The off-season has seen a spike in numbers for the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds, with a realistic shot of having 30 cars entered for the season opening Spring Velocity event at Sunset Speedway.
Throughout the winter, STM’s Ashley McCubbin has been catching up with a variety of drivers from the series, asking them for their thoughts entering the year. These articles have been published on both OSCAAR’s website, and ShortTrackMusings.com. One of the questions that was asked was who are five drivers to watch entering the 2019 campaign. The list has been compiled together, and ordered by number of mentions.
So without further ado, here are the 10 drivers to watch heading into the 2019 season.
Jase Cornell put it pretty simply in saying what needs to be said about Cory Horner – “he’s a super competitive guy with a championship to defend.”
Horner took home the 2018 Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified Championship by a mere 16 points over John Harper last season following a duo in the season-finale at Peterborough Speedway. His statistics speak for themselves, as he currently sits fourth on the all-time feature win list and second on the heat victories list. He becomes a real title threat when you look at his consistency as he has posted a top-10 finish in the last 22 events for the longest top-10 streak in the series of all-time.
Once again leaving this in the hands of Jase Cornell as he put it right in saying that Harper “always manages to find his way to the front, and I’m sure he’s extra hungry for the championship after having come so close last season.”
As previously mentioned, Harper placed second in the 2018 standings following three trips to feature victory lane. He currently ranks third on the all-time feature win list, and third on the heat winners rankings.
3. Dale Reinhart – Seven Mentions
That is a thought echoed by many in the series, as he walked away from the 2018 banquet with the Most Improved Driver Award after winning his first career feature at Sauble Speedway. Reinhart put together a solid campaign in 2018 beyond the win, placing third in the year-end standings with six top-five’s and 10 top-10’s.
4. Kelly Balson – Six Mentions
Kelly Balson may only be entering his second season with the modified, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t catching everyone’s attention already. He showed speed in each event the No. b10 appeared at in 2018, scoring three top-10’s with a victory in the season-finale, the Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough Speedway.
“Although he didn’t run a full season last year, he brings a wealth of experience to the Modified Tour, and one should never under estimate Kelly’s ability to get to the front quickly,” Jase Cornell commented.
5. A.J. Emms – Six Mentions
Emms Racing may have announced that A.J. Emms will be running a partial schedule, but as Mike Westwood notes, “when he’s out, he’s going to be running at the front.” He displayed that last year, scoring six top-five’s in his eight series starts for the 2018 campaign.
The driver of the No. 14 modified is entering his fifth year in the series, currently ranked fourth on the all-time top-five’s list and seventh on the all-time top-10 list.
6. Gary McLean – Six Mentions
As Kelly Balson put it, “(Gary) McLean has been the most dominant guy in a modified since the dawn of time,” and that shows when you look at the series statistics. The five-time series champion leads every single category – feature wins, feature top-fives, feature top-10’s, and heat victories. To put this in perspective, he has won 38 of the 85 features ran to date – and that’s not running every single one of those, either.
“When he’s at the track, he’s obviously one of those guys that you want to beat,” Cory Horner said. “I’ve watched him race for a few years now. I love having him at the track as we makes us better, and makes us want to make our cars better. He’s definitely one of the guys.”
7. Luke Gignac – Four Mentions
Luke Gignac was unable to run all of the events last year due to a hand injury sustained at Sunset Speedway, but still placed seventh in the standings with five top-five’s and eight top-10’s. The 2017 Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modified Champion currently ranks seventh on the all-time top-five list, while sitting ninth on the all-time top-10 list.
8. Gary Elliott – Four Mentions
Gary Elliott brings a lot of experience to the table, though is also admired for his work ethic. As Jase Cornell commented, he “is one of the hardest working racers I know; his never give up attitude and unmatched love for the sport always serves him well at the track.” That shined through last year as Elliott placed fourth in the standings with eight top-10’s, highlighted by a feature victory at Sauble Speedway.
Elliott has consistent in each of his modified seasons to date, currently ranked sixth on the all-time top-five list and fourth on the all-time top-10 list.
9. Chris Milwain – Three Mentions
It’s easy for many people to overlook Chris Milwain due to some of the significant wrecks that he has been involved in. However, as pointed by Mike Westwood, “he was getting his modified program up to speed; he was getting faster each week.”
Milwain has visited feature victory lane on three different occasions, along with 13 career heat wins. His success to date also has him within the top-11 of both the all-time top-five and all-time top-10 rankings, as well.
10. Shawn Chenoweth – Three Mentions
“(Shawn) Chenoweth was at the classic and he was quick, and I know he has a new car; I know he’s not running full-time, but when he does show up, it’s going to be quick,” Kelly Balson said pre-season. The expectation for success should not surprise anyone, as he scored a top-10 in each of his three series starts last year, along with a pair of heat victories.
Chenoweth has proven his ability behind the wheel in a late model and super stock with multiple trips to victory lane, so look for him to do the same this year. As Mike Westwood commented, “Like the guy or hate the guy, he can wheel a racecar so he’s going to be up there.”