2015 TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft – Top Five Picks
The wait is over!
After weeks of panel deliberation, the 2015 Tim’s Corner Motorsports Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft list is ready.
Our four person panel, comprised of local industry professionals whom have seen many laps over their racing careers, have come together with Tim Terry of Tim’s Corner Motorsports to form the second annual list, ranking the young talent in the region.
The objective? To recognize Atlantic Canada’s up and coming talents in the sport. Those that could, in the future, upend a Shawn Tucker, John Flemming or Shawn Turple to give us a new Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion. You could look at it as a scouting report for, if the opportunity came along to put an Atlantic Canadian driver in a seat down south, to put him or her in it. Our list is based on talent, on and off the track. If a driver was to uproot and head down south looking for a ride, and money was not an option, who would be best suited for the ride and who would be able to turn heads?
The panelists were presented with a list of 25 drivers, aged 21 and under as of 2015, with a brief list of accomplishments, along with a write-in option, with to create their own top ten list. These lists, along with fan nominations from earlier this year, were used to create the final list.
Our panel was given these eligibility requirements to keep in mind when making their selections:
– Must not turn 22 prior to December 31st, 2015 (drivers aged 21 and under as of completion of 2015 (drivers born between 1994 and now) are considered).
– Must have competed on Atlantic Canadian soil during the 2014 season. Those who have plans to compete in Atlantic Canada in 2015 was also a strong criteria consideration in the nomination and ranking process.
– Must be born in Atlantic Canada or have Atlantic Canadian roots.
So, without further adieu, here is the first of three parts of our TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track draft – selections ten to six!
Did you miss the first half of our list, selections sixth through tenth? Find it here!
#5 Alexandra O’Blenis
Photo by Michelle Roy/Speedway 660
2014 Speedway 660 Sportsman Fifth Overall (Runner-Up Rookie of the Year, One Feature Win)
2014 Petty International Raceway Sportsman Rookie of the Year (Three Top Fives in Five Races)
2014 Petty International Raceway Street Stock Runner-Up (Three Wins)
2014 NB Big Dawg Challenge, Chi City Showdown Street Stock Champion
2013 Petty International Raceway Street Stock Track Champion
2013 Petty International Raceway Street Stock Rookie of the Year
Multiple Feature Wins – Bandolero at Speedway 660
2014 TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft Ranking – 10th
For the second consecutive year, Alexandra O’Blenis is the only female driver in the top ten for the TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft and is also the biggest mover from last year, moving from barely within the top ten to solidly in the top five.
After getting her start in Bandoleros, she moved to the Street Stock class, turning heads by winning the Petty Raceway Street Stock championship. While she made a run at defending her title, winning three races and falling to her boyfriend Kenny Mackenzie Jr in the championship chase, she also made the move to Late Model Sportsman, running full time at Speedway 660 and hitting five of the six races at Petty Raceway.
While she went uncontested in the Rookie of the Year at Petty Raceway, much was made in 2014 about the rookie battle at Speedway 660 between O’Blenis, Dawson McIntee and Drew Greenlaw. While all three had highlights over the season (McIntee and O’Blenis both won a race, Greenlaw won the Rookie of the Year), it was O’Blenis who continued to turn heads and catch eyes of our panelists – not only in this list but also on our Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award which she won by edging out Sarah McKay and Nicholas Naugle.
After a successful two season Street Stock career which included a championship, three wins, a Chi City Showdown win at Speedway Miramichi and a NB Big Dawg Challenge championship, she will continue with the Sportsman in 2015 and it wouldn’t surprise any of us to see her dabble in Pro Stock at Speedway 660 before the season is over. If her progress to Pro Stock is as smooth as her transition to Sportsman was, she is going to be one tough driver to beat in the near future. She’s a likeable driver, tends to not ruffle any feathers on the track, is well spoken in interviews and has the talent to back it all up. The potential level is high for the Salisbury, New Brunswick teenager.
Move over, Dad, you’re soon going to have another contender in the Speedway 660 Pro Stock class!
#4 Cole Tanner
2014 Speedway 660 Bandolero Champion (Two Wins)
2014 Petty Raceway Bandolero Fourth Place (One Win)
2014 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero Third Place (Three Wins)
2013 INEX Canadian Outlaw Champion
2013 Petty Raceway Bandolero Champion (Five Wins)
2012 Petty Raceway Bandolero Champion (Three Wins)
2011 INEX Canadian Outlaw Champion
2011 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero Rookie of the Year, Second Overall
2014 TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft Ranking: 5th
Cole Tanner has done about all there is to do in Bandolero racing.
His stats line above does most of the talking. In his four full seasons at the wheel of a Bandolero car, he has won three track championships, two INEX Canadian Outlaw titles and has won well over a dozen feature races, six of which happened in 2014. When all is said and done, what he has accomplished in his four years will leave him in the conversation for years to come when we discuss the greatest Bandolero drivers in Atlantic Canada since this division came to this country in 2006.
Now, it is time to move up.
Like many before him, this will be a key year as he makes his way up the ladder. Last year, we got a glimpse into that crystal ball as he made a start in October at Cape Breton Miners Memorial Speedway in a Robby Reid Sportsman, where he finished within the top five. That speaks volumes. Yes, he had a good car under him. Sure, he had an experienced crew. To start your “big car” career on a track that is as tight as Cape Breton and go to 100-laps caution free en route to a top five run, that says something.
While the team hints at some Sportsman appearances in 2015, the focus is on “the Overall Experience” Legend car. Talked about since mid-2014, the team backed by Overall Collision and Custom’s Mark Whynot will have Tanner behind the wheel of their #2 car in 2015 at Scotia Speedworld and the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Series. The competition will be tough in the freshmen crop, but he is in a good seat heading into this season.
Regardless what 2015 holds, it is slated to be a busy season for the up and coming driver from Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. Question is, can he make the most of it and climb up a couple more spots by the time this list rolls around in 2016?!
#3 Cole Boudreau
Michelle Roy/Speedway 660 Photo
2014 Speedway 660 Pro Stock Fifth Overall (Rookie of the Year, One win)
2012 Speedway 660 Bandolero Champion
2012 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero Runner-Up
2012 INEX Canadian Outlaws Champion
2014 TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft Ranking: 3rd
Cole Boudreau lived up to all expectations in 2014.
Racing full time at Speedway 660 in the top tier Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock division, Boudreau took home the top rookie honors in the class, fifth overall in the division and by the middle portion of the season he had already visited victory lane. In your first year in that Pro Stock division in Fredericton, racing against guys that have more years in the seat of a Pro Stock than Boudreau has on this earth, to walk away with a win and contend nearly every week is a pretty big accomplishment.
At the end of the season, Boudreau did some touring, taking in two races in the province once Speedway 660 sat silent for 2014. In a caution free affair at the Chi City Showdown at Speedway Miramichi, Boudreau quietly worked his magic through the field and would wind up fourth in the first Pro Stock race on the North Shore in 15 years. Yes, Boudreau was still in diapers the last time the Pro Stock class raced in Miramichi. A mechanical problem caused by a rock creating a hole in his car at the CENTRE For Speed ended a surefire stout run early in the Atlantic Championships 150 for Pro Stocks. Boudreau also finished in the top ten during the PASS Aim Recycling Super Late Model race at Speedway 660 in 2014 and moonlighted in some Legend racing at Scotia Speedworld with Brycon Racing.
So, how does the Chipman, New Brunswick teenager improve on his season?
It’s a difficult question to answer, but you’d have to believe a championship at Speedway 660, along with some more trophies with that #1 on it are in his future. He has a ton of those from Bandolero racing, from an array of different tracks. He’s already got one in Pro Stock racing, and hopefully they have room for more because at this rate, he will be bringing a bunch more home sooner rather than later.
Boudreau’s presence outside the race car is also something to be desired. He is a charmer, is wonderful with sponsors and knows how to work over an audience. On the other side too, if he is upset, he knows how to show it with his body language but also is politically correct about it. You have to remember that this is a teenager, who is barely legal to drive on the road, racing at the front of the top class in the Maritimes. Situations like the incident with Glyn Nott last September will happen, it’s how you handle it that will get you further in this sport.
The future looks bright for Boudreau – one of the complete package racers in this region!
#2 Cole Butcher
2014 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour Fourth Place (Podiums in River Glade International, IWK 250, Dartmouth Dodge 200)
2014 US Legend Cars Nationals Pro Division Race of Champions Winner
2014 INEX Canadian East Pro Champion
2014 Scotia Speedworld Legends Champion (Seven Wins)
2013 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour Rookie of the Year Runner-Up
2013 Scotia Speedworld Weekly Legends Champion
2012 Maritime League of Legends Tour Champion
2012 Scotia Speedworld Weekly Legends Champion
2012 Scotia Speedworld Weekly Legends Rookie of the Year
2010 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero Champion (Nine win season)
2014 TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft Ranking – 2nd
Cole Butcher holds one of the hottest hands heading into the 2015 season.
After finishing in the runner-up spot to Dylan Blenkhorn in the Rookie of the Year chase on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in 2013, Butcher set his sights on victory lane in the series in 2014. While he did not achieve the goal, he certainly turned heads, especially later in the season. Butcher was third in the series’ first stop at Petty Raceway and followed that up later in the season with another third place finish in one of the season’s biggest races of the year, the IWK 250 at Riverside Speedway.
The last three races of the season saw Butcher as a mainstay near the front of the field. Following a fifth place finish in a wild Ron MacGillivray 150 at Riverside, Butcher shadowed Jonathan Hicken at Petty Raceway the following week to finish a career high second place in the Atlantic Dodge Dealers 150 at Petty Raceway.
The next week saw Butcher dominate the first two thirds of the Lucas Oil 150 at Riverside Speedway, leading the opening 108 laps before spinning as he was trying to lap a slower vehicle. Butcher could not rebound in traffic and had to settle for eighth. At Scotia Speedworld the next week, Butcher would match his career best second place finish as he once again chased Jonathan Hicken to the stripe in the Dartmouth Dodge 200.
The Legend car was also a point of success for Butcher once again. The Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia youngster won his third consecutive Weekly Legends title at Scotia Speedworld, won two races on the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Series (Riverside Speedway in July, Atlantic Motorsports Park in September) and would win at “the Bullring” at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Pro division Race of Champions during Asphalt Nationals.
Butcher has his eyes set on moving from fourth in the Parts for Trucks Tour standings to that coveted championship spot. While he is scaling back his Legend program, expect to see him in select shows this season as well. An extra push this season, along with a breakthrough to victory lane could push him one spot further in this list in 2016!
#1 Dylan Blenkhorn
2014 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour Sixth Overall (Three Wins)
2014 Atlantic Cat 250 Champion
2013 Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year – Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour
2011 Maritime League of Legends Champion
2011 Scotia Speedworld Legends Champion
2009 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero – Third Place
2008 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero Champion
2007 Scotia Speedworld Bandolero Rookie of the Year (5th Overall)
2014 TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft Ranking – 1st
In his last year of eligibility for this list, Dylan Blenkhorn goes out on top in the TCM Atlantic Canadian Short Track Draft. This is the second consecutive season Blenkhorn has topped the list.
After a rookie season on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour that saw him come close to victory lane and win the top freshman honor, the 2014 season was rung in with a new car and a lot of anticipation.
That anticipation was met during the third race of the Tour season, when Blenkhorn broke through to victory lane, driving away from veteran Shawn Tucker in the waning laps to lock down his first Pro Stock win in the Lockhart Truck Center 150 at Scotia Speedworld. He followed up his first win in the series at his home track with a win the following week at Petty Raceway in the Lucas Oil 100.
His third win of the season came one week after a long week in the shop after a wreck at Oyster Bed Speedway the week prior. If you had asked him prior to the race, he wouldn’t have bet you he would have been in victory lane, let alone in one of the biggest races on the series, the Atlantic Cat 250, though that’s where he ended up.
To win the race, he had to out race Northeast Late Model Legend Ben Rowe. Rowe, a former multi-time Atlantic Cat 250 champion, was driving a tribute car to the late Scott Fraser but in the end, it was the Truro, Nova Scotia driver who got the best of the Turner, Maine driver.
While the consistency was not there to contend for the championship when the series returned to Scotia Speedworld, everyone knew the sophomore was a threat every time the series pulled into the race track. That is sure to be continued this year as the team hunts for their first Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour championship.
Blenkhorn kept busy outside of the Parts for Trucks Tour as well, winning the $1,000-to-win Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends Series race at Riverside International Speedway in August and leading over half of the Mike Stevens Memorial 150 at Petty Raceway before fading to eighth in the second half.
One thing is for sure, if there is one driver in Atlantic Canada that seems more than ready to take that next step, it would be Blenkhorn. He’s got talent he continues to showcase every time he hits the track, he knows how to control an interview and has a great team and some great marketing partners behind him. Either way, we have a star on our hands with Dylan Blenkhorn!
We’re not done yet! Check back tomorrow (Sunday, April 26th) for our “Honorable Mentions,” the five drivers that were discussed by our panel but just barely missed the cut for our top ten list!
About Tim’s Corner Motorsports:
Tim’s Corner Motorsports (TCM) is your destination for all your regional stock car racing news in Atlantic Canada. 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. TCM has 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 local motorsports scene. For more information on Tim’s Corner Motorsports, visit TimsCorner.ca!