TCM Top Ten – Ten Reasons Why You Should Be At Speedway 660 Saturday Night
They don’t call it “The Best of the Best” for no reason.
Speedway 660 will host the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best Pro Stock 150 this Saturday evening at 6:30pm. Yes, we understand you have options with your Saturday night. Yes, we understand Cards Against Humanity with a bunch of friends over a couple of cold beverages might sound fun but hey, you’ll have all winter to do that. With that, why not come out to the Geary woods on a beautiful summer evening and take in some fantastic short track racing.
So, you might be thinking, why Speedway 660 over other events going on this weekend? Well, we have that here for you, in no particular order, in the TCM Top Ten – “Reasons Why You Should Be At Speedway 660 Saturday Night?”
Photos by Mike McCarthy
#1 – RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock division is STACKED with talent
With Greg Fahey, Matt Harris and Lonnie Sommerville coming back to the Re/Max Group Four Realty Pro Stock division to race full time in 2015 against talents like Dave O’Blenis, Kevin Moore, Paul Gahan and Cole Boudreau, just to name a few, the talent level took a sharp upturn in the Geary woods. Sure, the talent was great prior to this season in the top class at Speedway 660, but with some of the heavy hitters in New Brunswick Late Model racing running weekly at the track, the battle up front and those trying to come through the field has been pretty exceptional.
#2 – Speedway 660 Has Got “Two Tickets to Paradise” on the line Saturday Night
Okay, if you ask most race fans about their “paradise weekend” in New Brunswick, they’ll say Speedweekend. The top two drivers in Saturday night’s McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 will punch their “tickets to paradise” by getting a locked in provisional to the Irving Oil Blending & Packaging 250 on Sunday, September 6th.
As a fan, you might be thinking, okay, if Lonnie Sommerville and Dave O’Blenis, for example, win those spots, they’re locks for the 250 via the Pro Stock division points at Speedway 660? Not so fast tiger, let’s say they have problems down the stretch run, then have problems qualifying for the 250 – they may be on the outside looking in if we see another 35+ car field in September.
Remember a few years ago when John Flemming lost out on the final provisional for the 250 over Brad Mann and the then three time Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion was forced to load up and haul back to Halifax prior to the 250? Yeah, I do too. Think about that when they say “two guaranteed starting positions in the 250” on the line.
#3 – Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman Championship Battle is RED HOT
I’m going to go out on a limb and say with a month left in the point season that the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman point battle is one of the hottest in Atlantic Canadian Late Model racing.
Alexandra O’Blenis has been the hottest thing on four wheels in the division in the last two races, winning the last two features in the class. The season started slow for the eldest O’Blenis sibling but she’s since caught fire mid-season and will look to pick up her third win in a row on Saturday night.
She is just 11 points out of the point leader, a driver who won two straight races himself early in the season in Devin Snell. It’s hard to say Snell has simmered out a bit, because he has two top fives in the last three races after his two wins a row. A win here would extend a point lead that could use some cushion heading down the stretch drive.
Between the two youngsters in the points are the two returning veterans who have been so doggone consistent this season. Sure, Randy Moore, who is only two points out of the lead, has a win but is a factor at the end of each and every one of these races. Richard Atkinson is coming off three consecutive podium finishes and might be the second hottest thing on four wheels in the class outside O’Blenis.
Don’t discount Drew Greenlaw either. Greenlaw is only 18 points out and quietly making a run for this championship. The last two races haven’t gone the way the Eastport, Maine driver would have liked on the results sheet but is here after six races with three third place finishes early in 2015.
Not to discount the rest of the division, a point comeback can be made at this point with an over 40 point deficit, but with these five up front, you’ll need to bring your “A” game every week – beginning with Saturday night.
Three straight races have seen Richard Atkinson and team on the podium in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman class – but can be finally find his way to victory lane, and snap the streak of Alexandra O’Blenis Saturday night?! (MIKE MCCARTHY PHOTO)
#4 – Langille and Tucker – “The Bandolero Outlaws”
Okay, so let’s not overshadow the fact that Hudson Weston was a first time winner in the Bandolero division the last time out in the Westwood Estates Bandolero division, but the story for most of the season has been Braden Langille and Ashton Tucker. Tucker won the first race of the season at Speedway 660, while Braden has won four of the six features contested thus far. Langille also occupies the point lead at Scotia Speedworld and has won over a dozen races in 2015, while Tucker has the point lead at Petty International Raceway.
While the division has seen a dip in car count this year in New Brunswick, with all other tracks that contest Bandolero racing off (Scotia Speedworld has their class enjoying their off-week, Petty Raceway isn’t racing Saturday), it could mean we see a couple of extra drivers at the track, like a Josh Langille, Danny Chisholm, Austin MacDonald or Levi Rossiter. This race has the potential for this Bandolero class to have a “Mini Speedwekend” feel to it.
#5 – No “Hot Dog Break” At Halfway in the 150
In previous years, the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150 has had a mid-way break at Lap 75 for crews to fuel the cars, make adjustments and set up for a run to the finish. Sure, while it changes the strategy, it will change once more when these drivers run 150 straight laps on Saturday night to determine the winner of the 150.
If you are having issues with your car, like Johnny Clark did a couple years ago in the PASS 200 when a battery went sour on his car, those breaks are a saving grace. If your favorite driver develops a problem Saturday night though, like every other 150-lap Pro Stock race in Atlantic Canada, the team will have to be on the ball to repair that race car as the race progresses.
Remember back to the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman 100? If something transpires that we have a ton of caution flags, fuel might come into play with some of these cars. Tire management is going to be key as well. If you can keep your tires underneath you and not burn them off, you’ll more than likely be punching your ticket for the Irving Oil Blending & Packaging 250. It brings a whole new perspective to a race that did not have it in the past.
#6 – Can Courtney O’Blenis Finally Crack Victory Lane in Street Stock?
While Rob Raynes is having a career season and his Fog City Auto Spa teammates are running pretty well too, the story over the last few weeks has been how long it will take for Courtney O’Blenis to crack victory lane.
With Rob Raynes in control of the top spot in the standings, it is O’Blenis in the thick of the second place battle on the strength of three podium finishes thus far in her rookie season. Not to mention the #48 car led laps in the DMR Auto Sales and Service 75 before a spin and subsequent vapor lock issue on restarts put her behind the 8-ball and to fifth in the big race.
She’s going to win races, she’s proven she has the speed and she has to be considered one of the early contenders for the TCM Kings County Performance Rookie of the Year Award. Question is though, is Saturday night the time she finally breaks through for her first victory?
#7 – The Finish Should Leave You on the Edge of Your Seat
We’ve seen some Pro Stock races at Speedway 660 in recent years that have been pretty exciting.
Some late race contact up front in this race last year allowed Dave O’Blenis to get into victory lane for the second consecutive season. In 2012, Ben Rowe ran most of the Best of the Best 150 with no power steering, and still ended up in victory lane. The Pro All Stars Series has had some exciting races here, and the show that the top three put on in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour Cummins 100 earlier this month was pretty exciting.
You don’t have to look too far back to see the most recent exciting Pro Stock finish at Speedway 660. Within five laps to go, Matt Harris and Lonnie Sommerville were both sent to the back of the pack because of two botched restarts. It put O’Blenis and Johnny Rankin on the front row for the final restart, and Rankin used the outside line to drive around the #48 to pick up his first win at Speedway 660 in a Pro Stock car and first win with Brad Silliker Motorsports.
While the IWK 250 stole the show last weekend for “wild races,” the boys and girls of Speedway 660 will try to trump it on Saturday night!
#8 – “Rockstar” Looking For Back-to-back Sharp Shooter Title in Tight Field
Jeremy Doran is leading the Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooters point chase over Malcolm Suley, but it will be far from easy for Doran to lock up his second straight divisional title.
Doran is the only two-time feature winner in the class in 2015, while Matt Crocker, Ira Farnell, Kyle MacKinnon and first time winner Noah Gillespie each have one victory. Eight different drivers have podium finishes in six features. At the end of the day, while this division is growing in quantity, the quality is also growing too in one of Speedway 660’s entry level divisions.
Will we have a sixth different winner in seven races in the Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooters class on Saturday? We could very well add another name, but the five aforementioned drivers will be hungry too. Stay tuned!
#9 – “Award Winning” Speedway Fries
What else needs to be said about the food offerings at Speedway 660?
Led by the TCM Track Food Staple Award Winner last year, the Speedway 660 Speedway Fries, Joyce’s Pit Stop at Speedway 660 offers up lots of delights to enjoy while watching the incredible short track action at Speedway 660.
Don’t believe the numerous fans that voted the Speedway Fries the best? Join us Saturday night and have some for yourself!
Cassius Clark (center) will drive for Rollie MacDonald (left) and the King Racing team Saturday night at Speedway 660. (MIKE MCCARTHY PHOTO)
#10 – The Entry List for the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150
We mentioned the regular campaigners are going to be stout, but who is expected to be in the field?
Did we mention that Maine driver Ben Rowe, Cassius Clark and Kirk Thibeau are making the trip up to Speedway 660 to try and take away a Speedweekend spot? How about part-timer Steve Halpin and reigning Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour Rookie of the Year Sarah McKay?
McKay will be one of three female drivers in the field, joining Alicia Mowat and Alexandra O’Blenis in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150. While we don’t have Wade Wilson’s history book handy, this may be the first time three female drivers have run in the Pro Stock division at the same time – comprising about 14% of the field on Saturday.
It’s a list full of talented drivers from New Brunswick and Maine – take a look at it for yourself here.
Entry list is subject to change without notice
|#03||Steve Halpin||Saint John|
|#2||John Rankin||St. Martins|
|#8||Ben Rowe||Turner, ME|
|#13||Cassius Clark||Farmington, ME|
|#16||Paul Gahan||Lower St. Mary's|
|#28||Kirk Thibeau||Ft. Fairfield, ME|
|#29||Greg Fahey||St. Stephen|
|#48||Dave O'Blenis||Boundary Creek|
|#74||Alexandra O'Blenis||Boundary Creek|
|#87||Matt Harris||Fredericton Junction|
So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already, be sure to make plans to get yourself to Speedway 660 on Saturday night for one that is destined to be an instant classic, the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Best of the Best 150. The show starts at 6:30pm, we hope you can join us!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!