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Author Topic: Year-In-Review: Miller Tire/BFGoodrich Thunder Cars  (Read 850 times)

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Year-In-Review: Miller Tire/BFGoodrich Thunder Cars
« on: December 20, 2008, 05:07:29 PM »
By Tim Terry

(December 1st, 2008) - As the sound of Christmas music begins to fill the air and excitement for the Awards Banquet in January builds, we continue to reflect on the "2008 Summer of Racing" at Scotia Speedworld.

This past season, the Miller Tire/BFGoodrich Thunder division saw the highest car count of any division with 46 cars taking a green flag over fourteen race events. What makes that number particularly extraordinary is that approximately half of those cars raced full time, creating an average field size of thirty cars per race!

If there were any championship favourites in a stacked field of drivers, three would stick out as pre-season contenders. The first would be Darren Leonard (#6, Halifax) who won the 2007 Miller Tire/BFGoodrich Thunder title. Next up would be Derek MacCallum (#16, Lower Sackville) who ended the 2007 season by winning the "Atlantic Canadian Stock Car Championships" for Thunder cars at the Centre For Speed in Grand-Barachois, New Brunswick. The third driver carrying momentum into the 2008 season was Rawdon's Jeremy Hallett. The eighth place driver in 2007 finished off the season with the win in the Miller Tire 100-lap event.

Hallett, driving the #71 car, proved his huge win last September wasn't a fluke as he "doubled down" on Q104 Night by winning his Heat Race and Main Feature on May 30th. Hibbs (#56, Lower Sackville) and MacCallum rode to second and third that night as they set their sights on a 2008 title.

The resurgence of the "Leonard's Towing" cars was evident the next week as Halifax's Leigh Tucker pulled through for his first Main Feature win at Scotia Speedworld. He didn't come alone to the podium though as his buddy Kevin Clarke Jr. (#65) finished behind the #7 car. Kyle Gammon (#98, Middle Sackville) posted his first top three finish of the season in the Gammon/Parks Racing entry to round out the podium on Wallace Equipment Night.

MacCallum would stake his claim early in the season as well, taking the Heat and Main Feature wins on AMP Energy Night - just three events into the schedule. His first Feature win of the year handed MacCallum the points lead by six over Gammon. Clarke Jr. and Gammon joined him on the podium that evening.

MacCallum sat back the next week and watched "Hibby" double down on Kiddie Night. MacCallum took second in front of Harry Ross White (#18, Noel Rd.), who was subbing for reigning Lightning champ Terry White. MacCallum would extend his point lead from the last race to a fourteen point difference between himself, Clarke and Gammon.

Once again, MacCallum showed he was the driver to beat the next week by winning his second Main Feature of the season over Hibbs and division veteran #67 Ross Harvie. This seemed to be the major turning point of the season as Clarke and Gammon each placed outside the top five in this feature which turned into a twenty-nine point lead for the #16 A+B Precision Machine Civic.

Hibbs attempted to halt the MacCallum run-away on Lockhart Truck Centre night by "doubling down" for a second time this season. Hibbs bested Clarke and MacCallum at the line to win and ended up second in the point standings at night's end, twenty seven points out of top spot.

It was only a matter of time before the Hella's Diner/ Honda of Kyle Gammon broke into Victory Lane - and it finally happened on July 18th, Bargain Hunter Night. Gammon led last week's winner Hibbs and Scott O'Neill (#74, Enfield) across the stripe for his first win in 2008. The points remained unchanged, with the #16 leading the #56, #65, and #98 cars as they neared the mid-way point of the 2008 campaign.

Kevin Clarke Jr. would then take his turn to wave the checkered flag as he was victorious to kick off the month of August. The #65 Never Greener Services car won the race over the two A+B Precision Cars of Brian Publicover (#26, Lower Sackville) and MacCallum.

The biggest weekend of the Scotia Speedworld season would prove to be "big" in the Thunder division for many reasons. First and foremost, Kyle Gammon took the win at the Atlantic CAT 250 weekend, making for a huge celebration on a very hot Sunday afternoon at the 3/10 mile oval. MacCallum continued his dominating season by finishing second in front of Bayside's Matt Scott (#32). MacCallum would take a 55-point strangle hold on the championship standings.

Scott O'Neill would back up his early season podium finish with a victory on Canadian Forces Appreciation Night. The Blair's Custom Metals #74 outran Gammon and Tyler Hawes (#01, Sheet Harbour) for the win. MacCallum finished solidly in fifth to maintain his huge point lead. Hawes would get his first checkered flag in 2008 the next week beating out the very strong black and red cars of MacCallum and Hibbs.

The final two races of the season would be remembered as the "Derek and Dave show", as MacCallum and Dave Matthews (#99, Kennetcook) finished first and second in the final two events of the season, including the season finale Miller Tire 50-lap race. Both races were so close, photo finishes had to be used to determine the winner in each event! The two were joined on the podium by David Hibbs and HOSS (Harry Ross White) in the last two races respectively. HOSS had so much fun earlier in the season that he decided to give the Thunder racing another try and, with help from Ross Harvie, a black and green #18 showed up on track during the finale.

When all was said and done, 2008 will be known as Derek MacCallum's year. MacCallum racked up four Main Feature wins (including the Miller Tire 50-lapper), a B Feature win, Heat Race win, not to mention - ten top threes, eleven top fives, and thirteen top ten finishes in Main Features! He finished 95 points up on Kyle Gammon with Kevin Clarke Jr., Tyler Hawes and the 2008 Rookie of the Year Terry White rounding out the top five in points. The drivers from third to seventh in points (Dave Matthews and Jeremy Hallett finished sixth and seventh) were only separated by 21-points at season's end.

Stay tuned to next week as we step up to the six-cylinder automatics. That's right - the Wallace Equipment Hobby Stock Year in Review, next week, right here at!

- Tim Terry,

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Year-In-Review: Miller Tire/BFGoodrich Thunder Cars
« on: December 20, 2008, 05:07:29 PM »


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