Race Preview - Lucas Oil 100
With the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body about a month in the rearview of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour drivers, the Lucas Oil 100 is expected to pick up where the marquee event left off.
Two events have transpired since we saw Darren MacKinnon edge John Flemming for the IWK 250 trophy. The heartbreaking second place finish for Flemming may have came as a blessing in disguise as the #97 sponsored by The Roofing Connection ended up reeling off two more top two finishes – including a win the next week in the Air Show Atlantic 100. MacKinnon has also been on a roll as well with two top five finishes (a third and a fourth) since the IWK 250 where he finished second. These two are also battling for third in the standings with MacKinnon having the edge on Flemming by four points heading into Riverside.
One small misstep by the top two though could make that third place battle a first place one. Nine points is now the gap between new leader Wayne Smith and second place Shawn Tucker. Tucker and Smith are former winners at Riverside and while Tucker finished third here in the IWK 250, Smith and team had mechanical problems with his #44 car in the race, which resulted in a finish not indicative of how his car ran during the event. The gap from first place Smith to third place MacKinnon is just 23 points – which means an average of eight points gained in the next three races would put MacKinnon over the top of Smith. With each main feature position being worth two points more than the next and with leading a lap or leading the most laps gaining a driver five extra points, that 23 point gap with three to go can be obtained with three good runs.
Okay, now you may ask who will be the ones to watch when we look at taking the checkered flag in the Lucas Oil 100. Good question. As we’ve seen before, you could realistically see anyone in the field take the checkered flag first with the competition we have had on the Tour. MacKinnon and Tucker are the only two drivers to win twice this season with one of those wins for the #18 coming here at Riverside. Donald Chisholm is the defending race winner of the August Riverside event and he was the winner earlier in the season when the Tour visited for the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 100.
A list of former Riverside race winners and veterans will also look to bust into victory lane this week. Former IWK 250 winner Kent Vincent, August winners Craig Slaunwhite and Shawn Turple, Jonathan Hicken, Marty Prevost, Mike Stevens and Greg Proude are hungry to hold that checkered flag at the end of 100-laps at Riverside. The last time we were at a high banked track, it was Hicken making one of the more difficult charges I have seen in a while to finish second in the Air Show Atlantic 100. Mike MacKenzie and George Koszkulics are two veterans that could very well end up at the top of the leaderboard on Saturday night. MacKenzie is coming off a strong top five finish last Saturday while Koszkulics was the highest finishing NOVA Racing entry in the IWK 250 where he finished fourth.
When I talked to Brad Mann during last weeks Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman 100 at Scotia Speedworld, the veteran from Glen Levit, New Brunswick seemed rejuvenated and excited about the upcoming races. The team had just signed Canadian Tire Campbellton to a deal which will see their logo on the hood of the #35 car and will also see the team outfitted in Canadian Tire gear. Watch for Brad, who sits ninth in points after nine races to duke it out with the “youngens” this weekend at Riverside.
Fan favorites Daryl Mahar, Shawn Pierce, Leonard Boutilier, Jerome Kehoe, Brad Brown and David Heino among others are expected to attack the track this weekend in pursuit of a checkered flag at the end of the Lucas Oil 100. Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials are set to begin at 5:10pm on Saturday with qualifying slated to begin at 6pm. The NAPA Sportsman Tour will also be on hand for a 50-lap feature prior to the Lucas Oil 100. Frankie Fraser comes off two consecutive wins in Sportsman competition, one last weekend at the Dartmouth Dodge 100 at the Speedworld and the last NAPA Tour race at Petty International Raceway. Over two dozen Sportsman drivers are expected to look for the checkers this Saturday night.
FAST FACTS – LUCAS OIL 100
Track: Riverside International Speedway; 1/3-mile high banked oval located in James River, Nova Scotia
Last five winners at Riverside: Darren MacKinnon (July 23rd, 2011*), Donald Chisholm (June 18th, 2011), Donald Chisholm (August 14th, 2010), Kent Vincent (July 17th, 2010*), Greg Proude (June 19th, 2010)
*indicates extra distance race (IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body)
Big Mo’ Heading into the High Banks: Darren MacKinnon has a four race streak going of Top Five finishes while John Flemming has not finished outside the top two in the last three races. Point leader Wayne Smith also has two consecutive races finishing in the top five.
Two Times at Riverside: In the final annual appearance for the Pro Stock Tour in James River, we’ve only had two drivers win in this event twice. Wayne Smith is the only one to do it back-to-back with wins in 2006 and 2007 while George Koszkulics pulled two wins in this event back in 2001 and 2003.
Home Province Win: Only once has the trophy from the final stop at Riverside left the province of Nova Scotia. That happened in 2004 when Shawn Tucker took the trophy home to Fredericton. Former Fall Winners at Riverside:
2010: Donald Chisholm
2009: Shawn Turple
2008: Craig Slaunwhite*
2007: Wayne Smith
2006: Wayne Smith
2005: Rollie MacDonald
2004: Shawn Tucker
2003: George Koszkulics
2002: John Flemming
2001: George Koszkulics
*Race was shortened to 77 laps due to rain.
Facts courtesy of www.thethirdturn.com
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