Race Preview: IWK 250 Presented By Steve Lewis Auto Body
Storylines? We got them by the truckload heading into Saturday afternoon, no pun intended!
We are coming out of an off weekend heading into Riverside International Speedway, the site of round 7 of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. The race we are about to embark on though is one of, if not the biggest of the year in the Maritimes. So, who should we watch this weekend in James River? The Tour tells me there are about thirty or so drivers entered this weekend – and each of them could very well turn their dream into reality on Saturday night!
Let’s start at the top with Wayne Smith. The Oval Outlaw from Timberlea is gunning for his second win in this race within the “modern era” after being the winner two years ago. Even though the farthest thing from the mind of driver #44 is points, this event could very well shake up the standings one way or another. This event, like every other on the Pro Stock Tour schedule in 2011, awards the same amount points – first awards 200 points, 23rd awards 156 points with 5 points going to drivers who lead a lap and 5 markers going to the driver who leads the most laps. Though he may not want to talk about points, we are halfway through the season and the banquet in Charlottetown will be here before we know it.
Shawn Tucker is coming off a win at his home track two weeks ago and comes into Riverside with a ton of momentum on his side. Tucker was in command of this race late in the running in 2010 but fell back in the end to third behind Smith and winner Kent Vincent. Tucker enters competition Saturday just twelve points behind Smith. As the only driver with two wins this season, Tucker will look to nail down his third win of the season Saturday, something that no driver has done since the Fredericton native won four races in 2009.
If I was a betting man, I would put my chips down on Donald Chisholm. The home-track driver has won the last two Pro Stock Tour races at Riverside and had one of the fastest cars in last years IWK 250. Chisholm will have two teammates in the race with Marcos Ambrose and George Koszkulics behind the wheel of Nova Racing cars and they will look to sweep the podium at the end of Saturday’s festivities.
Round 7 could be a race to get the season on track for some who have struggled this season. Greg Proude, Mike Stevens and Jonathan Hicken are drivers who sit outside the top ten in points at the halfway mark that won a race in 2010. It’s been a long while since Marty Prevost and Mike MacKenzie visited victory lane and the biggest race of the season could be that opportunity to rekindle old magic. Daryl Mahar and Brad Mann have positioned themselves just inside the top ten and will look to come out of Riverside big winners.
You can’t forget the likes of former Riverside race winners Shawn Turple, John Flemming and Craig Slaunwhite. They know how to get to victory lane at the track, but they have yet to do so in the marquee event. Guys like Darren MacKinnon and defending 250 winner Kent Vincent will also look to etch their name into history by picking up the historic win.
And it’s not just historic in the way that it’s the IWK 250. The Score and Race Time Radio will be broadcasting the feature live-to-air on Sirius Channel 158 starting at 7pm! Joe Chisholm and I will handle the booth duties while Delaware Speedway’s Jamie Maudsley will be on pit road with live action from the “inside of the bowl” at Riverside. This will be the first-ever short track stock car race in Canada to be broadcast live on national radio, to an international audience in Canada and the United States. It’s going to be huge, so if you are not at the track on Saturday – be sure to tune in!
This race has been a turnaround for drivers in recent years. In 2009, Shawn Pierce posted his best finish in this event with an eighth place run. Chris Hughes took his #32 and put it in the top five after 250 laps in 2010. Though Jerome Kehoe already has a podium finish to his credit this season, another top three finish could be huge to the second half of the year for the #98 team. Leonard Boutilier, Brad Brown or Dylan Gosbee would fit this role nicely as well.
Rollie MacDonald is scheduled to make his return to stock car racing this weekend. MacDonald, the 2005 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour titlist has taken some time away from the cockpit while helping the likes of Flemming and Brad Eddy. MacDonald is a fan favorite and will be one to watch this weekend.
The simple answer to all this is that there will be over two dozen drivers contend for the title of IWK 250 champion on Saturday and each and every one of them has a chance at winning it. Who will come out on top? Find out on Saturday night at Riverside!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
**It should be noted that following the Stanley Cup Finals this year that Tim Terry is no longer a “betting man.” Just ask his friend Jana Thompson what happened when his Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games.
FAST FACTS – IWK 250 PRESENTED BY STEVE LEWIS AUTO BODY
Track: Riverside International Speedway; 1/3-mile high banked oval located in James River, Nova Scotia
Last five winners at Riverside: Donald Chisholm (June 18th, 2011), Donald Chisholm (August 14th, 2010), Kent Vincent (July 17th, 2010*), Greg Proude (June 19th, 2010), Shawn Turple (August 22nd, 2009)
*indicates extra distance race (IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body)
Modern Era IWK 250 Winners: Kent Vincent (2010), Wayne Smith (2009), Regan Smith (2008), Mike Rowe (2007)
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