Tim’s Notebook – Chi City Showdown
The North Shore made history on the weekend with the Chi City Showdown!
The second run at the September event under the current Jason Carnahan and Dave Neilson ownership lived up to all the hype built for race fans in the Miramichi city area. Fourteen of the best Super Late Model drivers from every corner of this region and one from Maine took the green flag, the first for the class since 1999.
Dave O’Blenis and Wayne Smith, who qualified for the 125-lap event nose to tail before the cone start, were in that last race fifteen years ago.
Their “experience” didn’t appear to matter much though, as it was a guy who was just cutting his teeth in the sport across the Strait at the time of the last race that was in victory lane.
For the fifth time this season and first in open competition for the 2014 season, Jonathan Hicken laid it to the field, leading all 125 laps from the pole position to capture the win. All 125 laps of the race were also run under the green, without the aid of a yellow flag. With the tone that was set in the heat race, changing temperatures and all teams screaming they had a lack of grip, not many thought the Pro Stock 125 would go caution free.
It did though, and the fans in the stands got a show of pure speed and talent from the drivers in attendance.
Hicken put all but three cars a lap down – himself, Lonnie Sommerville and Cassius Clark, when the checkered flag flew. The #5 K.A. Holdings Inc./Castle Building Centres Chevrolet finished the event in just over 33 minutes.
Rookie Cole Boudreau, who would have been in diapers the last time Pro Stocks roared at Miramichi, quietly worked to a fourth place finish, one lap down, picking up positions late in the race when cars began to fade. Brady Creamer, who missed qualifying because of a cracked rear end cover, brought his hometown fans to the edge of their seats by picking off Dave O’Blenis and Dylan Gosbee early in the race and moving his #10 Patterson Sales and Service Chevrolet as high as fourth before being passed by Boudreau in the second half. Creamer was fifth at the end of the race.
Creamer made the feature just in time after 2014 Speedway 660 Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman champion Brent Roy had to bring up a new cover from Fredericton. As the Street Stock feature was on the track, Creamer and crew were working on putting the finishing touches on the car.
Hicken and his Brudenell, PE team will now set their sights on the Atlantic Championships at the CENTRE For Speed, an event Hicken won last season to cap 2013.
SOMERS COMPLETES SUCCESSFUL DEBUT
While the rumor had been all week of a “ringer” in the Carnahan Motorsports #55, it was Terrance Somers who climbed in the window of the #55 CPM Chevrolet.
Somers, who made his first racing start on Saturday, finished 12th on the Pro Stock 125 field.
That’s right. First racing start. It came in a Pro Stock.
But there is a method behind that madness.
“I’m learning the car more, which will help me in the crew chief role for Jason,” explained Somers on Friday during practice. “If Jason says the car is doing this, I’ll be able to relate a bit and be able to read what he is saying a bit clearer.”
Somers, who had “Thank You Miramichi” draped across the quarter panels of his car, completed every lap he could on the tough Miramichi oval, coming home with 119 laps completed.
In addition to Somers, DJ Casey made his second ever Pro Stock start and first behind the wheel of the Flemming Motorsports Dodge. Casey finished eighth place after making a late pass on Kevin Moore, besting him to the line by less than two tenths of a second.
LONNIE SOMMERVILLE RACING ENJOYS SUCCESSFUL CHI CITY SHOWDOWN
Results will show that no team had a better weekend than Lonnie Sommerville Racing.
The LSR team took the top two positions in the Sportsman feature Friday night, with Lonnie Sommerville wheeling his #23 Irving Oil Blending & Packaging Chevrolet to a second place finish in the Pro Stock show Saturday night. Not bad for a three car team over two nights of racing.
The Sportsman race saw Devin Snell dominate the event, leading wire-to-wire for his second consecutive major Sportsman victory in the region. Snell, who won the 100-lap event on Mike Stevens Memorial weekend, lapped all but three cars in the 100-lap affair which saw only one caution on the first lap of the race. Snell said in victory lane that Miramichi was his last scheduled event of the season, but may try to extend his streak Sunday by heading to the CENTRE For Speed Atlantic Championships event.
Meanwhile, the season and career is over for Bill “The Bullet” Sommerville. Sommerville, who will be entering the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame this November, capped his career at Speedway Miramichi where he enjoyed much success, including Friday’s second place run. Sommerville conserved his #27 Pub’s Drive Thru Bottle Exchange car for the second half of the race, and began to reel off quick laps that mirrored Snell’s in the waning laps. While he says you may still see him in an one off start in the future, this was the final start in the full-time racing career for Sommerville, who spent his final season racing all Summer at Speedway 660.
Bill’s son Lonnie employed the same strategy in the Pro Stock race. Lonnie started ninth after choosing the inside on the initial start of the race and quickly worked his way into the top five and would end up taking second from Cassius Clark in the second half of the race. Lonnie, who ran a partial schedule this season, is looking forward to getting behind the wheel more next season and build on his successes on the season, which also included a top five run at the Re/Max 250 at Speedway 660.
KING OF THE CONE, QUEEN OF THE STREET STOCKS – O’BLENIS MOTORSPORTS POSTS SUCCESSFUL SIX CAR WEEKEND
O’Blenis Motorsports, who had six cars over four divisions racing under their banner, continued their busy and successful season with a great showing at the Chi City Showdown. Alexandra O’Blenis highlighted the weekend for the team, capturing the Street Stock 75 event and the NB Big Dawg Challenge for Street Stocks in convincing fashion. Her sister Courtney, who made her debut in her own Street Stock ride, failed to finish after a mechanical problem sidelined her while she ran within the top five.
Courtney’s first race on her double duty Saturday saw her work her way to a fourth place finish in the Bandolero feature.
Dave O’Blenis, who had been trumped in a handful of his last Sportsman starts by Alexandra, finished third to Alexandra’s fifth place in Friday’s 100-lap event and with that, unofficially wrapped up the NB Big Dawg Challenge for Sportsman cars.
Dave, in both the Sportsman and Pro Stock feature, used the cone restarts to take the outside pole position from the fifth place position and with the aid of a caution would have taken a bigger advantage of the track position. With 99 and 125 lap green runs to the end in the Sportsman and Pro Stock races, respectively, the advantage did not turn out as big as anticipated it would be.
The weekend finished for O’Blenis Motorsports with Dave’s seventh place run in the Pro Stock event.
MURRAY EXITS EARLY IN FIRST ’14 START
Rain outs have been tough this season, especially on a team like Ken Murray’s #22 team.
Based out of the North corner of New Brunswick, the Prince Edward Island transplant made his first and what is expected to be only start of the season Friday night at Speedway Miramichi. With rain canceling the first two Sportsman races at Speedway Miramichi on the season and other commitments halting trips to Petty Raceway and Oyster Bed Speedway, Murray’s #22 team hadn’t seen any track time until Friday night.
All the anticipation for the team ended after one lap.
Murray had got crossed up in the second corner, and went for a spin into the infield. Murray’s car had to be flat decked off the track, bringing an early end to his only start of the season.
The now retired Murray was formerly involved in the DARE program on Prince Edward Island, which has seen many familiar faces pass through such as Mike Duskey and Jonathan Hicken, among others and is a familiar face at the Miramichi oval in his black and gold #22 car.
It must be something in the water in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia.
Braden Langille and JR Lawson each took home Chi City Showdown and NB Big Dawg Challenge trophies to the town after their weekend in Miramichi, which is about three hours or so away, depending how fast you drive.
Lawson continued his domination of the Mini Stock class in New Brunswick by taking his first win of the season at Speedway Miramichi. The win was far from easy though, as he had to navigate around Brad Daley and hometown favorite Timmy Blakely on a restart with 13 laps to go in the 30 lap feature. Lawson, who picked up $200 for his win, had previously picked up track titles at Shediac’s Centre for Speed and Petty International Raceway.
Langille was involved in a tight five way battle for the win in the Bandolero feature on Saturday afternoon, which ended up with him taking the checkered flag over rookie Levi Rossiter and crowd favorite Ashton Tucker. Langille was mired in the middle of the pack for most of the feature, before a caution flag in the second half put Langille in prime position to take the lead and eventually the victory in his first appearance at the North Shore oval.
If you’re keeping track, that is five New Brunswick championships won by Shubenacadie drivers, taking Lawson’s three, Langille’s one and Cole Tanner’s Speedway 660 Bandolero track title into account. Lawson will be quick to remind you he grew up in New Brunswick though!
MINER, WHATLEY TAKE TOURING WINS
Robert Miner struck gold on Friday Night in the Atlantic Modified feature.
Okay, all puns aside, Miner was on it and picked up his first career Atlantic Modified Tour feature victory on Friday night at Speedway Miramichi. Joe Hoyt came across the line second with Tom Betts, who brought one of the biggest cheers out of the crowd all weekend, in third.
It was far from a calm night at the races for all teams on the Tour though, with point leader Larry Gulliver suffering what could be a season ending crash after slamming the Turn One wall in his qualifier. Mark Day also had a premature ending to his night in his heat after his car erupted in flames on the white flag lap.
The Atlantic Modified Tour will close their season Sunday in Shediac with a 50-lap feature.
The Eastern Super Mini Cup Series had some of the most exciting restarts of the weekend, with three and four wide on the first lap being the norm as drivers jockeyed for position when the green silk dropped. Amanda Wheatley had no problem moving through the field as she sliced through the field like a hot knife through butter on the first green lap of the feature, going from the rear to first in one trip around the oval.
Including Friday’s win, Wheatley recorded six wins on the seven race schedule en route to her first Eastern Super Mini Cup Series title. Chris Wilson and Derek Goodwin were second and third on Friday night.
RACING’S BEST MEDIA FRIEND – 99.3 THE RIVER
When it comes to racing, advertising is always a big topic of discussion. The question always pops up, how do we get new faces at the track and butts in the seats? Yes, media ads such as the ones you see on television or hear on the radio are not cheap these days and with tracks having shrinking advertising budgets, tracks and series have to be creative with their dollar to stretch it that extra mile, or in their case, the extra lap.
While I could go on and on with the subject, a tip of the cap has to go to 99.3 The River for promoting not only Speedway Miramichi but also racing in general with John O’Shea and Miramichi Racing Radio. Whether it is promoting events on social media pages to flat out hammering it out on the air, a relationship between a track and media partner can go a long way to bringing new faces to the speedway – and 99.3 The River has done an outstanding job. From being able to head into the station twice and talking racing with John, to John bringing a cut-in from Speedway Miramichi Friday morning with Jason Carnahan, to ads throughout the days leading up to the event and giving out passes to fans – even getting the drivers involved in the promotion. To my knowledge, not one station does that much for any race track in the region. Don’t get me wrong, MBS Radio sister station 95.1FM CFCY does a lot for Oyster Bed Speedway on Prince Edward Island, and the creative minds behind ads for Scotia Speedworld at Q104 and Live 105 in Halifax is great, but the involvement that 99.3 The River has with stock car racing and motorsports events at Speedway Miramichi is second to none in this region.
Again, those that know me know that I love a good feed, and I had a few of those this weekend.
I want to thank Jungle Jim’s Miramichi for having me a couple of times on the weekend. A great partner with Speedway Miramichi, they are a sure bet for some great food and are just a short drive from the race track on the King George Highway.
One of the best meals of the weekend may have came Friday afternoon, when Cyril Hall pulled into the track and told me to get in his car because he was taking me for lunch. We ended up at the Newcastle Farmers Market, where a Chicken Dinner and Butterscotch Pie were on the menu. If you’re in the city on a Friday, take my advice, stop in and have a meal for yourself!
If you’re on the Newcastle side of the Centennial and are looking for breakfast, I’ll recommend you to the Fundy Line Motel. Not many places can you get two eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries and a coffee for under $7, tax included. While because of an early departure I never got to get to the Angler’s Reel at the Rodd Miramichi, their breakfast is one of the best I’ve had on the Chatham side on my trips to the ‘chi.
The tower also got treated to some wonderful Banana Bread from Candace Sherrard on Saturday night. What was left also made for a delicious snack on the road to and from Oyster Bed Speedway on Sunday. Thanks Candace!
Speaking of Oyster Bed Speedway, watch for my notebook from the Island stock car finale on the site Wednesday afternoon!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!