Well, after Saturday night’s Lucas Oil 150, you could say the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour championship is Donald Chisholm’s to lose.
Okay, he is in the point lead, and if he does not end up on top after 200-laps at Scotia Speedworld, by the definition, he would have lost it.
Chisholm went out and dominated the Lucas Oil 150 last weekend, leading 138 of the completed 144 laps. Everyone can “coulda, woulda, shoulda” about what would have happened if Cole Butcher or Cassius Clark had a shot at the #89 on a final restart, but at the end of the day, Chisholm outran the field en route to putting down his first win of 2015.
Not to be overshadowed, his fellow three championship contenders each ended the night in the top five with Butcher second, Dylan Blenkhorn fourth and Darren MacKinnon fifth.
I want to give a tip of the cap to MacKinnon’s team, because it appeared as if they struggled all day long at Riverside but still brought the #18 car home in fifth. He was the only one of the four title contenders to not make the King Freight Dash for Cash and without the benefit of multiple cautions and subsequent restarts to close up the field, MacKinnon had to do all his work under the green to claw his way to fifth place. MacKinnon enters the battle Saturday 27 points back and while he is not mathematically out of this, with three drivers ahead of him he will have a huge hill to climb to get back to the top of the point picture.
Let’s focus on this championship picture for a bit, because that is what everyone is talking about heading into Saturday’s Dartmouth Dodge 200.
Chisholm has a 20 point lead heading into the season finale. For those that do not know our point system, each Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour feature is worth 200 championship points to win, and each position on back decreases two points per position (second receives 198, third receives 196, etc.) all the way back to 26th spot, which receives 150 points. There are also five bonus points on the line for each driver that leads a lap in the main feature and an addition five points for a driver who leads the most laps.
The most points a driver can obtain in a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race is 210, the 200 points for first place plus ten bonus points. If you subtract 20 points from that, you get 190 points, or sixth place points within a race.
In short, if Donald Chisholm does not lead a lap Saturday afternoon, he will win the championship with a top five finish.
If Chisholm ties with any of his three title contenders, he would lose the tiebreaker based on wins. Butcher, Blenkhorn and MacKinnon have each won two main features this season compared to Chisholm’s one win.
Chisholm’s finishes at Scotia Speedworld this season include a fourth at the season opening Lucas Oil 100, a sixth at the Nova Truck Centres 150 and a third place run at the Atlantic Cat 250. That sixth place finish came in a race Butcher won in June, but Chisholm led the most laps in the race for an extra five bonus points. If this weekend’s race finished the way the Nova Truck Centres 150 did, Chisholm would escape with a five point lead and a championship.
Keep in mind, Chisholm has never won a race before at Scotia Speedworld and while he has been consistent this year, his Dartmouth Dodge 200 resume has been less than stellar. His last four finishes in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour season finale include: 10th, 20th, 12th, 21st. You have to go back to 2010 to find a top five finish in the season finale, where he finished second to Jonathan Hicken in the 200-lapper at Scotia Speedworld.
If I am a Chisholm fan and I’m seeing my driver Saturday hanging in the back half of the top ten, while I am probably not comfortable, I wouldn’t panic either. Yes, while Butcher and Blenkhorn won the first two races of the season at their home track, they haven’t lit it up considerably in the future races. Blenkhorn finished fifth here in both June and August while Butcher was eighth here during the Atlantic Cat 250.
Qualifying will be key. If either one of the four championship contenders can grab the pole via the King Freight Dash for Cash and quickly lead a lap off the start, that is five critical bonus points and if they can lead a lot of laps, it’s five extra points. Watch the restarts too, especially if there is a championship contender who hasn’t led to that point, because they will race hard for a shot at those five points to keep themselves in the hunt.
Either way, this is a four horse race that will come down to the wire. We don’t have to look far in the rearview to see what a “comfortable lead” can turn into with 20 laps to go after Jonathan Hicken and John Flemming got close last year at this race.
Speaking of Flemming, he had a respectable run before he broke last week. The team made the Dash for one of the first times this year and was poised for a top five run before Flemming came down pit road for good on Lap 85 at Riverside. If they have this thing turned around, the #97 car could be dangerous when we talk for a threat to win the Dartmouth Dodge 200.
His Dodge brand-mate Greg Proude has been strong all season and while he has been close all season to a win, it has yet to happen. Could this be the night he pulls off a victory? Craig Slaunwhite, the other driver I mentioned as a favourite last weekend, heads into his home track and will be a threat to put the #99 car in victory lane for the second time in three Tour races Saturday.
It will be great to see Brad Eddy back out on track this weekend. Eddy will be in the Mike Mackenzie owned #02 car and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Eddy as a driver that plays into the end of the Dartmouth Dodge 200, like he did last year by running up front. I honestly believe that if he continues the way he ran earlier in the season here that Daryl Mahar will be a threat for the win. Mahar ran up in the top five in June before contact took him out of contention and ran a majority of the 160-laps of the Atlantic Cat 250 in the top five before falling to fourth when the rain fell.
The closest driver to a top ten at this track this year has been Sarah McKay. McKay has finished 11th in the last two races at Scotia Speedworld but has yet to score her first top ten at this track. McKay has continued to improve all season and this could be the race she becomes the first female in series history to place in the top ten at a Pro Stock Tour race at Scotia Speedworld.
DJ Casey will roll into his home track after clinching the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year Award. Casey, after destroying his primary car at Petty Raceway in August, drove the Oval Outlaw Racing team car last weekend at Riverside Speedway. As of press time, no indications have been made as to what DJ will be driving on Saturday night but you best believe Casey will be trying to drive it to the front to close off his incredible rookie season.
It is going to be an incredible way to close off the season, and we hope you can be there to take it all in. Dartmouth Dodge is hosting a Meet n Greet in Dartmouth from 11am to 1pm on Friday, while the Weekly Racing Series takes the spotlight that evening at the Speedworld. The Chickenburger Thunder cars will contest their finale, with Dave Matthews trailing the Warren brothers in the standings by just two points. The Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman will have a 50-lap feature on the undercard for Saturday’s Pro Stock Tour Dartmouth Dodge 200 finale.
Until this weekend, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track.
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