Race Preview: Ron MacGillivray Chev Buick GMC 150 @ Riverside Speedway
There wasn’t much to say about our trip to Petty International Raceway on June 1st, other than we got wet.
It appeared we were going to have a chance at getting the Fast Eddie Racewear 100 in two weeks ago, but as the day went on, the percentage that we were going to get dumped on crept up as well. At the end of the day, we did not end up getting the show in and we’ll run it on July 13th. As I have said before here, being in a promoter’s shoes can be real difficult at times. If you cancel the show prior to the weather actually arriving and it doesn’t end up storming, you look like a clown in the eyes of fans and teams. If you cancel and the weather does come up, you look like a genius. It was a tough call to make on Saturday with the forecast delivered but at least the staff of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and Petty Raceway gave it a go.
Now, let’s move on, shall we?
It’s time to head to the land of high banks and footlong hot dogs. That’s right, we’re going back to Riverside International Speedway for what is now round two on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. With us not racing at Petty, our point picture still remains the same with John Flemming trailing Shawn Turple by a trio of markers heading into the race. Greg Proude, a former winner of this race, is third in the standings with Daryl Mahar and Steve Ross completing the top five. With the rainout, it lets Daryl Mahar, who is a part time driver, defend his fourth place finish from the Lucas Oil 150 at a track where he finished, ironically, in fourth place the last time we were here last August in an event that was also sponsored by Lucas Oil (funny how that stuff works, right?). He will also be at Scotia Speedworld the week following for the Lockhart Truck Center 150, so you never know, two great runs here to backup the fourth place run at the opener and we may see more of the #66 team.
Steve Ross was over the moon two weeks ago at Petty with the way his team ran the week prior at Scotia Speedworld. You could not and I’m sure still cannot, wipe the smile off his face. That team needed a great run to really rejuvenate their program after struggles the past two seasons. The former Late Model/Sportsman champion holds titles in that class at Scotia Speedworld and Riverside International Speedway and we could see some big things out of the team in these next two races.
Terry Dougay and his #14 team went through a range of emotions on June 1st. The team had motor issues on Friday night prior to loading up for Petty and scrambled all night to get the issue repaired. Dougay’s team got to the track and they were searching for speed prior to the rain falling, but the Albany, PEI driver found one good nugget in all the bad weather. “They mentioned if we try to get this show in and scrap qualifying, we would line up by points and I would start seventh!” Dougay mentioned to me after talking to his team following practice. Like Ross and the #24 team, it’s great to see Dougay’s team have a great run and have something to build on this weekend.
Let’s go into Tim’s Top Five for Riverside. Based off trends and statistics at the track, here are five drivers (and a couple wildcards) to keep your eyes on this weekend.
*indicates series lead in statistical category
#4 Mike Stevens - R. Stevens Mechanical Chevrolet
Stat Line at Riverside - Two wins, two podiums, two top fives, seven top tens
Two of our three trips to Riverside in 2012 belonged to Mike Stevens. Stevens missed out on the hat trick after a late wreck in the IWK 250 put Stevens to 16th at the end of the July classic. Momentum, although tough to carry between calendar years, can be big in this sport and based on these two wins alone last year, Stevens earns himself a spot in the top five for this week!
Note - Stevens is the defending champion of this race.
#8 Kent Vincent - Vector Aerospace Dodge
Stat Line at Riverside: Two wins, nine podiums, 14 top fives, 25 top tens*
It’s been a few years since Kent Vincent has been holding the checkered flag at Riverside but Saturday could be his night. Vincent finished second in this event last year to Stevens and has an average finish of seventh here in 2012. Vincent also holds a piece of the series lead in top ten finishes at this track with 25 top tens in 32 series races at Riverside.
#52 Shawn Tucker - Rockico Equipment Limited Chevrolet
Stat Line at Riverside: Four wins, 13 podiums, 17 top fives*, 25 top tens*
Quick - name the leader in wins at Riverside amongst active drivers? Is Shawn Tucker your answer? If not, he should be!
Three of his four wins have come in this event, most recently winning the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 150 in back to back years in ’08 and ’09. Tucker sits second in the series win list at Riverside to the semi-retired Wayne Smith, who has six wins at the track on his resume. Tucker led laps at Scotia Speedworld and was quick on the speed chart at Petty before Mother Nature interfered and will be one to keep your eye on when the green silk flies on Saturday.
#88 George Koszkulics - Nova Construction/Pioneer Coal Ford
Stat Line at Riverside: Three wins, seven podiums, 15 top fives, 25 top tens*
Like his teammate, George Koszkulics has some pretty impressive numbers at this race track. Both drivers own three wins at the track, with George’s being the most recent for Nova Racing at Riverside in August 2011. While Koszkulics has stepped into a part time role in the past few seasons, he still knows how to get the job done and will look to rebound here after a rough start to the season at Scotia Speedworld.
We’ll see if Koszkulics has what it takes to take his fifth career series win this weekend in the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 150!
#97 John Flemming - Action Car and Truck Accessories Dodge
Stat Line at Riverside - Three wins, seven podiums, 11 top fives, 17 top tens
When it comes to momentum, John Flemming has a truck load (no pun intended) of it heading into this weekend at Riverside!
Flemming has won the last two events on this series and owns three wins at Riverside, including last July’s IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. Flemming sits second in the standings after Round One but it was the IWK 250 at this track last year that put him into the top spot in 2012. Flemming is on a roll and with his previous results here, he could easily come out of Riverside with not only his third straight win, but with the point lead as well!
THE SIXTH MAN
#89 Donald Chisholm - Keltic Ford Fusion
Stat Line at Riverside: Three wins, nine podiums, 13 top fives, 16 top tens
I know what you’re thinking, what is a guy with the track record like Donald Chisholm doing down here in the “sixth man” slot?
Though he is in the top five in every statistical category at his home track, the momentum of Mike Stevens combined with Chisholm’s Riverside finishes in 2012 put him as the sixth choice on Saturday.
While Chisholm owns three wins at the track, which is third in the series history at the track, he was also the owner of two finishes outside the top 15 at the track in 2012. Chisholm’s average finish at Riverside in 2012 was 17th with a ninth place run being his best out of the trio of races last season.
FIRST TIME RIVERSIDE WINNER?
#5 Jonathan Hicken - Castle Building Centres Chevrolet
Stat Line at Riverside - Two podiums, three top fives, 10 top tens.
When you look at the statistics, Jonathan Hicken is the best driver at Riverside International Speedway who does not own a win at the track in the Tour era.
His stats are comparable to one Gordie Ryan, who in his tenure had three podium finishes, five top fives and eight top tens at Riverside but also a goose egg in the win column. Lonnie Sommerville also has a pair of podiums and eight top ten finishes, but no win (though he will be looking for it at the IWK 250). Hicken has two race tracks on the circuit he has yet to win on (the other being Speedway 660) and with his record on banked race tracks (three of his four wins coming at high banked ovals), Saturday could be the night we see Hicken in victory lane.
One driver barely missing out on the top five this time around but could easily be there is point leader Shawn Turple. Turple has two wins at this race track and the point lead in the series but it may also be a good thing he missed out. After all, only one of my top five pre-race picks actually got a top five run (two if you count my sixth man pick from the Lucas Oil 150, which was Turple). Greg Proude is coming off a top three run at Scotia Speedworld and won this race back in 2010. As I’ve mentioned before, with 29 cars on the entry list, there are 29 different stories and with the depth we have in this field, any one of the 29 could end up in victory lane after the race.
If for some reason you cannot join us on Saturday night at Riverside, tune into Race Time Radio on Sirius/XM Channel 167 Canada Talks for live flag-to-flag coverage of the race with Joe Chisholm, Gerry Paxton and I. The Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 150 will be a dandy, so if you’re in the area, make plans to be at Riverside on Saturday night for what is not only going to be a great season opening event for the track, a fabulous second round of the series but also a precursor to what we can look forward to in July’s big dance with BradK.
Until Saturday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
PAST WINNERS OF THE SPRING RACE AT RIVERSIDE:
2012 - Mike Stevens
2011 - Donald Chisholm
2010 – Greg Proude
2009 – Shawn Tucker
2008 – Shawn Tucker
2007 - Mike MacKenzie
2006 – Not Held (first RIS event in 2006 was a 200-lap race in August, won by Shawn Turple)
2005 – Rollie MacDonald
2004 – John Flemming
2003 – Wayne Smith
2002 – Shawn Tucker
2001 – Wayne Smith
Shawn Tucker has won this event three times, more than any other driver in series history.
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