Race Preview: Dartmouth Dodge 200 @ Scotia Speedworld
Well, it is here.
Hard to believe the final race of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour is here so quick. A season filled with history making, exciting racing and a bit of rain has made for an interesting season. We’ll take a look at this season as a whole at the end of the month and into October as we inch closer to the banquet on November 22nd - but first, time to preview the final race of the season.
So, let’s do the math here for the championship. It’s simple, if Jonathan Hicken or Shawn Tucker want to win the championship, they have to outpoint Flemming by 44 and 45 points, respectively, and have to not fall back on a tiebreaker.
Well, if you’re Hicken, your win total would be enough to break the tie with Flemming. Tucker, on the other hand, cannot win a tiebreaker with Flemming. Remember, and it’s hard to believe, Tucker has not won a feature this season on the series.
So, let’s look at it, Flemming can lock up the title with a 17th place finish. If Flemming finished 17th and does not lead a lap for five bonus points, he would receive 168 points. The most Hicken, or anyone for that matter, can score in a race is 210 (200 points plus ten for leading a lap and the most laps, worth five points each). That is a 42 point gap, Flemming wins the title.
Now, if Hicken were to score maximum points, and Flemming was to finish 18th, Flemming would lose the title to Hicken on a tiebreaker with Hicken’s three current wins to Flemming’s two.
Flemming can also lead a lap and finish 19th to lock up the title. Either way, the number is 17th for Flemming. It can be done. Remember back to Riverside in August when he had electrical problems on his #97 Happy Harry’s Affordable Building Centre Dodge and finished 19th?
On the other foot, Hicken and Tucker, if they want the championship, both have to perform. They have both been in victory lane in this race before, and will have to rekindle the magic to get back there, then hope for some help from Flemming Motorsports.
Hicken and Tucker, if not battling with Flemming for the lead, will slug it out for the second place spot in the standings with only a single point between them with the Dartmouth Dodge 200 on deck. Hicken has 37 points on the battle for fourth (more on that in a bit), and while obtainable as we’ve seen with the championship picture, those guys in fourth will need some help to take second place away from the #5 and the #52.
While Hicken may or may not win a championship this season, he is a model of consistency in our series. Since his rookie year in 2008, he has only finished outside the top ten in the standings once, finishing 11th in 2011. He has three top five finishes in the standings with his highest finish being third in 2012. If he can hold onto second, it will be the best point finish for Hicken and the best point finish on the Tour for a Prince Edward Island team.
While Tucker’s fourth title has an outside shot of happening, it would be monumental for the #52 team if it was to happen. If you ask Tucker, the team has been off this season. Sure, compared to last year when Tucker lit the lap more often than not in the second half, but at the end of the day, they are still the third best team right now. It goes to show when you are just a “bit off” and you’re third in the standings, those teams behind still have to do some homework.
When tallied, the top three in the standings own 15 of the 48 victories at Scotia Speedworld on the Tour, or 31% of the Pro Stock races contested on the 3/10-mile oval since 2001. That’s big and will be something to keep in the back of your mind Saturday.
What have you done for me lately though? If you are in the battle for fourth in the standings, quite a lot, actually.
Shawn Turple and Dylan Blenkhorn own the last four race wins at Scotia Speedworld, two a piece, dating back to the 2013 Dartmouth Dodge 200. Both are on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to momentum coming in though, with Blenkhorn struggling a bit in the last two races and Turple flying high after a second place run at Riverside International Speedway. Blenkhorn has three wins on the season, Turple can tie that mark this weekend with a victory at Scotia Speedworld. Going in, there are just a mere seven points between them.
There is also a consistent 18-year old driving a red #53 car.
We can go back into the battle on what happened last week, but that’s in the past. Let’s look into the future, where Butcher has a four point and eleven point lead on the two nearest drivers behind him for the fourth place spot in the points. Butcher has run well in his Pro Stock at his home track before, where he will look to lock up a Legends championship - his third - on Friday night. In his career, Butcher has one top five and five top tens in seven starts at Scotia Speedworld and will look to build on that this weekend.
In fact, when you look at it, seven of the top eight drivers in the standings have won at Scotia Speedworld in the past. Greg Proude and former Dartmouth Dodge 200 champion Craig Slaunwhite come in seventh and eighth in the standings. Both were opposite ends of the spectrum at Riverside, with Proude well on his way to at least a top ten finish before a rear axle sidelined the #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers Dodge. Slaunwhite got a much needed top five finish, which moved him to within 16 points of the 29 with one race to go.
Darren Mackinnon and Kent Vincent kind of sit on separate Islands themselves in the standings, no pun intended. The Prince Edward Island drivers have nice cushions between the drivers in front of and behind them and even with modest runs at the 200 on Saturday, they should lock up their point positions for the season.
Sarah McKay will officially receive the battery on Saturday as the champion of the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year. McKay has had an up and down first season with some mechanical problems mixed in with some great runs and learning experiences on this highly competitive series. She’s improved a ton this season and proved that she belongs with the best short trackers this country has to offer.
Terry Dougay will try to spoil the party for McKay in the final race as Dougay will look at taking eleventh away from the youngster from Quispamsis. Dougay has made inroads on the spot in the past few races and is only 26 points out of eleventh. He’s got Shawn Pierce in tow, just 16 points in the rearview. Dougay and Pierce will both be looking for quality finishes to head into the offseason on.
Donald Chisholm will have a new teammate for the weekend in Jason Hathaway. The two who battled it out for the win in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Wilson Equipment 300 will drive Nova Racing cars, with Hathaway making his first start with us on the season after a rainout of the Ron MacGillivray 150 put JR Fitzpatrick behind the wheel of the #3 for the race. Yes, we all know how that race turned out, and I know JR has been looking for a car for this race for a while. Anyone have any last minute openings for JR to get into?!
The big news this week has been “Miss Rawdon Rocket” making her debut on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Emily Meehan, a standout in Legends and Bandoleros, will be getting the green flag on Saturday in the second Stephen Henderson race car, with backing from Dexter Construction, Municipal Group and Archibald Drilling and Blasting. I had the opportunity to see her test last week in the car and she impressed me by not only turning laps within the mid to high 14 second bracket, but for a rookie she was incredibly smooth. Granted, she knows the race track, it is a totally different beast than what the second year Acadia University student driven week in and week out for the last three season. Then again, the transition for the likes of Blenkhorn, Butcher and Brad Eddy, who will also be in the field Saturday, went quite well and within a year of being in the seat, they were vying for top five finishes on the series. I’m excited for Meehan and her whole team as she gets ready to make her debut Saturday.
Like Sherwood, PE’s Robbie MacEwen, she would love to find funding to run the full season in 2015, but right now, and the team has told me this already, it is just a one race deal. Hey, one can dream though - a MacEwen v. Meehan Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year battle in 2015 would be a great one to watch. Someone step up and make this happen, I want to, and I’m sure our fans, want to see it!
Rumor has it that Russell Smith Jr will also be in the field Saturday with a bullet out of the Oval Outlaw Racing stable. Much like a Robbie MacEwen, Smith has had a ton of success in a Limited Late Model/Sportsman in the region and if this rumor is true for Saturday, I am interested to see what “The Bounty Hunter” can pull off in the Dartmouth Dodge 200.
While I haven’t received an official entry list at the time of this writing, I’m sure we’re going to see a host of part timers as well, which could include, but isn’t limited to, the likes of Steve Ross, Daryl Mahar, Roger Miller, Colby Smith and Leonard Boutilier. Hey, kudos to Roger Miller last week. Miller and the #80 Innovation Drilling/C&B Pneumatics Ford showed a lot of speed last week at Riverside Speedway but did not have the chance to show it during the feature. Maybe they hit on something that could be used this weekend?!
If you’re coming to Scotia Speedworld this weekend, you are in for a great undercard on Saturday as well. Three drivers, Darren Wallage, Harry Ross White and DJ Casey, sit within two points of each other for the championship in the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Series. The Sportsman will run a 50-lapper prior to the main event on Saturday. A complete preview will be up Thursday night on that, and the five championships to crown Friday for the Weekly Racing Series, at ScotiaSpeedworld.ca.
It’s going to be a fantastic weekend to close off the 2014 season on the Tour and in the Halifax area. If you cannot join us, RaceTimeRadio.com will have you covered, but the best way to be apart of the action is to be at the race track for both days of action. I hope you can join us for what is going to be a thrilling, action packed weekend presented by Dartmouth Dodge.
Oh, and they may have a big giveaway during Saturday’s racing action, according to a source close to Dartmouth Dodge. You’ll have to be there to find out what exactly I’m talking about.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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