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TCM Top Ten – Ten Reasons Why “The Best of the Best” is Just That This Weekend

One of the premiere Pro Stock events in Atlantic Canada is upon us!

The McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 is this Saturday at Speedway 660 and is set to be one of the biggest events on a weekend which sees eight tracks in the region producing motorsports shows. The event, which starts at 6:30pm on Saturday evening, will also feature point paying events for the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman and Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooters.

So, why should you be making tracks for the Fredericton area this weekend for the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 150?! Here are ten story lines to follow to help you make your decision much easier!

Earlier date, more unpredictability

In recent years, the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best Pro Stock 150 has been a “mid Summer classic” in the Geary woods. Last year, and for a number of seasons prior to, the event took place in July on the weekend following the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body and was a traditional off-weekend between the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races at Riverside Speedway and Oyster Bed Speedway. The weekend was also off on the Pro All Stars Series North schedule.

With schedules changing over the off-season, the June 4th date was the only date within the season that both major touring series were idle, no major Pro Stock races within the region were scheduled and no major summer concerts within the Maritimes were taking place.

For those drivers running the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 this weekend from those major touring series, this will be the first time they will see Speedway 660 for the season. With the former late July date, the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour (early July) and the Pro All Stars Series in the recent years they came around would have already made a stop in Geary. In fact, the early June date was the weekend previously held by the PASS North tour when they stopped at Speedway 660. With the series not contesting any races on Canadian soil for the first time since 2001, the weekend was open to host an event.

What does it mean? It could mean some unpredictable racing over the top of what has been seen in the first two weeks of the regular season at Speedway 660. With teams coming in from out of town, rookies still trying to get a feel of the track and it being the first extended lap major race for Pro Stocks in the region, a number of teams will be on different agendas when they roll into the back gate on Saturday afternoon.

At the end of the day, all indications point toward what could be a wild night in the Geary woods on Saturday!

A Clark and a Rowe – both whom have won this year

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Photo by McCarthy Photographic

When you look for pre-race favorites for Saturday’s McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150, look no further than two of the most iconic names in short track racing in the Northeast.

Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe have won lots of major races and championships and both will be looking to hold the checkered flag on Saturday at Speedway 660. Rowe won this event back in 2012 with a failing power steering system on the #8 car while Clark is the reigning Irving Blending & Packaging 250 after bagging over $30,000 here last summer.

Both drivers have stacked resumes in stock car racing, which include wins already on the 2016 season. Rowe took a thrilling win in a three-wide finish to the Speedway Homes 150 Pro All Stars Series race at Oxford Plains Speedway in April. Clark was a winner just two weeks ago at Scotia Speedworld in the season opening event for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in the Lucas Oil 100. Clark led all but three circuits in the 100-lap race.

The pair will be in familiar cars with Rowe in the #8 car for “Hurricane” Hal O’Neal, Michael Murphy and the crew while Clark will pilot the #13 King Racing Competition Parts and Fabrication Chevrolet out of Pictou, Nova Scotia for Rollie MacDonald, crew chief Andrew Hicken and the team.

They will be joined North of the Border by fellow Maine driver and former Irving Blending & Packaging 250 winner Kirk Thibeau. Expect the trio to be fast and contend for the win against the local drivers that comprise the RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock division on a weekly basis.

Two 250 provisionals on the line

While for some it might seem like a minute point in the grand scheme of things, the top two drivers from the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 will lock themselves into the field for the Irving Blending & Packaging 250 on Speedweekend.

Sure, Greg Fahey and Cassius Clark had no problem getting into the field last year and while officials decided to start all 31 cars that attempted to qualify for the 250 last year, five drivers packed up and headed home after qualifying in 2014. Among those drivers included two-time IWK 250 champion Kent Vincent and Trevor Sanborn, who struggled out of the box in qualifying and was a surprise that year to not crack the 250 field.

Do you remember 2010? It wasn’t that long ago that John Flemming was looked over for a promoters option for the Irving Blending & Packaging 250 and had to head home early.

The point is, while you would not think about a top driver missing the race, it has happened before and a provisional in your back pocket is nice to have if the proverbial train comes off the track on September 4th.

Top half of Pro Stock field producing great racing

While much has been made about the rookie class in the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock class at Speedway 660, the veterans have been up front and impressive over the first two races of 2016.

Dave O’Blenis and Lonnie Sommerville both own 50-lap feature wins thus far in 2016 and while O’Blenis has made the decision to not run in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 on Saturday, Sommerville will look for back-to-back wins in the Geary woods.

Kevin Moore is the only driver to score two podium finishes in the two Pro Stock shows at Speedway 660 thus far in 2016, finishing third and second in the last two features. Matt Harris was second on opening day and showed speed throughout last Saturday night while Greg Fahey had a quick car last Saturday and wound up third at the end of 50-laps.

John Rankin and Derek Christie have been quick in the first two races of the season and a returning Steve Halpin last weekend was quick before an accident in Turn Three took him out of the race. Paul Gahan will be making his return to Speedway 660 this weekend, driving the #66 car while rookie Jonathan Gahan trades a helmet for a headset on Saturday night.

Some of the young talent have also been turning heads. While he got caught up in the hornet’s nest at the end of the race, Dustin Tucker had ran many laps up front in last Saturday’s feature. When it comes to rookies, Ashton Tucker, Matt Rodgers, Brent Roy and Jeff Doherty have a top ten finish to each of their resumes with Tucker and Rodgers scoring Clattenburg Racing Fabrication Rookie Challenge presented by GD Fabrication Awards this season. All four will be looking to make a big splash on Saturday night.

While those looking to come in and steal all the headlines on Saturday night will likely play into the equation Saturday night, it will be the hometown favorites looking to defend their home turf like Fahey did last year.

Naugle to make Speedway 660 Late Model debut

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Photo by McCarthy Photographic

Nicholas Naugle of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is slated to make his second Late Model start in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 on Saturday night at Speedway 660.

Naugle, who has previous experience in the Geary woods with a Bandolero car, is coming off his full bodied stock car debut two weeks ago after finishing 13th in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour season opener at Scotia Speedworld. While Naugle’s full Pro Stock schedule is to be announced, he is currently the top rookie on the series after one race and is looking to continue his season Late Model season Saturday.

For those fans in the Capital Region that might not know the name, Naugle already has quite the resume in stock car racing in a very short period of time. Naugle is the 2014 INEX Canadian Semi Pro Legends champion, has won the Rookie of the Year title for Legends at both Scotia Speedworld and on the Upper Clements Park Maritime League of Legends Tour and has won a number of races up and down the Eastern Seaboard in a Legend car. To this point in 2016, Naugle has won five races in a Legend car, including two at INEX Winter Nationals in Orlando, Florida, a Nationals Qualifier at Anderson Motor Speedway (SC) and wins at Maine’s Wiscasset Speedway and Oxford Plains Speedway.

What can Naugle do against “the Best of the Best” on Saturday night in his #08 Brycon Construction Chevrolet?! Be there to find out!

Rodgers impressive in Pro Stock debut

Much was made last weekend about the job Matt Rodgers did at Speedway 660 and rightfully so.

Sure, the win in Drew Greenlaw’s Sportsman entry was impressive. Rodgers sliced through the field with relative ease and passed Alexandra O’Blenis in what would eventually be the pass to seal the victory.

While that was head turning, so was his following act moments later. Rodgers stepped foot in his Pro Stock to make his debut in the class. Rodgers looked like a veteran in the 21-car field, running in the top ten all night and coming home with a sixth place finish. While other cars spun around him and ended up in the beach, Rodgers car was clean after 50-laps of competition. Thus far in 2016, Rodgers is highest finishing rookie in the two main features run this season with the sixth place run last weekend.

Now that the thrill of his debut has settled in, he will look to back up his performance last Saturday in this weekend’s McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150.

Tomlinson on the comeback trail

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While all the kids are making their debuts in Pro Stock cars, Robert Tomlinson is catching eyes with two races completed in the 2016 season.

Tomlinson has kept his car underneath him and avoided most of the dust-ups over most of the 100 feature laps that have been completed in 2016 and has come home with a fifth and tenth place finish. The veteran was beaming with pride last Saturday prior to the day of racing and had said a top ten with the field of drivers on track would be the night’s goal, something he was able to accomplish by finishing tenth.

With the unpredictability of the racing product this season in the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock class at Speedway 660, it might be worth keeping an eye on Tomlinson and the #29T this Saturday night as the 150-laps unfold under the lights.

Greenlaw and Messer to continue Sportsman battle

In the opening two rounds of the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division, Ryan Messer and Drew Greenlaw have made a bulk of the headlines.

Messer won on the first night of the season with Greenlaw occupying the runner-up slot. Last weekend, Greenlaw’s car, driven by Matt Rodgers, took the win with Messer bringing the #1 home in second place after a battle with Alexandra O’Blenis which included a perfectly executed bump and run by Messer in the late laps.

Greenlaw will return this week after a busy week that included his high school graduation on Thursday to challenge Messer and the rest of the competitive field in the Sportsman division. O’Blenis and Richard Atkinson both own podium finishes this season along with the #23 and #1 cars.

Word on the street is that Matt’s younger brother Andrew Rodgers will have his Sportsman car at the track on Saturday night. Rodgers is a former feature winner at the track and will be a threat to challenge Greenlaw and Messer for the win in the Sportsman feature.

However it plays out, the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman 40-lap feature should serve up an excellent appetizer course for the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150.

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O’Blenis to make Sportsman debut 

Yes, there will be a #48 on the track on Saturday. No, it will not be driven by Dave O’Blenis.

O’Blenis has opted to not run the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150, but his Sportsman car will be at the track. Again, he won’t be driving it, rather it will be last week’s DMR Auto Sales Street Stock winner Courtney O’Blenis who will be making her Sportsman debut.

With the Street Stock class having an off-weekend, Dave has told TCM that Courtney will be joining sister Alexandra in the 40-lap Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman feature on Saturday. Courtney has had a pretty impressive 12 month stretch, which included her first Street Stock win on the undercard of the 2015 Best of the Best 150. She went on to win another feature at Speedway 660 that season before taking home a big win in the Atlantic Championships Street Stock 100 at the CENTRE For Speed. Last week, she held off a hard charging Rob Raynes for her first Street Stock win of the season.

If you are keeping score, Tim’s Corner Motorsports was in the house for those four aforementioned wins and we are looking forward to seeing Courtney’s first race in a Late Model this Saturday night!

Suttie, Boudreau consistent, MacKinnon and Crocker quick early in season

The Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooter class continues to bring an exciting breed of racing to the Geary woods and will lead off feature action on Saturday night.

The division has seen two different winners this season in Neil Miousse and Kyle MacKinnon, while Bryan Suttie and Kyle Boudreau are the only two drivers to have two top fives in the first two features of the season. Last week, Suttie showed speed and looked to be the only driver that might have had anything for MacKinnon and Matt Crocker up front. MacKinnon and Crocker showed a ton of speed and rebounded nicely after opening day misfortunes.

One only has to look back to last season, where the top three drivers in the standings emerged late in the season to take their spots in the championship after putting goose eggs on the board in the feature win column. So far, Suttie and Boudreau are looking good if you follow that, but they have shown in the first two races that they should be in victory lane before the season closes. Fans should expect over a dozen cars take the green flag on Saturday evening!

For more information on the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150, check out the track release by clicking here. The link also includes Saturday’s race day format!

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Tim’s Corner Motorsports coverage of the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 at Speedway 660 is presented by King Racing Competition Parts and Fabrication. King Racing is an authorized dealer of LFR Chassis, Hamke Race Cars and Parts and Five Star Bodies. For a complete line of products and services, please contact them via phone (number below) or their Facebook page (click below).

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