(Nathan Blackburn #44 and Colton Noble #03 race around Petty International Raceway / Photo Credit : Tanya Everett Photography)
RIVER GLADE, NB : (May 15th, 2018) It has been a long winter in New Brunswick but with the warmer temperatures comes the opening of the stock car racing season. Petty International Raceway will swing their gates open with two huge events this weekend to kick off the new year. Eight unique stock car divisions will begin their season between Friday and Saturday evenings with drivers aspiring to be the first to pick up the checkered flag over their peers. Friday’s racing action will get underway at 7:30pm with Saturday’s card, which includes the Lucas Oil 150 for the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour, going green at 6pm.
For all Petty International Raceway house divisions competing this weekend, the stakes have been raised. All of Petty International Raceway’s house divisions, including the A.E. McKay Builders Late Model Sportsman, Westwood Estates Street Stock, Mister Transmission Mini Stock, Kings County Performance Beginner Four Cylinder, Leisure Days/CRC RV Bandolero and Modified divisions, will contest their events for double points.
The Westwood Estates Street Stock division will highlight Friday evening’s card at Petty International Raceway. Reigning track champion Logan Power (Riverview) will begin his title defense in the 50-lap feature but knows it will not be easy.
“I think we have a pretty good shot going into this season,” said Power. “Not only is the field growing but the quality of drivers is strong. If we can run our own race, play it smart and be there at the end of each event, we’ll be there again in September.”
Familiar names will begin their quest on Friday to dethrone Power from the top of the Westwood Estates Street Stock division. Nick Cudmore (Petitcodiac), Michael Cormier (Grand-Barachois), Curtis Moase (Riverview) and Merv Lemon (Moncton) were among drivers that took time last Saturday to shake their cars down during the annual Pre-Season Practice. Alexandra O’Blenis (Boundary Creek) will return to her roots as she pilots the No. 55 car for David and Lee Goodine this year. The Rookie of the Year crop is strong and includes Brandon Carter (Moncton), Scott Habkirk (Salisbury), John Collins (Amherst, NS) and J.R. Lawson (Shubenacadie, NS) as of press time.
With this being the first stock car event of the year in Atlantic Canada, a number of big names are expected to show up to shake down their cars for the season to come. One of those is former two-time New Brunswick track champion Luc McLaughlin (Geary). McLaughlin will target big events throughout the Province this year, including the Westwood Estates Triple Crown races. He sees this Friday night as a warm up for those races.
“We did not have the best of luck here last year and our goal is to turn that around on Friday,” said McLaughlin. “Racing big events takes a different approach; you have to save equipment for the end of a 50-lap race as opposed to a 25-lap feature. We’re hoping to start our season off on the right foot with a checkered flag on Friday evening.”
The Mister Transmission Mini Stock division is wide open as the class will crown a new champion in 2018. With former champions Tim Webster (Beaver Bank, NS), Mike Weagle (Salisbury) and Lawson not racing full time in the class this season, it leaves the Champion’s spot vacant. A number of big names will look to fill that spot at the top of the standings.
Multiple time feature winner Rob Poirier (Irishtown) is on many radars as the one to watch this year but with the likes of Chris Garnett (Havelock), Trevor Smith (Timberlea, NS), Patricia Taylor (Salisbury) and Chantel Ackles (Shubenacadie) looking to break through to victory lane, Friday’s event could be a telling one. They’ll have their hands full with the likes of Ryan McKnight, Jonathan Mahar (Saint John), Denis Morin (Moncton), Rob Boutilier (Quispamsis), Michael Savoie (Miramichi) and rookie Adam Cormier all amongst the pre-registered drivers in the class.
Paula Evans is back to defend her Kings County Performance Beginner Four Cylinder championship in 2018. The division is the former Women on Wheels class but has expanded to allow male counterparts should they want to try out the sport of stock car racing. Evans will be joined by returning faces like Ashley Campbell, Ellen Smith, Kaila Smith and Tabitha MacDonald, among others. Casie Skidmore (Springhill, NS) joins the ranks of the Kings County Performance Beginner Four Cylinder class. Skidmore’s brother Brandon is a former Atlantic Modified Tour champion.
While a number of drivers have aged on and moved out of the Leisure Days/CRC RV Bandolero class, a number of big names remain to duke it out this season. Reigning champion Sam Rogers (Lower Onslow, NS) is registered and will also split time on the Maritime League of Legends Tour this season. The Langille brothers, Josh and Nathan (Coldbrook, NS), the Noble brothers, Colton and Dawson (Upper Nine Mile River, NS) and Evan Lane (Salisbury) are among those looking to grab a checkered flag or two this year.
This Friday, adults will enjoy a special admission price at the front gate. Grandstand admission prices for Friday are $10 for those aged eight and up, while children seven years of age and under will be admitted free. Pit admission is $25 and is restricted to those 16 years of age and older. Pit gates for competitors open at 4pm, grandstand gates open for spectators at 5:30pm with racing getting underway at 7:30pm.
Joining the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock, MJS and Prime Lift East Coast Mini Stock and Atlantic Modified Tours on Saturday’s card is the A.E. McKay Builders Late Model Sportsman division. Returning to defend his crown in 2018 is Kenny MacKenzie Jr. (Salisbury). MacKenzie won seven of the nine races for the class in 2017, including the Caleb Dunn Memorial, River Glade International and Mike Stevens Memorial.
MacKenzie will have some big names returning to Late Model competition at the track, including Laurie Cormier (Riverview) and Brady Creamer (Miramichi), who tested their rides last Saturday afternoon. With this being the first weekend of competition in Atlantic Canada, names like Ryan VanOirschot (Antigonish, NS), Joey Rudderham (Sydney, NS) and former track champions Luc Bourgeois (Memramcook) and Russell Smith Jr (Lakeside, NS) could make an appearance on Saturday afternoon. They’ll compete with the likes of Jordan Veinotte (Porters Lake, NS), Neal Crawford (Salisbury) and Justin Beers (Moncton), who not only will be looking for the checkered flag on Saturday but will look to upend MacKenzie’s title reign.
While a complete entry list is not available, the competition should be stout for the first A.E. McKay Builders Late Model Sportsman race of the year on Saturday.
The Lucas Oil 150 serves as the first race in the Bumper to Bumper $5k Petty Pro Stock Challenge (PPSC). House points will be kept over the five Pro Stock/Super Late Model events at Petty International Raceway in 2018 and competitors will be able to count their best four events towards the PPSC championship standings.
Grandstand admission prices for Saturday’s events at Petty International Raceway are $30 for adults and $10 for youth aged eight to 18, while children seven years of age and under will be admitted free. Pit admission is $35 and is restricted to those 16 years of age and older. Grandstand gates open for spectators at 4pm with racing getting underway at 6pm. A complete race day format can be found later in the week at PettyInternationalRaceway.com.
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