Race Preview: Dartmouth Dodge 200 @ Scotia Speedworld
That’s the magic position John Flemming is shooting for this Saturday during the running of the Dartmouth Dodge 200 at Scotia Speedworld. If Flemming goes out on Saturday and does not lead a main feature lap, he can finish anywhere in the top 19 in the race and regardless what second place point driver Shawn Tucker does, he is your champion for a fourth time on the series.
But doing that sometimes can be easier said than done. An early mechanical failure or altercation on track can easily put you behind the eight ball, especially with us expecting around two dozen cars for our finale. Just ask Shawn Turple, who entered the Parts for Trucks 200 in 2007 with a 30+ point lead on Tucker. An early incident took Turple from winning his first championship to Tucker taking the championship trophy with a top five finish in the race.
Also off the top of the preview for this week, I want to mention the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year battle between Dylan Blenkhorn and Cole Butcher, which sits at 44 points heading into the finale. With this number, Blenkhorn will have to finish 16th or better to lock up the prestigious title on Butcher, but with the way both have been running as of late, it would not surprise me one bit to see both within the top five at the completion of 200 laps on Saturday.
Blenkhorn though is involved in a pretty big tilt when it comes to the overall standings. Four drivers are gunning for the top five in the standings in our final event. Jonathan Hicken holds down the spot with 2031 points but only has eight points between he and Greg Proude, whose team has had a lot of late nights in the shop this week preparing the #29 car. Thirteen points sits between Proude in sixth and Atlantic CAT 250 winner Craig Slaunwhite, who has Blenkhorn behind him by two points. Darren MacKinnon is fourth and 30+ points free and clear of Hicken for fourth as he looks for his first win at Scotia Speedworld after coming off a third place run at Riverside last weekend.
Keep in mind, only two rookies in the history of the Tour have finished in the top five in the points - Turple in ’05 and Slaunwhite in ’08, both of whom finished fourth in the season standings.
When it all boils down to it though, we are gearing up for a 200-lap race to close off our season. Anyone remember the Atlantic CAT 250? The racing in those 250-laps was incredible. We saw lots of side-by-side racing throughout the event and while Slaunwhite was strong, he had to contend with the likes of Turple, Tucker and Rowe for the win. Whoever does come out on top will have to be on their game to beat the best in the region.
The list, albeit a bit shorter than some Maritime fans desire, is pretty slammed with talent. You have guys like Flemming, Tucker, Turple and Slaunwhite - proven multi-time winners at the Speedworld who know their way to victory lane. You have names like Proude and Hicken who have won at the track before that could really use another shot in the arm to get back near the front. Part timers like former race winner Mike MacKenzie, Daryl Mahar and Leonard Boutilier who call this race track home and will look to get the winning combination down so they can be the ones ringing the door bell of victory lane. Wayne Smith, who owns the most wins in our series with 25 and the second most at Scotia Speedworld with seven in the Tour era, is also dusting off the #44 car for another run on Saturday night.
Posted on Twitter earlier in the week about the most successful drivers, statistically, at Scotia Speedworld without a feature win at the track. When it comes to numbers, the top of that list is Donald Chisholm. Chisholm is coming off a strong run last weekend at Riverside International and could very well be at the top when we lock this thing down after 200 laps. Chisholm has six podium, 13 top five and 27 top ten finishes at Scotia Speedworld - but no win. Kent Vincent’s numbers are similar with four podium, 11 top five and 24 top ten finishes at the 3/10-mile oval. George Koszkulics and Mahar also have double digit totals when it comes to top ten finishes at Scotia Speedworld without a strike in the win column.
The battle for 13th in the standings is also going to come down to the wire between Shawn Pierce and Brad Mann. The battle between the two has been back and forth all season with Pierce having the advantage heading into the finale by 10 points. Terry Dougay and Steve Ross, who are 15th and 16th in the standings, each had top ten runs here at the Lucas Oil 150 and will look to close off their seasons the exact way they started.
The star studded field of short track aces is completed by Vance Hanes and Pete Miller, who is scheduled to make his first start of the season in the #92 car. The King Competition car was originally not scheduled to enter the 200, but a little birdie told me that the car could end up at the Speedworld on Saturday depending the success of a test session on Thursday afternoon.
If you cannot get to the track Saturday, have your smartphone or favorite browser tuned to RaceTimeRadio.com for live, flag-to-flag coverage of the Dartmouth Dodge 200 on Saturday. The race will replay at 1pm Atlantic on Sunday on SiriusXM Channel 167, Canada Talks.
Before we sign off, we want to send condolences to the family and friends of Richard MacArthur of Rockico Equipment Limited, who passed away suddenly this week. MacArthur has been a big supporter of this sport, this Tour and the #52 team for many years and he will be greatly missed. Also, a speedy recovery goes out to Dave Pierce, father of Shawn Pierce, who was involved in a RV accident earlier in the week in Maine.
Until Saturday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
THE STATS LINE - SCOTIA SPEEDWORLD
A total of 44 races have been run at Scotia Speedworld since the series inception in 2001. The Dartmouth Dodge 200 will mark Race 45 in series history at Scotia Speedworld and Race 146 in series history.
Winners at Scotia Speedworld - John Flemming (9), Wayne Smith (7), Shawn Tucker (5), Gordie Ryan (5), Craig Slaunwhite (5), Shawn Turple (3), Mike MacKenzie (2), Cassius Clark (2), Jonathan Hicken, Greg Proude, Lonnie Sommerville, Mike Stevens, Marty Prevost, Scott Fraser, Ben Rowe
Podiums at Scotia Speedworld (Top Five): John Flemming (20), Wayne Smith (17), Shawn Tucker (16), Shawn Turple (11), Gordie Ryan (10)
Top Fives at Scotia Speedworld (Top Five): John Flemming (26), Wayne Smith (23), Shawn Tucker (23), Shawn Turple (19), Mike MacKenzie (17).
Top Tens at Scotia Speedworld (Top Five): John Flemming (35), Shawn Tucker (33), Wayne Smith (29), Donald Chisholm (27), Shawn Turple (26).
SERIES NUMBERS - AFTER 145 RACES
Wins - Top Five - Wayne Smith (25), Shawn Tucker (22), John Flemming (21), Shawn Turple (7), Donald Chisholm (7).
Podiums (Top Five): Wayne Smith (54), Shawn Tucker (52), John Flemming (45), Shawn Turple (32), Mike MacKenzie (26). Donald Chisholm sits sixth with 25.
Top Fives (Top Five): Shawn Tucker (74), Wayne Smith (71), John Flemming (67), Shawn Turple (49), Kent Vincent (46). Mike MacKenzie (40) and Donald Chisholm (39) sit in sixth and seventh.
Top Tens (Top Five): Shawn Tucker (111), Wayne Smith (97), John Flemming (93), Kent Vincent (87), Shawn Turple (76). Donald Chisholm is sixth with 72.
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