JAMES RIVER, NS - (July 17,2 007) - Riverside International Speedway will host some of the best short track racers in the Maritimes and New England this Saturday in the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body and DuPont Refinish. Twenty-eight teams are expected to enter the prestigious event, including champions, winners, veterans, rookie and stars.
Headling the entry list are NASCAR drivers Ricky Craven and Regan Smith. Craven, a native of Maine, has the distinction of being the man who captured the checkered flag in the race with the closest recorded finish in NASCAR history, winning by just 0.002-second over Kurt Busch in March 2003 in Darlington, South Carolina. Smith, from New York, shares the driving seat this year in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition with veteran Mark Martin, with each driver running a limited schedule. Just last week it was announced that rookie Smith will move to full-time Cup competition in 2008; Martin is behind Smith all the way.
"Regan's ready," said Martin last Saturday. "100% ready. Everybody is real proud of him and I have talked to other drivers who all think that he's doing a great job and think he's ready. We're excited about getting him going."
With Craven and Smith in the field, top regional racers will want to pick it up a notch in the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North sanctioned event.
John Flemming, three-time CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour champion hailing from Halifax, is looking forward to racing the guys from racing's big league.
"It will be great racing against those guys," said Flemming. "I think it's awesome for the track to bring them in, both for the fans and for us racers to be able to test our talent against guys that have made it to NASCAR. I'm looking forward to rubbing fenders with them."
Frank Fraser, a veteran racer from Shubenacadie, has been rubbing fenders with NASCAR racers since the 70s and says he's never done much different when racing them.
"They've always be just another racer to me," said Fraser. "If you let yourself think they're better than you to start with, then your beat."
Besides Flemming and Fraser, other top Maritime Canadian racers expected to enter the IWK 250 include: Donald Chisholm (Antigonish), Chris Duncan (Saint John, NB), Cy Harvey (Elmsdale), Rollie MacDonald (Pictou), Dean MacInnis (Wycocomagh), Mike MacKenzie (Dartmouth), Robbie MacLean (Winslow, PE), Marty Prevost (Fall River), Wayne Smith (Halifax), Shawn Turple (Enfield), and Bobby White (Kennetcook).
Of the Canadian group, MacDonald and Smith are also former CARQUEST Pro Stock Tour champs, and MacDonald is a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame. Chisholm, Flemming, MacDonald, MacKenzie, Prevost, Smith, Turple and White are all race winners with the competitive CARQUEST Tour.
Representing the PASS series are champs Johnny Clark (Hallowell, Maine), Ben Rowe (Turner, Maine), and Mike Rowe (Turner, Maine). Also on the entry list from the U.S. are Maine's Gary Bellefleur, Steve Berry, Travis Benjamin, Cassius Clark, Richie Dearborn, Curtis Gerry, Bill Penfold and Trevor Sanborn. Derek Ramstron from Massachusetts and Adam Bates from New Hampshire are also expected to make the trek to Nova Scotia this weekend.
Besides the challenge of racing against NASCAR stars, regional racers will be fighting for their share of the event purse, which could top $70,000, if all 250 laps are sold prior to the race. The winner of the IWK 250 is guaranteed $7,500 U.S. A $100 bonus per lap led will be awarded the leader of each sponsored lap in the race for a potential $25,000 CDN bonus.
Besides pro stock competition, fans in attendance for the IWK 250 will see racing action from the Riverside Sportsman Super Series and the Atlantic Open Wheel series. Preliminary indications are for more than 25 sportsman cars and over 20 AOW cars.
Racing action starts at 5 p.m. Saturday with qualifying heats setting the starting grids for all three divisional feature races. The IWK 250 is expected to start by 9 p.m. An autograph session is scheduled during the event to allow fans the chance to meet the drivers.
Friday will see an open practice session between Noon and 5 p.m. then pre-race activities move to the Antigonish Mall. An evening Meet and Greet will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. where fans can see the cars and meet the stars that will race in the IWK 250 - and - get the chance to see Jeff Gordon's No. 24 DuPont Refinish NASCAR NEXTEL Cup showcar.
From Paul McLean / Riverside Speedway // Distributed by Joan Roue