TCM Top Ten – Speedweekend 2016 Sails Into Speedway 660
One of the biggest race weekends in Atlantic Canada has finally rolled around.
The McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 and Speedweekend 2016 is huge in many ways. Sure, the purse is the biggest in the region with $15,000 to the winner and $50 a lap to lead, it typically attracts the most cars of any Pro Stock race in Atlantic Canada and the fields throughout the weekend are slammed with talented teams and drivers. The race is the third of three Maritime 250s, it ends the Speedway 660 season and it begins the last month and change of racing in the region.
Whether you are a diehard race fan or one that comes out to Geary, New Brunswick every Labour Day long weekend, we could sit here and go through dozens of reasons why you need to be out here to the track this weekend or give you a bunch of story lines to follow. For us fans, we’ll do that a bunch of times throughout this coming weekend. Until then, we give you ten stories to follow and reasons why you need to be at Speedway 660 this weekend for the show of shows, Speedweekend 2016!
**Feature Photo by Mike Francis/Racin Photos – all other photos by McCarthy Photographic unless otherwise indicated
It’s going to be a blast!
Okay, so we may be partial, but this Speedweekend is going to be a blast.
The Bandolero division makes its return to Speedway 660 for Speedweekend and we at Tim’s Corner Motorsports are pleased to present the annual Bandolero Blast event.
This event is features a past champions list full of drivers who have graduated through the ranks in the sport and have made a further mark in higher divisions throughout the region. In fact, five of the six previous champions of the event will be competing between the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Pro Stock 250, the Upper Clements Parks Maritime League of Legends Atlantic Tiltload 50 and the A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150.
The 2016 crop of Bandolero drivers is pretty strong and will showcase the talents of “the Flying Frenchman” Michael Cormier, Sam Rogers, Josh Langille, Nathan Blackburn, Josh and Nathan Langille, Koven Lewis, Greg Butler, Danny Chisholm and more. Eastbound International Speedway point leader Sara Thorne along with her sister Olivia Thorne will both make the trip from Chance Cove, Newfoundland to compete in the race.
The rumors swirling around the pit area even have Ashton Tucker coming back to defend his Tim’s Corner Motorsports Bandolero Blast title along with Braden Langille making the haul to etch his name on the champions list for the first time. Both will pull double duty on the weekend with Langille running a Legend car Saturday and Tucker trying to crack the field for the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250.
The Tim’s Corner Motorsports Bandolero Blast is the opening act for Sunday’s Speedweekend show with racing beginning at 2pm.
Legends make their return to Speedway 660
The sister car of the Bandolero is also making a comeback to the Geary woods this Saturday night.
The Upper Clements Parks Maritime League of Legends Tour heads to Speedway 660 for the first time in over five years to contest the Atlantic Tiltload 50. The event is the seventh of eight on their point season, which is led by Waylon Farrell of Conception Bay South, Newfoundland.
The car count on the series has been great with the average field size holding at 21 with the lowest car count all season tipping the scales at 18. The series has been a stomping ground for former Pro Stock competitors including Cole Butcher and Dylan Blenkhorn, both of whom have won championships on the series in the past.
Emily Meehan, Cory Hall and Cole Tanner, all former Tim’s Corner Motorsports Bandolero Blast winners, are expected to compete on Saturday evening.
Jarrett Butcher won last week’s race at Petty International Raceway driving for Adam Meehan. Cory Hall has won two events (Oyster Bed Speedway and Scotia Speedworld), American hotshoe Alex Pacheco and Braden Langille split the two appearances at Riverside International Speedway while Blenkhorn won the season opener at Scotia Speedworld. Both Blenkhorn and Pacheco drove the point leading #48 car to the win in their events.
Will youth or experience win out on Saturday night? It is sure to be an exciting race as the Legends return to Speedway 660!
No points on the line
Kyle MacKinnon celebrates his first Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooters championship last weekend at Speedway 660. (Photo by Max Roy/Speedway 660)
For the four “house divisions” that compete each week at Speedway 660, this is a weekend that those drivers do not need to think about the next week of racing.
What makes this event special for the drivers racing in the Sharp Shooter, Street Stock, Sportsman and Pro Stock features on Speedweekend is that there are no points on the line. Champions have been crowned already with Kyle MacKinnon, Rob Raynes, Ryan Messer and Greg Fahey taking the titles in their respective divisions. While they will have the chip on their shoulder of defending their home turf and proving once more why they are a champion at their home track, there is one more caveat about the race taking place at the end of the season.
Simply put, there is no “next week.”
With this being the last race at Speedway 660 until the Riverview Ford Lincoln Season Opener in May 2017, the drivers in these classes will leave everything on the table when they come up the Turn Four ramp. Whatever comes off the ramp has until May to fix for those that compete on a regular basis at the track.
Be ready for these battles and the last chance for stock car glory in the Geary woods for 2016 this weekend!
Moore Becoming “Mark Martin” of Speedway 660
While we can throw points out of the window, we should make a mention of the feat Kevin Moore pulled last week.
Sure, it’s something most drivers would like to forget about but consider this. In the last five seasons of Pro Stock racing in the Geary woods, Moore and the #88 team have finished second in the point standings four times. If you track the three years prior to 2012, Moore finished third, third and fourth in the standings dating back to 2009.
While he has good fortune in the past in this event, he has never held a checkered flag in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250. He has won regular point paying features at the track in a Pro Stock car and even has Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour wins under his belt, but the 250 still eludes him.
Mark Martin is known as one of the best drivers to never win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. He finished second in the top touring division in NASCAR five times but no championships or Daytona 500s to his resume.
Mark, meet Kevin.
Could this be the weekend Kevin Moore finally breaks through and wins the biggest race of the year in the province? Sit tight, we’ll find out Sunday.
Slaunwhite looks to stay on hot streak
While Craig Slaunwhite came within feet of becoming the first driver to win all three Maritime 250s in July, no driver in the history of the IWK 250, Atlantic Cat 250 and McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 has been able to win all three races.
Slaunwhite failed to win the IWK 250 in July, finishing second behind Donald Chisholm. Cole Butcher continued the “first time 250 winners” parade in August by winning the Atlantic Cat 250 over Slaunwhite.
Two trends from the first two 250s in Atlantic Canada have Slaunwhite with a string of second places and two first time 250 winners. In theory, both could continue on Sunday evening.
In fact in the last four 250 lap races in the region, Slaunwhite has not finished worse than third when you include last year’s third place run in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 and a second place run in the rain shortened 2015 Atlantic Cat 250. Not to mention, he won last weekend’s 52nd River Glade International and the Cummins 150 at Petty International Raceway. When the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour visited Speedway 660 in July, Slaunwhite was on the podium, finishing in third.
The team surely has something figured out, but is it enough to top the tough field to win another $15,000 on Sunday evening?!
Rowe, Flemming on search to become first Maritime “stock car king”
While Slaunwhite has won the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 before, two drivers will look to win the race for the first time and complete the unofficial Maritime Triple Crown.
Ben Rowe will attempt to win the one race missing off his resume with another drive for “Hurricane” Hal O’Neal and the #8 team on Sunday. John Flemming will debut a new-to-him car as he makes his third start of the season. Ironically, both are coming off fourth place finishes in their last outings – Rowe in the HP Hood Oxford 250 last weekend and Flemming in the Atlantic Cat 250 in August.
Both legendary drivers are still at the top of their game and could be threats to upset the hot hands like Slaunwhite’s on Sunday.
Twelve drivers on entry list among 250 newbies
Of the nearly 40 drivers entered in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250, a quarter of the field are rookies to the race.
Cole Butcher, Glen Luce, Joey Pole Jr., Andrew McKay, Matt Rodgers, Brandon Skidmore, Devin Snell, Braxton Stafford, Jeff Doherty, Ian Rassmussen, Dylan Blenkhorn and Nick Jenkins are all names that will look to crack their first McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 field. Some of the drivers are familiar to long races – Luce and Pole are both Oxford 250 champions and Butcher and Blenkhorn have both won the Atlantic Cat 250 in the past and the quartet will be favorites heading into their first 250 at Speedway 660.
Pole and Jenkins will look to make their first Speedway 660 starts while it is the first 250-lap race start in the careers of McKay, Snell, Skidmore, Stafford, Doherty and Rassmussen. The six pack of drivers are all rookies in the Pro Stock ranks in 2016.
This race can be good and bad to rookies, for example, Ashton Tucker in his first Pro Stock start in this event last year finished 14th. In the same race, Speedway 660 rookies Josh Collins, Raphael Lessard and Shannon Squires were all out of the race by Lap 200. Tucker is the Rookie of the Year at Speedway 660 for the Pro Stock division and will look to start his second 250 on Sunday evening.
Keep an eye on these McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 newbies as they run in their first Speedway 660 Speedweekend classic this weekend.
*TCM Note – Nicholas Naugle would have been the 13th driver on the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 rookie list, but a fractured wrist which required surgery Wednesday afternoon will keep the Dartmouth youngster out of the race in 2016.
A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150 could turn biggest division car count in region
Kenny Mackenzie Jr and Andrew Rodgers will be among the favorites on Saturday night during the A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150 at Speedway 660.
As is the case every year, the numbers could be big for Saturday’s A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150.
While no official entry list is released for the race (unlike the Pro Stocks, the Sportsman teams do not have to put tire orders or register in advance for the race), it appears the field could push 30 cars when the green flag drops on Saturday evening. The current mark for the biggest car count of Sportsman cars in Atlantic Canada for 2016 sits at 30 at the IWK 250 weekend for the Highland Home Building Centres 100 NAPA Sportsman Series race. Last weekend, Petty International Raceway had 26 cars on the grounds for the Jones Auto Body 125.
In addition to the top point drivers in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman division at Speedway 660, the field is expected to include two-time 2016 Sportsman winner at Speedway 660 in Dave O’Blenis along with his daughters Courtney and Alexandra, “the Bounty Hunter” Russell Smith Jr driving for Craig McFetridge in the Dulux #41 car, Jordan Veinotte in the #11 car from Scotia Speedworld, former A.E. McKay Builders 150 race winner Colby Smith, reigning Petty International Raceway titlist Luc Bourgeois, 2015 A.E. McKay Builders 150 podium finisher Laurie Cormier, Andrew Rodgers, Kenny Mackenzie Jr. along with Ross Thorne and Shane Coffen from Eastbound Park in Newfoundland.
That just dusts the surface of the talent coming from out of town to play with the likes of Ryan Messer, Drew Greenlaw, Justin Cole, Shawn Warren, Richard Atkinson, George Jamieson, Jacob Logan and over a dozen others that call Speedway 660 home.
Go ahead, try and pick a winner from this field, we’ll wait.
Mucky and buttery fingers aplenty during Friday’s kick off party
Friday’s pre-race corn boil, bonfire and concert is back again.
The free event kicks off at 7pm with the country/rock band Mucky Fingers hitting the stage at 9pm. With just under 600 campsites already booked and filling up for the weekend combined with the race fans that will be coming in for the weekend, the corn boil is a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends prior to the business of racing gets underway on Saturday.
Just be sure to not put too much butter on your corn and keep your fingers out of the muck – and you’ll do just fine Friday night.
Rules opened on Four Cylinder class, Import models allowed to race on Sunday
In an attempt to look into the future at Speedway 660, tech staff led by Donnie Greer have opened up the box a bit this weekend with the Sharp Shooters division.
In recent years, the division has grown and most recently the weight rule has been set to 2600lbs total with 54% left side weight.
For this event, the cars can go on a diet.
The invitation has been sent out to all drivers in the region, including those driving Import models, to come to Speedway 660 with the weight shaved to 2200lbs and 54% left side weight with driver and the car full of fuel. Drivers must have a head and neck restraint to compete at the track.
The new changes for this “open” event have attracted the eye of some of the top four cylinder drivers in the region, including Kody Quinn, Rob Poirier and Rob Boutilier, just to name a few.
For complete tech inquiries and anything rules for this event, teams are urged to email Donnie at email@example.com. If you are heading up to camp, why not bring your Mini Stock, right?!
This TCM Top Ten just scratches the surface of the headlines that are abound heading into this weekend. The Atlantic Modified Tour put on an awesome show last weekend at Petty International Raceway and will look to do the same Saturday, Sarah McKay is making her first start since July’s IWK 250 as she enters a race with two previous top tens in two starts, former McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 winners Kirk Thibeau, Lonnie Sommerville, Johnny Clark, Craig Slaunwhite and Cassius Clark will look to head back to victory lane. We could go on and on.
Did you pick a winner for the A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150 from earlier in this article? Yeah, tough choice, right?!
Not to mention, this is your final chance to get the two-time award winning Speedway Fries for the final time in 2016. Last weekend, chicken tenders debuted on the menu and should be a popular addition with Speedweekend fans.
If you are heading to the track, a limited number of Tim’s Corner Motorsports t-shirts will be on sale for $20 commemorating the Tim’s Corner Motorsports Bandolero Blast race. Be sure to stop by and see Tim for those shirts.
The best way to live Speedweekend is to be there! We hope to see you in the Geary woods this weekend!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!