Smith Rewrites History Book With 2011 PFTPST Crown
Like previous years, our title battle came down to the final laps of the final race of the season. Five drivers entered the Dartmouth Dodge 200 with a shot at the $10,000 payday and the prestigious championship but only one stood tall at the end of the night – and that was Wayne Smith.
Smith started off the season on the right foot by finishing on the podium to defending champion Shawn Tucker and John Flemming at the CARQUEST 100 at Scotia Speedworld. That third place finish was just the start to a string of six consecutive top five finishes which included a win at his new playground of Petty International Raceway.
As strong as the first half of the season was for the #44 Jetco Contracting team, his competition wasn’t too far behind. Tucker had positioned himself to be only 12 points behind Smith after the first six races and when the second half opened at the IWK 250, it opened the door for Tucker to take the lead after Smith’s car developed mechanical problems during the early stages of the race. Like we’ve seen out of many of our teams though, the Oval Outlaw Racing team never gave up, reeling off three top five and five top ten finishes in the last handful of races to lock down Smith’s six major/pro stock regional touring championship and third in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour era.
Those numbers are big. Let’s start with the three Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour titles. We’ve been in existence since 2001, making it eleven years and eleven championships handed out. Smith joins Tucker and Flemming as the only drivers to win multiple titles. In fact, each have three titles with Rollie MacDonald (2005) and Shawn Turple (2009) being the only others to have won a championship on the Tour in its era. While Smith plans on slowing down from full time competition (more on that in a bit), we have no indication that Flemming or Tucker will be doing so, meaning that we could see that three way tie fall in the future.
That sixth title though may very well be a different story. The sixth championship is a tiebreaker for Smith, who was knotted up with Greg Sewart with five prior to the Dartmouth Dodge 200. The question hangs, does any current driver have what it takes to get to that point? I had discussed this over the campfire on the Saturday night following the 200 with friends and have been asked since the race and when looking at it, it may just be one of those numbers that may never be topped, at least in our lifetime.
Keep in mind, in order to break the record now, you would need seven championships. Flemming and Tucker have three each while Turple has one when it comes to current, active drivers on the Tour. A quick glance at Flemming will show that it took him a span of five years (2002 to 2006) to win his three titles while it took Tucker seven seasons (2004 to 2010) to pull the feat. On the other hand, it took Smith 18 seasons from the time he won his first title in 1994 to this season to capture the six crowns with his first four coming within eight years. We could also see a guy like Turple, Craig Slaunwhite, Darren MacKinnon or maybe even an upcoming driver we haven’t seen full time in a Pro Stock like Russell Smith Jr or Colby Smith begin to reel off multiple championships but getting up to that six pack held by the #44 team will be easier said than done.
I mentioned a few paragraphs back about Smith slowing down from full time competition. After the Dartmouth Dodge 200, when asked what was next, Smith had said the race he had just run would be his last as a full-time pilot. “I’m going to retire,” Smith said in victory lane. “We’re going to run the big races but this is it for being a full time driver.” Smith, along with Brett Benoit and Craig McFetridge taking on the role as owners at Petty International Raceway this past season, Smith will have a full plate even with not being at the helm of his race car full time.
This piece is being written on the heels of Petty’s fall final last Sunday in which Flemming went to victory over Kent Vincent and Dave O’Blenis and I can tell you first hand that the staff and crew of Petty did a great job putting on the event. With well over 100 teams and crews in the pit area, the day went off without a hitch and the hospitality shown by Smith, Benoit and McFetridge was as good as I’ve felt at any other track I’ve visited. Like they have been on the track with the #44 team, the crew at Petty are champions off the track and behind the scenes when it comes to producing fantastic racing – way to go guys!
I’ll close with this; dictionary.com defines champion as “a person who has defeated all opponents in a competition or series of competitions, so as to hold first place.” A champion is also someone who embraces and represents our sport to the highest degree, an ambassador if you will. Though all of our guys fit the second half of the bill, Smith was the one who obtained more points through the twelve races than any other to secure the crown. Enjoy the celebration in Prince Edward Island in November!
As we near closer to that banquet date on November 26th, we will take a look back at the season that was on the Tour. Here’s a bit of trivia for you, though Smith had the point lead after six races this season, who amassed the most points in the second half of the season and how many more points did he score over the second best in the final six events? Find out the answer to that question and more as we near closer to the celebration of the 2011 season at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown on November 26th.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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