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Tim's Corner
Issue 157

Race Preview: Ron MacGillivray Chev Buick GMC 150

Note: This article was written prior to the race being postponed.

I hope you enjoyed your off-weekend, because we are about to hit our longest stretch of the season with four consecutive weekends coming at us!

I’ve been in a statistical mood recently, so let’s look at some series statistics heading into our first Riverside International Speedway race of 2014.

The Tour has contested 35 races on the high banks of Riverside since 2001 and the Ron MacGillivray 150 will mark the 36th event in series history on the James River, Nova Scotia track. Of the drivers who have seen a green flag at the track, 66 of them have recorded at least one top ten finish at the facility.

Three drivers sit atop the top ten list when it comes to Riverside with 27 top ten appearances a piece in Shawn Tucker, George Koszkulics and Kent Vincent. The trio have each won multiple races, with Tucker tied atop the win column at Riverside at six with Wayne Smith. Tucker is also tops in the top five statistical category at Riverside with 19 and most top threes with 15.

It’s no secret Tucker is on fire either, winning the last two races at Riverside Speedway, including the IWK 250 last July and the Lucas Oil 100 in September. Tucker has been good this season, posting two top ten finishes in the first two races. Tucker also has three wins in spring races at Riverside with victories in 2002, 2008 and 2009, more than any other driver in the 12 spring races at the track. Donald Chisholm (2011 and 2013) and Smith (2001 and 2003) each have two wins in this event.

Speaking of Chisholm, this may be the race that the #89 turns his season around. The Nova Racing team had a rocket in the first race at Scotia Speedworld but a spin put them behind the eight ball and had them running through traffic to get back to the front. Round two at Petty Raceway didn’t go so well either, but practice at Riverside on Thursday had Chisholm’s two cars in the 14.2 bracket, which is quick around the high banks. Chisholm was leaning towards using “old faithful” (crate motor car) in the race as opposed to the new, big motor car they have ran in the first two races. Why mess with tradition, right?

The friendly rivalry between Chisholm, who is the defending champion of this race, and John Flemming isn’t over.

The two love racing against each other and it’s evident the pair of veterans have a ton of respect for each other. During the Thursday practice, the two traded quick laps, with the #89 having the edge over the #97 car. John told me he wanted to get some new tires on the car Saturday to see how quick it would go, but he was overall happy with the car and was “one of the best cars he’s ever unloaded at Riverside.” That folks, could be bad news for the rest of the field.

The quickest man during the Thursday practice was the #98 car of Jerome Kehoe at a 14.21.Kehoe, who has scaled back to a part-time effort this season, has had four of his 17 career top tens come at Riverside, has performed well in the past at Petty Raceway and could easily be a favorite on Sunday. After Kehoe pulled that lap, I had a chance to chat with the driver of the #98 Ideal Concrete/Zutphen Contractors Chevrolet and crew chief Tommy Hayes, and I have never seen smiles bigger on either of their faces. This team is pumped and ready to see the green flag in the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 150!

The most successful active driver at Riverside without a win? The statistics say it’s our most recent winner on the Tour in Jonathan Hicken. Hicken has two podiums, four top fives and 12 top tens at Riverside, but no victories. Hicken told me last weekend that this track has been up and down for him, and with the #5 team coming in on a wave of momentum off the win and being second in points, only ten points behind leader Flemming, if they can come out of Riverside with a good finish, this team will be hard to beat for the championship – mark my words!

Other former winners at Riverside entered on Saturday include our 2014 lid-lifter winner Shawn Turple, Greg Proude, Darren MacKinnon and Craig Slaunwhite. A total of 14 drivers have won a race at Riverside Speedway in the 35 appearances by the Tour at the James River track.

Keep a half eye on our sophomores too in Cole Butcher and Dylan Blenkhorn. Both are on the verge of that breakthrough to victory lane and to become the 31st driver in Tour history to win a race. Blenkhorn has set fast time the last two races and Butcher is coming off his first career Pro Stock Tour podium finish at Petty with Blenkhorn by his side at the line. Could this be the weekend?!

It’s the first race on the high banks for 2014, you owe yourself to get out and witness it for yourself, because this one will be a barnburner. It will also serve as the first and last real tune-up for the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body, which will feature reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck series titlist and last week’s winner at Texas Motor Speedway in Matt Crafton. Circle June 16th on your calendar, that is the expected on sale date for 250 tickets. Get them early and get your seat for the big dance!

Until Saturday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!