2016 TCM Power Performer of the Year Finalists Announced
The nominees for one of the staple TCM Best of 2016 Awards of the season have been announced.
The TCM Power Performer of the Year Award honors ten drivers who have excelled on track over the 22 week Atlantic Canadian stock car season. The nominees hail from three Atlantic Provinces and one American state and combined for 50 feature wins on Canadian soil in 2016.
We remind fans that there is no voting portion of this award. Our panel narrowed our field to ten finalists and will meet to choose a winner from the ten drivers selected. The winner will be announced in November on TimsCorner.ca!
Here are the ten finalists, listed in order of car number.
Feature Photo by McCarthy Photographic
#08 – Cory Hall – Jolicure, NB – Scotia Speedworld/Maritime League of Legends Tour – Legends
Cory Hall scored eight wins and eleven top five finishes in Atlantic Canada in 19 Legend car feature starts this season. Those wins came at three different race tracks, one at Oyster Bed Speedway, one on Speedweekend at Speedway 660 and six at Scotia Speedworld. Two of those six came a part of the Upper Clements Parks Maritime League of Legends Tour with four coming during the Scotia Speedworld CARSTAR Weekly Racing Series.
In addition, which does not impact award consideration because it was not on Atlantic Canadian soil, Hall won two races in the State of Maine at Speedway 95 and Unity Raceway.
#1 – Ryan Messer – Harvey, NB – Speedway 660 – Sportsman
If you haven’t heard of Ryan Messer prior to 2016, you most certainly have heard about him now.
After scoring his first Late Model Sportsman win late last year, Messer added five more to that total in 2016 at Speedway 660. In addition to four regular point paying wins, Messer rallied to score a come from behind win in the A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150 on Speedweekend. In 12 races at his home track, Messer scored five wins, eight podium finishes and 11 top five finishes, not to mention his first Late Model track championship to go with an Atlantic Modified Tour and Bandolero championship earned already in his young career. His worst finish of 2016 came during the Martin’s Home Heating 125 early in the year when he came home in ninth place.
#12 – Sam Rogers – Lower Onslow, NS – Scotia Speedworld – Bandolero
Since the birth of the Bandolero division throughout Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the region historically sees one or two Bandolero drivers shine at multiple race tracks throughout the year. Sam Rogers was one of, if not the, most versatile Bandolero driver in Atlantic Canada for 2016. Rogers won at three different race tracks, including eight wins at Scotia Speedworld, one at Petty International Raceway and the Bandolero Blast at Speedway 660. In 25 races between the three tracks, Rogers had 20 podium finishes in his sophomore season. His performance earned him the INEX Canadian East Bandolero Outlaw Championship.
Photo by Mike Francis/RacinPhotos
#13 – Cassius Clark – Farmington, ME – Maritime Pro Stock Tour – Pro Stock
What started out as an event by event basis on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour nearly turned into a championship season on the series for Cassius Clark.
Clark won two races on the series in 2016, both at Scotia Speedworld. In the first nine races on the series, Clark only finished out of the top five twice and had six podium runs. Mechanical failures in both the IWK 250 at Riverside Speedway and the Atlantic Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld proved fatal to the championship chances for the team but when the car did finish with Clark aboard, it finished no worse than fourth on the series. In addition, Clark finished second at the Mike Stevens Memorial 200 at Petty, second in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 at Speedway 660 and won the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 in June in the Geary woods.
If you’re keeping score, Clark’s line score in the Maritimes this season includes three wins, nine podiums and ten top fives in 12 starts.
#13H – Jonathan Hicken – Brudenell, PE – Open Competition – Pro Stock
While he only won two races on the 2016 season, they were two of the bigger races on the year.
Dub him “Mr. Post Season” if you will, Jonathan Hicken took home two major year end shows to cap off a roller coaster 2016 season for the Brudenell, PE driver. With his team in a re-building year with a new car, Hicken was able to jump aboard a car from the King Racing stable. He made the best of his two starts, winning the Mike Stevens Memorial 200 for the second year in a row ahead of Cassius Clark and Dylan Blenkhorn at Petty International Raceway and his third Atlantic Championships victory in four years over “The Oval Outlaw” Wayne Smith and Kevin Moore. Not to mention, the two starts were in back to back weeks, the only two starts for the team on the year with Hicken as a driver and were the final two Pro Stock races of the year in the region.
Hicken won the TCM Power Performer of the Year Award in 2014.
Photo by Mike Francis/RacinPhotos
#44 – Russell Smith Jr – Lakeside, NS – Scotia Speedworld – Sportsman/Pro Stock
With a baby on the way, Russell Smith Jr said from the get go that he was only doing a handful of races in 2016.
In five Sportsman starts in his own car, he won three and finished second in two. Those wins included a fourth straight Affordable Fuels 100 at Scotia Speedworld, a second straight Shriners Classic for Sportsman and a 100-lap win at Petty International Raceway early in the season. Smith was second to Colby Smith at Riverside during the IWK 250 weekend and was runner-up to Luc Bourgeois in the River Glade International. An added start in the Craig McFetridge #41 at Speedway 660 during Speedweekend earned him an eighth place finish.
When Daryl Mahar broke his hand in a crash at Riverside Speedway in June, Smith Jr was added to the #66 car for five Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races. Scotia Speedworld was the team’s best track, scoring a third in July and a fifth place during the Atlantic Cat 250 in August.
Combined, Smith Jr made 11 starts between the two cars, scoring three wins, six podiums, seven top five finishes and eight top ten finishes.
#48 – Courtney O’Blenis – Boundary Creek, NB – Speedway 660 – Street Stock
Courtney O’Blenis made good on her second year in a Street Stock car in the province of New Brunswick. Coming off an Atlantic Championships 100 win to cap off her 2015 Rookie Season, she responded in 2016 with eight wins, including the Chi City Showdown at Speedway Miramichi along with Street Stock 75 and Speedweekend wins at Speedway 660. Her line score in Street Stock competition sees 16 starts, winning in half of those with 13 podium finishes and 14 top five finishes between Speedway Miramichi, Speedway 660, Shediac CENTRE For Speed and Petty International Raceway. In addition to her Street Stock racing, she made a number of Sportsman starts throughout the year but her Late Model racing was highlighted by an impromptu fourth place run at the Atlantic Championships for Pro Stocks in her Pro Stock debut at the Shediac CENTRE For Speed.
#53 – Cole Butcher – Porter’s Lake, NS – Maritime Pro Stock Tour – Pro Stock
It’s hard to ignore a driver who scored his first 250 victory and his first Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour title in the same year. Cole Butcher won three races on the top Maritime touring series in 2016, including a championship sealing victory at the Dartmouth Dodge 200 at Scotia Speedworld after leading 157 laps. In addition to his Atlantic Cat 250 victory, Butcher also drove to victory at Petty International Raceway during a rain delayed event in July. Not to mention Butcher ran up front late and was in contention for the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 at Speedway 660 in his first non-Pro Stock Tour big car start at the track in September. The former Canadian Legends champion also made select starts in a Craig Langille owned Legend, picking up one victory at Scotia Speedworld to pad his feature win total on the year to four.
Photo by McCarthy Photographic
#67 – Dylan Blenkhorn – Truro, NS – Maritime Pro Stock Tour – Pro Stock
Dylan Blenkhorn once again proved why he is one of the top talents in Atlantic Canada in 2016 with three Pro Stock victories at three different race tracks. Blenkhorn scored first career Late Model victories at Riverside International Speedway and Oyster Bed Speedway while adding another win at Petty International Raceway early in the season. Blenkhorn also landed on the podium at Petty in September during the Mike Stevens Memorial 200. Not to mention Blenkhorn started the season off in victory lane at Scotia Speedworld as he drove the #48 Farrell’s Racing Legend to victory lane in the opening round of the Upper Clements Parks Maritime League of Legends Tour. Parts infractions aside, Blenkhorn’s four win season across all three Maritime provinces is hard to ignore.
#88 – Luc Bourgeois – Memramcook, NB – Petty International Raceway – Sportsman
Of all the TCM Power Performer of the Year Finalists, Luc Bourgeois may have one of the smallest start totals but he made the best of every time he was on the track. By our count, the Late Model veteran made nine starts on the year and scored wins in three of those races including topping one of the biggest Sportsman fields of the year en route to his first (and a very emotional) River Glade International win. Including his International win, he had two victories and five podium finishes in six point races (his worst finish in the point season was fourth) en route to his second straight Sportsman track title at Petty Raceway. He was credited with the win at the Chi City Showdown at Speedway Miramichi in September. In fact, the only start in which he did not finish in the top ten all year was during the A.E. McKay Builders 150 on Speedweekend, where he finished 17th on his only stop at Speedway 660 in 2016.
2015 – Dave Matthews of Kennetcook, NS
2014 – Jonathan Hicken of Brudenell, PE
2013 – Shawn Tucker of Fredericton, NB
2012 – Dave O’Blenis of Boundary Creek, NB
About Tim’s Corner Motorsports:
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 Motorsports, 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!