A Quick Look at Point Battle Heading Down the Stretch
This edition of Tim's Corner is brought to you by Spiderman. Not really, but that is my new nickname given by Scotia Speedworld Race Director Rob Bowness following my "aerobatic mishap" after riding in the Tour golf cart with Scott Alexander. If you haven't heard the story - here's a quick word of advice; never drive with Scott Alexander in something that doesn't have seatbelts, or a door, or a roof or anything along those lines ?.
Once again, the Tour boys put on another great show on Saturday night at the Lucas Oil 100! Not only did the guys have to put up with the top competition like they do every week - they had to put up with extreme heat with temperatures topping past 100F! Regardless of temperature, the drivers got up on the wheel and ran the race in just a shade over forty minutes. In those forty minutes there was only three cautions, once again proving that we not only have some of the best racing in the country, we have some of the cleanest!
Mike Stevens once again is having a solid season and topped that off this past week by starting on the pole of the Lucas Oil 100 after winning the Dartmouth Dodge Dash for Cash. It wasn't easy though as he had to hold off the likes of Flemming, Turple and Smith in the dash to take away the win in the 10-lap affair. The #26 Extreme Window and Entrance Systems Chevrolet Impala team had a sub-par race as they came home in nineteenth but is not indicative of how Stevens was running during the event. The Riverview based effort is one to watch on Saturday during the Parts for Trucks 100 as Stevens is coming off a 7th place finish from the IWK 250 at Riverside just over one month ago!
Of course everybody has an eye on the point standings as there is only two "regular point" races left. (The Peterbilt 250 pays "show points," meaning you get 200 points to run, regardless where you finish.) Second place finisher last Saturday night Shawn Turple summed it up - "it's gonna be tough. Our team is good here (Scotia Speedworld) and at Riverside but so are Wayne and John. With the two remaining point runs being here and Riverside, it's gonna be a battle." Turple, who scored his first ever pro stock win at Riverside in 2006 has a slim eight point lead on last week's winner Wayne Smith and just nine on John Flemming. With the top three knowing the Riverside and Scotia tracks well and Turple and Flemming still searching for their first main feature win this season - the point battle in the top three will be a treat for everyone to watch heading down the stretch!
But you cannot count out fourth and fifth from the hunt either! Fredericton's Shawn Tucker is just eighteen points out of third and a mere twenty-seven out of the championship spot with two to go. Tucker, a three time race winner this season and a two time tour champion knows how to get it done in the clutch and with wins at Riverside and Scotia this season the Rockico Truck and Trailer/A.L. Gullison Disaster Kleenup Impala is far from being out of this title hunt! Keep that, along with the drive he made from the rear of the Parts for Trucks 100 field in Geary earlier in the season in the back of your mind when you take in the upcoming races as the #52 team looks for title #3 in 2009!
Even though the guys running in positions sixth through tenth are not out of the title hunt, it'll be hard to catch the top runners. They will have a battle on their hands as well though as they only are separated by twenty four points! Sophomore driver Jonathan Hicken of Brudenell, PEI runs sixth, sixty nine points out of Turple for the lead and just three points up on seventh. Hicken has taken on the CASTLE Building Centre colors this season and continues to run strong this summer, most recently posting an eighth place run at Scotia Speedworld last weekend. Though Jonathan won the "B" Feature for the IWK 250, he hasn't been able to transfer that into the main, finishing a season high fifteenth in James River in June. Look for Hicken to better that as he takes to the high banks this weekend!
Chasing Hicken in seventh is fellow Islander Greg Proude. Proude was the victor of two of three Lucas Oil events this season and posted another top five run last week in the third Lucas Oil race! With seventeen points on eighth, he has a small cushion to work with heading into Riverside, a track he has run very well at in the past. The Springvale driver of the #29 Loyalist Marble and Tile Dodge Charger finished fourth in the IWK 250 and set fast time in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials for the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 100 before having a mechanical problem sideline the #29 early in the feature. Proude will be another contender as we head down the stretch to the championship in 2009!
Dave O'Blenis had quietly moved into the top ten in the standings this season in his Burger King/Acadia Toyota Toyota Camry and made a big statement a few weeks ago at the Atlantic CAT 250 by finishing a mighty close second place. O?Blenis, the former Speedway 660 and Peterbilt 250 champion will be looking for another solid run this week in Antigonish County as he chases down Proude for seventh. O'Blenis is riding a recent wave of momentum heading into the final events of '09 and could easily be a threat for the top by the time we roll into Scotia Speedworld in September!
We have a tie for ninth in points coming down to the championship stretch in '09, with both drivers being four points out of Dave O'Blenis for eighth and just ninety-three markers out of the lead. Kent Vincent of Crapaud, PEI is a former winner at Riverside and will be looking for his first win of 2009 on the high-banks this Saturday. Vincent, one of the three drivers to run every tour race since 2001 is once again in the hunt for a great point finish and with a good run in the #8 Vector Aerospace Dodge during the Parts for Trucks 100 on Saturday the team could rocket up the standings heading into September.
One driver in the top ten has something on every driver on the tour heading into the last three events. Terence Bay's Craig Slaunwhite is not only the defending champ of the Parts for Trucks 200 at Scotia Speedworld. He is also the defending titlist of the Peterbilt 250 at Speedway 660. Oh, and by the way, the #99 Halifax Glass and Mirror Impala will be looking to defend the Parts for Trucks 100 crown he won one year ago. Slaunwhite definitely got on a roll at this time last year and could use another one late in the '09 season to propel the '08 EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Year from a tie for ninth in points up further in the standings! Slaunwhite finished in the second slot last time Parts for Trucks sponsored an event at Oyster Bed Speedway and could easily roll into Victory Lane for the first time this season on Saturday at Riverside International!
Speaking of the EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Year award, there is a sixty six point span between the two top rookies on the Pro Stock Tour this season - Josh Jaillet and Jason Carnahan. Jaillet scored a ninth place run at Oyster Bed Speedway in the Parts for Trucks/Lucas Oil 200 earlier in the season and has his On Target Courier and Cargo Limited Monte Carlo working well heading to Riverside. Carnahan is far from out of the rookie hunt as the Stilesville, NB driver has been gaining seat time and experience every lap this season and it has been showing as the Irving Oil Marketing Chevrolet Impala is creeping up the results every time the Tour races. Watch the two South East NB teams as they duke it out for top rookie honors heading to Scotia in September.
The action gets underway Saturday starting at 5:10pm for Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials followed at 6pm by qualifying for the CARQUEST Pro Stocks and Riverside Sportsman as they will run 100 and 50 lap features as part of the evening's card. If you haven't been to Riverside yet this season, come check it out as the Pro Stocks make their last stop to James River in 2009!
Also, if you are looking for something to do on Friday, stop into Scotia Speedworld as Ken Schrader will be participating in an autograph session and a 50-lap Sportsman feature! The action gets underway at 7pm - visit ScotiaSpeedworld.ca for more info!
Until Saturday night, keep the hammer down and we'll see you at the track!
**DISCLAIMER** The CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour is in no way affiliated with Marvel Comics in any way, though some are suggesting Tim Terry should try out for the next Spiderman movie.
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