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ISSUE 217

IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body Preview

I’m not sure how to start this one off, because I’m not sure there is an easy way to pick one driver, or a handful of drivers or more that could start off the week as the winner of the 2017 IWK 250.

In essence, it boils down to a stout field of drivers that will produce a great show on Saturday at Riverside International Speedway. With all the talent we have, we might see a predictable winner or we may see someone from a bit “off the map” end up in victory lane.

We have 39 entries for this race, 30 of them will start the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis and only one will win the event.

I think if we look at even money bets, I think the easiest two to lay money on would be Donald Chisholm and Dylan Blenkhorn.

These two are simple. In the last four races (2016 and 2017) at Riverside International Speedway, the two have split the four races. Blenkhorn has won both Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 150 events while Chisholm was the winner in the last two events at the track in 2016, the IWK 250 and the Lucas Oil 150. Blenkhorn has an Atlantic Cat 250 win, so he knows how to win an extended distance race but bad luck has bitten the #67 car more than once in this race. While Chisholm has had next to no luck in 2017, Blenkhorn has been on the podium in every Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race he has competed in during the current year. Statistic wise, I believe these two are the best on paper heading into Saturday.

So, where do you pin the other 37 racers? Honestly, put them around a dart board (add some wedges) and throw a couple darts. The field is this close.

Albeit we have an extra 100 laps than we did in June, let’s first look at the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 150. It was a hot Sunday afternoon that wore out a lot of drivers except for the eventual winner Blenkhorn. Remember the run that Dylan Gosbee had in that race before the power steering line blew off on the #91 Greenfield Enterprises/Hynes Racing Ford? Josh Collins ran most of the night in the top five in that one as well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gosbee or Collins potentially pull off the win if the cards fall into place. Shawn Turple and Cole Butcher each ended up on the podium in that race, which was the most recent top three finish for either driver.

Here’s a transition point - drivers that have yet to win a 250 in the Maritimes. With this being Riverside, I think Greg Proude has to top this list. Proude has been strong at Riverside and has seen a lot of success here but has never won a 250. Not to mention he’s had some bad luck take away an IWK 250 win from him. Turple would have to be close to the top of the list too. In his storied career, he has never won a 250, though he’s done about everything else in his career.

Ten drivers on the entry list have won at least one Maritime 250 - the IWK 250, the Atlantic Cat 250 or the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250. They include Lonnie Sommerville, Kent Vincent, Cassius Clark, Darren MacKinnon, Dave O’Blenis, Cole Butcher, Dylan Blenkhorn, Donald Chisholm, John Flemming and Craig Slaunwhite. In the case of Sommerville, Clark and Slaunwhite, they have each won the Atlantic Cat 250 at Scotia Speedworld and the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 at Speedway 660 but not the IWK 250. Should one of the trio pull the feat on Saturday, they would become the first driver in history to win all three Maritime 250s.

I’ve broken down a chart of the 39 entries in Saturday’s race to see where they stack up on paper. I have given them a point if they have achieved these accomplishments: a 250 win in their career, a MPST win in their career, a top five in an MPST race since the beginning of 2016 at Riverside Speedway, a top five in one of the first five races in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour in 2017 or a top five in the IWK 250 since 2008.
Three drivers have done all of that in their career and scored checkmarks in all five categories - Cole Butcher, Dylan Blenkhorn and Craig Slaunwhite. Darren MacKinnon and Donald Chisholm are missing a top five this season on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and Cassius Clark is missing a top five finish in this race since it was run under Maritime Pro Stock Tour rules. Shawn Turple and Greg Proude are missing a 250 win. Add Kent Vincent and John Flemming in there as former IWK 250 champions and, if any scientific formula could determine it, I would have to guess your winner would come from this field of 10. Again, it is the IWK 250, it could get wild and anything could transpire.

Now, 16 of those drivers are missing at least one of those five criteria on the list, but if we added track championships in the Maritime provinces, you could scratch Terry Dougay, Stevie Lively, Kyle Reid and Harry Ross White off the list. Gary Elliott has done about everything in his career but win the IWK 250. Jason Hathaway will be making his first crack at the race but he has won a NASCAR Pinty’s Series race here. Nicholas Naugle, Shawn Pierce, Devin Snell, Nevin Scott and Sarah McKay would also be nice money making bets if you wanted to go off the board.

Remember two years ago when it got wild at the end of the race and Robbie MacEwen and DJ Casey joined Kent Vincent on the podium at the end as relative rookies?! Yeah, I remember that. Imagine if Stevie Lively or Brandon McFarlane were to do that!

Don’t count out Greg Fahey and Dave O’Blenis for a shot at this one either. The two regulars at Speedway 660 have had up and down seasons. Fahey won the most recent Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race, the Cummins 150 at Speedway 660, but blew a motor early into the Pro Stock feature last Saturday during DMR Auto Night in the Geary woods. O’Blenis, on the other hand, lost the lead in the feature on the last lap and had to settle for second after a spirited battle with Brent Roy. Both are strong competitors and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them land in the top five after 250 laps Saturday.

We’ve talked a lot about Donald Chisholm here - but what about his two Nova Racing teammates?! What can we say about the career of Mark Martin? His statistics speak for themselves. He’s won 96 races in the top three NASCAR National Touring Series, he’s made 882 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, he’s a five time IROC champion, four time ASA champion and a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, among other accolades. He is racing royalty, he is jacked up to come to Nova Scotia and is excited to race for our fans at Riverside Speedway.

I’m sure his crew chief and teammate George Koszkulics will get him up to speed quick. George is always quick when he slides through the window of the #88 car and it would not surprise me if he contends for the win Saturday. Could we see a Nova Racing sweep of the podium? Only time will tell.

Again, there are so many choices for a winner in the IWK 250, I don’t know how you can pick just one. By crunching some simple numbers, there are at least 24 in my books that have the credentials to pick up a win.

We’ll see you at Riverside on Saturday, but if for some reason you can’t be there, tune us in on RaceTimeRadio.com. There is so much to do this week in Antigonish, from the on track action, to car displays around the county to Chocolate Myers making a trip - it is a weekend you truly want to be a part of.


Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!


Car #

Driver

250 Win

MPST Win

RIS Top Five
(2016-present)

MPST 2017
Top Five

IWK 250 Top Five
(2008-present)

0

Shawn Turple

x

x

x

x

1

Matt Moore

2

Lonnie Sommerville

x

x

3

Jason Hathaway

5

Jonathan Hicken

x

x

x

7

Allison MacKinnon

8

Kent Vincent

x

x

x

10

Devin Snell

13

Cassius Clark

x

x

x

x

14

Terry Dougay

17

Mark Martin

18

Darren MacKinnon

x

x

x

x

21

Shawn Pierce

23

Brandon McFarlane

29

Greg Proude

x

x

x

x

29

Greg Fahey

x

x

30

Stephen Lively

32

Sarah McKay

36

Gary Elliott

40

Robbie MacEwen

x

42

Kyle Reid

48

Dave O’Blenis

x

x

49

Harry Ross White

51

Vance Hanes

52

Chris Hughes

x

53

Cole Butcher

x

x

x

x

x

54

Jarrett Butcher

x

56

Josh Collins

x

x

66

Daryl Mahar

x

67

Dylan Blenkhorn

x

x

x

x

x

81

Nevin Scott

88

George Koszkulics

x

x

x

89

Donald Chisholm

x

x

x

x

91

Dylan Gosbee

x

x

94

DJ Casey

x

x

97

John Flemming

x

x

x

99

Craig Slaunwhite

x

x

x

x

x

08

Nicholas Naugle

13f

Jeff Fultz

x



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