Race Preview: EXIT Realty PEI 100 @ Oyster Bed Speedway
Did everyone enjoy their off-weekend?
For some, it was an off-weekend free of racing. Some ended up taking in the action at Scotia Speedworld or Speedway 660, who had a Pro Stock 150 won by Dave O’Blenis (for more, you can check out my website at TimsCorner.ca, or the Thursday edition of Wheels). I took the chance to head to Bridgewater on Thursday and see Kira Isabella in concert.
Regardless how you spent your weekend away from the track, I hope you had a good time.
Now, back to business.
This Saturday at 6pm marks our only trip to Prince Edward Island for the EXIT Realty PEI 100, who have partnered with us for the first time and we thank them for helping us put on the show we will on Saturday night. Our Oyster Bed Speedway appearance, much like our Speedway 660 appearance earlier in the year, can almost be viewed as a wildcard race in a sense. With this being the only appearance at this track in comparison to our multiple visits to Petty, Scotia Speedworld or Riverside, those who excel at the high banked, tight confines of the Island oval only have one chance to shine.
Shawn Tucker comes in as our hottest driver on the circuit. He’s not only coming off the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body victory but he’s coming off four straight finishes of second or better. Shawn has admitted, this is his worst track on the series. He has scored one win at Oyster Bed back in the day but has only two podiums, seven top fives and 13 top tens in 23 starts at the track. Yes, those are impressive numbers, but compared to other tracks on the circuit, these numbers for Tucker leave a bit to be desired.
When it comes to stats in the last 23 races, Oyster Bed Speedway has been Wayne Smith’s playground. Even with only 21 starts (he did not race our two appearances last year), he has four wins, 11 podiums, 14 top fives and 17 top tens. That four win mark is a tie for the top spot in the category with John Flemming, who also has five podiums, eight top fives and 11 top tens in his career at Oyster Bed.
Five drivers own multiple feature wins at the track - three of those are from Prince Edward Island and could easily add to their total on Saturday. Greg Proude can tie the bench mark of Smith and Flemming this weekend with his fourth win at the track. Kent Vincent and Jonathan Hicken each have two wins at the track but maybe the other impressive number for Vincent is that he owns 16 top tens, one less than Smith’s mark at the top of that statistical category. In fact, Vincent is also second in podiums (eight) and top fives (11) to Smith and after he came off a top five at the IWK 250, if you are looking for a safe bet looking at momentum and statistics, you may want to lay your wager on the #8 Vector Aerospace Dodge.
Three other former Oyster Bed Speedway winners are expected to be in the field on Saturday night in Darren MacKinnon, Brad Mann and Donald Chisholm. Mann’s only Pro Stock Tour win came at this track in 2006, Chisholm scored a big win at the track last year for his first at Oyster Bed, while it has been over two years since MacKinnon last tasted victory at the 2011 IWK 250.
Second place point man Shawn Turple will be the most successful driver at Oyster Bed Speedway in the field Saturday without a win, which is a statistic I’m sure Turple would like to change in the EXIT Realty PEI 100. Turple owns three podiums, five top fives and 11 top tens in his career at the track - but has yet to find victory lane yet. On the contrary, that’s where the only one appearance thread may make it harder for a team that hasn’t had much success at the track to find it. Compared to two stops we made in previous years, our teams will only have practice and qualifying to get it right for the feature.
This may work well in the favor of our freshmen drivers this weekend. Dylan Blenkhorn, Denver Foran and Cole Butcher do not have any competitive laps on the track but as Butcher told me after the CAT 250, “we had never seen that track before and we got out of there pretty well.” Colby Smith has laps at the track, but it’s been a few years since he visited the track back in 2009 with his Sportsman car. It will be interesting to see how quickly our Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year contenders can adapt to the tricky Oyster Bed Speedway configuration. A congratulations goes out to Foran on his weekend. While we were off, he flew out west to take part in the Coca Cola 150 at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Not only did he competed, he went to the front and won the big race!
Nobody is more excited to run than our Island contingent on the series. In addition to the aforementioned Islanders, Brodie MacQuarrie will be making his third career start in the Island Excavators/Big Poppas 63 Motor Sports Chevrolet. Terry Dougay and the team have had a lot of work to do to get their #14 Right on Board Locksmith Impala back together after the IWK 250 but I’m sure they will be ready to attack the track where Dougay owns a Modified championship. Dylan Gosbee has been on a roll recently on the Tour and may be a front runner when we talk about drivers taking their first Oyster Bed Speedway win on Saturday night. After all, Gosbee’s Wendell Taylor’s Garage team was in victory lane at Petty Raceway already this season, another tight, high banked bull ring with some similarities to Oyster Bed Speedway.
Craig Slaunwhite and Jerome Kehoe also find themselves in the top ten after seven races and have multiple top tens and at least one top five to their names at the Island track. With the two tied for eighth in points, a great finish here could give them the shot of momentum needed to not only break the tie, but to fire up a run up the standings in the last five races.
Shawn Pierce, Mike Stevens and Steve Ross have all had some great runs this season but have also had some bad luck visit them in 2013. With the off-week following six consecutive races, a breather could be exactly what the doctor ordered for these three teams.
Regardless what happens or who ends up in victory lane, it is bound to be an exciting time on Prince Edward Island. Keep your eye on the support class racing as well. We have had some great talent come up through the ranks at Oyster Bed to make a name for themselves on the Tour. You never know, we could see a guy like Colton Ford, Alex Sheehan or Matt Palmer on our Tour in the future.
I hope you can join us on the Island Saturday to take in the EXIT Realty PEI 100!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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