(Sept. 7, 2017) This is the last Weekly of 2017, so I thought it would be nice to look back at the season that was. Since SpeedWeekend is still fresh in our minds, I’ll focus on the “regular season”. Yes we had a lot of rain that cancelled some events and forced us to use rain-dates on other occasions, but we saw some phenomenal racing and several drivers recorded huge wins.
There were some awesome highlights of 2017, so I thought I would try to condense them into a top ten list. Try as I might, I just couldn’t do it. I actually combined a couple of highlights together to try to get my list down to ten, but at the end of the day it became a top eleven. I may have missed some highlights and my list might not be in the order you would have if you were making a list, but with that little disclaimer out of the way, here goes!
Number Eleven: The two Kyle’s were impressive all season long in the Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooter division. The car count slipped a little bit in our entry class, but Kyle McKinnon and Kyle Boudreau put on a show for our fans every week. The two Kyle’s helped keep this division alive and kicking as they battled each other hard for the championship.Kyle Boudreau (#81) and Kyle McKinnon made the Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooter division exciting this year. In the end Mr. Boudreau won the championship for the second time in three years.
Number Ten: The return of Luc McLaughlin to the DMR Auto Sales Street Stock ranks was a highlight of the season. With Rob Raynes and Courtney O’Blenis moving up to Sportsman this year we wondered who would rise to the occasion in Street Stock. After taking a year off, Luc came back and won three features and the championship. Luc McLaughlin dominated the DMR Street Stock division in 2017. Luc won the championship for the second time in four years.
Number Nine: On May 28th two of Speedway 660’s best young, talented drivers recorded their first-ever feature wins in their current divisions. Both were Rookie of the Year award winners in 2016 but both entered 2017 looking for that elusive first feature win.Riley Goodwin is one of the bright young stars at 660. This fourth generation driver won the Street Stock feature for the first time in late May.
Riley Goodwin scored his win in the DMR Auto Sales Street Stock feature, while Jacob Logan crossed the stripe first in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman feature. It was pretty awesome that both of these incredible drivers got their big wins on the same day.Young drivers and their families always remember those first feature wins. Jacob Logan got his early this season.
Number Eight: Ashton Tucker and Ryan Messer won their first-ever RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock division features in back to back weeks. Ashton, the 2016 Pro Stock Rookie of the Year, cracked the win column on June 10th. Young Tucker was back in victory lane on the Day of Champions, joining Greg Fahey as the only drivers to win two Pro Stock features this season.Ashton Tucker became the first of three different young Pro Stockers to win their first features this season. Ashton also won the 50 lapper on the Day of Champions and finished second in points!
A week after Ashton went to victory lane for the first time, rookie Ryan Messer turned the trick. It was a huge accomplishment for the 2016 Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman champion, who moved up to our highest division this year. Ryan would go on to win the Pro Stock Rookie of the Year Award.Ryan Messer got to victory lane a week after Ashton’s first win. Ryan had a stellar season, winning Pro Stock Rookie of the Year honours and finishing sixth in the points.
Number Seven: John Rankin’s return to the Sportsman ranks was a big story in 17. He won the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman 100 on Father’s Day, the Firecracker 150 and the Sportsman championship. It sure was a triumphant return for John.A very special guest joined John Rankin, Alexandra O’Blenis and Laurie Cormier on the Firecracker 150 podium. John had a dream season at Speedway 660.
Number Six: On July 8th we had a fantastic finish in the RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock feature. Brent Roy and Dave O’Blenis swapped the lead a couple of times in the late stages of the race. Dave passed Brent with less than two to go and then Brent got Dave down in turn one on the last lap and coming out of four Brent was barely able to hold Dave off for the win.Fans saw a tremendous Pro Stock race on July 8th. Brent Roy (#26) and Dave O’Blenis put on some show for our fans.Brent Roy’s feature win on July 8th was his only one of the season, but he won the Pro Stock championship by consistently having top five finishes almost every time out.
Number Five: On July 22nd a very emotional Dustin Tucker won his first-ever Pro Stock race. He was the third first-time Pro Stock winner this season. The third generation driver had to out-duel Dave O’Blenis, a five-time champ, before earning his first visit to victory lane.Dustin Tucker, a third generation driver, got his first Pro Stock win in July. Dustin was steady all season long and that consistency earned him a solid third place in the championship point standings.This is one of my favourite photo’s of the season. O’Blenis, a five-time champion, embraces young Dustin after his first-ever Pro Stock win.
Number Four: Courtney O’Blenis won her first-ever Sportsman feature on the Day of Champions. Not only that but she outraced her big sister Alexandra to the checkered flag. That was pretty sweet.Courtney and Alexandra are about as close as sisters can get, both on and off the track. They proved that on the Day of Champions when Courtney got to the finish line a split second ahead of Alex.This is one of my favourite moments of 2017. Courtney and Alexandra O’Blenis hug each other after finishing first and second in the Day of Champions Sportsman feature!
Number Three: Ashton Tucker had an amazing run in the Best of the Best 150. Ashton challenged Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe for the win, gained a lot of confidence and proved he could race alongside a couple of the best American drivers from the Pro All Star Series. (*note: we all know what Ashton did on SpeedWeekend!) Ashton Tucker (#32) gave Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe all they could handle in the Best of the Best 150. Late in the race, Ashton was involved in a three-way dance for the win!Coming of age! Ashton Tucker joined Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe on the Best of the Best Pro Stock podium. Ashton’s incredible performance and finish was one of the big highlights of the season.
Number Two: Greg Fahey became the first Speedway 660 weekly Pro Stock driver to win a Parts for Trucks Tour race in the Geary Woods in over a decade. Greg just didn’t win the race, he dominated it and spanked the field in the Cummins 150 on Canada Day Weekend.Greg Fahey’s impressive win in the Cummins 150 is one of the top highlights of 2017. Greg and the entire McLaughlin Roof Trusses race team deserves a lot of credit for pulling this one off.
Number One: The top moment of 2017’s regular season, at least in my opinion, occurred on August 12th. It involved Greg Fahey again. This time Greg won the RE/MAX Group Four Realty Pro Stock 50 lap feature in dramatic fashion. He crossed the finish line .047 seconds ahead of Dave O’Blenis. I still get goose-bumps remembering the way the two veteran drivers raced each other during the last few laps, particularly coming out of turn four and crossing the stripe for the final time.Greg Fahey and Dave O’Blenis share a special moment after the Pro Stock feature on Fan Appreciation Night. It was one of the closest finishes of all time and fans who were there will talk about this one for a long time! Greg Fahey and car owner Andy Fox, surrounded by youngsters on Fan Appreciation Night, celebrate an incredible moment after the most exciting finish of the season.
So that’s my take on the top ten, whoops I mean eleven moments of the 2017 “regular season”. You may have a different list or your list might be in a different order than mine, but one thing is certain, 2017 was a sensational season at Speedway 660. Fans were thrilled every week and the action was incredible!
There were a couple of disappointments this year. The first was a rash of inclement weather that forced the cancellation of the Pro All Star Series scheduled trip here in June. We also lost the East Coast Mini Stock Tour race and had to use rain dates for the Riverview Ford Season Opener, the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour and the Night of Champions.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the year for any driver was experienced by Drew Greenlaw. For the third straight year he finished second in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman championship standings. But the young driver from Eastport, Maine took it all in stride and I’m sure he’ll be back and perhaps 2018 will be his year.Drew Greenlaw is one of our most popular drivers, especially among the young Speedway 660 fans. Drew had two feature wins in 2017, but still ended up second in the points.
The most positive thing of the season, again in my humble opinion, was Speedway 660’s decision to provide free admission to all fans 15 years of age and younger. This proved to be a very smart move and makes racing much more affordable for families. Speedway 660 really is fan-friendly.The annual Candy Scramble, Kid’s Day festivities, Fan Appreciation Day, Christmas in July and other special promotions make Speedway 660 the most family-friendly race track in Canada. The decision to provide free admission to all youngsters 15 and under was a huge hit with the kids and their parents
So that’s it for 2017. It was a great year in spite of some untimely rain. The racing was phenomenal and we’re left with many memories of the season that was and dreams of the season to come. 2018 will be our 25th season and I know we’ll celebrate that milestone with special events and activities throughout the year.
Thanks for checking out these Weekly web blogs this year. Have a safe and prosperous off-season.
We’ll see you at the Riverview Ford Season opener in mid-May, 2018!