TCM Top Ten – Serving Up Shediac’s 2016 Atlantic Championships
One of the longest running stock car racing events in Atlantic Canada is ready to kick into high gear once again!
The Atlantic Stock Car Championships at the CENTRE For Speed outside of Shediac, New Brunswick will see racing action over two days in six different stock car classes. For most teams, this is it. The race event serves as the final race of the season and is the last big event on the season that has seen lots of racing action over the previous 19 weeks.
Besides the prestige behind the Atlantic Championships, why should you venture to Shediac this weekend for the event? Here are a few storylines we will be following and a few reasons why you should be with us to celebrate the 2016 season this Saturday and Sunday!
**Feature Photo by McCarthy Photographic
Gosbee to Defend Atlantic Championships Pro Stock Win
In a season that has featured ups and downs trying to get a hold of the handle of their new-to-them Dale Shaw Racecars car, Dylan Gosbee and his #91 Hynes Racing/Wendell Taylor’s Garage Ford team will head to the CENTRE For Speed Sunday in hopes of defending their Atlantic Championships crown.
This race and the track is one where Gosbee has had success. Last season it was Gosbee besting John Rankin and Cassius Clark for the top spot in the race. The current car, which Gosbee has campaigned since the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour stop in Geary, NB in July, has seen two top six finishes in the last two races at Scotia Speedworld (Dartmouth Dodge 200, fifth) and Petty International Raceway (Mike Stevens Memorial 200, sixth).
While there will be a number of drivers to watch over 200-laps around the tricky 3/8-mile oval on Sunday, Gosbee and the #91 team should be near the top of the list.
MacDonald to Make Shediac Return with Hicken as Teammate
“The Boss Man” passed his first test earlier this month at Riverside International Speedway and will be making a return engagement in his King Racing Chevrolet on Sunday.
Rollie MacDonald will be sliding back into the window of the #13 King Racing Chevrolet on Sunday to compete in the Atlantic Championships for the first time in over five years. MacDonald competed in a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour event at Riverside in September, rallying late in the Lucas Oil 150 to finish a strong fourth in the race.
The 2005 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion and former Tour race winner in Shediac will not be the only car coming out of the Pictou, Nova Scotia based stable on Sunday though.
Jonathan Hicken, fresh off his second straight win at the Mike Stevens Memorial at Petty International Raceway, will be driving the #13H one more time in 2016. Hicken is a two-time Atlantic Championships winner in Pro Stock, winning the title in back to back years in 2013 and 2014. In the seat of a Fury Racecars ride that he is comfortable in at a track he likes, it will be hard to bet against a driver that has truly earned the nickname “Mister Post-season” with his track record in these non-point, end of season races.
Could this be the year that the Atlantic Championships title heads back to Pictou?! You’ll have to be at the track Sunday to find out!
Rollie MacDonald and Jonathan Hicken are seen here racing at Riverside International Speedway in September. Hicken, who is seen here in a Butcher Racing car on the high side of MacDonald, will run the #13H car he drove to victory last weekend in the Mike Stevens Memorial 200 at Petty Raceway. (McCarthy Photographic)
Watch for MacEwen Breakthrough
It would surprise nobody within the industry if Robbie MacEwen finally broke through and won his first Pro Stock feature Sunday at Shediac.
The #40 Atlantic Steel/Island Auto Supply Chevrolet has been quick in limited starts he has had this season. While flat tires and mechanical issues have plagued the box score at the end of the night for the young team, MacEwen has been in the top five when those gremlins have bit him. Last weekend, MacEwen led 20 laps in the Mike Stevens Memorial before a tire going down and damage to the car ended what could have been a breakout win at a Petty International Raceway where he finished fourth in the International in August.
The downside is that the fourth place effort at the Cummins 150 is one of only two top ten finishes, the other coming at his home track of Oyster Bed Speedway in August when the team struggled with the handle on the car to a ninth place run. He does have one feature victory this season in a substitute role for Mark LeClair in the #48 Late Model at Oyster Bed Speedway.
MacEwen had a strong car here last year, a year which included a third place run at the IWK 250, but would fail to finish the Atlantic Championships in 2015 and was credited with an 18th place finish.
If everything holds together for 200-laps, you best believe MacEwen will be in the fray for a win in this race, which would be first in a Pro Stock car.
It’s the Final Pro Stock Race of 2016 in Atlantic Canada
For those looking to get their final fix of Pro Stock racing in the region, this is the platform to get it done.
This event serves as the final Pro Stock division race of the 2016 calendar year. It has been a long season and while some teams have packed it in for one reason or another, there are still a number of teams that remain ready to run for one final checkered flag. Not to mention, it is a race that has seen many big names win over the years.
Win this race and you’ll have bragging rights all through the winter into the season opener next May.
Additional entries confirmed through the track or through Tim’s Corner Motorsports include 2015 runner-up John Rankin, Speedway 660 Championship runner-up Kevin Moore and Rookie of the Year Ashton Tucker, Marty Prevost, Shawn Pierce, Michael Kyle, Wayne Smith, Terry Dougay, “The Rexton Rocket” Brady Creamer, rookie Brandon Skidmore, former Speedway 660 champion Chris Duncan and Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year Harry Ross White. The 2012 race winner Lonnie Sommerville is awaiting to hear whether he will be entering the event while DJ Casey, a podium finisher in 2014, will be sitting out the event due to lingering concussion symptoms.
Gaudet Looking for Fourth Straight Sportsman Title
Racin’ Remi Gaudet and his team come out for one race a year in the Sportsman division.
It just so happens that they have won that race the past three years and this year they will look to make it four.
Gaudet will be up tough though, as he is every year, with some stout Late Model competition from around the region including Caleb Dunn Memorial winner Alexandra O’Blenis and pole sitter Marc Williams, Affordable Fuels and Metro Home Heating Sportsman champion from Scotia Speedworld in Pete Miller, Petty Raceway runner-up Kenny Mackenzie Jr., ‘Chi City Showdown podium finisher James “Hollywood” Matchett, Speedway 660 Rookie of the Year Jacob Logan, Scotia Speedworld fan favorite Brentley Pirri and Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Gauthier, just to name a few of the contenders looking to take the title away from the #22 team.
Kenny Mackenzie Jr goes wheel-to-wheel with Wayne Miller during the Affordable Fuels 100 at Scotia Speedworld in August. Mackenzie is on the expected entry list for Saturday while the Miller Brothers Racing team is working to get Wayne’s car ready. (McCarthy Photographic)
Either way, what Gaudet has been able to accomplish is impressive. To win one of these events against the best in the region is a feat within itself. To win three through a duel with Josh Collins in 2015 and a controversial finish the year before has kept Gaudet more than on his toes in the past three seasons. Regardless what is thrown at him, Gaudet ends the race with the checkered flag and has to get up on the wheel to earn it.
Can he grab four in a row though? It will be a tall task, but we will see over 100 laps on Saturday!
Matthews Looking to Avenge ’15 Misfortune
Dave Matthews is always quick to question a call that might not go his way. If you can remember back to 2015 in the Atlantic Championships for Mini Stocks, he quested a late race restart call that allowed JR Lawson to get a jump which would eventually lead to the #81 car taking a second straight Atlantic Championships.
Okay, let’s not discount Lawson’s win. Lawson, along with Tim Webster, chased Matthews for the first 64 laps of the 75 lap feature before the restart allowed Lawson to take control. After Matthews regained composure, he, Webster, Lawson and Brad Hayes put on a show in the final 11 laps for the fans in one of the best shows of the weekend.
For Lawson, it was a second straight win that came after breaking earlier in the day in practice. For Matthews, it was a bittersweet defeat a week after losing a championship at his home track by a mere two points. On the bright side, his late season swing earned Matthews the 2015 TCM Power Performer of the Year.
Both are expected to return to run for another big win. Dave Matthews last won the race in 2011 while Lawson edged Mike Weagle and Webster to also win the title in 2014.
“Mr. Honda” Scott Williams won the race in 2013 and Kyle MacMillan won the race in 2012, meaning the championship has come back to Nova Scotia for the past five years.
Don’t discount the talents of Logan Power and Marty Landry, among early entries
The race, along with the Four Fun race on Saturday, will see extended laps for both divisions and is expected to draw crowds of cars from Four Cylinder hotbeds like Scotia Speedworld (Scott Thibodeau, Garth Bezanson, Tom Stewart and Deven Stewart are all pre-entered in the Four Fun class), Speedway 660, Petty International Raceway and Oyster Bed Speedway, among others. Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway and Speedway Miramichi, both of whom are off this weekend, have also produced some great Mini Stock drivers and could easily bring us an Atlantic Championships contender Sunday.
Wherever the titles may land, the Four Cylinder divisions have arguably put on some of the best races of the previous few Atlantic Championships and the Mini Stock cars and stars will look to do the same once more in 2016!
Logan Power chases Chantel Ackles through the corner at Petty International Raceway this season. Ackles and Power are both among the expected entries for this Saturday’s Mini Stock 100. (McCarthy Photographic)
Bandolero Field Wide Open for New Champion
Unless Ashton Tucker or Braden Langille come out to play, the Bandolero division will be guaranteed a new Atlantic Champion in 2016.
While the two previous champions have Bandoleros and it would be far from a lock if they showed up, it leaves young hotshoes that have Canadian championships and track titles like Josh and Nathan Langille, Michael Cormier, Danny Chisholm, Colton Noble and more. This fast track could be a great platform for a rising star like a Koven Lewis, Greg Butler or an Owen Mahar, among others, to crash the victory lane party on the region’s biggest late season party.
Strategy to Come Into Play
Long races, longer than what (wo)man and machine are accustomed to a regular Saturday night showdown under the lights, is half of the battle when you pull into the back gate at the Centre For Speed.
We mentioned the Pro Stocks going 200 laps, the Sportsman getting 100 green flag laps on the 3/8-mile, the Mini Stocks and Four Funs getting 100 and 50-laps, respectively, but what about the Street Stocks we haven’t spoke about. These guys and gals go an average of 30 laps at their local track with a 50 lap or a 75 lap race being a “big show,” but on Sunday they will go 100-laps. Now, while Oyster Bed Speedway plopped a show on the same day as the big Street Stock race, that will not dampen the car count from Petty International Raceway, Speedway 660, Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway and the Scotia Speedworld Truck class from heading up to duke it out in the longest Street Stock race in Atlantic Canada.
Courtney O’Blenis will defend her title earned last year when she dominated the Street Stock 100 while we don’t have a full entry list, we would assume Petty International Raceway Street Stock champion “The Thrill Maker” Craig Ward and Scotia Speedworld Truck driver Jason Fenton, who were on the podium last year with O’Blenis, will be in attendance to try and win a title of their own. Rick Cashol has been confirmed by the track as making the trek to the Atlantic Championships, along with 2009 titlist Jamie Vassallo from Cape Breton and “The Port City Princess” Destiny Enkel.
The strategy will be key in a long race like this. How hard do you push your car to not only keep the tires under you but to not push your equipment to the breaking point? Whoever can make those right adjustments to help the car over a long run might be the driver who ends up in victory lane over a couple of extra laps on the weekend.
Not to mention, who knows what the temperature will do? The weather at this point looks sunny and warm during the daytime hours, but as the day wears on and the wind whips off the water, it is sure to change the car.
Who can go the distance quicker than anyone else? We’ll find out.
Courtney O’Blenis has seven wins at Speedway 660 this season, including Speedweekend, a win in the Chi City Showdown and will look to cap 2016 with a second straight Atlantic Championships victory before the move to Sportsman in 2017. (Mike Francis/RacinPhotos)
Bologna Burgers, Lobster Rolls on the Menu
You cannot talk about the CENTRE For Speed without mentioning the delicious delight that I will probably eat ten of over the three days.
That’s right, the TCM Fan Favorite Short Track Staple Food nominated CENTRE For Speed Bologna Burger.
Simple in construction, it consists of a piece of fried bologna between two pieces of fresh bread, a piece of cheese and an optional egg. While Sue Wile has stocked up with more bologna burger components than she did last year, they are sure to still fly off the shelves and will probably sell out again by the end of the weekend.
Also available on the Friday night early arrival practice, which begins at 4pm, are the lobster rolls that the Shediac CENTRE For Speed is famous for. After all, Shediac is the Lobster Capital.
Leave It All on the Table
Mentioned off the top, this is the final big race of the season. Sure, they are some other events to finish off the season, but the last prestigious event of the year is this weekend.
The season doesn’t restart for most teams until May, so most of these drivers will leave it all out on the track because they have all winter to fix their race cars.
In turn, you’ll see some drivers dig a bit deeper, maybe drive into the tight corners a bit harder to get that extra run off the corner to pick up a pass. The dice might be rolled an extra time, some might double down on black, they might “hit” on a late race yellow hoping to score a 21 – you get the point, you might see some more gambling on the weekend.
Big thanks to TCM partners the Atlantic Motel and St. Louis Bar and Grill Moncton and Dieppe for their continued support of what we do and supporting us from the Greater Moncton area all season long. Tim will likely be heading in to St. Louis Bar and Grill on Mountain Road after the race on Saturday, so be sure to join him and follow us on Facebook for more information!
Race Weekend Format – Atlantic Championships at the CENTRE For Speed
***Subject to Change Without Notice, from CENTREForSpeed.com****
CentreForSpeed.com 2015 Photo
Admission Prices – 2016 Atlantic Championships
|Friday Night Practice, etc.*||$20|
|3 Day Weekend Pass (Fri, Sat and Sun)||Free||$15||$30||$60|
|Camping / RV Pass with Showers / Toilets $30*|
*Friday entry includes practice session and the early arrival party with Free Lobster Roll or Burgers and Fries plus Refreshment. The Camping / RV Fee is Per Site. All funds raised will go towards speedway renovations (Phase II).