Race Preview: Lucas Oil 150 @ Petty International Raceway
Well, let’s try this again, shall we?
We’re heading to Petty International Raceway this weekend for the Lucas Oil 150, Round Four of 12 on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and our “first” racing adventure at the high banked bullring.
Looking at our entry list from the “delayed” Fast Eddie Racewear 100, we should see most of those drivers and teams back at the track for this fourth race of 2013, give or take a few. Regardless of the number, it will give us a full field of Super Late Models ready for 150-laps of grueling short track racing. For Brodie MacQuarrie and the Big Poppas 63 Motor Sports team, it will be another shot at a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour debut. For Brad Eddy, he will have the chance to get back on track at Petty for the first time since he finished second in last season’s Irving Max1 - 150. Jonathan Hicken will be looking to avenge a broken pan hard bar which kept him from possibly holding the checkered flag in that aforementioned August Petty event. With more than two dozen teams itching to get on track Saturday, there are over two dozen stories to keep track of, which will be hard to do in this piece.
What we can do though is look at my top five for the week. Last week wasn’t bad as two of my top five ended up there at the end of the race in John Flemming and Shawn Turple. I know what you’re thinking though, why not just stick with what you had at the first Petty race? Easy. We’ve ran two races between and some drivers have been putting up some impressive numbers since. The part that’s not easy is picking just five! We have well over a dozen drivers that can win on Saturday during the Lucas Oil 150. It might be easier to throw a dart at a dartboard and pick a number based off that. Regardless, here’s my best stab at it by looking at numbers and trends for a top five to watch at Petty Raceway.
Tim’s Top Five - Petty International Raceway (sorted in numerical order)
#0 Shawn Turple - Dexter Construction/Municipal Group Chevrolet
Stat Line at Petty: One win, two podiums, two top fives and four top tens.
After a stumble at Riverside on his way to the front of the field, Shawn Turple reminded us Saturday why he is the two-time and defending champion of this series.
Turple once again missed the mark in qualifying, something we are not used to seeing out of the #0 team but he quickly erased that from our memories by clawing his way to the front of the field and putting on a show up front with John Flemming for the win in the Lockhart Truck Center 150. The two were quick at Petty back at the start of the month and we could see that battle play out again with Turple in search of his eighth career win.
#88 George Koszkulics - Nova Construction/Pioneer Coal Ford
Stat Line at Petty: One podium in the spring race last year.
George Koszkulics has shown a ton of speed but the breaks have not gone his way.
Looking at the standings, the part time driver is tenth after a fourth place run at Scotia Speedworld last weekend. In the first two races of the season, Koszkulics appeared to be on pace for two top ten finishes before accidents took him out of a great finish late in the race. Koszkulics was charging hard for Hicken in the June race here last year but ran out of time to catch the #5 car. With a quick car and some momentum on his side, this could be the track Koszkulics seals his fifth career series victory and first since 2011 at Riverside!
#89 Donald Chisholm - Keltic Ford Fusion
Stats Line at Petty: Two podiums, three top fives, three top tens.
Donald Chisholm is one of the most successful drivers at Petty Raceway without a victory.
After the way he ran two weeks ago at Riverside International, I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed that nugget on Saturday night. Chisholm and his NOVA Racing team enjoy the high banked tracks and after winning on Prince Edward Island in 2012, he has two tracks to scratch off his list, Scotia Speedworld and Petty Raceway.
#91 Dylan Gosbee - Wendell Taylor’s Garage/Island Collateral Chevrolet
Stat Line at Petty: One podium at an open show in 2012.
While Dylan Gosbee has not been able to crack the top ten in a point race at Petty Raceway, he holds one of the hottest hands heading into Saturday night.
Gosbee sits tied for eighth in points with Craig Slaunwhite, another driver who is strong at Petty. Looking back though, if it wasn’t for a motor issue at race one at Scotia Speedworld (another Lucas Oil sponsored race), he may have been closer to third in the standings rather than eighth. Gosbee finished a strong sixth at Riverside after being in the top five most of the night and backed that up with a fifth place run last weekend at Scotia Speedworld. Gosbee has really begun to come into his own as a great short track racer that can do well wherever we go. Could Saturday be the night he captures his first Pro Stock Tour win?!
#97 John Flemming - Action Car and Truck Accessories Dodge
Stats Line at Petty: One top five, four top tens.
John Flemming has been rewriting the history books this season and can put another cool line on his resume this weekend.
Should he win at Petty Raceway Saturday, not only would he collect his 20th career series win, he would also become the second driver to win at all six tracks the Tour has ever visited, joining Wayne Smith as the only other driver to do so.
Flemming, who won at Petty Raceway a couple seasons ago in an open show, has opened up quite the lead on his competition and has established himself as the man everyone will be chasing this season. We’ll see if the team can keep it up this weekend at Petty!
THE SIXTH MAN
#67 Dylan Blenkhorn - Blenkhorn Auto Recyclers Chevrolet
Stat Line at Petty: FIRST START
I know, you might think I’m crazy for putting a driver in this sixth man hole that has never ran a Pro Stock race at Petty.
But look at the standings, Truro, Nova Scotia’s Dylan Blenkhorn is sixth and continues to turn heads every week. After his run last week at Scotia Speedworld which saw him in the top five all throughout qualifying and a lot of the Lockhart Truck Center 150, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him up front this weekend. After all, a rookie finished second here last August!
Honorable Mentions: #5 Jonathan Hicken (former winner at track, has proven himself to run well at Petty), #8 Kent Vincent (former International winner, needs some luck to go his way to get back into previous form), #72 Brad Eddy (top ten streak extended to seven consecutive races last week at Scotia Speedworld, second place run at Petty last August), #98 Jerome Kehoe (loves this track, has had a quick car all season but circumstance has taken him out of the top five on a few occasions in 2013).
Not going to lie, between honorable mentions, the sixth man and the actual top five, there are ten drivers names there. And honestly, you could extend that by five or ten more. Greg Proude is up in the top three in points, Darren MacKinnon has been solid all season, Cole Butcher turned heads last weekend, Shawn Tucker is a proven champion that just cannot seem to get a break to go his way. The list goes on and on.
The point is, any one of the two dozen plus cars that show up on Saturday can win this event. I guess we’ll find out on Saturday who will be the one to get to the stripe the quickest after 150 laps!
We’ll see you on the weekend at Petty. Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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