Looking Forward to a challenge
For many of us, it has been a tough week with the sudden loss of Riverview, New Brunswick’s Mike Stevens last Saturday. Mikey’s first Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour victory came at our race track back in August of 2010 when he led 95 laps and drove a flawless race en route to beating series veteran Shawn Tucker. In addition to his Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour starts at Scotia Speedworld, he also raced a Sportsman car at our track in big races prior to graduating into the Pro Stock ranks. He was a great man, loving father to his two children Brody and David and loving husband to wife Sharon. You can check out my article looking back on some of my memories of Mike at and away from the track at MaritimeProStockTour.com.
As much as our hearts hurt, part of our healing process will come this weekend in our biggest weekend of the season with the 14th Annual Atlantic CAT 250. From a Weekly Racing Series perspective, this is the biggest weekend the track has seen in about five years, which is the last time that every one of our Weekly Racing Series divisions contested racing on our biggest weekend of the year. Four of our six divisions will contest full blown point races, while the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series will host the Dartmouth Dodge 100 (contested for show points) with the Strictly Hydraulics Legends drivers having the chance to race with the Maritime League of Legends Tour on Saturday night.
First of all, a couple words on last week’s Canadian National Autism Foundation “Kidsrace” Night. I apologize for no Race Wrap, but with everything going on, combined with a side trip to Autodrome Chaudière in Quebec for the PASS North race, there were not enough hours in the day to cram everything in. Let’s start with the ACE Lumbermart Lightning division and it was a big night of stories. Championship favorite “Rational” Richard Patrick had his championship hopes all but dashed on Friday with a timing belt breaking on his Neon. With the #141 not making it out for the feature, he tumbled to 11th in the standings. It then appeared that it would be JR Lawson’s opportunity to capitalize on the championship chase but he limped home for a 15th place finish. The points now have Lawson up front but close behind is veteran BJ Nicholson and the gap is now 18 points as opposed to the single digits Lawson had when battling Patrick. Jamie Dillman is third in the standings, seven back of Nicholson heading into Friday.
The story last week was Smith Brothers Racing. Deven Smith scored his first victory at Scotia Speedworld in just his second start at his home track, doing it in impressive fashion by holding off his brother and two time champion Jorden Smith. Deven is just 16 years old and already has a championship under his belt at Petty Raceway. Though he is a soft spoken young man, he lets his driving do the talking and it spoke loud and clear last weekend. He’s going to be a star in our sport, folks! Mark my words!
Ryan Goldsmith closed another point in the Coors Light Truck division chase with his second win of the season last weekend. Goldsmith is the first driver to win more than once this season in the class, which goes to show how close the competition is. Dan Smith and Jason Fenton completed the top three. Fenton knows how big this CAT 250 race is on Friday, he’s won it before and seems to perform well under the pressure of a big crowd, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes this point battle a bit closer!
Was awesome to see Kevin Robar back on the race track. As Kevin unloaded his #67 truck, he told me it’s been a long few months of piecing everything together to be ready for the night. Don’t be surprised to see a few more trucks in the next two weeks as we get near the end of the season.
The ACE Lumbermart Thunder class returns on Friday night and it is a flashback to 2011. Matthew Warren and Dave Matthews battled it out that year for the championship and it appears we are getting ready to see a replay this year with the two on the top of the standings separated by just four points. Kyle Gammon and Tim Webster are third and fourth in the standings, six points a part and 25 points from the top spot. Jordan Pirri completes the top five in the standings. If Gammon, Webster and Pirri want to insert themselves into this championship battle, they best get up on the wheel in the next couple weeks. The division continues to produce some of the best racing each week and will attempt to steal the show again Saturday.
Saturday night the Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros are the reps from the Weekly Racing Series on the undercard for the Atlantic CAT 250 and they will look to put on another awesome show! Adam Meehan is in the driver’s seat when it comes to the standings with a 22 point lead on Braden Langille, but behind them the competition is furious. The only other feature winner this season not named Meehan and Langille at the Speedworld is Craig MacDonald and he sits nine points out of Cole Tanner in third, who has really lit it up the past few weeks. Don’t look now though, Luke Ettinger and Nicholas Naugle, who celebrated a birthday on Thursday, are both within 18 points of MacDonald. Wyatt McCulloch is the leading rookie in the class and runs seventh.
The Bandoleros are expected to be joined by two New Brunswick drivers on Saturday, one that is no stranger to victory lane at Scotia Speedworld and one who has seen his stock rise in recent weeks when it comes to young talent in the region. Cole Boudreau won a handful of features at the Speedworld last season and Cory Hall is a sophomore who won his first main feature earlier in the year at Petty Raceway. Both have the race on Saturday penciled in on their schedules and will be ones to watch if they haul into the Speedworld on Saturday!
It was a wild night in the Strictly Hydraulics Legends division. Though they race as a part of the Maritime League of Legends Tour Saturday and do not run for weekly points, we will look back for a moment at last week’s race. It was a race that could have delivered the blow that smothers the championship chase for Dan Michaud Jr. With six drivers ahead of him and 39 points between him and the lead, he’s going to not only need to get up on the wheel himself but also have some slips from the leaders to get back in the hunt. It was a tough night for Michaud. After ending up on his lid in Turn Two, he ended up being collected in a wreck in Turn Three that eventually ended his night. You best believe that Michaud will be in the mix for a win or two before the end of this season though by the way the first half has gone.
The night also wasn’t a help for Cy Harvey. Harvey still sits 24 points back from the leader, which is far from an impossible number but he has some stiff competition ahead of him. If anyone can come from behind, it’s “The Legend,” but he does have some work to do. He also helped Ryan Ellis of Truro make his debut last week. Ellis has many wins as a harness driver in Truro and had a few more “horses” at his fingertips on Friday night. Hopefully we see Ellis back out - with some seat time under his belt, it would be interesting to see what he can do against the Maritimes best race car drivers!
The biggest gain on the night was pulled by feature winner Matt Moore and Jeff Cruickshank. Moore, with his second consecutive win, closed to within a pair of points, or the equivalent of one feature spot, of point leader Cole Butcher. Cruickshank also closed a few points to eight back after his second place run. Butcher and Danny Harvey each gained the same amount of points on the night and stay within 13 markers of each other while Emily Meehan lost one point from where she was entering Friday and is now 15 back in fifth place. Meehan sits second in points to Justin MacNeill in the Maritime League of Legends Tour as they will run Round Four on Saturday.
The show on the weekend may very well come from Friday night’s marquee event - the Dartmouth Dodge 100. With this race being a part of the Maritime Sportsman Challenge, a series pitting drivers against each other in three big Friday night Maritime shows, we are expecting to see an increased number of cars for this event. Last year, we saw 31 cars roll through our back gate and I’m pretty confident we will top that on Friday. Heck, if all of our drivers show up that have ran already this season, we’d have 30 right off the hop.
We’ll see the best from Cape Breton, including Jerry Hayes, Fred Broussard and Shawn Thibodeau among others. I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw a Hughie Richard or a Darren Price, maybe Shawn Conners or the Reid brothers make their first Speedworld start of the season as they are also registered for the Challenge.
Shawn McLean from Havelock, NB is third in the standings and while he is making his first Speedworld start on Friday night, don’t be surprised if he picks the tricky oval up quickly. Look at how quickly Miramichi’s Brady Creamer adapted to the track in his first start earlier in the season. He has since picked up a pretty big breakthrough win at Speedway 660 and will look to carry the momentum into Friday night.
When it comes to the Maritime Sportsman Challenge, everyone is chasing Aaron Boutilier in the standings. Our 2012 Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series champ won Round One at Riverside back in July and a good run here could put him in a good spot going to Petty in two weeks. All the visiting drivers will have to be on their game to top our Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series regulars, led into battle by Darren Wallage, who took a big step forward in the point battle after the misfortune of Boutilier last week.
The two that really impressed me last week were our heat winners. Let’s begin with CNAF Kidsrace Night winner Wade Slauenwhite. Wade drove a great race to take his first career Sportsman win over Wallage. Slauenwhite never opened the door once and Wallage could not get enough power on the high side to take the win. Herman was pretty amped up after the win and you better believe he’ll be ready to go Friday night!
Travis Roma finally had an awesome run going last Friday. The rookie won his heat race and led 18 laps of the feature - the final three of those with a broken sway bar. Some may have just pulled in after the parts failure and called it a night, but Travis wheeled the car home to a sixth place finish. Travis will enter the longest race of his career Friday against the best talent in the region and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the #38 car right up there with the best of them!
It’s going to be a fun weekend and I hope can get out to the Speedworld and be a part of it!
Until Friday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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