Rumor Mill Churning Towards Interesting 2013 Season
According to the calendar, it’s officially Spring. With that comes the countdown to the Lucas Oil 150 on May 19th. As this article is being written, there are nine weeks between now and the opening green flag at Scotia Speedworld, and the rumor mill has been abound with different rumblings. With hearing “this guy is doing this” and “this guy is getting his cars worked on by this guy,” I’m going to plop everything down here of what I’ve heard. Keep in mind, some of this news is fresh and some I’m sure you’ve heard before, but regardless of whether it’s passed through your ears or not, it’s here for you to digest.
We’ll start with the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour itself. The Tour slipped me a note with the final two pieces to the schedule puzzle and we can now confirm that the two TBA races at Petty International Raceway on June 29th and August 24th are 150 lap features. The August 24th race is a part of the 49th River Glade International weekend while the 150 in June is an additional extra distance race on the schedule at Petty International Raceway. We all know the International 150 last year played a huge role in determining a champion between Shawn Turple’s win and Jonathan Hicken’s broken panhard bar and I’m confident the same excitement can be delivered when we go an extra 50 laps in June at Petty International. The June 1st event at Petty International Speedway will be a 100 lap affair, presented by the fine folks at Lucas Oil.
Speaking of that first race at Petty International Raceway in June, that 100-lap feature is expected to be the first start for “Clifford” in his part-time foray on the Tour in 2013. “Clifford” is the name given to the Pro Stock car of Cole Butcher, who will run five races this coming season to preserve his rookie status for 2014. “Clifford” is a former Nova Racing car, and is expected to see two starts at Riverside International Speedway (including the IWK 250) and two starts at Scotia Speedworld this season alongside the one start on the high banks at Petty International Raceway, where Butcher was a winner last season in the Maritime League of Legends Tour in August. In addition to the handful of Pro Stock Tour starts in 2013, Butcher will run full time at Scotia Speedworld and on the Maritime League of Legends Tour to defend his two championship titles won last year in his rookie campaign in a Legends car.
So, if Butcher’s red car is nicknamed Clifford, what do you think Dylan Blenkhorn named his yellow race car for 2013? That’s right, Big Bird! After purchasing the car from the Dan Mackay stables, and I’m sure many chats with his father Paul and the rest of the team on potential 2013 schemes, they didn’t stray too far from the scheme that was on the car when they purchased it. Blenkhorn’s effort will once again be backed by The CAT Shack, Blenkhorn’s Auto Recyclers and Champion’s Bar and Grill, who have some of the best food in Truro I may add.
Some of you know I went to Florida back in February to cover INEX Winter Nationals and New Smyrna Speedweeks, where I caught up with a few familiar names to us in the North East. While all the audio is not released yet, the first set is now up at TimsCorner.ca and has clips from the Blenkhorns, who talk about the coming season and the pros and cons of Paul Blenkhorn’s spotting abilities that were tested at New Smyrna Speedway, along with freshmen Colby Smith and Jeff Dillman. Smith lays out his goals for the season, which includes setting fast time once before the end of 2013 in addition to the Rookie of the Year Award. Dillman, on the other hand, is looking at a part-time schedule on the Tour while eyeing a few big Sportsman shows at Scotia Speedworld throughout the season.
When we look at New Smyrna, three drivers were racing at the World Series that you’ll see in a Tour sanctioned race or two before the season is out. The first shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone in six time Pro Stock champion Wayne Smith. Smith told me at the track in Florida that the team has a new car and while tending to Petty International Raceway comes first, they will be doing some racing this season. The schedule for the #44 team is not set in stone yet, and while it may not be a full schedule (Smith said the plan was that he would not be donning the helmet at Petty Raceway), I would not be surprised to see the #44 car more than we did last year. “The Oval Outlaw” made two appearances last season, both were cut short in the Lockhart Truck Centre 100 and IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body after crashes took the team out of winning contention.
Racing with Smith at New Smyrna in the Pro Late Model division was Placentia, Newfoundland’s Josh Collins. Racing fans on the mainland will know Collins for making a few one-off starts at Riverside International Speedway and Shediac’s Centre for Speed in his green, white and black #56 Edward Collins Contracting Sportsman car in recent years. The team is now moving up the ladder and will be running on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in 2013, with starts at Scotia Speedworld and Riverside International Speedway currently on their radar. Collins is a quick learner and picked up on the New Smyrna layout as the week went on but two wrecks on Thursday and Saturday would overshadow what was a very respectable week for the Pro Stock rookie. With the wisdom of Stan Miller and Bern Hickey on the side of Collins combined with some seat time, we could see Collins rip off some pretty good finishes by the end of the year. If my memory serves me correctly as well, when Collins starts his first Pro Stock Tour race, he will become the first Newfoundland resident to start a race within the Tour era (2001 to present). Keep your eyes on the #56 - we could see big things from him this year!
The third driver at New Smyrna Speedway that we are expected to see on the Pro Stock Tour this year was wheeling a Jeff Fultz prepared Super Late Model at the World Series. Denver Foran is a 16 year old Edmonton resident that grew up in New Brunswick that has the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in his crosshairs for 2013. The team was unsure of their Pro Stock Tour schedule when I talked to them at the World Series finale as he mentioned he was slated to run some big events out West this summer, but the tour logo is listed on the team’s website. Foran grew up racing go-karts in this region, winning Atlantic and Maritime Karting championships before heading West in 2009. Foran’s team began racing Super Late Models in 2011 and has ran in the World Series twice. Alongside Fultz tutoring the youngster for the nine days in Florida was Andrew Hicken, while his brother (and driver of the #5 Castle Building Centres Impala) Jonathan Hicken was turning wrenches on the car. Also looking over the operation was 2005 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champ and Hall of Famer Rollie MacDonald, who the rumor mill has fielding a car for Foran this season. Word is as well that we may see Mr. MacDonald back out some this season in a new race car, but we’ll talk more about that in next week’s issue.
That’s all the space we have for this week. Come on back next week when we discuss some more of the rumblings from the rumor mill - including the part-time return of a former Atlantic CAT 250 winner to the Tour? There has been some off-season noise coming from the Saint John area, and we’ll try to fill some blanks for you next week.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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