Race Preview: Lucas Oil 150 @ Scotia Speedworld
Eight long months separate us from this Sunday’s Lucas Oil 150 and last September’s Dartmouth Dodge 200. A few things have changed since we flipped the calendar to 2013 but one thing remains the same, we are expecting to see some of the best short track racing in North America on Sunday when Art Steeves waves the green flag on 26 of the fastest Pro Stocks around.
We’ve documented a few of these changes in the two Tim’s Corner pieces leading up to this preview. We’ll refresh you on some of those as we go along in this article. First, let’s start with the car count. We have the potential to have a ton of cars on Sunday. Let’s start at guesstimating how many full time cars we will have in 2013. I say guesstimate because some drivers begin the season with the intention to run full time but end up falling off that plan for one reason or another. In turn, a strong start could convince a part time team to come full time. All of our full time teams from 2012, or the top 17 in points from one year ago, minus Steve Halpin, are back for 2013 (we will see Steve in a couple races later in the season). Include 18th to 20th in points and you now have 19 full time teams for 2013. Marty Prevost has a deal with King Racing this year and will be with us for all 12 races. Exide Batteries rookies Colby Smith, Jeff Dillman, Cole Butcher, Denver Foran and Dylan Blenkhorn are all looking at full time forays with the series, so that brings us up to 24.
Now add in the part time teams that are either coming for a handful of races or could possibly end up full time. Cy Harvey and Vance Hanes will look to show the youth movement a thing or two in the Lucas Oil 150. Daryl Mahar and Mike MacKenzie are usually pretty strong at Scotia Speedworld. Jason Carnahan is planning on making a trip to the Speedworld from Moncton on Sunday and George Koszkulics has his eye on at least the first three races of the season. There are six more names we are expecting to see on Sunday, which brings our count to 30.
Next question - who is going to win it? As we’ve documented before, there are well over a dozen drivers that have a chance at winning each event on the series. With this being Race One on a 12-race schedule, everyone starts with a relatively clean slate. Some of you know though that I’m a stats guy and it’s always fun to look at numbers. So, let’s do that, shall we?
There have been 41 races contested at Scotia Speedworld in the Pro Stock Tour era (2001 to present) with the Lucas Oil 150 being the 42nd. Of those 41 races, 15 different drivers have visited victory lane with nine of those expected to race on Sunday. The last time we raced at Scotia Speedworld, John Flemming scored his seventh win at the track by taking the checkers in the Dartmouth Dodge 200, tying him with Wayne Smith for the most wins at Scotia Speedworld in the Tour era. Shawn Tucker won here last year during the Lockhart Truck Center 100 to score his fifth career Speedworld win while the defending champion of the Lucas Oil 150 in Craig Slaunwhite has three wins here. Two time series champion Shawn Turple (3), MacKenzie (2), Greg Proude (1), Mike Stevens (1), Jonathan Hicken (1) and Prevost (1) also have graced victory lane at the Speedworld.
If you’re looking for a driver to score his first win at the Speedworld on Sunday with a proven track record at Atlantic Canada’s Action Centre? Look no further than Donald Chisholm. Chisholm has six podium, 13 top five and 27 top ten finishes at Scotia Speedworld, but the victory has eluded the #89 on a few occasions.
So here’s a little something we’ll go with on our race previews this season that I like to call “Tim’s Top Five.” Five drivers who I think could be your top five drivers at the end of the night, based on historical statistics at the track, momentum swings coming in to the event and so on. Here we go, in numerical order, “Tim’s Top Five” for the Lucas Oil 150.
#02 Mike MacKenzie - Bruce Sutherland Associates Chevrolet
Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld: Two wins, nine podiums, 17 top fives, 23 top tens
Remember back to September. Mike MacKenzie ran a very strong second to Flemming in the Dartmouth Dodge 200, an event he had won back in 2007. The Dartmouth veteran also possesses a win in the July Speedworld event, crossing the line first in the 2004 edition of that race. In addition, he finished fourth in the Spring Speedworld event one season ago, albeit that was a 100 lap affair. Though he has had some stumbles in the past in longer races, with MacKenzie’s track record at Scotia Speedworld, I’d take him for a top five finish to start off this 2013 season.
#5 Jonathan Hicken - Castle Building Centres Chevrolet
Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld: One win, two podiums, six top fives, 15 top tens
Hicken has started nearly half (20) of the 41 races at the Speedworld since he came onto the scene full time in 2008 and has finished in the top ten in 75% of those races. Hicken was on a championship run last year with two blemishes on his record being the difference between the title and third place in the standings. Hicken has finished the last two events at the Speedworld in the top five for 33% of his career top fives at the track and has five top tens in the last five events at Scotia.
If a championship run is on the Hicken/White Racing team’s radar this season, they can kick-start it here with a top five finish in the Lucas Oil 150.
*Note - a top ten run on Sunday would mark Hicken’s 40th career top ten on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.
#52 Shawn Tucker - Tucker Racing Products Chevrolet
Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld - Five wins, 15 podiums, 22 top fives, 32 top tens
When the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour pulls into town, it’s hard to bet against Shawn Tucker.
When it comes to Scotia Speedworld, Tucker is in the top three of all statistical categories listed in the stat line. Though his season started out slow last year, Tucker recorded his fifth Speedworld win last July, tying him with Gordie Ryan for third on the Tour era list. Tucker is only one top ten behind Flemming for most in the Tour era. If he can put the slow start of 2012 in the rear view and use some of that bottled up, mid-season magic he found last year to begin 2013, Tucker should find his way into the top five following 150 laps at Scotia!
#97 John Flemming - Dodge Charger
Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld - Seven wins, 18 podiums, 24 top fives, 33 top tens
Looking at Flemming stats at Scotia Speedworld and you’ll see why he’s here. With his win last September, he is now tied for the most wins at the Speedworld in the Tour era with Wayne Smith, and leads the series in career podiums, top fives and top tens at the track. He was hot at the end of last season, picking up top fives like they were going out of style and capped it with a win in the Dartmouth Dodge 200.
*Note - Flemming is looking for his 18th career Pro Stock Tour win, which would tie him with Tucker for second on the all-time list in the Tour era. Smith is at the top with 25.
#99 Craig Slaunwhite - Halifax Glass and Mirror, Howard Little Excavating, Archibald Drilling and Blasting Chevrolet
Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld - Three wins, four podiums, five top fives, 13 top tens
When you look back at results last season, Slaunwhite was hit and miss last year at Scotia Speedworld.
Case in point, the Lucas Oil 150 event last year saw Slaunwhite go to victory lane. Slaunwhite would also finish fourth at the Atlantic CAT 250. He missed with the other two races at his home track with finishes of 11th and 16th. Roll back one more start and you’ll find a win in the 2011 season ending Dartmouth Dodge 200. Slaunwhite has a bit of momentum on his side and he was confident in his new piece during testing last Saturday. Look for Slaunwhite to be battling for the win before the checkers fly on Sunday!
“The Sixth Man”: #0 Shawn Turple
Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld - Three wins, eight podiums, 16 top fives, 23 top tens.
In recent years, Turple has been a top ten machine on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Don’t believe me? Read this. Entering Sunday’s race, Turple has 14 consecutive top tens on the Tour, dating back to August 2011. The streak is currently fourth all time in consecutive top tens to Shawn Tucker (25, 2010 to 2011), John Flemming (19, 2002 to 2003) and Lonnie Sommerville (15, 2008 to 2009). One more on Saturday would tie Sommerville for third all time and if he can finish every race in the top ten this season, he would set the record and likely be close to his third career title.
Turple also has an active top five streak of five top fives at the end of 2012. In the same time Tucker was lightning his top tens off, he reeled off 11 consecutive top five runs from 2010 to 2011 and sits atop the list in that category.
Turple’s Scotia Speedworld statistics speak for themselves. Watch for the #0 team to be quick this Sunday as the look to extend those two streaks above to 15 and six races respectively.
Honorable mention: #8 Kent Vincent/#89 Donald Chisholm
Vincent Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld: Four podiums, 11 top fives, 23 top tens
Chisholm Stat Line at Scotia Speedworld: Six podiums, 13 top fives, 27 top tens
If a first time Scotia Speedworld winner comes on Sunday, statistically, you have to believe it would be one of these two. Both have come close and, for all intents and purposes, these two have essentially mirrored stats in three categories I looked at. One of those is the stat line you see above, with Chisholm having the slight nod. When you look at 2012 season statistics, Chisholm also had the nod in wins (one win to Vincent’s zero in 2012) but this is where the tables turn to Vincent’s corner slightly. Vincent scored more top fives (four compared to three) and top tens (eight compared to six) than Chisholm in 2012. Another stat I drummed up was average finish at the Speedworld last year, which Vincent has by a whole position over Chisholm (9.25 to 10.35).
Vincent has admitted before that his team has some homework to do at Scotia and Chisholm’s last two starts at the Speedworld have resulted in finishes outside the top ten. Statistically though, these are the two that could get it done should we have a first time Speedworld winner in the Lucas Oil 150.
So there’s a couple of numbers to think of when you’re sitting in the stands on Sunday at the Scotia Speedworld. Folks, this is going to be an exciting season and I think we are in for one of the most intriguing battles we have seen on the Tour in recent memory. With the young guns and the veterans mixed in for 12 races of exciting, paint swapping, door to door action, you better fasten your seatbelts, because this thing is going to be kicked into high gear real quick beginning with Sunday’s Lucas Oil 150.
Can’t make it to the track? Check us out on Sirius/XM Channel 167 Canada Talks beginning at 5pm Atlantic. The Race Time Radio crew of Joe Chisholm, Gerry Paxton, Josh Paxton and I will be calling all the action for you. Of course, you want to be at the race track because this is going to be a season opener for the ages, but let’s say you cannot get to Scotia Speedworld, be sure to tune in and we’ll fill you in on the goings on.
Until Sunday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
|BACK TO TIM'S CORNER ARCHIVES|