Race Preview: Lockhart Truck Center 100 @ Scotia Speedworld
Victory Lane is only big enough for one car, but when it comes to the Lockhart Truck Center 100 at Scotia Speedworld, there may be a “fight on the playground” to take that one place in the spotlight in Event Four of the season. Okay, I know what you’re saying, every week on the Tour we have well over a dozen drivers with a legitimate shot at winning the feature, but this week, you have to look at two local drivers who hope to make three-peats out of the Lockhart Truck Center 100.
Enfield’s Shawn Turple has owned this race the last two seasons after winning the event in 2010 and 2011. Turple enters this weekend fourth in points and is the only driver in the top five in the standings with a championship to his credit in the series. Meanwhile, the driver who finished a close second behind him in last season’s Lockhart 100 has won the last two races at Scotia Speedworld. Craig Slaunwhite won the CARQUEST 100 in May by leading a majority of the second half, which followed up his impressive run to the checkers at the Dartmouth Dodge 200. Slaunwhite broke a control arm last weekend at Riverside and fell to ninth in points, just 18 markers back of the lead. While our field is stacked with talent and everyone in the race has to be considered a favorite with how close our competition is, you have to believe, at least momentum-wise at this track, these two former Scotia Speedworld Weekly Racing Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series champions have to be near the top of your list.
If you believe in race-by-race momentum, there are a few teams who carry lots of steam as their trains head towards to the Enfield station of Scotia Speedworld. Mike Stevens has run strong in our first three races this season and was gaining on the leaders at the first race this season at the Speedworld when he ran out of time in the caution free, 100 lap affair. If it wasn’t for the blemish on his record at Petty International Raceway, Salisbury, New Brunswick’s Stevens could have very well have been leading our points at this juncture of the season instead of being in sixth place. That honor though belongs to Kent Vincent. Vincent has had two consecutive top fives, including a runner-up finish last week to Stevens at Riverside International. With this stretch of races taking us to the halfway point in the season after the Speedway 660 event on July 7th, we should know after we leave Geary who will be in contention for the title. A top ten run at Scotia Speedworld by Vincent could easily set the #8 Vector Aerospace Dodge up to be in that mix, especially when we head to the Island the week prior to going back to New Brunswick.
The point picture looks different three races in compared to what we’ve seen in years. At second, five points behind Vincent, sits Charlottetown, PEI’s Darren MacKinnon and the #13 car, which was driven by Maine’s Cassius Clark in the first three races of the season. Let’s look at the #13 King Freight Lines Ford first, Clark is unavailable to drive the car (looking at the current PASS North schedule) until the Atlantic CAT 250 on Saturday, August 11th. The PASS North Series contests races on every one of our race dates up ‘til the 11th, which means the Farmington driver will not be able to drive the #13 car. At the time of this article, it is unclear whether Rollie MacDonald will be back behind the wheel of his car or whether another replacement will be in the car this weekend. MacKinnon on the other hand has been reeling off solid finishes and could make a big move this weekend with a good run at the Speedworld.
Donald Chisholm is fifth in points after three races. Like Stevens, one blemish on his record this season prevented him from what could have been the point lead after three events. Chisholm has said before that he’s been eyeing a win at Scotia Speedworld and with the strong runs the #89 Keltic Ford Fusion has been putting together, that win could very well happen Saturday night. Two points behind Chisholm and just 15 out of the lead in seventh place is former three time series champion John Flemming. The team continues to make gains on the car and comes off the wave of a top five finish last weekend at Riverside International. Two points behind Flemming is another three time titlist in Shawn Tucker. Tucker has had a “quiet season” of sorts but has kept himself well in contention after three races and will look to make some Speedworld magic happen on Saturday.
Completing the top ten in points is Jonathan Hicken. Hicken was involved in the back straightaway wreck which brought out the last caution in the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 100 on Lap 12 and after talking to him following the race, you better believe the #5 team will be a threat for the championship. The Speedworld has been nice to Hicken in the past and then we roll into Prince Edward Island the following week for the Lucas Oil 100, a race which Hicken has won before. This could be Hicken’s season if he can come out of these next two races with finishes that vault him closer to the lead in the standings!
That’s just the top ten in the standings so far. We have 22 drivers who have competed in all three races so far this season with a handful of others expected to do battle on Saturday for the Lockhart Truck Center 100. One of those is Wayne Smith. The 2011 series champion will be out on Saturday, back behind the wheel of his #44 car as he prepares for the IWK 250 and Atlantic CAT 250 upcoming in July and August respectively. Another battle to watch is the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year race, which sees Saint John, New Brunswick’s Steve Halpin and Shubenacadie’s Frankie Fraser knotted together with 524 points, 45 points less than overall leader Vincent. Brad Eddy, Terry Dougay, Steve Ross and Dylan Gosbee are not far behind and one small stumble by Halpin or Fraser will open the door to the four drivers at their heels for the top freshman honor.
It all goes down this weekend at Scotia Speedworld. Action begins at 5:10pm on Saturday with the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials followed by racing action at 6pm. The Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series will be in attendance for a 50-lap main event as the undercard to the Lockhart Truck Center 100. Jordan Veinotte of Porter’s Lake leads the points by nine over Middleton’s Mike Banks. Aaron Boutilier (Porter’s Lake), Mike Alexander (Cole Harbour) and Alex Johnson (Enfield) will all be within five points of Banks for second when the green flies on Saturday in the Sportsman division, but where will they be after heat races and a 50 lap feature? Find out Saturday night!
It’s also worth noting that there is racing Friday evening at the Speedworld and it is going to be an exciting night that you’ll want to take in if you’re in the area. The Media Race is the main attraction, with media personalities taking the wheels from the stars of the ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning classes for a 12 lap feature with $1000 on the line to their favorite charity. The ACE Lumbermart Thunder, Strictly Hydraulics Legends, Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros and Jack Daniel’s Truck divisions will also be in action along with the Media Race on Friday. Racing begins at 7pm - more information on Friday’s event can be found at ScotiaSpeedworld.ca.
Before we close here, I want to send out well wishes to Mark Wilson. For those who don’t recognize the name, Mark (or as I call him, “the Captain”) is our pace car driver and is also a multiple time champion in the Hobby Stock class at Scotia Speedworld. He fell ill on the weekend prior to Friday’s Weekly Racing at the Speedworld and was admitted to the hospital Sunday where they completed an operation to remove his gall bladder on Monday evening. To boot, Mark is within a month away from becoming a Daddy for the first time as his wife Adena is expecting in the first week of July. Here’s to a speedy recovery Captain, we’ll keep the driver’s seat of the Hemi Powered Dodge Charger Pace Car warm for you!
Until Saturday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
Last five winners at Scotia Speedworld:
Craig Slaunwhite (May 20th, 2012),
Craig Slaunwhite (September 10th, 2011),
Ben Rowe (August 13th, 2011),
Shawn Turple (July 2nd, 2011),
Shawn Tucker (May 23rd, 2011)
Hometown pride: Only one has a driver from out of province won the summer 100-lap event at Scotia Speedworld – Shawn Tucker in 2009.
Champions raising the trophy: Since 2006, only those drivers who have won Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour titles have won this event. Starting with Flemming in 2006, Wayne Smith (2007, 2008), Shawn Tucker (2009) and Shawn Turple (2010, 2011) have won this race.
First time winners: Gordie Ryan scored his first Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour victory in this race in 2001. Mike Mackenzie got his first win in the Pro Stock Tour era in 2004 while Marty Prevost scored his first and currently only Tour triumph at this race in 2003.
Race winners turned champions: Twice has the winner of this event gone on to win the overall championship; Wayne Smith (2008) and John Flemming (2006).
Sportsman Shine With Pro Stock: The last time the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series raced on the same day as the Pro Stock Tour was “Super Sunday” in 2010 (September 12th) when the Friday and Saturday shows were both moved to Sunday of that weekend. Aaron Boutilier went to victory lane that day over Mike Alexander and ’10 Sportsman champ Colby Smith. Jonathan Hicken won the Parts for Trucks 200 earlier that afternoon.
June/July Scotia Speedworld Winners:
2011: Shawn Turple
2010: Shawn Turple
2009: Shawn Tucker
2008: Wayne Smith
2007: Wayne Smith
2006: John Flemming
2005: Gordie Ryan
2004: Mike MacKenzie
2003: Marty Prevost
2002: Gordie Ryan
2001: Gordie Ryan (Late July)*
2001: John Flemming (Late June)*
*2001 featured two 100-lap events during the summer months, only other year this happened was in 2009 when the Lucas Oil 100 was shifted to Scotia Speedworld.
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