TUCKER HOTTEST DRIVER ON CARQUEST TOUR HEADING INTO 250 #1
As the Triple Crown of Maritime Racing gets fired up this weekend, the driver with the most momentum heading into the event is Shawn Tucker. The Fredericton, N.B. driver is two for three in Tour starts this season, including the latest race at the Riverside high banks, the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 100 in June. The Rockico Truck and Trailer/A.L. Gullison Disaster Kleenup #52 Impala took the checkered flag first in our last event at Scotia Speedworld two weeks ago and was a top three car in the season opener until an accident took him out of contention. After winning the Forbes Chevrolet 100 Shawn admitted that though he likes the Riverside track, the 250 is a whole different ballgame. "It'll be different from when we were there last month but we hope to be near the top at the end of the 250 laps."
Shawn is only four points behind Halifax's John Flemming in the point standings heading into the bulk of the 2009 schedule on the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour, including a stop at his home track at Speedway 660 next weekend for the rescheduled Parts for Trucks 100!
ISLANDERS HOPE TO BE "PROUDE" AFTER IWK 250 PRESENTED BY STEVE LEWIS AUTO BODY
At the Lucas Oil 100 in May at Scotia Speedworld, Greg Proude made an on track statement with his performance that he would be one of the drivers to watch out for in the 2009 season. Since then, some rough luck and long green runs have put the Loyalist Marble and Tile Dodge behind the eight ball and back to fifteenth in points, not indicative of the strong runs shown by the Springvale, PEI team. Proude led 79 of the 100 laps two weeks ago at Scotia Speedworld before the #29 faded during the long green flag run we saw during that event and ran up front early in the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 100 at Riverside before a mechanical problem took the #29 out of the race.
Let's not forget that Proude nearly won this event one year ago as he led late into the event before a tire went down on his Dodge ride a few laps shy from the finish. Combine that with a fifth place finish in 2007 when this event was a stop on the PASS North schedule, Proude could very well end up taking the checkered flag first in this event! Add in the likes of Vincent, Hughes, Hicken, and MacKinnon (just to name a few) and we could see the big trophy from Riverside International Speedway heading across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island after 250 laps on Saturday night!
FLEMMING TO RUN FULL CARQUEST SKED
It's been a great season for John Flemming. The three time champ of the Tour from Halifax has finished 2nd, 3rd, and 6th in the first three events and has the points lead to show for his efforts. Include a handful of PASS North starts (including a 3rd place finish in June at Speedway 660) and you have the early makings of a dream season in the Maritimes and the ingredients of what could be title #4 on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour!
Up until two weeks ago though, we were unsure if John was going to make a run at the full tour. A part time schedule was in the cards initially for The Roofing Connection Dodge this season but when asked about it following the Forbes 100, Flemming said the decision had been made. "We thought about it over the past couple of weeks and the team and I have decided to make a run at the full schedule and the championship."
Flemming will look to continue a strong summer by winning his first feature this season in one of the marquee events in '09, the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. In last year's event the #97 finished fifth, but can he bring the winnings home to Halifax this year? Be there Saturday night to find out!
THREE OTHER CANADIANS TO WATCH ON SATURDAY
So, we know Shawn Tucker has momentum, but what about his province rival Lonnie Sommerville? The driver from Saint John subbed for former tour winner Matt Harris (Fredericton Junction) Saturday in the Best of the Best 100 at Speedway 660 and not only did Lonnie get track time before the upcoming Parts for Trucks 100 on July 25th and Peterbilt 250 in September — he won in car #87 in the Geary woods! The former EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Year winner already has a Peterbilt 250 crown to his resume and with a third place run at James River in June, the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body could be the next big trophy on the shelf for the driver of the #23 A.E. McKay Builders Impala!
Consistency wins championships. Just ask multi-time Scotia Speedworld track titlist Shawn Turple. To win those point championships, he was consistently up front and vying for wins. In recent years, Turple has been one of the drivers to beat every time out at high banked Riverside International Speedway, posting numerous top fives, including his first CARQUEST Tour win at the track back in 2006! The runner-up in the '08 edition of the 250 will look to better that by one position this year as he tries to put his #0 Dexter Construction/Municipal Group Impala back into Victory Lane at Riverside International!
Speaking of Sportsman champions, former Riverside International and two time Scotia Speedworld champ Craig Slaunwhite is also a CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour winner at the track hosting the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. After the great end to the '08 season, it's been tough running in the first three events of the tour in 2009 as the sophomore has a best finish of eighth back in June at James River. This could very well be the race we see Craig rebound and start to turn this 2009 season around as he is no stranger to big races, winning the Peterbilt 250 last September in Geary, NB.
THREE AMERICANS TO WATCH ON SATURDAY
Arguably one of the best short trackers in all of North America will be with us on Saturday night as he tries to take down another big race in the Maritimes. Former Atlantic CAT 250 and Peterbilt 250 champ Johnny Clark from Hallowell, Maine nearly won this event one year ago but when a tire went down aboard the Clarks Car Crushing #54 Chevrolet it erased his chances at defeating the high banks. The three time and defending Pro All Stars Series North SLM Champ is riding a streak of three podium finishes in the last three races, including a win in Tuesday's Bastille 200 at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire. Expect Clark to be one of the drivers up front on Saturday night as he attempts to keep the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body trophy down south!
Speaking of keeping the trophy down south, Regan Smith would like to keep that piece of hardware in his hands after Saturday night! The driver from Cato, New York is the defending champ of the race and has every indication of going back-to-back in winning the event! He also knows about the $50k for any driver that can win all three Pro Stock Triple Crown events and has said in a track press release that he would like nothing better than to spoil that for the drivers gunning for the bonus money! We know Smith means business and is a serious threat to put his #78 Bluewave Energy Pro Stock car back into Riverside International Speedway Victory Lane! Though Johnny and Regan are familiar with the Antigonish County oval, we cannot count out Coca Cola 600 winner from May in the Sprint Cup Series who will be making his debut in Nova Scotia. Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you already know that David Reutimann will be part of the 32-driver starting grid on Saturday and will look to take the prize money and trophy back to Zephyrhills, Florida after 250-laps on the high banks! Be there Saturday night to cheer on the #09 Atlantic CAT/CAT Car for Kids Pro Stock as Reutimann tries to wheel it into Victory Lane following the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body!
That'll do it for now. A quick reminder that if you are in the area for the weekend, Riverside International has Sportsman and Legend cars in action for 100 and 50 lap main features respectively. It should be a great weekend for racing with the Pro Stocks taking centre stage on Saturday!
Until Saturday afternoon, keep the hammer down and we'll see you at the track!
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