Silly Season Extravaganza Part 2
Okay, so where did we leave off?
If you missed the last edition of Tim’s Corner, we began talking about the upcoming season. We discussed some of the changes in the schedule, new faces and new cars among other things. Before we go any further though, we have to revisit one of the topics from our last piece. We discussed “Clifford” and Clifford’s driver Cole Butcher and his part-time foray on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in 2013. Turns out the “part-time” schedule may turn into a full time run towards the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year Award this season. Butcher tells me that if they do well in the first few races of the season, that the team will look at running the full schedule, something that the Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia teenager is looking forward to. Albeit a Pro Stock is a lot different than a Bandolero or Legend car, Butcher is a driver that rarely tears up gear and that goes a long way at the end of the day.
If I’m a fan of this Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, which I am, I am glowing over the prospects for this 2013 season. Think about it for a second, the Rookie of the Year battle now has three drivers who have stated they are planning on coming with us full-time in 2013. In addition to Butcher, you have Colby Smith and Dylan Blenkhorn who have made their intentions known for a 12 race season on the Tour this Summer. All three have won multiple championships in their young racing careers, and each have the desire to not only win the Rookie of the Year title, but to succeed beyond the freshman title. In addition, we have another almost half dozen drivers that are making tracks for a partial schedule in their first time in a Pro Stock car. After coming off what was an excellent battle last year, Ken Godin and the folks at Exide Batteries have to be over the moon with what is ahead of them for a rookie clash in 2013!
In addition, we have the “youth” factor more evident in this series than we’ve ever had. In total, we have three drivers under the age of 20 who have announced full time efforts this season on the Tour. Blenkhorn and Butcher join Brad Eddy on the Tour, who lit up the series at the back end of 2012, which was highlighted by an impressive runner-up finish in the Irving MAX1 - 150 at Petty International Raceway. Mix in at least a part-time drive for Edmonton teenager Denver Foran, we are seeing a youth movement we have not seen on the Tour in years, and with the talent between the four, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a first time winner or two out of this quartet.
Speaking of Eddy, the Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia driver recently made waves by announcing he will be driving his car out of the Saint John, New Brunswick based Lonnie Sommerville Racing camp in his sophomore season. The former Atlantic Cat and Auto Value 250 winner will be busy in his shop this year with young talent running Sportsman and Pro Stock entries under the LSR banner. Drew Greenlaw, Alicia Mowat and Sarah McKay are names I’m sure you will be hearing more of in the coming years that will be under the tutelage of Sommerville in 2013. Sommerville himself has recently shifted his focus this Summer. In addition to racing a handful of races in a Super Late Model down south for Brad Keselowski Racing (which is overseen by Dartmouth native Gary Crooks), Sommerville will be seen at home more often. The initial docket called for Sommerville to run both of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour sanctioned 250’s at Riverside International Speedway and Scotia Speedworld in 2013, but the rumor is we could also see the 23 car at a number of, or all three of, our Petty International Raceway shows this coming season. Sommerville is also expected to run a limited Pro All Stars Series schedule, and the Speedway 660 Auto Value 250 this Summer.
Another piece to the LSR/Eddy puzzle in 2013 is the addition of Geoff Armstrong to the team. Armstrong was the crew chief on the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year effort for Steve Halpin in 2012. Halpin is refocusing his efforts and will take in some big races closer to home with his Pro Stock this Summer, meaning we will see Halpin on a part-time basis this year. You better believe when we roll into Speedway 660 this summer though that he’ll be a threat for the checkered flag!
From the youth of today, to the young gun that was, and continues to rip it up on the series. Darren MacKinnon and his #18 team are eyeing the championship once again this year after the rough waters they encountered in 2012. MacKinnon and his girlfriend Sara welcomed Ellen into the world in March, joining the list of Dads on the Pro Stock Tour. The Charlottetown driver will also be a bit busier this Summer. Besides “Daddy Duty,” Mackinnon is expected to pilot a PASS North and Street Stock entry for the Tom Nicholls owned Big Poppas 63 Motorsports team, outside of his commitments to the #18 Mackinnon Brothers Service Centre Impala on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Mackinnon is no stranger to the Street Stock ranks, running a Street Stock out of the MacKinnon Trucking shop in recent seasons, splitting driving time with Stephen Gass. The Big Poppas 63 Motorsports team is also expected to field a part time car on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, with Bobby Neilsen coming out of semi-retirement to wheel the car. Neilsen’s last Pro Stock Tour start was in 2008 but has been a familiar face in the pit area as one of the main wrenches on the #91 Pro Stock car of Dylan Gosbee.
If you were at the 30th Annual Atlantic Outdoor Sports and RV Show, you got to see Craig Slaunwhite’s new car up close. Slaunwhite’s new piece is centered around a McCulloch chassis, with a lot of tin and body on the piece done at King Racing. While the new car, which has an inverted paint scheme from the one ran in 2012, has not seen the track yet, Slaunwhite has comfort to fall back on, with his now back-up car also being a McCulloch chassis. While we’ve seen a couple of power house teams struggle with new cars recently, Greg Proude and Shawn Turple’s teams come to mind in past seasons, Slaunwhite is looking to stay ahead of the curve. That curve will begin on May 19th as he attempts to defend his Lucas Oil 150 crown at Scotia Speedworld.
The aforementioned King Racing shop in Pictou, Nova Scotia has been a hopping place recently. While the shop has been doing some work on some of the region’s top cars in this off-season, it appears the rumor mill has Marty Prevost also heading to the King Racing shop for this upcoming campaign. Word has it that we will see the #11 Mega Enterprises Chevrolet full time this year with the expertise of the King Racing crew in his back pocket. The last time we saw Prevost full time was two seasons ago in 2011,when Prevost finished in the Top Ten in points and recorded two strong Top Five finishes at Petty International Raceway. The former feature winner at Scotia Speedworld has shown on many occasions he still has what it takes to battle with the best in the region, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Prevost battling for a victory or two by the end of the year with the support of King Racing!
If these last two weeks have not got the fires burning for May 19th, I’m not sure what will. Okay, I know, the roar of the motors and the smell of rubber and fuel will likely help too. The next step is to start looking over registration lists and seeing who has “officially” signaled their intentions to run, which we are expected to have sometime in the month of April (the Pro Stock Tour office officially opens April 1st for the season). If you are in the Moncton area on the April 19th to 21st weekend, be sure to stop in and do some bench racing with me at Radical Speedsport, taking place at the Moncton Coliseum. Greg Proude’s #29 car is expected to be there, while some others will be making the trip south that weekend to run in the PASS North opener at Oxford Plains Speedway. Either way, it’s less than 50 days before we throw the green silk at Scotia Speedworld for the Lucas Oil 150 and, like you, I can’t wait!
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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