Race Preview: Dartmouth Dodge 200
11 Events, 3 Provinces, 5 tracks, 1501 feature laps and thousands of kilometers traveled by our teams, fans and officials all comes down to Saturday afternoon and the Dartmouth Dodge 200!
The point picture has come down to three - Shawn Turple, John Flemming and Jonathan Hicken. Turple has the best shot to win the title, the second of his career, on Saturday night. Let me remind you though, this is stock car racing we’re talking about and our feature on Saturday is 200 laps, a lot of things can happen in those laps. Just ask Turple and his team; in 2007 they were in the same place they are coming into this years finale. The Enfield driver led Shawn Tucker that year by 31 points, but a wreck on the back straightaway opened the door wide for Tucker and it was the #52 team celebrating as the champion instead of Turple.
On the other hand, Turple’s championship year of 2009, the #0 team entered the finale at the Speedworld with a 19 point lead and when the dust settled at the Speedworld, Turple won the championship by 32 points. This season, Turple enters the finale with a 27 point lead over Flemming. Should they both slip, Hicken sits 48 points out of the top spot. Fourth place driver Kent Vincent is 74 points behind and will be eliminated from title contention when the green flag drops, but the #8 has a lot to race for on Saturday (more on that in a bit).
It’s as simple as this - Turple clinches the title by finishing ninth or better. Our point structure is easy to follow, you get 200 points for winning a race, with each position behind decreasing by two points (198 for second, 196 for third, etc.). You also receive five points for leading a lap, and an extra five if you lead the most laps, meaning the most points you can get during an event is 210. If John Flemming goes out on Saturday, leads the most laps and wins the race, he will receive 210 points. Let’s say Turple does not lead a lap, he’d have to finish 9th place to obtain 184 points. There’s a 26 point difference between those two numbers, which mean Turple would leave with a one point lead and the $10,000 check.
If both drivers (Turple and Flemming) fail to lead a lap, it’s simple for the #97 car - go out and finish 14 positions ahead of the #0. If Flemming leads a lap, that number becomes 11. The tiebreaker is wins, so let’s say Turple and Flemming are tied for the title at the end of the night and Flemming wins the Dartmouth Dodge 200, then the title is his with two feature wins compared to Turple’s one.
The battle is a very steep uphill climb if Hicken plans to becomes the only Island champion in the Pro Stock Tour era on Saturday. Without Turple or Flemming, Hicken needs to beat Turple by 24 positions and Flemming by 11 positions. Short math would mean, if Hicken wins, Turple would have to finish 22nd or worse and Flemming would have to place 9th or worse to give the #5 Castle Building Centres Impala the title. If Hicken goes out and leads the most laps and win, those numbers become 20th and 7th, contingent on Turple and Flemming not leading a lap. Confused yet?! :)
Rats, my calculator is showing some signs of smoke now, it must have blew a piston or something. Okay, let’s look at that fourth place battle I touched on earlier. We have six drivers looking for two top five spots in the standings, led up by Vincent. Vincent has 2050 points, 26 less than Hicken and could potentially move up to third in points (and mathematically second) if the two drivers in front of him falter at the 200. Shawn Tucker has won this event before and sits just six points behind Vincent for fourth spot in the standings - but don’t look back, because defending Dartmouth Dodge 200 titlist Craig Slaunwhite sits in sixth, just 13 behind Vincent and seven behind Tucker for a top five spot. Ten points behind Slaunwhite sits Lucas Oil 100 at Oyster Bed Speedway winner Donald Chisholm, while he leads the Rollie MacDonald owned #13 car by just a slim two point margin, or one position on the track when it comes to the feature. Mike Stevens sits in ninth overall in the standings, with 2009 points, and will look to upset the apple cart in front of him that holds the 4th to 8th place drivers in points with a good run in the Dartmouth Dodge 200 at Scotia Speedworld.
The 10th place point battle is also exciting as well, and features a youngster going after two veterans for the spot. Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year leader Steve Halpin was in tenth heading into the Irving MAX1 - 150 last weekend, but an early exit from the race plummeted him to 12th in the standings, 14 markers behind new 10th place driver Greg Proude. Between the two, and only two points out of 10th, sits Brad Mann. When asked, I’m sure most drivers would like to say they got a top ten point finish over 11th or 12th, so watch those three as they go to battle on Saturday night.
As I mentioned Halpin, it looks like he will take the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year title in 2012. He sits 46 points ahead of Dylan Gosbee in the standings, while all other freshmen will be eliminated when the green flag flies on Saturday. Halpin has had a pretty solid season for his first year and will be one of those drivers we watch for in the future to be up there with the Turple’s, Flemming’s and Tucker’s going for championships in this series.
Another driver to watch on Saturday will be Brad Eddy. Coming off three consecutive top ten finishes, including a second place run on International weekend at Petty Raceway, Eddy holds a hot hand heading into his home track and the youngster could be in line for a big day if all the cards fall right on Saturday.
We’ll also see Colby Smith back at the helm of a Pro Stock. The former Speedworld Sportsman champ will be at the helm of the SFR Pro Stock on Saturday for his second Pro Stock start of the season. That Pro Stock car has made stars out of Slaunwhite and Turple, could Smith be the next star to graduate through the SFR program? We’ll find out Saturday.
Speaking of that Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman division, they will be our undercard on Saturday night for a 50 lap feature. Aaron Boutilier, in the #4 Boutilier Auto Body/CARSTAR Collision Center Ford Fusion leads Jordan Veinotte by 31 points heading into the finale, but it is anyone’s race as the best Sportsman drivers in the region will be out for one more crack at the Speedworld victory lane on Saturday afternoon.
That’s not all though folks! A full card of racing rolls at the Speedworld Friday as well with the Weekly Racing Series final point night. I like to call this one “Finale Friday,” and it will be a fitting one for five Speedworld weekly divisions that race each Friday night. Consider this your personal invitation to come out and cheer on the Hydraulics Plus Bandoleros, ACE Lumbermart Thunder and Lightning, Jack Daniel’s Trucks and Strictly Hydraulics Legends as they run their final Speedworld races of 2012.
We can’t finish here without mentioning that this race will be carried on Sirius/XM Channel 157 and streamed live online on Saturday with the crew at Race Time Radio. Because of conflicts, the Dartmouth Dodge 200 will air at 11pm Atlantic on Sirius/XM while the race will be streamed live online (which can be picked up on the Race Time Radio smartphone app as well). Joe Chisholm, Joe Jr., Gerry Paxton and myself will be calling the action, from Dash to final checkered flag, so you won’t miss a beat. Of course, the best way to be a part of the action is to be at the Speedworld on Saturday, but if you cannot be there, we have your next best way to get your racing fix!
It’s gonna be a barnburner of a finale for Scotia Speedworld’s 25th Anniversary season and the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. I hope you can be here with us as we send 2012 off in style!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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