When it comes to drivers who have performed well over the years at Speedway 660, on paper, this is Shawn Tucker’s race to lose.
The last time I checked though, paper and statistics didn’t drive race cars. Race car drivers drive race cars and there will be over two dozen of them trying to create some history of their own Saturday night during the Irving Blending & Packaging 100 in the Geary woods.
When it comes to analyzing this Saturday’s race in the Geary woods, it’s tough to call a winner. This is our only stop at the track and the track is unique from the other venues we visit. It’s a tough oval to get around and the drivers and teams that can get a hold of the track quickly and throw changes at the car needed to keep up with the change from day to night will be up front when it counts at the end of 100 laps.
As I mentioned off the top, Shawn Tucker is the man when it comes to Speedway 660. In 24 Tour sanctioned races at the track, the #52 Rockico Equipment Limited Chevrolet has been in victory lane eight times (or in 33% of the races) and has ended the night in the top ten in all 24 races. Tucker has won at our last two appearances at Speedway 660 and after coming off a runner-up finish at Petty, you should have the #52 on your radar.
Shawn said it in victory lane last Sunday though, with the competition in this series being so close, to finish in the top five each week is an accomplishment within itself. We’ve had eleven different winners at Speedway 660 in the 24 races run, with five of those winning more than once. Of those multi-time winners, four will be in the field. In addition to Tucker, Lonnie Sommerville will be looking to add another Pro Stock Tour win to his resume. Of his four career Parts for Trucks Tour victories, three have come at Speedway 660. Sommerville will be making his first start of the season.
Two drivers have a pair of wins a piece at Speedway 660 and both will be looking to join Sommerville and Wayne Smith at three career wins at the Geary oval. Donald Chisholm is already a winner this season on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and has been to victory lane twice at Speedway 660. Speaking of being to victory lane twice at Speedway 660, Dave O’Blenis has been there twice in the Speedway 660 Pro Stock division this season and has previously won two Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races at the track. He’ll look to bring home a big win for his sponsor Irving Blending and Packaging this Saturday night!
Kevin Moore is also a former winner in Pro Stock Tour competition at his home track. The Weekly Speedway 660 Pro Stock competitor has had aspirations of coming back full time with the Tour but is still looking for that one sponsor that would allow him to come with us for 12 races as opposed to one a year.
Also owning a win a piece at Speedway 660 are your two point leaders on the series in John Flemming and Shawn Turple. Turple’s stats at Speedway 660 are pretty impressive with nine podiums, ten top fives and 13 top tens in his career at the track and if there is a track that he can gain a few points on Flemming, this might be it. Though Flemming was solid here last year with a second place run and another run like that could go a long way in taking away the championship trophy in Moncton at the end of the year.
We looked at active drivers a couple weeks ago at Scotia Speedworld that have been successful at the track on paper but have never gone to victory lane in a Tour sanctioned race at the track. When I look at these stats, three names pop up as drivers to excel at Speedway 660 but do not own a win - Greg Proude, Brad Mann and Kent Vincent. Vincent is more of a consistency machine than anything, owning nine top tens and two top fives in his 24 races at 660 but he has never finished on the podium in the Geary woods. A slow start to the season could be turned around in a huge way here with a great run in the Irving Blending and Packaging 150. In fact, Mann and Proude both have similar stat lines to Vincent in the way that they have never finished on the podium at 660. Mann has won Pro Stock championships at Speedway 660 and the team continues to make gains on the #35 Restigouche Drive Thru - Coors Light Chevy. Mann has four top fives and eight top tens in Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour sanctioned races at the track and he will be looking to add to that on Saturday.
In the case of Proude, he has four top fives and seven top tens, one of those top five runs coming here one season ago after leading laps in the race prior to the rain halting us for 90 minutes at Lap 59. With Proude sitting a strong third in points and after coming off a top five run last weekend at Petty Raceway, I wouldn’t be surprised if I called Proude to victory on Saturday for the first time since the 2010 season opener at Riverside!
We saw a first time winner last week in Dylan Gosbee and we could easily see another this week if the cards fall into line for a guy like Steve Halpin. Halpin, our 2012 Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year has shifted his focus to Speedway 660 Pro Stock competition and has done well, winning one of the three features this year. If we see our second first time winner in as many races, it may come from Saint John’s Halpin.
A driver we haven’t mentioned yet that’s in the top five in the point standings that has had a podium run and three top tens here before is Darren MacKinnon. MacKinnon comes off a third place run at Petty Raceway and has finished sixth and third in the last two years at Speedway 660 and the #18 team can make history on Saturday by becoming the first Island based team to go to victory lane in a point paying Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race at Speedway 660. It’s hard to believe that it has never been done, but no Island driver has won one of our features in Geary in the Tour era from 2001 to present. With MacKinnon, Proude, Hicken and Gosbee among others holding hot hands heading into Saturday night, that could change in our 25th event at Speedway 660.
It will be interesting to see how the rookies do this weekend at Speedway 660. When it comes to experience, Colby Smith has the most big car experience with one Sportsman start on Speedweekend and one Pro Stock start in this race last season, ironically, in the #13 car that is now driven by fellow rookie Denver Foran. Foran has raced here before but in go karts and has no big car experience here. Cole Butcher has a start or two here in a Bandolero car from a few years back and memory doesn’t serve me whether Dylan Blenkhorn has a Legend start here or not. By the way all of them are running this year, it’s anyone’s best guess when it comes to picking a top runner for the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Race.
The names mentioned will be joined by a dozen or so others on Saturday in the Geary woods. The Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman and DMR Auto Sales and Service Street Stocks will be joining us on the undercard for the Irving Blending and Packaging 100, which has really become a hotbed for up and coming talent. Overall, it is a great card of racing and you will not want to miss it Saturday at 7pm.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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