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Tim's CornerIssue 211

Race Preview: Lucas Oil 150 @ Scotia Speedworld

If last Saturday was any indication, this weekend’s Lucas Oil 150 will be a barnburner.

With the new testing policy implemented by the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, combined with a beautiful spring day in Halifax, 20 cars showed up for Tech n Tune. With Tech n Tune, you had a lot of teams with completely different agendas. For example, Allison MacKinnon and team broke in the motor and got some laps on the track in their Outriders Cookhouse Chevrolet before loading up and heading back to Oyster Bed Bridge. Chris Hughes, who made his first laps at Scotia Speedworld in seven years, ran on old tires to shake down the #52 Subaru of Moncton Legacy. Some teams opted to throw new tires on their car to try and take the top time for the day.

Twenty teams, twenty different objectives. At the end of the day, it was one of the most well attended pre-season testing sessions at Scotia Speedworld and with a number of big names not present, we should be well over 24 cars when the green flag drops on Saturday afternoon. Keep in mind, DJ Casey, Daryl Mahar, John Flemming, Vance Hanes, Marty Prevost and Nevin Scott did not have cars at the track last Saturday and there is some star power there alone.

We should note too, for those John Flemming fans that keep asking about John’s plans, John is planning on running all the Nova Scotia races with us in 2017. Outside of the Scotia Speedworld and Riverside International Speedway races, he told me he plans on running the PASS 200 at Speedway 660 on June 3rd, a Pro Stock Tour off weekend, to try and lock himself in the Oxford 250 in August. We saw John in contention for the win in the Atlantic Cat 250 last year in a Josh Collins Racing entry and it would not surprise me to see John contend for at least one win in his seven races with us in 2017. Remember, John is only two wins away from tying Wayne Smith’s mark of 25 for most career wins in the Maritime Pro Stock Tour era (2001 to present).

Speaking of statistics, it is really hard to pin point who will be quick from past results. As I’ve told Joe on Race Time Radio the last two weeks, the opener typically goes one way or another. It is either a pile of cautions with drivers trying to keep their cars from sliding around or we have a green to checkered race. Throw in the fact that we have 150 laps which creates more unpredictability. Remember the last time we ran 150 laps at the opener? It was 2013 and it was a wild race to say the least with 17 cautions and a number of drivers running out of fuel because of the excessive caution periods.

Since they like me to talk statistics here, let’s make the people happy. Here are the ten 11 drivers I would watch to take away a win on Saturday evening!

Previous Scotia Speedworld winners entered in the Lucas Oil 150: John Flemming (9), Shawn Turple (5), Craig Slaunwhite (4), Dylan Blenkhorn (4), Cole Butcher (3), Jonathan Hicken (2), Greg Proude (1), Marty Prevost (1).

Most Top Fives at Scotia Speedworld Without a Win (Top Three): Donald Chisholm (18), Kent Vincent (11), Darren MacKinnon (8)

Flemming and Prevost were the only two that were not present at Tech n Tune on Saturday. Flemming had private test time last Friday and Prevost has not been on track yet. Chisholm paced practice of those who had transponders on. Butcher, Turple and Blenkhorn were the top five with Slaunwhite, Hicken and MacKinnon next in line. What do one lap practice times mean over 150 laps? Let’s say we have an 85 lap run, there will be some of those teams falling off. Blenkhorn told me their team was struggling with the same issues they had on the flat tracks last year and while they were relatively quick they might not have a winning long run setup figured out yet.

Proude and his team are working on a new setup with their Dodge and have had rear end issues the first two times out testing this year. Proude has one win at Scotia Speedworld that came in one of those wild season openers and if they get that car figured out, I believe you’ll see him in the top five before the night is over on Saturday.

I’ve got a feeling about Shawn Turple after the way his team finished off 2016 so strong. In his last seven races last year, not counting the Atlantic Cat 250 when Ben Rowe drove the #0 car, Turple’s worst finish was sixth with an average finish of 4.8. His best finish in that stretch was third at the Dartmouth Dodge 200. While Slaunwhite, MacKinnon, and Proude also finished the season strong, they had stumbles throughout that time. Cole Butcher put up six straight podium finishes to end the season which overshadowed Turple’s consistency a bit, but if anyone is to keep up with the youngster in the #53, I think it is the two-time champion in the #0 car.

If you are going “off the board” for a race pick and maybe you’re shooting for a longer shot, how about the #91 team with Dylan Gosbee at the wheel? Gosbee posted third quick time in the session on Saturday and seemed to like his car. Gosbee has yet to win at Scotia Speedworld but statistically is one of his best venues besides his home track of Oyster Bed Speedway and Petty International Raceway. Gosbee likes these longer races and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he scores his fourth career top five at Scotia Speedworld when it is all said and done.

The Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year battle begins on Saturday as well. I remember back to our 2013 Rookie of the Year fight where we had three incredible talents in Dylan Blenkhorn, Cole Butcher and Denver Foran going for the prestigious battery trophy. It was a close battle all year with Blenkhorn taking home the title over the eventual 2016 Series champion.

This year we have four talented drivers going for the top freshman prize. Jarrett Butcher and Nicholas Naugle have both come from the Bandolero and Legend ranks to arrive at the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Robbie MacEwen has run Street Stock and Late Model at Oyster Bed Speedway to come to us from across the Confederation Bridge. Stevie Lively is the reigning Toursec Thunder champion at Scotia Speedworld. All four have won championships in their disciplines in racing, with three winning multiple track championships. You’d have to give Butcher or Naugle the advantage in the Lucas Oil 150 with their experience in a big car and their knowledge of Scotia Speedworld but again, this opener can be wild, so don’t count out MacEwen or Lively. Lively, along with Matt Moore, will be making their Pro Stock debuts on Saturday afternoon.

Either way, it will be quite the battle on Saturday afternoon at Scotia Speedworld. Joining us on the card is the Atlantic Tiltload 50 for the Maritime League of Legends Tour. Sunday is the CARSTAR Weekly Racing Series opener at Scotia Speedworld. If you are coming to Halifax this weekend, there is lots of racing action happening and I hope you can drop in and experience it live!

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

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