2015 TCM Power Performer of the Year Finalists Announced
Tens of thousands of laps have been run in the four Atlantic Canadian provinces this season with hundreds of drivers looking for the coveted checkered flag.
In our search to crown the 2015 TCM Power Performer of the Year, our panel has narrowed the list from the dozens who picked up feature wins this season on various tracks in the region to ten.
This award is based on a driver’s accomplishments throughout the season and the list below has some pretty big race wins and championships represented on it. Of the ten drivers on the list, 48 feature wins and eight 2015 championships (by our count) throughout Atlantic Canada are represented.
One driver will receive the fourth annual TCM Power Performer of the Year, and he will be announced in December on TimsCorner.ca as a part of our Year in Review.
Here is the list of ten, listed in alphabetical order.
Dylan Blenkhorn – Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour – Three Feature Wins
Dylan Blenkhorn backed up his breakout year in 2014 with a three feature win season in 2015.
Blenkhorn came out of the box hot, winning the first two races of the season on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour at Scotia Speedworld and Petty International Raceway. While his third win did not come until September at the Dartmouth Dodge 200 season finale, by no means was Blenkhorn quiet in the middle portion of the year.
The #67 car was in the thick of the championship hunt on the series all season long and was a favorite to finally shake the monkey off his back at Riverside International Speedway. After a wreck in the Dash for Cash, Blenkhorn was poised to go to victory lane in the IWK 250 in the late laps before a crash took him out of contention while up front within the final 30 laps of the race.
While a podium finish at the Mike Stevens Memorial at Petty Raceway closed off the season, it was the battle at the Dartmouth Dodge 200 between he and Cole Butcher many will be talking about for years. The two battled side-by-side for over 180 laps with Blenkhorn getting the edge on Butcher at the checkered flag.
Blenkhorn’s accomplishments also include a podium run in the Legends feature at Eastbound Park (NL) during the Edward Collins Contracting 125 event in August.
Jarrett Butcher – Scotia Speedworld/Atlantic Tiltload League of Legends – Legends – Four Feature Wins, Two Championships
In his first full-time season in a Legend car, Jarrett Butcher quickly rose to the top of the division within the region.
After a slow start, Butcher found himself in victory lane for the first time on the season at Riverside International Speedway during the IWK 250 weekend. The Brycon Construction 50 was the first of two wins for Butcher at the famed high banked race track, sweeping both races for the Legend cars at Riverside which also included a win in August during the Cummins 50.
Butcher also won the Scotia Tire 50 at Scotia Speedworld en route to the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Tour championship.
Butcher also won the Scotia Speedworld Strictly Hydraulics Legends championship in 2015. The season was highlighted by one win in July to go with an impressive string of consistent finishes at the front of the field every Friday night.
Cassius Clark – Open Competition – Pro Stock – Atlantic Cat 250, Irving Blending & Packaging 250 Champion
With his record in the Maritimes this year, Farmington, Maine’s Cassius Clark has earned his spot as a finalist in the TCM Power Performer of the Year for the second time.
Much like the last time he was here in 2012, Clark was the winner of the Irving Blending & Packaging 250 at Speedway 660 on the heels of a weather plagued Atlantic Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld. Clark dominated both events, which included a record breaking $30,000+ payday in the Geary woods as the winner of the Irving Blending & Packaging 250.
In four other appearances in Atlantic Canada with the Pictou, Nova Scotia based King Racing team, Clark was on the podium thrice. Those finishes included a runner-up performance at Speedway 660’s McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150, a third place at the Lucas Oil 150 at Riverside Speedway and a third place finish after leading many laps at the Atlantic Championships at Shediac’s Centre for Speed.
Laurie Cormier – Petty International Raceway – Sportsman – Three Major Feature Wins
While Laurie Cormier had a late start to 2015, he quickly made up for lost time.
Cormier made his season debut at Petty Raceway during the August running of the Caleb Dunn Memorial 100. While it appeared Cormier would be well on his way to scoring his first major win of the season after leading the first 20 laps from the pole, a mechanical failure forced the #53 to the sidelines.
He made up for the August 2nd event quickly by running the table at Petty Raceway to close the season, winning the Jones Auto Body International in August, the Mike Stevens Memorial in September and a non-point event in October.
With three major Sportsman wins at the end of the season, Cormier sure turned heads in the late months of the season, enough for his first TCM Power Performer of the Year finalist nomination.
Harley Cornish – Oyster Bed Speedway – Mini Stock – Six Feature Wins (18 Total Wins), Mini Stock Champion
Harley Cornish put his name on the map with his 2015 season at Oyster Bed Speedway.
Cornish pulled a feat that Jason Baglole did in 2014, winning 18 races at the Island oval, including six features. Cornish was able to dodge bad luck and post race technical inspection though, as he would go on to win the Mini Stock division championship in Oyster Bed Bridge. Cornish also took part in two major Mini Stock races in New Brunswick at the end of the season.
Whatever way you slice it, the 18 win total is hard to ignore when looking at finalists for the Power Performer of the Year.
Dave Matthews – Scotia Speedworld/Open Competition – Mini Stock – Six Feature Wins
Over the last few years, Dave Matthews has established himself as one of the best Four Cylinder drivers in the region, but he made a strong case this year to be a part of the TCM Power Performer of the Year finalists.
Matthews fell short of the Scotia Speedworld championship by two points but it was not for lack of trying. Matthews took four wins on the Speedworld season, including the extended lap Thunder 50 in July.
It was his post season performances that really grabbed the attention of onlookers. Matthews led the most laps in the Atlantic Championships for Mini Stocks at the CENTRE For Speed before a controversial restart with ten to go relegated Matthews to second place. The next week, Matthews would go onto Petty Raceway and win their 50-lap season finale. Matthews completed his season by winning the biggest paying Mini Stock race in the region, taking both ends of the Ramsay’s Honda Twin 50s at Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway.
In total, he took six wins on the season, three of which were extended features at three different tracks against some of the top talent in the region.
Rob Raynes – Speedway 660 – Street Stock – Four Feature Wins, Track Championship
When it comes to a Power Performer at Speedway 660, Rob Raynes certainly fits the bill.
Raynes took home the DMR Auto Sales and Service Street Stock championship in 2015 after falling short by single digit point totals in the last two seasons. Within the point season, Raynes and the #41 team took three feature victories and finished the year off on Speedweekend with another visit to victory lane. Considering the competition within the class, it makes the stats line Raynes has even more impressive.
In total, Raynes never finished off the podium in a Street Stock feature at Speedway 660 in 2015 and completed every single lap of feature competition. Talk about a tough guy to beat!
Russell Smith Jr – Scotia Speedworld/Riverside Speedway – Sportsman – Six Feature Wins, Scotia Speedworld Championship
Russell Smith Jr set out in 2015 with the plan of racing closer to home and focusing on the Scotia Speedworld track championship, something he had not won before.
He did just that, and then some.
Not only did Smith Jr. win the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman Championship, he took home two major victories among the four he pocketed at the 3/10-mile oval. The #44 went to victory lane in the prestigious Shriners Classic for Sportsman while also taking home a third consecutive Dartmouth Dodge 100 win.
Not to be outdone, the Smith Brothers Racing team also took two major NAPA Sportsman Series 100-lap victories at Riverside International Speedway on IWK 250 and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series weekend.
This is Smith’s third consecutive TCM Power Performer of the Year nomination after being on the short list for the award in 2013 and 2014. Smith is the only driver to receive three nominations in the award’s four year history.
Ashton Tucker – Speedway 660/Petty Raceway – Bandolero – Seven Feature Wins, Two Track Championships
There are typically a number of Bandolero teams that travel the region, and beyond, looking to steal the headlines as having one of the top, up and coming drivers in Atlantic Canada.
This season, Ashton Tucker established himself as one of the drivers to beat from the drop of the green flag in May.
Tucker took seven wins in the province of New Brunswick between Petty International Raceway and Speedway 660. The youngster earned the championship at both venues. His Bandolero season in the region was capped off with a big win in the Atlantic Championships for Bandoleros at the Shediac CENTRE For Speed. In addition, Tucker also did some traveling with his Bandolero, racing at Scotia Speedworld and New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The youngster also made his first Pro Stock start, taking part in the Irving Blending & Packaging 250 at Speedway 660 a night after winning in his Bandolero car. Tucker finished an impressive 11th place in the 31 car field.
Matt Watson – Eastern Super Mini Cup Series – Seven Wins, Tour Championship
Following in the footsteps of former series champion James “Hollywood” Matchett, Matt Watson stepped into an Eastern Super Mini Cup Series ride full time in 2015 and completely dominated the series.
Watson took the checkered flag first in all seven series feature races en route to the overall championship. The series contested races at Speedway Miramichi, Petty International Raceway, the Shediac CENTRE for Speed and Oyster Bed Speedway. Watson’s home track of Oyster Bed Speedway was the site of his first feature win with the series in 2014 and only win with the season prior to 2015. In fact, Watson won 15 of the 18 times the series was on the track in competition this year – that’s impressive!
The series history making performance of Watson is enough to earn him a TCM Power Performer of the Year finalist spot for 2015!
Photo by McCarthy Photographic
Previous champions of the TCM Power Performer of the Year:
2015: To Be Announced
2014: Jonathan Hicken of Brudenell, PE
2013: Shawn Tucker of Fredericton, NB
2012: Dave O’Blenis of Boundary Creek, NB
About Tim’s Corner:
Tim’s Corner began as a weekly stock car racing column appearing on ScotiaSpeedworld.ca and MaritimeProStockTour.com, penned by track and series announcer Tim Terry. It has now grown to include basic media services for motorsport teams big and small. TimsCorner.ca, the official website of Tim’s Corner, also features Tim’s Corner Unplugged, a podcast hosted by Terry which focuses on the motorsports scene. For more information on Tim’s Corner and services offered, visit TimsCorner.ca!