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Three Horse Championship Race With Three To Go

After two races at two very unique race tracks, it seems that we are down to three in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour championship picture with three more rounds to go.

Dylan Blenkhorn, Shawn Turple and Cole Butcher have been consistent all season and collectively own six of the nine race wins on the Tour in 2017. Turple has been the most consistent of the trio in our last two events with a pair of second place runs, while Blenkhorn and Butcher’s worst finishes have been fourth. Butcher has a win over Blenkhorn while the point leader failed to podium at the Atlantic Cat 250 for the first time this season.
Let’s not discount what Greg Proude has done in the last two races. Proude won the Lucas Oil 150 at Oyster Bed Speedway with the trio hot on the bumper of his Dodge and came home fifth in the Atlantic Cat 250. He is making a great case for fourth as he is beginning to inch away from Craig Slaunwhite and Dylan Gosbee, but still sits 66 points off the pace of the top three.

Now, I’m not saying making up 106 points is impossible, it can be mathematically done. Realistically can it be done? If those top three crack under pressure, it could happen. They would have to crack more than once and we really haven’t seen any of the top three do that this year.

You have to feel for Dylan Gosbee and the team. The #91 car has qualified well in the last two races but the handle of the car has gone away on them in both races, making for a long night for Gosbee, his team and their fans. Gosbee is good at these last three tracks, especially at Petty International Raceway so if there is any turn around in this team, I would expect to see it during the Cummins 200.

Oyster Bed Speedway saw an incredible display of racing between Proude, Turple, Butcher and Blenkhorn. The show was definitely one of the best we’ve seen up front in many years at Oyster Bed and everyone that I spoke to after the race enjoyed the Lucas Oil 150. There were also pockets of battles throughout the field, especially from drivers who did not hit the setup and had to come down pit road under caution to adjust, only to storm back through the field.

It was great to see Troy Burke make his Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and the team tells me we may see them in a handful of races in 2018. It was also nice to see Matt Rodgers come to the Island to race with us. It is a different track from what he is accustomed to at Speedway 660 but I think Matt did well considering Oyster Bed is such a unique place. Hopefully we will see Matt and his crew next weekend at the International.
Stevie Lively added his name to the list of drivers to score a top ten with the series with a tenth place run at Oyster Bed Speedway, a track he told me he caught onto quicker than his home track of Scotia Speedworld. Stevie and his team constantly are learning each and every week and are clicking off great finishes for a rookie group when they are on track at the end of the race. Lively trails Jarrett Butcher in the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year battle and while Jarrett has a big lead of nearly 150 points there are still three races to go.

Thanks again to everyone on the Island for their wonderful hospitality once again. Those race fans absolutely love their racing and were treated to a great afternoon at the track. They still have some racing left on the season and they transition their weekly card to Sunday afternoons after the Labour Day weekend. If you are looking for an adventure after a Saturday night Pro Stock race in September, check them out.

Let’s transition to the Atlantic Cat 250, where Cole Butcher was virtually unstoppable.

Even a setback when he tagged an already loose Braden Langille put him to the back, it only took him 40 laps to come from 16th to the lead. It was an impressive performance to watch and it sent a statement that Butcher is not to be taken lightly in this championship battle, even if he is 40 points back. Remember, we head back to Scotia Speedworld once more to close out this season and if the Cole Butcher and the #53 car show up that did last weekend, the field might be in trouble.

The battle for second was excellent to watch late in the race as Cassius Clark and Shawn Turple went back and forth in a side by side battle. These are two veteran drivers with a lot of respect for each other and while there may have been some contact near the end, it is short track racing and the fans got to see a great display of racing for the runner-up spot.

If you are looking for a talent from Nova Scotia to put in a Pro Stock full time, look no further than Russell Smith Jr.

I’ve said earlier in the year, and I still stand by it, that Greg Fahey is probably the best talent not on our Tour full time. He proved it at Speedway 660 this season. Russell Smith Jr is quickly coming to rival that though. After winning a grueling Affordable Fuels Sportsman 150 on Friday, he slid into the window of the Daryl Mahar #66 car for the first time in 2017 and finished an impressive sixth. Smith got the free pass in the second half, put his head down and went to work.

It was a tough break early for our Atlantic Tiltload Pole Challenge driver Robbie MacEwen. After scheduled to start eighth, he took the $500 award and would “send ‘er from the back” only to catch a piece of an early accident.

Nicholas Naugle brought Spongebob and Patrick along for the ride on Sunday afternoon and finished their 250-lap tour of Scotia Speedworld with an 11th place finish. Did you see the battle between he and Jarrett Butcher late in the race though? The two swapped paint, leaned into each other and there was even a heave ho going into a couple corners but there was no wreck between the two some might have anticipated by the way they were running each other. These two are the future of our sport, folks. These two are going to win a lot of races and might even find a couple of championships but for now let’s enjoy the next three races of their rookie season as they look to grow into winning contenders.

We had two drivers make their return to the Maritime Pro Stock Tour in Bobby White and Mike Mackenzie. While Mackenzie subbed in for Harry Ross White and lasted 18 laps, White looked pretty good in the #10 car for not being in the seat for nearly a decade. An incident shortened the front end fibreglass a bit but he would still finish 200 of the 250 laps in the race. Let’s hope the run earned him another start in the car, because the “old guy” that wheeled the #81 for many years can still get it done!

Next week, we’ll preview the Cummins 200 at Petty International Raceway and give a little special attention to the trio battling for the point championship. Keep in mind, all three have won there before!

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