Tim's Corner Race Preview: Dartmouth Dodge 200
Eleven races at five tracks in three provinces all comes down to this – the Dartmouth Dodge 200 at Scotia Speedworld.
Five drivers will enter the battle at Scotia Speedworld with a shot at winning the championship with about 20 others looking to grab that final checkered flag of the eleventh season on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. The top two in the hunt, Wayne Smith of Timberlea and Shawn Tucker of Fredericton, New Brunswick each enter competition with the best chances of taking the $10,000 check while three others sit back and hope for a falter from Smith or Tucker.
Let’s go through some scenarios for the championships. The biggest one – if Smith finishes second or better, regardless of what Tucker or anyone else does, the championship is his. In this situation, the most Tucker would gain on Smith for winning the race and leading the most laps is 12 points. In essence, everyone behind Smith that wants to put themselves in a position to win the championship must be a contender to stand on the top of the podium after 200 laps at Scotia Speedworld.
Enter John Flemming and Kent Vincent. The two still have a great shot at winning the title for their respective teams. What needs to happen though to get there? Here’s a couple of scenarios to keep in mind, keeping in mind that each point paying position is worth two more points than the next.
John Flemming enters the Dartmouth Dodge 200 just 21 points behind Wayne Smith for the point lead and eight points behind Shawn Tucker for second. Without bonus points for (most) laps led in the event, Flemming would have to finish eleven positions ahead of Smith and four positions ahead of Tucker to win the championship if Flemming was to go to victory lane. I say if, because if not, Tucker would have the tiebreaker on Flemming with his two wins this season over Flemming’s one. On the other hand, Flemming has more second place finishes (three) than any other driver on the Tour this season, meaning he would win a second tiebreaker, if it got past the first tiebreaker. Follow me so far?
If Flemming leads a lap and the other two drivers ahead of him do not, those numbers become eight positions on Smith and two positions on Tucker. Let’s say Flemming leads a lap and leads the most laps and his two nearest rivals do not pace the field during the Dartmouth Dodge 200, those position numbers shrink by two each. For Vincent’s situation, as he is three points back of Flemming, add two positions per numbers listed above to Flemming’s points scenarios. Again, it gets messy when you get into tiebreakers.
Essentially, if you are Flemming and Vincent, you need the #44 to falter and finish around tenth to have the door become open. If you are Darren MacKinnon, who is 37 points behind, you need all kinds of help from the top four to put yourself back in the championship hunt. Impossible? No. Realistic? Long shot.
Now, who will be the one to watch this weekend? You really can’t pinpoint a favorite in this race, seeing that we have had three different winners in the three Scotia Speedworld races this season. In fact, we have had nine different winners in the eleven races so far this season – talk about close competition! Tucker enters with momentum after a win in an open Pro Stock show one week ago while fellow championship contender Kent Vincent won our most recent race at Petty International Raceway. Championship contenders Smith, Flemming and MacKinnon have yet to win at Scotia Speedworld this season and will look to change that this weekend.
Drivers such as Craig Slaunwhite, Mike Stevens, Mike MacKenzie and Marty Prevost are all former winners at Scotia Speedworld but have been held off the win column in 2011. In fact, Jonathan Hicken and Slaunwhite are two of the last three champions of this event and could look to end their 2011 campaign on a high note by rocketing into victory lane here.
NOVA Racing could strike big this weekend with George Koszkulics and Donald Chisholm both expected to wheel race cars for the team. We’ve mentioned here before how bad Chisholm wants to win at Scotia and could do it here coming off a third place run at Petty International Raceway.
Brad Eddy of Lower Sackville is also expected to make his first start on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour this coming weekend. Eddy, a former Hydraulics Plus Bandolero champion at the Speedworld will drive a car with the #13 on the side and will look to get valuable seat time at his home track. Eddy’s racing plans were put on hold early in the season when Tri-County Motor Speedway in North Carolina suspended operations.
Flip a few coins, roll a few dice, whatever works – it’s going to be difficult to pinpoint who will be the driver to watch for the win. One thing is for sure, you will not want to miss this Saturday afternoon’s festivities as it’ll be your last opportunity in the HRM to hear motors roar to life until next Spring! If you are in the area, be sure to check out the racing on Friday night as well, as we will crown champions in four Weekly Racing Series divisions at the Speedworld. Action on Friday kicks off at 7pm and you can get more information on the event, including my preview to the season finale, by going to ScotiaSpeedworld.ca.
Until this weekend, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
FAST FACTS – DARTMOUTH DODGE 200
THE TRACK – Scotia Speedworld, 3/10-mile oval located north of Halifax, Nova Scotia.
THE EVENT – The Dartmouth Dodge 200 is event 12 of 12 on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, wrapping up an incredible 2011 campaign.
HICKEN “HOMECOMING” – This event last season made Jonathan Hicken the only two time winner on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in 2010. It also became the Hicken/White Racing Team’s second win at the Speedworld on the season after Cassius Clark drove the #5 to the win in the Atlantic CAT 250. This season has left Hicken with a goose egg in the win column, something he could change as the defending champion of this event.
LAST WIN IN DD200 – In fact, the Dartmouth Dodge 200 victory may be more of a curse than a blessing. Three of the last four Dartmouth Dodge 200 (Hicken, Slaunwhite and MacKenzie) had their last recorded PFTPST win come in the 200.
ONLY TWO OUT OF TOWNERS HAVE GRABBED LIFE BY THE HORNS: While six different Nova Scotians have won the Dartmouth Dodge 200, only one New Brunswicker (Shawn Tucker) and one Islander (Jonathan Hicken) have won the event.
ONLY TWO TWO TIMES: Only two drivers have won this event twice. John Flemming pulled the feat in 2001 and 2006 while Shawn Tucker took the win in 2005 and 2009.
FLEMMING KNOWS HOW TO CELEBRATE BIG – John Flemming is the only driver to win the Dartmouth Dodge 200 and the championship in the same year, doing so on both occasions he has won the event. Flemming could do the same this Saturday night.
2001 – Not held as a 200 lapper.
2002 – John Flemming
2003 – Scott Fraser
2004 – Gordie Ryan
2005 – Shawn Tucker
2006 – John Flemming
2007 – Mike MacKenzie
2008 – Craig Slaunwhite
2009 – Shawn Tucker
2010 – Jonathan Hicken
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