By: Ashley McCubbin
Each week, I am going to try and put together five thoughts on something in relation to short track racing based on what happened on track. Some of these will be positive, and others will be….well, not as pretty. Hopefully there is lots to talk about this year.
This past weekend, Sunset Speedway opened their 2017 season with Jordan Howse winning the first St. Onge Recreational Super Stock feature of 2017. Based on the 30 laps of feature action, here are some thoughts to consider.
1. Jordan Howse’s Victory
After starting up front, Jordan Howse was able to put the No. 8 MACMASTER BUICK GMC OF ORANGEVILLE, STEWART’S EQUIPMENT, KUBOTA, GLENN WINDREM TRUCKING, PAUL HOWSE AND ASSOCIATES, FOODLAND OF HILLSBURGH, JOHN TEUNE ENGINES, FIERCEWRAPS.CA, DUTCHBOY CARPET CLEANING, SPECIALIZED WELDING, LARUE’S HAULAGE AND GEORGIA BECK BROOMS entry out front on Lap 4, and did not look back the rest of the event.
Surprise? Not even close to being a surprise as he finished second in last year’s points standings, second at the Velocity 250, won four features with 14 top-10’s, and won the Autumn Colours Classic. Realistically, he was the odds on favourite to open the season in victory lane and win the championship this year. If you had to predict how a season would go at Sunset Speedway, this was the scenario played by many.
Now, it’s only night one so don’t go handing him the championship trophy just yet. However, if you started engraving the J into the trophy I wouldn’t blame you. Cayden Lapcevich won the season opener in 2015 before winning the title. Matt Bentley won last year’s season opener….and well, we know how that went for him. Needless to say, some early season momentum doesn’t hurt to have.
2. Rough Start for Dan Archibald
Dan Archibald has proven he can run up front, but Saturday night didn’t go as planned. After wrecking in his heat with Gerrit Tiemersma, he pulled his car into the pits on Lap 3 of the feature, picking up a last place finish.
Certainly not the start you want to a season, but it also reminds us last year as he opened 2016 with a 16th place finish. He came back to have a solid campaign, though, scoring seven top-10’s with a victory mid-year.
Known as one of the most colorful drivers at the track, avoiding a repeat of incidents will be key to whether Archibald has success this season. If he can avoid trouble and it can stay away from him, it’s easily expected to see him score a couple wins this year.
3. Hello Johnny!
If there was a shock on the night, it had to be the driver of the No. 83 FREDDIE’S DAMN GOOD FRIES, HOT SPOT AUTO PARTS, LITTLEJOHN BARRISTERS, UCA, RENAUD BOYS, JB BARNES, FOX’S BAKERY AND DELI entry as few had penciled Johnny Morrison in as someone to finish the season opener in second.
The bigger shock is it comes with just buying the car only a week before the season started. However, the car had shown previous speed – with Kendra Adams closing out last year with a top-10 after her father Brendan picked up a feature victory in 2015.
While not considered as a front runner, Morrison has improved a lot through recent seasons, posting three straight top-six finishes mid-season last year before some late season bad luck. If he can keep on the course that he’s set so far, he could be one of the feature winners this season.
4. Bad Luck Bites
Based on last season, you could have penciled both Stefan Semeraro and Miles Tyson as top-10, perhaps even top-five finishers opening night. Ultimately, that didn’t happen as both ran into bad luck with Semeraro having a mechanical issue with three to go, and Tyson blowing a tire on Lap 4.
Both drivers impressed in their rookies campaigns, as Semeraro had nine top-10’s with a heat victory, with Tyson scoring seven top-10’s and three heat victories.
The bad luck can’t plague the boys all year long, and when the super stocks hit the track once again, expect both drivers to run up front.
5. Car Count Concerns
When everyone viewed the pre-season registration list, they automatically saw 24-car fields, with the need for a b-main some nights in hopes of having more than a full field roll into the pits. Bad move as we see this movie every year – a bunch of people register, and yet only some ever do truly show their face.
Now with only 19 cars rolling through the pit gate on Saturday night, concerns have started surrounding the counts that we will see this season at the speedway.
Now 19 may not be the number that you were hoping for – but it’s not that shabby, if you think about it. Anybody recall the nights of only 15 cars in the pits? We’re at least higher than that, and frankly, Sunset Speedway’s numbers are higher than other tracks in the province so you cannot take that for granted.
There’s also the consideration in the level of talent….and that should be a big thought. The number of drivers that can realistically contend on any given night, having shown speed and the cars underneath them, is not a small number by any stretch. It’s the reason why there were seven different feature winners last year alone.
Oh, and hey, this is only opening night. The number will go up some as we move into the season. Colton Everingham has just put the final touches on his new car and expects to debut it this weekend. Joe Daley will make his rookie debut in a couple weeks as he wants to get some practice under his belt first. Anthony DiBello also mentioned coming to the speedway once again, but was doing a mall show last week for his sponsor. There’s also a good possibility of seeing Ken Grubb, Brandon McFerran, Nick Tooley, Stan Coe, Dennis Cybalski, and some others that are not coming to mind, too, depending on their schedules for 2017.
So as some of you hit the panic button, I say keep buying your admission tickets, finding your seat in the grandstands and enjoying the show because it’s going to be a thrilling season of action.