Interviews

2021 OSCAAR Modified Drivers To Watch Part 1

With each season that comes up in the Queenston Chevrolet Buick GMC OSCAAR Modifieds, there is always a list of drivers that everyone is keeping an eye on, wondering how they’re going to perform.

As always, be sure to comment with your thoughts – whether positive or negative.

Luke Gignac

While he did not make an appearance on the tour last season, you cannot count Luke Gignac out of your conversations. After all, he captured the series title just a couple years ago in 2017. While he did not reach feature victory lane in 2019, he did pick up three top-five’s and 10 top-10’s.

Ryan Dick

After taking some time off away from the tour, Ryan Dick will be back in the fray in the year ahead. He feels strongly about his own chances, having put a lot of hard work into the racing program. If he has the new car sorted out, he feels they can “run in the top-five” following a ninth-place finish at Jukasa Motor Speedway last season.

He also knows the competition will be tough in saying, “The competition has really improved since I last ran full-time on the tour in 2016. I have been running stateside in Michigan, Ohio and even ran the World Series in Florida 2018 against some even tougher competition in the mod class with bigger engines and smaller tires.”

Brad Pearsall

When asked about drivers whom were ones to watch, one of those mentioned by Dick was Brad Pearsall. It comes as no surprise as he is a past winner on the tour, and showed speed throughout the 2019 campaign with four top-five’s and six top-10’s. If experience is any indication, and time to work on the program and improve, Pearsall could easily insert himself into the conversation moving forward.

Could the 2021 season see the No. 15 back in victory lane?

Kelly Balson

Balson has made himself a fan favorite over the years in running with a couple different divisions, and has impressed fans within the modified ranks in running up front on a consistent basis.

While he did not reach victory lane in 2020, the four-race schedule saw him a constant threat for the podium with no finishes worse than sixth, including a runner-up in the finale at Jukasa Motor Speedway. If you want to go back even further, you cannot forget about seeing the No. b10 in victory lane in 2019 at Sunset Speedway, or the year before at the Autumn Colours Classic.

Consistently pulling off podium performances over the past two years has him inserted into the championship conversation without a doubt, and someone to watch.

Coltin Everingham

2021 plans: They are not set in stone. I believe we are running some more races with Wilson Motorsports, as well as our own Pro Late
Goals: They are set pretty high. We showed great speed, just didn’t have much luck; hoping to run in the top-5!
Guys to watch: Andy Kamrath, for sure. That guy’s a goat in anything he drives! Super excited to race against him again.

As Brady Cox shared, “Coltin Everingham was fast in the starts that he made; definitely a wheel man,” which explains why he easily makes the list. His debut season behind the wheel of a modified may have only produced a single top-10, but that does not tell the full story. Mechanical gremlins took him out of contention on a couple occasions where he easily could’ve improved upon the 10th-place best results he as able to earn.

If Everingham and Wilson Motorsports have the bugs worked out, expect him to be inside the top-10, and possibly a dark horse pick to go even further up in the field.

Anthony DiBello

2021 Plans: I will be running my new mod that we built.
Goals: To go out and be consistent every race and be competitive.
Why are Modifieds so much fun? Mods have always been fun to watch and there is so much competition.
Guys to Watch: Andy Kamrth, Norman Newman, Dale Reinhart, A.J. Emms.

DiBello has been involved in modifieds for a couple of years now, and it seems the statistic file is building each one of those, as was pointed out through discussions. He was able to pick up the Rookie of the Year honors in his first season of OSCAAR competition with a runner-up in the 2019 standings.

Although a checkered flag in feature competition is missing, the seven top-five’s and 11 top-10’s from two years ago say that it is just around the corner – and why you cannot make this list without his name.

Gary McLean

2021 Plans: Currently undecided due to Covid, but if we have a choice we will be at a few mod events for sure and possibly all of them. We love all of the tracks and it would be hard to miss any of them. Besides, I think the OSCAAR fans have had a long enough break from the 8 mod and I am sure most of the competitors miss us.
Goals: As always, to be the best we personally can be every time.
Why are modifieds so cool? Modified racing was always about the ingenuity and the fastest bang for your buck
Who are you keeping an eye on? The really cool part of modified racing is the fact that you can have a wide swath of competition due to the nature of the class so to pick one driver or even a few to watch would be hard without missing other potential ones. The LRR sponsored cars are always good; TJ (Edwards) is a Varney trained guy, so he has an advantage for sure. But honestly there are another five to 10 that can get things done on a given night with a few new faces coming in to try it out. I personally love watching quite a few of these guys and the talent they have, especially in the rear view mirror!!

A very short argument as to why Gary McLean is always on these lists – he is a five-time series champion. His accomplishments have been recognized by his competitors, with A.J. Emms noting, “I think even though he hasn’t maybe ran full-time in the last full years, I know Greg Gibson and his whole crew there are racers with a lot of really experience, including Gary, and I think Gary is the type of guy that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes so he’ll be one to watch. He’ll be one that a lot of people undermine in how successful he could be.”

McLean did make an appearance in 2020, putting down the fastest lap in time trials. Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to back it up in the race with a motor issue taking him out of contention. If the team works out the bugs, the familiar sight of the No. 8 in victory lane could return.

Stay tuned for the second part of the list, as well as checking out the OSCAAR website at http://www.oscaar.ca for in-depth interviews with some of these competitors.

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