News and Notes – IWK 250
Track Release/Photo by McCarthy Photographic
JAMES RIVER, NS (July 14, 2015) – The stage is set for the 2015 edition of the IWK 250 Super Weekend. The players are the cars and stars of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour (PST), the Napa Sportsman Series (NSS), and the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends (MLOL).
The star of the show is expected to be two-time and defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton who will drive the Cat Car for Kids. The setting is Riverside International Speedway which, for four days, will grow to small town status as hundreds of RV’s and thousands of fans gather for the spectacle that is the IWK 250.
The opening act is Friday evening with the Highland Home Building Centres 100 for the Sportsman series and the Brycon Construction 50 for the Legends. On Saturday it’s the feature performance of the weekend with the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body.
Crafton Looking to Become Number Two, By Being Number One
Matt Crafton is returning to Riverside International Speedway on a mission: to finish first in the IWK 250. If he is successful he will become only the second celebrity driver to do so. Only once since the first IWK 250 in 2007 has a NASCAR driver beat the locals to the finish line; that was in 2008 and the driver was Regan Smith. Those NASCAR celebrity drivers who have tried to unseat the regional racers include Aric Almirola, Marcus Ambrose, Ricky Craven, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, David Reutimann, and Smith. Crafton finished 10th last year; the average finish of the celebrity drivers over the past eight years is 8.5. A stout group that by definition exemplifies how good the locals are. Combined, the celebrity drivers have won three NASCAR national championships, started 1498 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races with 34 wins, 976 NASCAR Xfinity Series races with 72 wins, and 646 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races with 15 wins.
IWK 250 Marks Halfway in PST Chase for the Championship
The IWK 250 marks the start of the second half of the PST season; only six more events remain to determine the 2015 champion. Besides the accolades and the potential to take home over $17,000, winning the IWK 250 also pays championship points for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour competitors, and even though there are 250 laps (compared to the usual 100 or 150), it pays the same number of points as any of the other 11 races on the season schedule. Dylan Blenkhorn (Truro) holds a 22-point lead over Donald Chisholm (Antigonish), followed in third by 2011 IWK 250 winner Darren MacKinnon (Charlottetown, PE), who trails Chisholm by just five markers. Hot on MacKinnon’s heels (bumper) is Cole Butcher (Porter’s Lake), only four off third-place, and two-time series champion Shawn Turple (Enfield) rounds out the top five, trailing Butcher by 38 points. Complete PST point standings are available at www.maritimeprostocktour.com.
Anticipation High For Unveiling of John W. Chisholm Memorial Cup
Fans will want to be sure to be in their seats in time for the IWK 250 Opening Ceremonies on Saturday to witness the unveiling of the John W. Chisholm Memorial Cup, announced a few weeks ago as the new perpetual trophy for the IWK 250. The Cup is named for the late John W. Chisholm, founder and builder of Riverside International Speedway; Mr. Chisholm passed away July 4, 2014, just two weeks prior to the IWK 250, which was dedicated to his memory. Members of the Chisholm family, along with several ‘250’ champions, will be on hand for the unveiling.
Flemming Hopes To Start Second Half of Season With First Win
So far, 2015 has not been how John Flemming (Halifax) expected to defend his record-setting fifth pro stock series championship. Armed with a new car to start the season he has been struggling by his standards, currently 10th in overall point standings and with a best finish of fifth. However, after a couple of off weeks and time to tear his car apart he expects a turn-a-round for the second half of the season and starting with the IWK 250. “We found lots of reasons the car was acting like it was,” said Flemming. “I think we’ve got them fixed so can’t wait to get on track again.”
Is 2015 the Year a ‘Young-Un’ Will Win the IWK 250?
With the PST season-to-date showing four of six wins between two drivers in just their third full season with the series one has to wonder if, for the first-time in the modern era of the IWK 250 (since 2007), someone other than a seasoned veteran may visit Victory Circle. Dylan Blenkhorn, the current series point leader, has two wins already this year as does Cole Butcher. Both started their full-time schedules with the PST in 2013. Each driver has enjoyed relative success at Riverside with seven races under their belt; Blenkhorn has an average finish of 8.0 and Butcher 8.7.
Weekend Purse Tops $100,000
One hundred one thousand four hundred dollars. That’s how much is up for grabs this weekend at Riverside International Speedway. The IWK 250 gets the lions share at $88,530 with a guaranteed $8,500 to the winner – and a winner-take-all tally at $17,100. The balance of the purse offering is up for grabs Friday July 17 and split between competitors in the Highland Home Building Centre 100 for the Napa Sportsman Series and the Brycon Construction 50 for the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends.
250,000 to IWK, & Counting
Besides being a great race the IWK 250 helps raise awareness and funding for the IWK Health Centre with more than $250,000 donated over the past eight years, in addition to a surprise one million dollar donation made by the Chisholm family (owners of the track) during opening ceremonies for the IWK 250 in 2013.
From Sea to Shining Sea
The IWK 250 expected entry list* sits at 27 teams with drivers from the farthest point east in North America (Josh Collins, Jerseyside Placentia, Newfoundland) all the way to the west coast (Matt Crafton, Tulare, California). Otherwise, we see entries from all three Maritime Provinces. (*based on advance registrations, subject to change without notice). See the complete IWK 250 Expected Entry List at www.riversidespeedway.ca/events/iwk-250/ (click on entries tab).
40th Race for PST at Riverside
The IWK 250 marks the 40th race at Riverside International Speedway to be sanctioned by the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Riverside has been on the series schedule since its inception in 2001 and has hosted more than 5,000 laps for the best short track racers on the eastern seaboard. Only two have a perfect attendance: Donald Chisholm and George Koszkulics (New Glasgow), winner of the most recent PST race at Riverside in June. Koszkulics has the best average finish at 8.63 vs Chisholm at 9.67. Two PST champions, Shawn Tucker (Fredericton) and Wayne Smith (Halifax), both retired from full-time competition, are tied at six for most PST wins at Riverside in the modern era. Among active drivers Flemming has five, and Chisholm and Koszkulics are tied at four each.
While 2015 marks the ninth edition of the IWK 250, Riverside has hosted this historic event since 1977 when Ontario’s Billy Watson became the inaugural winner. Other former “Riverside 250” winners include the late Scott Fraser (six wins), the late Don Biederman (three wins), five-time Maritime champion Greg Sewart (two wins), Maritime racing legend Frank Fraser (two wins), North America short track legend Junior Hanley (two wins), four-time Maritime champion Terry Clattenburg, two-time Maritime champion Rollie MacDonald, Maritime racing veteran Mike MacKenzie, and Maine’s Ben Rowe. Scott Fraser, Sewart, Biederman, MacDonald, and Hanley are members of both the Canadian and Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame, and Frank Fraser and Clattenburg are members of the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame; MacKenizie will be inducted to the MMHF this fall.
Opening Act – Sportsman & Legends On Track Friday Night
The Napa Sportsman Series will see round four of nine in their 2015 title chase on Friday with the Highland Home Building Centres 100. The Reid brothers, Chris and Kyle (both from Sydney), lead the point standings with defending series champion Chris enjoying a 23-point advantage. Darren Price (Main-A-Dieu) is tied with Kyle for second and Shawn Waterfield (Sydney) is fourth, just four markers behind Price. Joey Rudderham (Marion Bridge) trails Waterfield by seven in the fifth spot. Only 34 points separate the top-five in overall standings. Russell Smith Jr. (Halifax) is the defending champion of this event. His uncle, six-time Maritime pro stock touring series champion Wayne Smith (semi-retired from pro stock competition), is expected to challenge series regulars in a bid to return to Victory Circle at Riverside International Speedway.
Also on the card Friday night is the Brycon Construction 50 for the Atlantic Tiltload Maritime League of Legends, round two of seven in the series chase for the championship. This event is one of two stops at Riverside for the series this year. Rookie Cory Hall (Jollicure, NB) leads the point standings, followed by two-time series champion Justin MacNeill (Bedford) and Paul Goulden (Shelburne). Emily Meehan (Kennetcook) and Cy Harvey (Elmsdale) round out the top five. Former series champion Cole Butcher (Porter’s Lake), now a two-time winner on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, is expected to attempt to defend his win this event one year ago. Both series will qualify with heat races to set the starting grids for the features.
Thursday – Free Admission & Tailgate Party
On Thursday night, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., fans can enjoy free grandstand admission to a Test’N’Tune session for all three divisions scheduled to race Friday and Saturday. Then drop by Boston Pizza at the Antigonish Market Square (formerly called the Antigonish Mall) for the IWK 250 Tailgate Party.
New for 2015 – Atlantic Cat Kids Tent
The Atlantic Cat Kids Tent will be open in the midway area of the grandstand on Saturday from 3 until 5 p.m. and featuring prizes, face-painting, activities, and the chance for kids to get their picture in a Caterpillar Mini-Excavator.
Mark Your Calendar
Racing starts Friday at 7 p.m.; the box office and grandstand open at 4 p.m. On Saturday the box office and grandstand opens at Noon; Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials start at 3:30 p.m., Dartmouth Dodge Heat Races are set for 4:30, followed by the Boston Pizza Pre-Race Party at 5:30. Opening ceremonies start at 7 p.m., followed by the green flag for the IWK 250.
Fans Urged to Get Advance Tickets & Arrive Early
With a record crowd expected to attend the IWK 250 fans who want to avoid lineups (in traffic and at the box office) are encouraged to arrive early Saturday and to take advantage of advance ticket sales. Plenty of good seats remain and can be purchased by visiting RiversideSpeedway.ca or the track office at the Antigonish Mall (Monday July 13 to Thursday July 16). Tickets will be available at the track box office on July 17 & 18. Please note reserved seats are only available in advance so must be purchased by Thursday.
RV Spots Sold Out
The camping area is sold out with more than 900 RVs expected – a wait list has been started; please call 902-863-2410 for more information. Track management is doing their best to find a spot for everyone but there will be no drive-up spots available. All overnight parking on Riverside International Speedway property from July 16 until the day after the IWK 250 requires a permit (RVs or otherwise).
The IWK Health Centre Foundation helps sustain excellence in specialized care at the IWK for all Maritime families. Last year our generous donors contributed over $10 million to the areas of greatest need at the IWK, including neonatal and pediatric intensive care, women’s health and mental health services for children and youth. Funds raised also support world-renowned researchers and the purchase of modernized technology and equipment. Together with its donors, the IWK Foundation supported more than 16,000 inpatient visits and nearly 300,000 outpatient and emergency room visits in one year. Visit www.iwkfoundation.org for more information.
Riverside International Speedway is recognized as a premiere stock racing facility in Canada. The 1/3-mile high banked asphalt oval roars to action several times a year for special events. It is the home for eastern Canada’s only NASCAR event, and of the IWK 250 – widely known as the best stock car race in Canada. Located in James River, between New Glasgow and Antigonish, the facility is easily accessible at exit 30 on Trans Canada Highway 104. For more information call 902.863.2410 or click www.riversidespeedway.ca.