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Issue 212

Race Preview: Parts for Trucks 150 at Petty Raceway

After two weeks off, we’re ready to hit the ground running on 2017.

Our season is short as it is and that is put into perspective in the next four weeks as we run back to back events. The “Spring Stretch” we’ll call it will take us to four different race tracks in four weeks in two Maritime provinces and will ultimately take us into the month of July.

This is the longest consecutive grind of the season with the next longest string of races being in back-to-back weekends. As we’ve seen in the past, you cannot win the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour championship in this block of races but you can certainly dig yourself a hole in the standings.

Before we look forward, let’s look back two weeks to the first event of the season, the Lucas Oil 150 at Scotia Speedworld.

Shawn Turple fired out of the box strong after continuing his string of strong finishes last year. Cole Butcher rallied from the back in a spirited run to second place as did Dylan Gosbee to his fourth place finish. Dylan Blenkhorn, who is still struggling with his flat track program with his VanDoorn chassis, finished in third while Jarrett Butcher had a chance at third at the end but slipped to fifth at the checkered flag and was the top Exide Batteries Rookie in the race. His combatants Robbie MacEwen and Nicholas Naugle both had strong runs and both finished in the top 11.

So, who do we watch at Petty Raceway on Saturday as favorites to win? I don’t think we have to stray far from our top three in Halifax.

Dylan Blenkhorn is the defending winner of this race, albeit it is a 150-lap race this year as opposed to 100. Cole Butcher won the second race here last year, which was a 150-lap feature run on a hot sunny Sunday, was the runner up last June and was third in the International weekend. While Shawn Turple’s record might not be as stellar compared to the two “youngsters,” he does have two top six finishes here in 2016.

Craig Slaunwhite is the most recent winner at Petty International Raceway in Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour competition, taking the Cummins 150 last August. Robbie MacEwen ran really well in this race, recording a fourth place finish and might have the slight edge on paper in the rookie battle at the track over Jarrett Butcher, who scored a ninth place run in the first race at Petty Raceway in 2016. If we see a first time winner at Petty on Saturday night, it may be MacEwen.

Of note, Dylan Gosbee’s only Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour win came at Petty Raceway and has momentum off a win on May 28th at Speedway 660. The #91 team definitely has momentum on its side heading into Saturday. Believe in luck? If so, check this out. Gosbee’s three finishes at Petty last year? All seventh place runs. Three sevens. Can Gosbee hit the jackpot this weekend?!

I think the driver we will have to watch is Darren MacKinnon. MacKinnon is the only driver in 2016, outside of Butcher’s three podium runs, to record three top five finishes at Petty Raceway in the three races contested on the high banked oval. MacKinnon has a second, a fourth and a fifth for an average finish of just over fourth place. I wouldn’t bet against the #18 car gracing the podium for the first time in 2017 on Saturday night.

Either way, this Saturday night’s race should be a pretty exciting way to kick off this stretch. We have four unique tracks but the block of races kicks off at two high banked race tracks. While Petty Raceway and Riverside Speedway both have different track characteristics, if a driver can excel at both of these venues, it will give them momentum that could help them heading back to Scotia Speedworld and the bullring that is Speedway 660.

As I said at the top of this thing, you cannot win the championship in this stretch, you can help your cause but you could potentially hurt it as much as you can boost it.

It is a full card of races on Saturday night which will also include Petty Raceway’s Limited Late Model, Street Stock and Mini Stock divisions. If you are a fan of short track stock car racing, you’ll want to be in River Glade on Saturday night. If you are in the area a night early, the track is hosting a Maritime Pro Stock Tour approved test session. If you want to scratch the itch for seeing some cars throw it into the high banks a night before the big dances, be at Petty Raceway from 5pm to dusk.

It will be a great weekend of racing and we hope you can join us as the lights will come up on the kickoff to a pivotal run in our Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour season.

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