Race Preview: Parts for Trucks 150 @ Petty Raceway
Strap in folks, this race is going to be a critical one in the championship chase on our series.
Sure, we are going to have a race for the win with 18 cars or more expected to show up to do battle for the victory, but for four of those drivers, it is a make or break weekend when it comes to the championship.
Well, let’s be honest, the next three races are huge for Dylan Blenkhorn, Donald Chisholm, Cole Butcher and Darren MacKinnon.
I could spit statistics at you, saying this one has this many top fives or this one has this many wins at Petty International Raceway, but let me sum this championship battle up in one statement. Out of the four drivers battling for their first championship, none are slouches at this Petty International Raceway and it is your best guess as to who will leave the shadows of Moncton with the point lead.
Mackinnon was our most recent winner at Petty Raceway and has since followed it up with a win at Oyster Bed Speedway, another high banked race track. Mackinnon has the second most to gain in this point battle with 14 points between him and Dylan Blenkhorn. Blenkhorn won the first race at Petty Raceway this season, but has not held a checkered flag since May. In fact, the point leader hasn’t stood on the podium since the Cummins 100 at Petty Raceway where he shared it with third place driver in that race Mackinnon, and Cole Butcher.
Butcher is good at Petty Raceway, showing speed every time we are at the track. Butcher best finish at this track is second, coming feet short of a win here last year in this very Parts for Trucks 150 on River Glade International weekend. He has the most to gain out of this, with 21 points between he and Blenkhorn with three races to go.
Donald Chisholm runs second in the point standings, just two points out of the lead. That’s nothing on this series. Two points amounts to one position on track but there is one thing Chisholm does not have compared to the other three in this championship chase - wins, and multiples of them. Blenkhorn, Mackinnon and Butcher each own two series wins in 2015, which is the first tiebreaker for a championship position on this series. Sure, Chisholm could go out and win the next three races and be ahead in that stats category but then he’d probably win the title on points anyway. Chisholm was on the podium in our most recent race, the Atlantic Cat 250, and has a bit of momentum on his side heading into a track where the #89 team should fare well at.
Outside of them, who do you look at to be quick? I’ll point you in the direction of three, and they are the three podium finishers in the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body at Riverside International Speedway. Remember the wild finish we had there and the top three that ended up top at the end, led by the experienced Kent Vincent and the two young guns in DJ Casey and Robbie MacEwen? Kent Vincent won this race back in 2011 and has a grandfather clock from K. Hubley Woodworking and Contracting to show for it in Westmoreland, PE. Casey has two top tens here this season and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got there, and then some, on Saturday night. Robbie MacEwen loves these high banked race tracks and will be his third career Pro Stock type start at the track. MacEwen subbed in for Shawn Pierce a couple seasons ago at this track while he also has one start here in his own car in open competition.
Of note, Vincent has 99 top tens in his career with the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. A top ten finish Saturday would put Vincent in the triple digits for top tens in his career. Only two drivers, Shawn Tucker (123) and John Flemming (110) have more.
Speaking of former champions of this race, Shawn Turple and Jonathan Hicken have both won grandfather clocks from this race and will look to add one more this weekend. Hicken is the defending champion of the race, besting Butcher in a thriller last year. Turple was a top five contender here in June in a caution free affair and will look to bring the #0 car back to the front after a dismal outing at the Atlantic Cat 250.
Craig Slaunwhite was on the podium here in June and was coming to the front in the Atlantic Cat 250, finishing second in that race. I think if you look at a driver holding a hot hand, you need look no deeper than Slaunwhite. Remember though, it’s been two years since he’s been to victory lane and he’s never won at Petty (ten top tens, second all time at the track, but no wins). Both streaks could easily be snapped Saturday night though.
There are a handful of others we haven’t mentioned that will also be good on Saturday. John Flemming is looking to get back to victory lane, Terry Dougay, Joel Hickox and Shawn Pierce continue to show improvement throughout the season, Dylan Gosbee scored his first win here with our series and he is always lightning quick at each stop we make. Sarah McKay scored a heat win here last year and it is great to see Alison MacKinnon’s name on the entry list as well. It will be a barnburner of a show on Saturday!
For those asking about what the skies hold for Saturday, I will tell you this. The last three Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races have been hindered, in some form, by rain or showers. The IWK 250 was halted at Lap 217 for a very brief shower, as was the case at Oyster Bed at Lap 50 of the Lucas Oil 100. We all know how the Atlantic Cat 250 played out, with heavy mist and a light rain taking over for good at Lap 160. Let’s all hope we can get this show in this weekend, because I know a lot that have plans the next two weekends before we head to Riverside International Speedway.
With us on Saturday are the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Tour and the Atlantic Modified Tours, which I’m sure will accompany our brand of short track racing perfectly.
Here’s hoping for a great (and dry) weekend of stock car racing in River Glade!
Until Saturday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track.
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