Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Results – “All In the Family”
You voted – we listened!
Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing results for the Tim’s Corner Motorsports Best of Maritime Awards. Fans voted through three rounds on nine different categories, with the nominees for the TCM Power Performer of the Year to be announced later this month.
A panel of three had an influence in the TCM Breakout Performer of the Year and the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Awards, while twenty judges narrowed the 2015 Finish Line Vinyl Design Best Looking Car Award to five cars. Fan voted categories included Favorite Tracks (Weekly, Monthly, Special Event) and Touring Series, Favorite Staple Race Track Food and the prestigious TCM Most Popular Driver Award.
SCORING EXPLANATION – TCM Breakout Performer of the Year/Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award
Each of the three panelists, who have been to the race tracks, seen the racers and have read/heard plenty about them, was given the list of ten nominees and a brief list of each of their accomplishments. They were asked to rank their favorite five. Their top picks each received five points, second pick received four points, third received three, fourth got two points and their last pick got one point.
The fan vote winner was awarded five points, with each of the top five in the fan vote receiving the same point scoring as if the fans were a panelist.
Simply put, each “panelist” carried 25% weight in determining the winner of these two awards. Drivers could score five points from each, meaning a perfect score would be 20 points.
Ties are broken by the amount of ballots a driver appears on, followed by the amount of top votes they received. Should drivers still be tied following that, the panel will come together to determine a winner.
Photos by McCarthy Photographic unless otherwise indicated
MISSING THE TOP FIVE
#12 Sam Rogers – Practically coming out of nowhere in 2015, Sam Rogers stormed the scene at Scotia Speedworld to pick up one feature win and six consecutive podium finishes in the Bandolero Bandit division en route to third overall in the standings. The driver from Lower Onslow, Nova Scotia also hit the road to take part in races at Petty Raceway in 2015. With a hot hand in his first season, expect to hear a lot of noise out of Rogers in 2016.
#48 Mark LeClair – After some big wins in the Street Stock division at Oyster Bed Speedway, Mark LeClair moved up to the top bill Late Model division in 2015. Not only did he win the Rookie of the Year honors in the division, he was in championship contention all the way to the end of the season. LeClair posted two feature wins in his freshman year.
#67 Joey Rudderham – Like LeClair, Rudderham moved up from a successful Street Stock career to run a Late Model in 2015. Rudderham competed on the NAPA Sportsman Series, keeping his #67 car in the top five overall in the standings for a majority of the season and keeping control of the Rookie of the Year standings in the series between Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway and Riverside International Speedway.
#85 Ken MacKenzie Jr – The 2014 Street Stock champion at Petty Raceway began the season balancing a championship defense in his Street Stock along with a full season in a Late Model Sportsman. When the dust settled, Mackenzie won the Rookie of the Year Award in the Sportsman class at his home track, was in the hunt for the overall championship and also competed in the New Brunswick Short Track Challenge. The team purchased a new to them car for the 2016 season and Mackenzie will continue on building on a successful rookie campaign.
#91 Braxton Stafford – From straight line to left turns, Braxton Stafford did not miss a beat in 2015. Stafford made the big jump to a Late Model Sportsman this past season, his first foray into stock car racing and did not look out of place. Stafford scored a big win mid-season at Speedway 660 and turned more heads as the season wore on. The Blackville, NB driver will be one to keep your eye on as he makes laps in 2016.
5th – #94 DJ Casey – 6 Points
DJ Casey lived out a dream by competing on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in 2015 and proved that he belonged racing with the big stars in the region’s biggest stock car touring series.
While Casey excelled everywhere the series went, the rookie really shined on the high banked ovals. His season was highlighted with a runner-up finish in the IWK 250 to series veteran Kent Vincent after leading laps late in the event.
Even after an August wreck at Petty Raceway destroyed his primary car, Casey did not miss a beat. In a borrowed car from Oval Outlaw Racing, he kept digging en route to the Rookie of the Year Award on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.
Casey received a top vote from one of the panelists and was a narrow miss on the fan ballot, finishing only six votes out of fourth place.
4th – #74 Alexandra O’Blenis – 7 Points
Photo by Michelle Roy/Speedway 660
Last year’s winner of the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award stepped up again this year to the Pro Stock class and while she fell short of a repeat, she put up a more than respectable performance in his first full Pro Stock season.
While juggling a full schedule of Sportsman and Pro Stock racing at Speedway 660 may phase some veteran drivers, it did not shake the older of the two O’Blenis sisters. O’Blenis finished all but one feature race in the top ten and gained the respect of her fellow competitors en route to a seventh place run in the overall standings in her maiden Pro Stock season. The showing was enough to gain her the Rookie of the Year in the class over her two peers competing for the title.
Oh, and don’t forget, in her first 250-lap show, she quietly went about her business and at the end of the night she brought her car home in 11th during the Irving Blending & Packaging 250 at Speedway 660.
In addition, O’Blenis also made two Pro Stock starts at Petty International Raceway to bookend the season at the River Glade, NB track.
O’Blenis gained a third place vote from the fans while also getting a second place nod from one of the panelists to garner seven points in this year’s Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year scoring.
3rd – #1 Ryan Messer – 10 Points
Photo by Michelle Roy/Speedway 660
Ryan Messer may be one of the most underrated young drivers in Atlantic Canada right now.
The former Bandolero and Atlantic Modified Tour titlist made the move to a full bodied Late Model this season, tackling the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division at Speedway 660 in 2015. He caught on quickly to the race car, with his first podium finish coming in his sixth start on July 4th. That second place run came two weeks following a roll over on the back straight after Messer had been fighting for the lead in only his fourth start of the season.
In fact, following the June 20th tumble, Messer went about his business and finished no worse than sixth from that point onto the end of the point season. Messer climbed to fourth when the point season finished in August and capped the year off with a checkered flag on the Night of Champions.
Messer’s name appeared on three final ballots, including a first place vote from one of the panelists and runner-up in the Fan Vote.
2nd – #08 Cory Hall – 13 Points
Just a few short seasons ago, nobody knew the name Cory Hall.
After lighting up the Bandolero division, Hall made the jump to Legend cars in 2015 and enjoyed success right out of the box. After a head turning run at INEX Winter Nationals and a win at Concord Speedway, he returned home for his first start of the Maritime season – and won that too. In fact, after taking the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Tour victory at Scotia Speedworld in May on a last lap pass after running the leader down by a straightaway, he followed it up by taking a win at the Scotia Speedworld Weekly Legends opener in June.
Hall would hop across the Confederation Bridge from his Jolicure, NB home in August to win the return of the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Tour at Oyster Bed Speedway.
Hall battled with Jarrett Butcher all the way down to the final race of the season at Scotia Speedworld for the Weekly Championship, ultimately being edged out by five points.
Hall was one of only two drivers to appear on all four ballots for the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award, which included one top vote from one of the panelists and a fourth place in the Fan Vote ballot.
AND THE WINNER IS….
1st – #48 Courtney O’Blenis – 15 Points
Photo by Michelle Roy/Speedway 660
For the second season in a row, the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award is heading to Boundary Creek, New Brunswick.
Courtney O’Blenis made the jump from Bandoleros to Street Stocks in 2015 and began the season on a roll. Her three races in the month of May resulted in a second and third place run at Petty Raceway and a third place finish at Speedway 660.
The team focused on Speedway 660 for the rest of the point season, which was a decision that resulted in finishes no worse than fifth in feature racing. Her final four races resulted in four top two feature finishes, including her first two wins at Speedway 660 in the Street Stock division. Her rally late in the year resulted in a third place finish in the standings, only 24 points out of the championship.
When the point season was over, O’Blenis took on the Shediac Centre for Speed oval in the Atlantic Championships, a race she finished on the podium in the season prior. Not only did O’Blenis finish on the podium this year, she dominated the race, leading wire-to-wire and fending off challengers Craig Ward and Jason Fenton at the end of the race to lock down the biggest race win of her career to this point.
To keep consistent, O’Blenis did not place outside the top three in any of the four panel votes for the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award. Her biggest fan on the panel was, no pun intended, her fans, as she won the Fan Vote ballot by taking 5% more of the vote than Ryan Messer did.
As for 2016, while her plans remain under wraps, the team does have a Sportsman car with Courtney’s name on it. Could we see a repeat in 2016 for the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award? Only time will tell.
Courtney is the third O’Blenis to win a TCM Best of Maritime Racing Award, joining her father Dave (2012 TCM Power Performer of the Year) and her sister Alexandra (2014 KCP Rookie of the Year).
For her victory, O’Blenis will receive a Tim’s Corner Motorsports Awards Banner from Infinite Creative Solutions for her win in the Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year category. The presentation will be made in January at the Speedway 660 Awards Banquet.
Big thanks to Larry Sommerville and Kings County Performance of Sussex, New Brunswick for partnering with the Rookie of the Year Award in 2015, and our panelists whose input was used to bring us to a winner.
FAN VOTE RESULTS
1st – #48 Courtney O’Blenis – 22%
2nd – #1 Ryan Messer – 17%
3rd – #74 Alexandra O’Blenis – 11%
4th – #08 Cory Hall- 10%
5th – #67 Joey Rudderham – 10%
6th – #94 DJ Casey – 10%
7th – #48 Mark LeClair – 7%
8th – #91 Braxton Stafford – 5%
9th – #85 Kenny MacKenzie Jr – 4%
10th – #12 Sam Rogers – 4%