Race Preview: Lucas Oil 100 @ Riverside Intl Speedway
After a week off, the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour is ready to kick it into high gear for the final two races of the 2013 campaign.
Well, for some it was a week off.
If you are Shawn Tucker, you were in the Geary woods racking up some quick cash in the Auto Value 250. After leading a majority of the laps en route to his third 250 win at Speedway 660, he ended up leaving his home track with $25,400, which is the biggest payday in his racing career. The #52 Rockico Equipment Limited team is on a roll, winning the two biggest Pro Stock races in New Brunswick the last two weeks, including the Parts for Trucks 150 on International weekend two weeks ago.
With the Tour heading to Riverside Speedway, you have to believe Tucker is a favorite to win this one too. After all, the last time we were here, it was the #52 that pulled into victory lane as the winner of the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. We’re going to get into career Riverside starts in the Tour era in a bit, but you’ll see that Tucker is one of the best in the 34 races on the high banks, something that the other two dozen or so in the field will have to keep in mind on Saturday night.
John Flemming, who was also at Speedway 660 on the weekend finishing sixth in the 250, is our leader in the standings by 74 markers over Tucker. This is a huge number, and I’ll tell you why. With our procedures, the most points you can gain in a race is 60 points. The winner can obtain as many as 210 markers (200 for the win, five for leading a lap and five for leading the most laps). Last place in a 26 car field pays 150 points. It’s simple, if Flemming leaves Riverside with a 61 point lead this weekend, all he has to do is start the Dartmouth Dodge 200 next weekend to clinch his record setting fourth championship in the Tour era (2001 to present). Flemming owns three wins at Riverside since 2001, the most recent being the 2012 IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body.
There are small pockets of battles throughout our field when it comes to the point standings, but here’s one cool little stat - of our top ten drivers in the standings, half of them are from Prince Edward Island. The top Island driver with two races to go is Darren MacKinnon, who sits in fourth place, 45 points out of second place in the standings. He’s only a dozen points up on Greg Proude and Jonathan Hicken, who have just two points (or one feature position) between each other after ten races. Dylan Gosbee (eighth) and Kent Vincent (tenth) also find themselves in the top ten in the standings in the home stretch.
The part timers may also have something to say before we are done on Saturday. Mike Mackenzie returned to the old #02 we are accustomed to seeing at Scotia Speedworld in the CAT 250 by running up in the top five. Daryl Mahar finished this race last year in fourth in a caution free affair after being passed late by eventual series champion Shawn Turple. Wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these three gents in victory lane on Saturday.
Speaking of last year’s race, it was a pure showcase of Mikey Stevens’ talents. This race went caution free last year and Mikey led all 100-laps in the Lucas Oil 100. Mikey told me last year that it doesn’t hurt to qualify up front and with long green flag runs like the one we saw last year very possible, you may need to qualify up front to take this victory. You don’t need to look far in the rear view in 2013 for a green flag run - we went 84 laps two weeks ago at Petty.
Mentioned last round was a make or break for the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year battle and it can be said here too. If Cole Butcher or Denver Foran want a shot at unseating Dylan Blenkhorn at the top, they need to do something Saturday night. Butcher sits 40 out of Blenkhorn for the lead while Foran sits 40 out of Butcher for second. All three were busy on their off-weekend, Foran finished third at Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in a Super Late Model race on Saturday, while Butcher bested Blenkhorn on the podium for the Strictly Hydraulics Legends Weekly Racing Series race at Scotia Speedworld. Butcher has been doing double duty this season between the Weekly Legends and the Tour and leads the point standings by 17 with two races to go in that series. Blenkhorn was subbing in for Emily Meehan’s #75 as she recovered from tonsillitis.
Will also be great to see Brodie MacQuarrie make his fifth start of the season. MacQuarrie told me Monday at Oyster Bed Speedway that the team has been busy clipping the car for this weekend after they were not happy with the performance at the Parts for Trucks 150. I’ve said it before, “BMac” has a boatload of talent and will be a star in our series sooner rather than later, watch for him on Saturday. This is going to be a great afternoon of racing at Riverside this Saturday. Note the time change as well, everything is adjusted by 90 minutes, so Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials roll off at 3:40pm and racing begins at 4:30pm. The NAPA Sportsman Series will be on hand as well to run a 75-lap finale on their season presented by Highland Home Building Centres. Ross Lewis has the lead in the series over former Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour driver Phil Barkhouse Jr. You’ll want to be here for all the action!
We leave you with some statistical numbers for the series at Riverside heading into Saturday.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
“THE NUMBERS” - Lucas Oil 100 at Riverside Speedway
TRACK STATS (34 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races since 2001)
Winners at Riverside - Wayne Smith (6), Shawn Tucker (5), Donald Chisholm (4), George Koszkulics (3), John Flemming (3), Kent Vincent (2), Shawn Turple (2), Mike Stevens (2), Rollie MacDonald (2), Greg Proude, Mike MacKenzie, Craig Slaunwhite, Darren MacKinnon, Regan Smith.
Podiums at Riverside - Top Five - Wayne Smith (14), Shawn Tucker (14), Donald Chisholm (11), Kent Vincent (8), John Flemming (7)
Top Fives at Riverside - Top Five - Shawn Tucker (18), Wayne Smith (17), Donald Chisholm (15), Kent Vincent (15), George Koszkulics (15)
Top Tens at Riverside - Top Five - Kent Vincent (27), Shawn Tucker (26), George Koszkulics (26), Wayne Smith (21), John Flemming (19)
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