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Tim's Corner

ISSUE 220

Wildcard Weekend On The Island

While it’s not officially a “wildcard” race, the Lucas Oil 150 at Oyster Bed Speedway can be almost treated as such.

We only visit the Prince Edward Island track once a year and we haven’t run an extended distance race there since Sterling Marlin visited for a 150-lap race back in August of 2012. Jonathan Hicken won the race that night, with Shawn Turple and Kent Vincent finishing the top three.

With the way the season has gone, it would not surprise me if we had that podium once again.

We have had 27 races at Oyster Bed Speedway in Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour competition since 2001, and between Hicken and Vincent they own five of those victories. Hicken is coming off a top three finish at Petty International Raceway in our last event and both Hicken and Vincent have top tens in our last two events which includes the IWK 250. The experience and momentum could make these two favorites.

Turple headlines a group that could ultimately win their first race at Oyster Bed Speedway. The last track Turple has yet to win at in Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour competition is the Island track. Craig Slaunwhite and Cole Butcher are two tracks away from winning at all five tracks and Oyster Bed Speedway is one of those two tracks each driver is missing. The three have combined for 12 career top five finishes at the track and both Butcher and Turple were in the top five at the end of last year’s Island stop, with Butcher finishing second and Turple in fifth.

Dylan Gosbee is due for a win and it could easily come Saturday at his home track. Gosbee has had a career season so far, even with the blemish last time out at Petty International Raceway. Remember last year’s Lucas Oil 100 at Oyster Bed when Gosbee finished third after a spirited battle with Cassius Clark? That is what is so great about Oyster Bed Speedway; it provides us with some great short track racing that could lead to some tempers spilling over if the wrong slip of a wheel is made.

The Island drivers love racing at home and love trying to defend their home turf. Drivers from Prince Edward Island have won 12 of the 27 Pro Stock Tour races at their home track with 15 drivers coming from off-Island to steal the winner’s trophy. When you look at the field, it should be about split with Island drivers and “come from aways,” and the Island field will be stacked.

Chris Hughes is the most successful driver to never win a race on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour and also holds that distinction at his home track in Pro Stock Tour competition. Even his four podiums, eight top fives and 15 top tens tops Turple’s record at Oyster Bed Bridge. Hughes is coming off a couple of rough outings but hopefully with a little luck and home cooking we’ll see the #52 up front again.

In addition to our regular Island contingent, Troy Burke will be joining us. Troy has made the move from the Street Stock class to the Late Model division at Oyster Bed Speedway and will have former Tour regular Kris Fournier on top of the box. He’ll make his first Pro Stock start with us, making him the ninth driver to make his Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour debut in 2017.

We’ll see some teams make their Island debut. In addition to Nicholas Naugle, Jarrett Butcher and Stevie Lively making their first Pro Stock Tour starts at the track as they battle for the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year Award, Mike Rodgers and Josh Collins will also make their maiden voyages across the Confederation Bridge or Northumberland Ferries with their Pro Stocks.

So we’ve chatted about some drivers who could get their first win at the track on Saturday, what about drivers who have won there before? We mentioned Hicken has three wins and Vincent has two but also joining them Saturday will be Greg Proude and his three wins at his home track, Darren MacKinnon with his two victories there and Dylan Blenkhorn who won last year’s race. That’s right, five of the drivers in the field have won at Oyster Bed Speedway before in Tour competition, which is about a quarter of our entry list. That means, in theory, we have a better chance of seeing a first time winner. Keep in mind though, those five drivers account for 11 wins, or 41% of the Pro Stock Tour races contested at Oyster Bed Speedway.

We’ve beat the Blenkhorn and Butcher battle home over the last couple weeks, but it is worth mentioning again. If you are an Island racing fan and you haven’t seen these two race this year, that alone is worth the trip to Oyster Bed.

So, who will win this thing on Saturday night?! Your guess is as good as mine. Could we see an Islander win the race for the first time since Darren MacKinnon in 2015? How about a first time Oyster Bed Speedway winner like Blenkhorn last year? How will our point standings look heading into the Atlantic Cat 250? Oh boy, so many storylines!

If you are on the Island on Friday evening, stop by Princess Auto in Charlottetown as many of our Island drivers will be showing their cars. Thanks to Doug Birt for helping to put this together to promote our show!
The Maritime League of Legends Tour and the Oyster Bed Street Stocks will each run 50 lap features on Saturday as well. These two divisions provide some of the greatest support class racing you’ll see and just adds that much more to our Pro Stock show. It is one of the best three division cards of racing action you’ll see all year, it’s full of excitement from flag to flag to say the least!

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

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