Race Preview: Fast Eddie 100 at Petty International Raceway
After a week off, the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour is ready to roar once again at Petty International Raceway. Race One was an event where we saw some tempers overflow afterward and with the tight, high banked bullring that is Petty Raceway in front of us, tempers may be pushed to their peaks again.
The field is an interesting mix when we look at the entry list for Saturday. Let’s start with some faces we did not see at Race One. Oval Outlaw Racing will have two cars at the track owned by six-time champion Wayne Smith. His nephew Russell Smith Jr. will be in his iconic #44 while Stacey Clements will be making his return to the Tour in the #41 car. Clements has one podium, three top fives and 22 top tens but had not made a Pro Stock Tour start since 2007. Russell will have a busy weekend as he will be a part of Petty’s Friday night card in his Sportsman car.
One of the coolest stories of this race may be the debut of the #63 Island Excavators Chevrolet Impala from Big Poppas 63 Motorsports. The car was scheduled to run last season with Tom Nicholls at the helm but a scary Tech ‘n Tune crash left Nicholls fighting for his life last May at the QE2. Nicholls recovery from the accident is inspiring and one year after he has put together an impressive team of cars, drivers and advertising partners to drive not only at his home track divisions at Oyster Bed Speedway but also part-time on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.
His driver for Saturday evening? PEI Modified standout Brodie MacQuarrie. Brodie is one of PEI’s up and coming talents and has established himself as one of the top drivers in the Modified class at Oyster Bed. In addition to starts in the Pro Stock and his Modified, he will also be doing select shows in Big Poppas #60 Street Stock, which he ran on Opening Day back on Victoria Day weekend. The Pro Stock MacQuarrie will drive on Saturday night is an old Darren Vanderaa car, the same car that Darren drove to two top-ten finishes at Oyster Bed the last time we saw Vanderaa in 2011.
The youth in this series is pretty impressive and talented. Our four Exide Batteries Rookies (Denver Foran, Dylan Blenkhorn, Cole Butcher and Colby Smith) each showed at our opener that they belong in this series. With Smith Jr., MacQuarrie and 2012 Rookie of the Year Steve Halpin in the field, there are seven drivers that will look to upend the series veterans on Saturday.
Time to look at my Top Five for this week. Looking at statistics for this track alone can be a bit deceiving with only four races here but there are some drivers who have quickly established themselves as drivers to beat at Petty International Raceway. We will look at those below.
Now, unless you’re John Flemming, if you were in my Top Five two weeks ago on this column, you didn’t fair too well. Jonathan Hicken broke a trailing arm bolt (17th), Shawn Tucker was involved in an accident (19th), Craig Slaunwhite did not finish the feature (23rd) and neither did Mike Mackenzie (26th). I guess I can take consolation that my “sixth man” finished second last race in Shawn Turple.
Let’s see who we can jinx this week.
#0 Shawn Turple - Dexter Construction/Municipal Group Impala
Stats Line at Petty: One win, two podiums, two top fives and four top tens.
Let’s see, the 2012 champion of the series, winner of the 2012 Pro Stock portion of the River Glade International (last Tour race at Petty) and current point leader after one race. Turple also have two impressive active streaks in 15 consecutive top-ten finishes and six consecutive top five finishes in the series. A top ten finish on Saturday (which he has four of in the four Tour sanctioned Petty races) moves Turple into third all -time in consecutive top ten finishes in the series behind streaks by Shawn Tucker (25) and John Flemming (19), while a top five would move him into a four way tie for third when it comes to consecutive top five streaks behind Tucker (11) and Bobby White (8). Neat fact - two of those three seven race top five streaks belong to Turple, pulling the feat in 2007 and 2010/11.
Impressive numbers in recent races, combined with a win at Petty Raceway last year puts Turple in the top five on paper heading into this weekend.
#5 Jonathan Hicken - Castle Building Centres Impala
Stats Line at Petty: One win, one podium, one top five, one top ten
Ones across the board on the stats line does not even come close to showing how dominant Hicken was at this track in 2012.
Hicken won two of three Pro Stock races here last year, including a win on October 13th in an open invitational. The #5 Castle Building Centres/Kings County Chrysler Impala easily could have went three for three if it wasn’t for a pan hard bar breaking while in the lead with less than 10 to go in the Irving Max1 - 150 last August. The team is hoping all the mechanical failures are out of the way after breaking in the late laps at Scotia on Week One.
With his track record here from 2012, Hicken should be one of the top five favorites on paper heading into Petty International Raceway!
#8 Kent Vincent - Vector Aerospace Dodge
Stats Line at Petty: One win, one podium, three top fives, four top tens.
Kent Vincent is one of two drivers who has three top fives, one of three drivers with a win and one of five drivers with four top fives at Petty International Raceway in four races. Those statistics have Vincent tied for the lead in all three of those statistical categories at the track. When you add high banked tracks together (Petty, Riverside and Oyster Bed Speedway), all of Vincent’s five career Tour wins, 18 of his 22 podium finishes, 28 of his 44 top fives and 40 of his 82 top tens have come on high banked tracks.
On paper, Kent Vincent is one of the best on these type of tracks and will be looking for his second career Petty checkered flag on Saturday night.
#89 Donald Chisholm - Keltic Ford Fusion
Stats Line at Petty: Two podiums, three top fives, three top tens.
Donald Chisholm has yet to finish outside the top five in his three starts at Petty International Raceway.
Chisholm’s worst finish at the track is fifth and had two podium finishes in two starts in 2011. Chisholm missed out on this event last year, but with George Koszkulics at the helm of the #89 the team celebrated another podium finish.
Chisholm has two tracks circled on his schedule he wants to win at, Scotia Speedworld and here. That win at Petty could very well come this weekend in the Fast Eddie Racewear 100!
#98 Jerome Kehoe - Ideal Concrete/Zutphen Contracting Chevrolet
Stats Line at Petty: One podium, two top fives, four top tens
Jerome Kehoe is one of five drivers with four top tens in four races at Petty International Raceway and is only one of five with multiple top ten finishes at the track. In fact, Kehoe’s only podium finish on the series came here in this race in 2011. The #98 team comes off the heartbreak of running out of fuel on the last lap while battling for the a top five spot at the end of the Lucas Oil 150 and will look to avenge that luck on Saturday night at Petty International!
The “Sixth Man” #97 John Flemming - Action Car and Truck Accessories Dodge
Stats Line at Petty: One top five, four top tens.
Flemming hasn’t really put up huge numbers here at Petty in the past two years, outside of an open invitational win here in 2011, but owns the last two features wins in the series heading into Saturday. If he can continue his streak of top tens at this track, it would keep him in the thick of the points run and who knows, maybe his first podium run in a Tour race would vault Flemming to the top of the point standings in his search for his fourth Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour championship!
Honorable Mention #11 Marty Prevost - MEGA Enterprises Chevrolet
Stats Line at Petty: Two top fives, two top tens
Marty Prevost showed last week he means business this season.
Prevost teamed up with King Racing over the winter and it appears that it has paid off. Prevost led laps last week and if it wasn’t for some contact with 25 to go, he may have very well went to victory lane or at least to the podium at the end of Lucas Oil 150. Prevost also has two top fives in four races at Petty International Raceway, a track which he lists as one of his favorites on the series. Combine Scotia’s run with previous results at Petty and you could have a contender for Saturday’s win!
There’s a brief look into the history book and who, on paper, should be good upcoming this Saturday night at Petty Raceway! If you’re in the area early, Petty International Raceway has a show Friday night at 7:30pm featuring Sportsman for 100 laps, Bandolero, Street Stocks and Atlantic Open Wheels. We hit the track Saturday beginning at 6pm with the Pro Stocks, Mini Stocks and the Atlantic Tiltload 50 for the Maritime League of Legends Tour! It is going to be an exciting weekend of racing - and I hope you can be a part of it with us in River Glade!
Until next week, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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