For Chris Allard, you could say this past season was a tale of two tapes – wondering what could’ve been, while relinquishing the success in which came his way.
The driver of the No. 76 Weld It Creations, Hair We Go Stayner, Trailor Trash Toys, Jack Norton Renovations, and Georgian Chev. Mini Stock started out the year in the Mighty Mini division with lots of speed. It showed on opening night, as he won both his heat and the Fast Qualifier’s Dash. Come feature time, he quickly worked his way to the front of the field, taking the lead 13 laps into the event. From there on, it was pure domination.
“Excitement is an under statement,” Allard told Short Track Musings. “It felt like we were getting somewhere, getting noticed for once. We put so much time and effort into that car last year; Jerry Noble and I spent more time with that car than we did at home in our bed. It felt so good to come out opening night and grab the hat-trick this season.”
The following weekend, Allard seemed poised to continue the streak as he once again won both his heat and the dash. However, a blown motor in the early stages of the feature brought his night to an end.
With the speed shown in the first couple of weeks, discussions began on moving Allard up to the Mini Stock division.
” I think we got treated very unfair,” Allard said. “Don’t get me wrong, we had a great year, but we got punished for doing our homework. 2016 was only my second year ever in a race car. The mighty minis was a learning class – that’s what we were doing, LEARNING. There are people in that class that have been racing years and have turned way more laps than us.
“We were bribed by the track promoter to move up to Mini and we agreed to it and it back fired; never seen a thing he promised us, but that’s beside the point. Racing with guys like Warren Paxton, Cory Young, Terry Woodley and the legendary Andy Kamrath made us that much better and showed us as a team, it’s really time to pull our socks up.”
Despite the circumstances as discussed in moving up, Allard was able to have success. Over the next 12 races, he was able to score three top-fives and nine top-10s, including a victory on September 3.
It was a night where everything seemed together perfectly, as Allard won both his heat and the Fast Qualifier’s Dash. Come time for the feature, Allard had to work for the victory even though he started pole.
“The 25 laps felt like 250 laps with Nic (Montanari) on the outside, door-to-door,” Allard said. “I think we ran 20 laps beside each other, caution after caution; I thought the race would never end.”
Montanari, who won the division championship, wasn’t the only driver Allard had to fight off. Eric Yorke was in the midst of a hot streak, coming off a win the week before and had worked his way from 16th to third. When the caution flew with three laps to go, Allard knew it’d be a lot of work trying to hold off both Montanari and Yorke together.
“Those last three laps felt like forever, but we were able to hold them off for the three checkereds that night,” Allard said.
The success for Allard carried into the short track playoffs, as he finished fourth at Sunset’s Velocity 250, followed by a third at Peterborough Speedway’s Autumn Colours Classic.
With lots of success to close out the year, a lot of eyes are on Allard as we head into 2017, pondering whether he could be the next division champion.
“We are building a new mini and are hoping, if things pan out, to get into Super Stock,” Allard said. “Don’t know if it will be full-season or what not, but we will see. We have teamed up with Johnny Paradzinski for 2017, and we’re coming ready to go.”
As for what he feels he needs to do better in the new year, he says the key will be “not letting people get to me” and trying to keep his thoughts to himself at the track and on social media.
The other key, though, will certainly be continuing to build on his relationship with Crew Chief Jerry Noble.
“That man is a wizard,” Allard said. “Me and him connect so well – it’s not even funny. I come off the track and before I can say a word to him, he is already got a tool in his hand and telling me what I was going to tell him how the car felt. Without him, none of this would be possible.”
Beyond his thanks towards Noble, Allard did want to add thanks to his wife Shannon Allard for all of her support.