championship at the Speedworld and the second consecutive for Smith Brothers Racing. Everyone else behind him has something to fight for when it comes to the season ending standings with Jamie Dillman (Carroll’s Corner) taking an 21 point lead into the Lumbermart 50 over last week’s feature winner Nick Hurshman (Lakeside), “Crazy” Craig Cordeau (Windsor) and Cody Singer (Kennetcook).
The most intriguing battle in the class is for positions sixth through fourteenth. BJ Nicholson (Beaverbank) has turned up the wick on his competition and sits sixth, just two points ahead of John Poan (Hantsport) who also has brought the heat in the last few races. Marc MacMillan (Glenholme) turned heads in the first half of the season with his #192 Green Creek Auto Body Neon and will look to finish this season with sixth as he runs just ten points behind Nicholson with one to go. JR Lawson (Shubenacadie) has to be one of the front runners for “Best Appearing Car/Easiest Car to Score” for the division this season and the team has proven in the last few races that it’s not all about just looking sharp on track. Lawson has clawed his way into the top ten and has himself positioned a dozen points behind MacMillan.
Harry Briemer Jr (Stewiacke) has had a breakout season in 2011 and has been as high as seventh in the standings before falling back to tenth after a subpar run last week. The rubber band could easily work the other way for Briemer this week though as he needs just 28 points to get back to sixth and just six markers to make up that ninth place spot. Jonathan Conrad (Dartmouth) and Tyler Hallahan (Elmsdale) are tied for eleventh, just six points behind Briemer and are in the best position to uproot another driver from the top ten. Rookies Mark Campbell (Halifax) and Mike Brown (Urbania) have a chance to make something happen for a top ten spot but will need to do work on Friday night as they sit 24 and 46 points out of that coveted top ten. The two will do battle though for the Rookie of the Year Award and with Brown coming on strong the last few weeks, expect this one to come down to the wire!
Over two dozen cars are expected to battle it out for the checkered flag in each division, so don’t count out drivers that are outside that top fourteen in points, like “The Pit Lizard.” Jamie Creamer (Spryfield) led the most laps in the main feature one week ago but fell short in getting that checkered flag in the #194 Neon. If Creamer can pull off the win here this week, I’m sure there will be a winter long party in the SBR camp. This could be a race that Kenny Hopper could turn his season around in. Hopper recorded a top ten finish last week by finishing sixth and Hopper along with his Chevrolet could complete this 2011 season on a high note with another great finish!
“The Outlaw” has also told me he is coming out to win on Friday night. Mike Umlah of Stewiacke has had a yo-yo of a season in the #108 sponsored by Mega Enterprises Limited. Umlah did record a top three finish earlier in the season, a couple of races after his car was bent up following an accident on the front straightaway. Umlah could be a darkhorse when you look at favorites to win their first race in the 50. Expect stars of the Lumbermart Lightning division the likes of Joey Hillier, Matt Farrell, Robert Henry, “Rational” Richard Patrick, Marshall Bezanson, Matt Bonin, Jeff Turple and others to take the green this Friday night.
Meanwhile, four drivers enter Friday night with a realistic chance at the Lumbermart Thunder crown. Dave Matthews (Kennetcook) enters the battle with the slimmest of margins – one point to be exact over Matthew Warren (White’s Lake). Tylor Hawes (Sheet Harbour) who finished runner-up last season only needs to gain four points on Matthews and three on Warren to get to the promise land. While each of the top three jockey for what would be their first championships at the Speedworld, 2010 champ Stevie Lively (Shubenacadie) will look to upset the apple cart and take home back-to-back crowns. Lively is 24 points out and with a win in the 50-lap event could make things exciting when it comes to the point picture on Friday.
Like the Lumbermart Lightning class, everyone has something to fight for in the final race in 2011. Though sophomore Andrew Warren of White’s Lake is mathematically alive for the championship, gaining 40 points with four strong competitors in front of him will be difficult. A more realistic goal for Warren is fourth in points, as he sits just 16 behind Lively. One falter from the #32 Hubley Auto Sales Civic would leave that door open for the #85 Multi-Tech Automotive Honda to sweep up that spot.
Sixth place is Joey Lawson of Porter’s Lake. Lawson was swept up in an incident the last time the Thunder cars were on track – a rarity in a season which has been full of top five finishes for the #27. The gap between he and fifth place Warren is only 27 points while he has a comfortable gap (76 points) on defending Lumbermart 50 champion Kyle MacMillan (Hammonds Plains). MacMillan, who won his first ever feature in the “Daytona 500 of Four Cylinder Racing” last season, will look to hold off the likes of veterans Tim Tanner (Beaverbank, five points) and Drew MacEachern (Dartmouth, 15 points back) in the points.
Woooaaaaah, hold the phone, did I just say Tim Tanner? That’s not a typo, the #98 Canadian Tire Spryfield Honda will be piloted by Tanner this Friday night for Kyle Gammon. Gammon won the July leg of the Lumbermart 50 and the car could become one of the first in years to sweep both ends of the Lumbermart showcase.
Kyle’s brother Kirk Mullane (Hammonds Plains) can also move a bit higher in the standings than his tenth place spot he currently occupies. Sitting 24 points out of eighth, Mullane has already locked up the Rookie of the Year Award for the division, an honor the 16-year old driver values greatly. The driver, who is under the racing tutelage of Middle Sackville’s Scott Williams saw his car to go victory lane this season in the Media Race with Calvin Clarke from The Chronicle Herald at the helm.
Whether Jon Bonin (Glen Haven) makes it to the track or not this week is yet to be seen. When I spoke with Bonin early in the week, the team was needing to install a new transmission in the #8 car after issues two weeks ago. Bonin is eleventh in the standings, 14 points out of a top ten spot. 2009 Rookie of the Year Jordan Pirri (West Chezzetcook) is twelfth, just 27 points out of the top ten and in turn he has a 19 point lead on Andrew Cluett (Kennetcook), who made his return to Thunder car racing after a 7 year hiatus in 2011.
After missing two races at the start of 2011, Ross Harvie is still in the thick of it when it comes to battling for a top fifteen point position. The Kennetcook driver sits just 14 points out of Cluett for 13th but has a whole host of Thunder drivers breathing down his tailpipe. The team of Jeremy Hallett (Rawdon) and Mark Williams’ (Windsor Junction) #73 car sits just a half dozen points behind Harvie while Gordon Matinet (Enfield) and Troy Bonin (Tantallon) will look to decide sixteenth amongst themselves.
Well over two dozen drivers are expected to be at the race track this week for the 50 lap affair, including former feature winner Robbie Watts of Lucasville, Brian Weaver of Eastern Passage, Truro’s Dwayne Flemming, Beaverbank’s Teejay Awalt, Freeport’s Josh Bulmer and many, many more. Tim Webster of Beaverbank could also surprise this week as the former Thunder on the Hill winner will look to get back to former glory with a triumphant return to victory lane at the Speedworld.
So who wins the final two races of the season for “the BEST four-cylinder drivers in Atlantic Canada” and who will join Jorden Smith as a champion in the Lumbermart divisions? You’ll have to be at Scotia Speedworld starting at 7pm tomorrow night to find out who will end up on top.
Until then, keep the haaaaaaaaa.. wait, we’re not done?
Of course we’re not! The Coco Beach Legends, Trucks and Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros will play support to the four-cylinder cars and stars this Friday night. The Coco Beach Legends have their own battle on their hands and like it does every year, it’s beginning to tighten like a vise. Dylan Blenkhorn of Truro lost a few points in his lead to Steve Pye (Lantz) last week but still sits atop the standings by 11 markers but it was Dylan’s father Paul who scored maximum points one week ago by “doubling down” at the Speedworld. With two races to go, the 2010 champion is just 27 points behind his son. “The Legend” Cy Harvey (Elmsdale) and Matt Moore (Falmouth) could make things interesting for the top three but with the two being 53 and 67 points back of the leader respectively, they will need some help from the top three to put themselves in championship contention.
The battle for the Cathy Ledwidge Memorial Rookie of the Year Award is set to go down to the wire with only a pair of races remaining. Former Lumbermart Lightning champ (and champion of the 2010 Lumbermart 50, September leg) has stepped up his game recently behind the wheel of the #19 Dartmouth Dodge/R&R Kinsman Auto Salvage Coupe and now has himself 29 points ahead of “Miss Rawdon Rocket” Emily Meehan. Meehan ran well within the top five until five laps to go when an accident set her back in the field. If Meehan can duplicate that effort in the next two races, the rookie battle will be as close as it was when Derek MacCallum (Lower Sackville) and Greig Muir (Westville) duked it out in 2010. Remember, in order to win the title, MacCallum went out and won the feature on Super Sunday!
The Truck class now sees JP Arsenault (Church Point) on top of the standings by four points over Dan Smith (Lower Sackville). All early indications point towards Smith’s #39 being at the track on Friday night after his Chevrolet was destroyed after a violent barrel roll down the back straightaway last week. Smith quickly emerged from the wreck that some in attendance say was one of the worst crashes they have witnessed at the Speedworld in years. Ryan Goldsmith of Bridgewater continues to chip away at Jason Fenton’s (Eastern Passage) third place spot as now the two are apart by just 15 points. Vernon Brown (Antrim) completes the top five in the popular Truck class.
Jarrett Butcher is planning on taking the Hydraulics Plus Bandolero championship back to Porter’s Lake for a second year, joining his brother Cole as a champion of the division. Standing between he and that goal though is a very hungry Cole Tanner. Tanner, of Shubenacadie has a seven point advantage on Butcher with two races to go. Adam Meehan (Rawdon) sits third and will look to hold off a hard charging Luke Ettinger (Kennetcook) in the final two races as it just a dozen points between the two. Megan Parrott and Dylan Sutherland continue to trade the fifth place spot with just a single marker between the Beaverbank youngsters.
The stage is now set for Friday night. With all the edge-of-your-seat action and excitement that is planned for the evening, I don’t know where else you’d want to be than at the Speedworld. Action gets under way with qualifying at 7pm with the features and championship crownings in the Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning divisions to follow. You will not want to miss your final opportunity to see “the BEST four-cylinder drivers in Atlantic Canada” shine in 2011.
Let’s try this again – Until we speak again on Friday night, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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