SpeedWeekend Re-Cap: Wade’s Weekly ’13 #16

Wow – what a SpeedWeekend! Colby Smith and Shawn Tucker were big winners, but the biggest winners were the fans who were treated to the best racing of the year! History was made in the Auto Value 250 and the Irving Blending & Packaging 150 was a real barn-burner.

Heading into SpeedWeekend 2013 the two big stories were the weather and Pro Stock car count. The weather was probably more of a concern than a story, but everyone was watching the forecasts and radar screens very closely all week long. When Friday rolled around it looked like Saturday would be fine, but Sunday’s forecast was pretty gloomy.

As it turned out, Sunday’s weather was great and on Saturday night we had a rain delay of over two hours. It was well past bed-time by the time the Irving Blending & Packaging 150 took the checkers.

The Pro Stock car count story only became a concern because of all of the rain-outs earlier in the season. As a result the Pro All-Star Series, which normally doesn’t conflict with our SpeedWeekend, scheduled twin 150s in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on Saturday. Although Ben Rowe and Cassius Clark did drive through the night to get to Speedway 660 on time, other race teams were not able to make it.

A huge SpeedWeekend crowd saw a great Auto Value 250 on Sunday evening. Shawn Tucker (right) gets ready to battle Dave O’Blenis (left), John Flemming (#97) and Ben Rowe (the white car) when the race is about to re-start after a Service Master Clean Caution. The quality of cars for the Auto Value 250 was incredible and they put on a fantastic show for our fans!

But as Tim Terry put it, early Sunday afternoon, the car count was a non-issue because of the quality of cars we had in the pits. Yes it would have been nice to have more cars, but when you looked at the field we had for the Auto Value 250 it had quality written all over it.

I would like to thank Tim for joining me in the tower for SpeedWeekend, for the second year in a row. It was a pleasure working with Tim and his enthusiasm, knowledge and insight added a great deal to what went out over the PA system on SpeedWeekend.

The Auto Value 250, a presentation of RE/MAX Group Four Realty and Jim Gilbert’s Wheels & Deals, was a phenomenal race. It really was. If you missed it, you missed one of our best 250s ever. Shawn Tucker led almost 180 laps, picked up the Modern Electric Half-Way Challenge Award and this week will be heading to the bank to cash a cheque for more than $25,000!

Shawn Tucker made SpeedWeekend history at Speedway 660 on Sunday night. Tucker became the first three-time winner of the Auto Value 250! Shawn also collected the biggest payday of his racing career.

But it didn’t come easy for Tucker, who made history by becoming the first three-time Auto Value 250 champion. He was challenged by Dave O’Blenis, John Flemming, Kirk Thibeau and Ben Rowe at the front of the field. And when Shawn made his pit stop, under caution a few laps after picking up Modern’s $1,500 Half Way Challenge Award, he faced a tough task.

Once Tucker came back on the track after receiving service he had to start at the rear of the field and work his way back to the front. The key word here is work. That’s because the race stayed green for a good 30 or 40 laps and Tucker’s #52 was stuck in the middle of an eight or nine car hornet’s nest. He couldn’t clear that group and lap after lap after lap those cars kept a torrid pace. One slip or slide by any of those drivers could have caused a wreck and taken Tucker out of contention.

As it turned out the 52 finally worked his way through the hornet’s nest, chased down the leaders and grabbed the lead back for good right around lap 183. But he was challenged every lap of the way, especially on re-starts after a few late Service Master Clean Cautions.

When the fire-works lit up the Geary Woods, Shawn Tucker and his crew celebrated their third Auto Value 250 win in the Riverview Ford Lincoln Victory Lane. Combine that with a 2013 IWK 250 win, third place in the Atlantic Cat 250 and three Parts for Trucks Tour wins, it has been an awesome season for Team Tucker!

And how about Colby Smith, who towed his Sportsman car all the way from Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia? His team’s half-way adjustments were just what Colby needed to take the victory in the Irving Blending & Packaging 150. Smith and Dave O’Blenis put on some show for SpeedWeekend fans. They ran door-to-door and bumper-to-bumper in a great race at the front.

Colby Smith is excited as he celebrates the biggest win of his racing career in the Irving Blending & Packaging 150. The Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia driver turned it up a notch in the 2nd half of the race to take the win and $5000 first place prize money. Dave O’Blenis and Lonnie Sommerville, who finished 2nd and 3rd, couldn’t handle young Colby at the end of the race when it mattered most. More than 35 cars attempted to qualify for the 26 starting positions in Atlantic Canada’s biggest Sportsman race of the year.

The 36 Sportsman teams that came to SpeedWeekend were amazing in qualifying. Only 26 would race in the 150 and qualifying was intense. In particular, those two last chance races were incredible. Sarah McKay, our Martin’s Home Heating Rookie of the Year, used her bumper to get around a competitor with less than two to go to get into the show. And to the delight of our fans, the young lady had a great 8th place finish in the Irving Blending & Packaging 150. Phil Barkhouse Jr. also made a daring move late in his last chance race to get into the 150.

And how about Lonnie Somerville? After not qualifying for the Sportsman race, they loaded the car on the trailer. But then when Jason Shannon refused to take a provisional and John Flemming had issues and withdrew, Sommerville became the next car on the list of qualifiers. All Lonnie did was come out, start at the back, come to the front, challenge for the win and eventually take third in the Irving Blending & Packaging 150. Pretty strange turn of events and a pretty impressive run!

Sarah McKay hit her stride in the Irving Blending & Packaging 150 with an incredible eighth place finish. The Martins Home Heating Sportsman Rookie of the Year made an aggressive move in her Last Chance race just to bring the 23 to the starting grid for the big race on SpeedWeekend. What a run and what a year for this young lady!

Speaking of impressive runs, how about Cole Boudreau? He was running 6th in the Auto Value 250, when a caution came out with about 20 laps to go. During that caution Tim Terry and I spent a lot of time talking about what a great run Cole was having and what a great kid he is. I’m afraid we might have jinxed him, because when the green came out Cole spun the tires, ended up in the beach and eventually came home 15th . But it was still an impressive race for the youngster who is heading back to school at Chipman High this week.

Well, I’ve used up most of my space writing about the two big races of SpeedWeekend, but the supporting divisions were awesome too. Congrats to Josh Arbeau for winning the DMR Auto Sales & Service Street Stock 50 lapper, Randy Campbell for taking the 20 lap Fredericton Gun Shop Sharp Shooter feature and Drew Greenlaw and Cole Tanner the winners of the two West Wood Estate Apartments Bandolero 25 lap Blasts.

The weather, which was a story all weekend, did bite us on SpeedWeekend Monday. The ENDURO 200 Championship had to be postponed until this coming Sunday afternoon at 2PM.

SpeedWeekend 2013 was a great success. I want to thank all of the fans, our marketing partners, the race teams and Speedway 660 employees. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Speedway 660’s new owners. This was the first SpeedWeekend for the Roy and Foley families. They did a great job, learned a lot and are committed to growing our sport in the years to come.

And by the way, don’t forget that we’ve got one more race-date left. This coming Sunday afternoon at 2PM it’s the ENDURO 200 Championship.

We’ll see you at the races!

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