With each season that comes up in the Ontario short tracks, there is always a list of drivers that everyone is keeping an eye on with each other division, wondering how they’re going to perform.
When the fans and fellow competitors were asked about the Mini Stock class, there were ultimately 34 names that came up throughout the discussions – bringing us to this point. Each of those drivers have been ranked, with their final position on the list being determined based on a combination of 40% fan vote and 60% expert – the fellow competitors – vote.
As always, be sure to comment with your thoughts – whether positive or negative, and enjoy getting to know these competitors a little more.
7. Nolan Gould / Ryan Babin
Ryan Babin’s Answers
2021 Plans: if there is a season, crew for Nolan (Gould) on the Legend car and do some traveling with the mini stock.
Goals and Expectations: None really, just enjoy whatever racing we can get in.
What makes Mini Stocks so much fun? It is much more affordable then running the larger cars.
Drivers to Watch: Moving forward, there is so many. There are a lot of talented drivers in the province with good equipment to back them.
When you have a recent championship under your belt, as well as a strong showing in the Autumn Colours Classic, it speaks volumes and that’s why the pair were rated so highly on the list. The momentum carried into the shortened 2020 campaign, as Nolan Gould showed a bunch of speed at Flamboro as he was fast until mechanical issues took him out of the running.
Oh, and for the record, the pair also appeared on the Top 10 Mini Stocks Drivers Over the Past 10 Years list, too.
6. Doug Butler
2021 Plans: If we have one, Randi and I are planning on a part-time season at Sunset and travelling around to invitationals.
Goals and Expectations: I would like to pick up where I left off a couple years ago, taking some checkered flags and having a good time.
What makes Mini Stocks so much fun? Mini stock is a laid back type of racing where you don’t have to wrench on your car every minute at the track/at home, not to mention cost effective. I can still go to my junk pile and pick parts for the race car, unlike other divisions
Drivers to Watch: I see a few people getting around the track pretty good, but I have been out of the loop with everything going on.
As Doug Butler mentioned – he knows what it takes to capture checkered flags. After all, that’s what makes him a multi-time champion with crowns at both Sunset Speedway and Barrie Speedway. It’s also why he was ranked as the top driver over the past 10 years. All these reasons alone ensure you will not forget his name on these discussions, even if he has missed out on a couple years. That said, recent success has also been there including the victory at Jukasa Motor Speedway in 2019.
5. Chris Pendlebury
2021 Plans: To run Full Throttle Speedway at Varney for Rookie of the Year, and be a championship contender.
Goals and Expectations: To come to the track and be competitive as we were in 2020 and to come home with rookie of the year and hopefully a championship.
Why is Mini Stocks so much fun? You can do a lot more to the car then what we were used to with the pure stocks we ran.
Drivers to Watch: Dylan Sharpe, Karl Sault, Brian Wilson and Shawn Taylor. All good clean racers. I’ve ran side by side with these guys and it’s always a blast.
If there’s a driver who has sent shock waves through the division recently, it’s Chris Pendlebury. His step up into the division driving a car previously driven by Flamboro Champion Russ Aicken has come with a wave of success. Through the shortened campaign last year, he showed steady progress in continuing to gain speed, ability to run with the front runners, and capped it off with a podium performance. Basically, use that as your preview and you can see the sky is the limit heading into 2021.
4. Eric Yorke
2021 Plans: Depending on how Covid effects racing, I would like to try and run a full season on dirt at Ohsweken. Going to run specials and when I can on asphalt as well.
Goals and Expectations: Always chasing those w’s but I am realistic in knowing that racing on dirt is going to be a learning curve so chasing rookie of the year and maybe try to get some top 5’s would be an awesome start on dirt.
What makes Mini Stocks fun? Being able to race on a budget. Even though costs have gone up, still cool to be racing cars that used to on the street and doing all the fabricating in house – built not bought.
Drivers to Watch: There’s always some new rising stars to watch, and some more well known like Doug Butler, Will Gibbons, Samantha Shaw, Tyler Seaboyer.
Even though the No. 51 was not a common sight in 2020, there’s no way you can write Eric Yorke out of the equation. The statistics over recent years speak for themselves with dominating feature wins at Sunset Speedway, coming together for a championship, alongside stellar performances on the biggest stages ranging from Jukasa to Peterborough.
It’d be fun to offer you our podium finishers in the vote, but not quite yet as we’ll let them stand on their own in Part 5 which will come in the future.