SpeedWeekend Anticipation/Championship Review – Wade’s Weekly # 16

Everyone in Atlantic Canada’s racing community is excited about SpeedWeekend 2012. Lots of folks from Quebec and New England are also on their way to Speedway 660 for the biggest event of the racing season.
Before focusing on SpeedWeekend, let’s look back at one of the most eventful Fan Appreciation Night of Champions in the history of Speedway 660. First off congrats to all of the champs: Cole Boudreau, Luc McLaughlin, Shannon Brake, Glyn Nott and Dave O’Blenis.

They deserve the accolades and recognition that goes with winning Speedway 660 championships. Two division titles were especially hard fought this year. Glyn Nott went into the final point night in fourth place, 17 points out of first. Glyn controlled his own destiny by winning the heat, dash and feature to take the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman title by four points. Shannon Brake started the night nine points behind the leader and won the RV World Street Stock championship by two points.

Shawn Tucker is the defending Auto Value 250 winner and one of the favourites heading into the 2012 race. This weekend Tucker will attempt to become the first three time winner of the race. More than thirty other top Pro Stock drivers from Atlantic Canada, New England and Quebec will visit Speedway 660 for this year’s Auto Value 250.

I used the words hard fought and that’s exactly what it was. Randy Moore and Rick Cashol led the Sportsman and Street Stock points heading into Fan Appreciation Night of Champions. They got roughed-up in their heat races, but both bounced back and made valiant attempts to win the titles. Nott and Brake are deserving champs, but as far as I am concerned Randy and Rick are champs too!

Also deserving an honourable mention is Kevin Moore. Big Kevin has been loyal to A.L. Gullison Disaster Kleenup Pro Stock racing at Speedway 660 for well over a decade. He has never won the title, although he has almost always been in the top five and often has finished second. Another second this year, this time behind O’Blenis.

We saw awesome championship point racing at Speedway 660 this year. And on Fan Appreciation Night of Champions we saw celebrations, disappointments and a couple of controversies. That’s all part of racing and when all is said and done – to quote Hughie Yorke – “No one is bigger than the sport”.

Now, on to SpeedWeekend 2012. It’s just days away and Speedway 660 is a bee-hive of activity as staff and volunteers do a hundred and one – make that a thousand and one last minute things to get ready.

We are excited about what will be an awesome weekend of short-track racing. The AutoValue 250 always amazes me and this year there are more than a few interesting story-lines.

The Johnny Clark versus Shawn Tucker show-down is the first one to come to mind. Clark has won four of his last five races at Speedway 660 and Tucker has won three of his last four. And you guessed it – Tucker broke Clark’s streak and Clark broke Tucker’s.

Then there is the Ben Rowe/Hal O’Neal story. Hal retired after a bad wreck during Auto Value 250 qualifying a few years ago, but kept his car and made friends with Ben. Last year they were close to winning the 250 and this year won the Best of the Best Pro Stock 150. That makes them a top contender in Sunday’s race.

How about a first three-time Auto Value 250 winner? I mentioned Johnny Clark and Shawn Tucker – well they each have two wins and so does Lonnie Sommerville. We could very well see a three-time winner this weekend.

How about top drivers who have never won the Auto Value 250? The first name that comes to my mind is John Flemming. Then there is Cassius Clark, Wayne Smith, Travis Benjamin, Shawn Turple, Greg Fahey and Ben Rowe.

I also want to mention a “dark-horse”. Mike Stevens has won two Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races this year. The former Speedway 660 regular has really raised his level of competition since joining the tour, so don’t be surprised if Big Mike is in the mix as the laps wind down Sunday night.

Did you realize the top four in the 2011 Auto Value 250 were all New Brunswickers? Shawn Tucker won it, Dave O’Blenis was second, Steve Halpin third and Kevin Moore fourth. Very impressive indeed!

I’ve been talkin about the Auto Value 250, but the Coastal Blending and Packaging 150 and the Enduro 200 are also part of SpeedWeekend and will be great races too. And through-out the weekend we will also feature Speedway 660’s other divisions. The Hanwell Village Mart Bandolero, Fredericton Jewellers Four Cylinder and RV World Street Stock division racers will all be showcased this weekend.

A final note: I have asked Parts for Truck Pro Stock Tour announcer Tim Terry to join me in the tower for SpeedWeekend. Tim is one of Canada’s best young race announcers and I am excited about working with him. It will also give us two voices on the PA system which will keep things fresh and give you all a break from having to listen to this old dinosaur all weekend long!

SpeedWeekend is always a blast. The campgrounds will be packed, the atmosphere electric and the racing incredible. So, tell your friends, tell your neighbours, tell everyone to head down to Speedway 660 for SpeedWeekend 2012.

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