Race Preview - Atlantic CAT 250
It is here again! The second leg of the Triple Crown series will go green on Saturday night as 250-laps around the tight 3/10-mile Scotia Speedworld is on tap. The eleventh running of the Atlantic CAT 250 is shaping up to be one of the best the Halifax area track has seen in a long while with twenty-six of the best drivers in the North East set to duel it out for a cool $10,000. The best Sportsman drivers in the region will be in attendance for their 100-lap event, the longest in the Speedworld season for the top Weekly division at the racetrack. For who will be the ones to watch in that event, check out my preview at ScotiaSpeedworld.ca. For now though, let us take a look at the drivers that will attempt to make up the Atlantic CAT 250 field!
The event will once again have an international flair to it as Ben Rowe and Cassius Clark are ready to duel it out against the best in the Maritimes! Rowe already has two Atlantic CAT 250 wins in his back pocket and would like nothing more than to become the first three-time winner of the event. The Turner, Maine driver will pilot a car prepared out of the Truro based Steve Henderson shop and will be a teammate to ’09 Pro Stock Tour titlist and current point leader Shawn Turple. The last time the Tour was at Scotia it was Turple pulling off the victory and with six different winners in six Tour races so far Turple will not only look to be the first two time winner of 2010 but will look to score his first Triple Crown triumph!
Cassius Clark will be pinch hitting this weekend for Brudenell, Prince Edward Island’s Jonathan Hicken. Hicken will be stepping in at a wedding this weekend so the former Forbes 200 winner from Farmington, Maine will be stepping into the #5 Chapman Brothers Construction/CASTLE Building Centers Chevrolet Impala. The Hicken/White Racing team is one of three Island based cars to win on the Tour this season – the other two bring Springvale, PEI’s Greg Proude and Crapaud, PEI’s Kent Vincent. The Island boys will be strong this weekend with the likes of former AOW champ Lowell Affleck (Summerside), Darren MacKinnon (Sleepy Hollow) and Chris Hughes (Brackley Beach) looking to take crown jewel two home to the “Gentle Island.”
The two Canadian drivers that can call themselves Atlantic CAT 250 winners will also be looking to snatch number two away this Saturday. John Flemming of Halifax took the first CAT 250 back in 2000 while Saint John, New Brunswick’s Lonnie Sommerville captured his win in last season’s edition of the event. Sommerville also has a win on the 2010 CARQUEST Tour to his credit, winning at his home track of Speedway 660 two weekends ago. Wayne Smith is a former IWK 250 winner and would like nothing more than to follow up his Lucas Oil 100 victory with a trip to the winner’s circle at his home venue. Smith admitted last week that it is a crapshoot heading into an event such as a 250-lap event. “There’s so many things that could go on and change during a race like that. We just have to hope for the best!”
When it comes to extra distance events, Shawn Tucker and Craig Slaunwhite may be two drivers that cash in the $10k at the end of 250 laps on Saturday. Both have won the Parts for Trucks 200 at the Speedworld in the past and both are Peterbilt 250 champs. After winning four events last season, Fredericton, New Brunswick’s Tucker has yet to parade the checkers this season but could easily do so this weekend. Terence Bay’s Slaunwhite will look to bring the checkers home for the #99 Halifax Glass and Mirror/Archibald Drilling and Blasting/Howard Little Excavating team this weekend at a track where he has seen lots of success in the Sportsman division! Mike Stevens (Salisbury, NB) and Donald Chisholm (Antigonish, NS) completed the podium at last year’s Parts for Trucks 200 and will look to step up to the top of that ladder this weekend.
The second place driver from the 2009 Atlantic CAT 250 will lead a contingent of Speedway 660 drivers to the Speedworld this weekend. Boundary Creek’s Dave O’Blenis came so close one year ago to winning the CAT 250 but had to settle for second. The former Peterbilt 250 winner will see competition from fellow New Brunswickers the likes of Brent Wiggins (Fredericton), Jason Carnahan (Stilesville) and Matt Harris (Fredericton Junction).
The EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Year award standings have been hot this season with The Pride of Cape Breton currently leading the way. Sydney’s Jerome Kehoe leads Dutch Settlement’s Leonard Boutilier by twenty markers heading into Leonard’s home turf. Brad Brown of Halifax is also set to make an appearance aboard his #9 Brown Ventilation Pontiac as he races on in his freshman season!
The last time we visited Scotia Speedworld veteran driver Mike MacKenzie from Montague Mines found the podium in his #75 Chebucto Ford/R&R Kinsman Auto Salvage Ford Fusion. Mackenzie will look to hoist the big trophy at his home track over drivers the likes of Marty Prevost (Fall River), Daryl Mahar (Hubley), David Heino (Barrington), Shawn Pierce (Blockhouse), Roger Miller (Kennetcook), Dan MacKay (Halifax) and Pete Miller (Kennetcook) – all of whom will have the same agenda come Saturday night!
So who will it be raising the big trophy as the winner of the Atlantic CAT 250 this Saturday night? The only way to find out is to be there! The action begins Friday night with the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials followed by Dartmouth Dodge Qualifying. The Maritime Motorsport Hall of Fame Driver Auction will precede the Trackside Party, which will raise funds for the MMHoF based in Petitcodiac, New Brunswick. Then it is features only on Saturday with the Sportsman 100 rolling at 5pm followed by the Atlantic CAT 250 at approximately 7pm! It’s all here at Scotia Speedworld.
Until Friday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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