Tim’s Notebook – Five Things Heading Into Day One of INEX Winter Nationals
Practice is in the books and now INEX Winter Nationals is set to rock Orlando Speedworld for the second consecutive year beginning on Monday.
This year, 14 teams from Atlantic Canada have made the trek down to the sunny south. That number mirrors last year, but there are some new players in the mix and some old faces in new places. The goal remains the same though, to prove the region has some of the best talent that will stack up against any south of the border.
Here are five things we can take from the open practice day on Sunday as we head into Monday’s first of five days of competition at Orlando Speedworld.
Practice Times Show Canadians are Quick
Much can and cannot be said by looking at a practice sheet. Sunday for most was an up to speed day, getting comfortable with the track most haven’t seen in a year and some drivers are in new-to-them cars for the first time. Braden Langille, in a rented ride from AK Performance, was second overall of 18 in the Young Lions division, with Eastbound Park Legends champ Waylon Farrell only two tenths off the pace of Langille. Langille is the 2015 INEX Canadian East Bandolero Outlaw and 2015 INEX Winter Nationals Bandolero champion.
Owen Mahar picked up speed throughout the afternoon and was fourth in the Bandits class at the end of the day. Nathan Langille, the 2015 INEX Winter Nationals Beginner Bandits champion, was seventh quick.
At the end of the day, the 30 lap Legends and 20 lap Bandolero features are not hot lap sessions and all the drivers will have to hone their race craft if they want to hold a checkered flag over five days or earn the week long championship.
Naugle, Hall Expected to be Quick in Semi Pro
If you look at those practice sheets for the Semi Pro class, you’ll see Nicholas Naugle third and Cory Hall fourth of those cars that took to the track on Sunday. It was the tale of two completely different teams on Sunday though, as Naugle searched to find consistent speed throughout the day while Hall found speed in the later sessions after changes to the car after the second session of the day.
Naugle and Hall, both of whom are proven winners, should be threats to win in the competitive Semi Pro division all week long. On the other hand, with 20 others in the field, including Conception Bay South, Newfoundland’s Will Farrell, it will be a fun division to watch as the event unfolds.
Scotia Speedworld Outlaw Division Comprises Half of Winter Nationals Field
While there is some stiff and experienced competition in the Outlaw division at INEX Winter Nationals, don’t be surprised if the champion hails from Scotia Speedworld in Halifax for a second consecutive year.
With Braden Langille moving up to the Legends Young Lion class for the week, five drivers from Atlantic Canada will look to take home the gold in the Outlaw class. Leading the pack on paper are 2015 INEX Canadian East Bandolero Bandit champion Austin MacDonald and 2015 Scotia Speedworld Bandit champion Josh Langille, who make the move to the Outlaw division in 2016. Both have experience in Orlando and will be looking to carry their rivalry over to the Outlaw division to begin the new year. MacDonald was fifth on the time sheets while Langille was eighth.
Also on the radar is new Outlaw in Sam Rogers. Rogers, from Lower Onslow, Nova Scotia, has twelve races under his belt between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and won the 2015 Scotia Speedworld Bandit Rookie of the Year Award. Rogers is entered in a Chris Woods Racing and Repair Bandolero and was fourth quick of ten drivers to practice on Sunday.
Michael Cormier of Grand Barachois, NB topped the Canadian contingent in the Bandolero Outlaw class with the third fastest time on the board. Nathan Blackburn’s crew continually made adjustments on their car all day long and wound up seventh on the day. The crew, which includes six time Maritime Late Model touring champion Wayne Smith, replaced a steering column in the car after practice.
Fowler’s Determination Drives Him to Winter Nationals
Phil Fowler’s story on getting to Winter Nationals is a unique one.
Fowler, driving the #11 Hanlon Realty Legend car, hauled from St. John’s, Newfoundland after running into problems earlier in the week. A winter storm prevented Fowler from catching the Marine Atlantic ferry on Monday evening and had mechanical issues with their truck heading through Antigonish, Nova Scotia on Wednesday. After picking up another truck late in the week, the team drove non-stop from Truro, Nova Scotia to Orlando, Florida. In total, it was over 36 hours on the road to get to the event.
The team got on the track Sunday for practice and Fowler is excited to get going for the week of racing.
Bursey Still Racing at 72
When you talk veterans from Atlantic Canada at INEX Winter Nationals, Gary Bursey is at the top of the list.
Bursey, from Moncton, New Brunswick who now spends a lot of time in Florida, is still racing at 72 years young in the Masters division. He is showing no signs of slowing down and it showed on the chart as the tenth fastest time in the class of 21. The division was paced by Calgary, Alberta’s Ira Laughy.
He also mentioned on Sunday that he is looking for crew members from the middle of the week on, so if you are in the area, be sure to stop at the #65 trailer this week.