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Tim's Corner
ISSUe 208

Race Preview: Lucas Oil 100 @ Oyster Bed Speedway

The Irving Blending & Packaging 150 at Petty Raceway last week proved to be one of the best races of the season.

I know that’s my opinion, but for those that were there would probably agree. Only four cautions, with the last one occurring prior to the Lap 80 point, leaving us with 70 laps of green to the end of the race. Throughout the race, we saw lots of quality battles, from the front spot with Cole Butcher and Cassius Clark to the Darren MacKinnon and DJ Casey duel to the fight at the end for third featuring MacKinnon, Shawn Turple, Greg Proude, Dylan Gosbee and eventual third place finisher Dylan Blenkhorn. There was action all around the track and while some teams like Nevin Scott, Craig Slaunwhite and Nicholas Naugle suffered early misfortune, you know they will bounce back strong after they were poised throughout the weekend to have a great run in the race.

 Some accomplishments were achieved Saturday night, which will set us up for some drivers to watch at Oyster Bed Speedway but I do want to give a tip of the cap to Matt Rodgers. Rodgers scored his first top ten with the series in his third start, winning the King Freight Line Future Winner Award in the balance. If you are keeping score, Rodgers becomes the 107th different driver to score a top ten finish with the series since 2001 - or over 177 series races. We’ll see Rodgers next with us at the Atlantic Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld, a weekend where he was successful in 2015 in a Late Model Sportsman during the Friday night portion of the weekend.

It’s kind of ironic we go from Petty International Raceway to Oyster Bed Speedway. The two race tracks share some similarities and most times a team that runs well in River Glade will run well at Oyster Bed Bridge and vice versa. Oyster Bed Speedway is tough though, it’s an unforgiving track that is slightly different on one end than the other. The groove is tough to track down on race day and track position is king here. The win list has 14 different names, but only six that have won more than once. Four of those drivers - all Islanders - in Jonathan Hicken, Greg Proude, Kent Vincent and Darren MacKinnon, will look to add one more win to their resume. In fact, Donald Chisholm is the only other former winner on the entry list for Saturday’s race.

If you do the math, with about 20 teams set to take to the track, only a quarter of them know the path to Oyster Bed Speedway victory lane.

If you look at this season, only Chisholm and Proude are former Oyster Bed winners that have won in 2016. Cassius Clark has never seen the track before. Dylan Blenkhorn has had mixed success here with two top tens while last week’s winner Butcher is better than Blenkhorn on paper with one top five and three top tens.

If you are looking for a first time winner, who do you choose at Oyster Bed? Sure, Clark, Blenkhorn and Butcher might be your safe bets, but I like Shawn Turple and Craig Slaunwhite too. Both have shown speed this season while bad luck has also bit them on a couple of occasions in 2016. For Turple, he is looking to do two things on Saturday when it comes to the history books. When it comes to the win column, if he wins on Saturday, he will have won a point paying event at every active Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour venue - joining Shawn Tucker and Wayne Smith as the only other two drivers to do so (Flemming has won an open invitational at Petty Raceway, but never a Tour point paying race).

If Turple finishes in the top ten on Saturday, he will also become the fourth driver in series history to score 100 career top tens behind Tucker (123), Flemming (112) and Vincent (106). Chisholm has a shot at capturing that feat as well, as he sits with 96 top tens, needing four in the next five events in 2016 to get to 100.

Of note as well, Darren MacKinnon is working his way up the ranks when it comes to the history books. With his top five run last weekend, MacKinnon has moved into 10th all time in top five finishes with the series with 32, surpassing Gordie Ryan and Jonathan Hicken who each have 31. Greg Proude and George Koszkulics are next on his march; both are tied for eighth in all time top five finishes with 34 each. A top three finish at his home track on Saturday would tie him for the tenth spot on all time podiums with the series, given that Jonathan Hicken does not score his 19th career podium finish in the Lucas Oil 100.

Watch for Robbie MacEwen to do big things on Saturday night in the Lucas Oil 100. MacEwen was a bullet at the IWK 250 in only his first start of the year. He flew to the front before a flat rear tire sent the #40 car hard into the wall. Josh Morrison and the crew have been working hard over the last couple weeks to get that car back together and I am excited to see where he is after Saturday night. Could MacEwen become the 34th different winner on the series?! Stay tuned.

If last week was any indication, we are in for a great show on Saturday night for the Lucas Oil 100. Also on the card include the Stella Maris Credit Union Street Stocks and the Upper Clements Parks Maritime League of Legends Tour with both divisions doing 50 laps each. This is one of the biggest cards of the season with three big features for the price of one. It’s going to be worth the trip to the Island on Saturday, trust me!

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