With a multitude of former champions, prior contenders and multi-time feature winners moving on or moving up, the Sunset Speedway Mini Stock division finds itself in a state of transition entering the 2016 season.
Defending champion Doug Butler, former champion Brandon McFerran and former Velocity 250 winner Jordan Howse are just a few of the perennial contenders that will not be returning to Sunset’s division this season.
Although a strong collection of Mini Stocks stalwarts remain on the Sunset roster – names like Warren Paxton, Brandon Crumbie, Andy Kamrath and Samantha Shaw will no doubt contend for feature victories throughout the season – it’s clear there’s a huge opportunity for a number of rising stars to make a name for themselves this year.
Here’s a look at a small sample of competitors that could very well fashion a run at the Sunset Speedway Mini Stock championship in 2016.
‘The Carpenter’ is the elder statesman of our foursome, having been a part of the fulltime Sunset Speedway roster since his initial foray into the Four Fun division in 2007. Woodley is both a veteran and a student of the game, having improved in each of his seasons spent competing.
The Collingwood, ON driver will never out-dollar his competition, but what he might lack in funding he more than makes up for in hard work and determination. His program was built from the ground up – largely by himself – and more often than not Woodley can be found in the Sunset pit area playing the role of Driver, Crew Chief and Car Chief. A true one man band.
Woodley closed the 2015 Sunset Speedway season with his most impressive performance to date, finishing 2nd at the annual Velocity 250 to former division champion Brandon McFerran – with McFerran later admitting that he felt as though Woodley was closing in on the lead in the race’s final laps.
While his style may not translate to a record-setting number of wins, Woodley’s consistency is the type that wins championships. Remember Doug Butler’s 2015 championship run? Podium finishes and a total avoidance of any type of DNF will keep you in the mix until the bitter end. His efforts last season – punctuated by his head-turning performance at the Velocity 250 – were proof that Woodley is ready to contend with the division’s elite on a weekly basis. And, if he can keep his ride in one piece from one night to the next, could most certainly step into the championship picture in 2016.
Sophomore driver Cameron McGlashan could very well be the most interesting prospect on the Sunset Speedway roster. After emerging as a complete unknown o\in the entry-level MIGHTY division in 2015, the Hawkestone, ON native very quickly established himself as a rising star worthy of keeping an eye on.
McGlashan’s team handled his rookie campaign masterfully, acquiring top-flight equipment and aligning themselves early on with established veterans Rick Walt and Mike Brown. With a strong car and capable mentors, McGlashan cut his learning curve admirably and proved to be a quick study in a talent-laden division.
As strong as the MIGHTY class was last season, there’s no doubt that a move to Mini Stock will be a sizeable jump for McGlashan in 2016. However, if he can continue the upward trajectory that was on display last year, it should prove to be a relatively smooth transition by mid-Summer that could very well see him turn heads as the Mini Stock division continues to evolve.
Perhaps McGlashan’s greatest asset at this time is the fact that he’s already been through the grind of chasing a championship. In 2015, his pursuit of the MIGHTY division championship came down to the final lap of the final night of the season. Ultimately, McGlashan would come up short to eventual champion Treyten Lapcevich, however the experience of that back-and-forth posturing will give McGlashan an edge over any other sophomore on the roster.
The Tiemersma family name requires no introduction in Ontario racing circles. Brothers Derrick, Steve and Tony established themselves as some of short track racing’s elite in the ’90s and 2000s. Derrick competed as a frontrunner in the former CASCAR Super Series before winning multiple events with the OSCAAR Super Late Model Tour, Steve carved out a reputation as one of the fiercest Pro Late Model competitors of his generation and Tony worked to become a constant threat in Ltd. Late Model action anywhere in the province.
Fast forward to the modern era and Steve’s son Gerrit appears ready for a push towards the 2016 Sunset Speedway Mini Stock championship. With a pair of solid seasons under his belt, the Newmarket, ON hotshoe is well on his way to establishing his own reputation within the Ontario short track scene.
Tiemersma possesses massive upside potential thanks in part to a maturity beyond his years and a willingness to learn. Combine this with the fact that the teenager is remarkably easy on equipment – in 19 appearances last season, Tiemersma took damage only twice – and you have a young man on the verge of crossing over to a perennial championship contender.
After starting out in a front wheel drive Cavalier during his rookie season, Tiemersma’s family-run team acquired a rear wheel drive Mustang for his 2015 campaign. Despite some early growing pains, Tiemersma took to the new ride admirably, and showcased an increased level of comfort towards the end of his sophomore campaign. That level of composure and maturity is precisely what could carry Tiemersma to a championship run in 2016.
The son of NASCAR Pinty’s Series Crew Chief Rino Montanari, Nic Montanari broke into the Sunset Speedway Mini Stock division in 2014. After an up-and-down rookie season, the Uxbridge, ON racer split his time between the MIGHTY and Mini Stock divisions in 2015 with far more favorable results.
A pair of feature victories in the MIGHTY division to kick off the year proved that Montanari can get the job done in race trim and warranted a mid-season move to the veteran-heavy Mini Stock class. Though he wasn’t met with the same immediate success after jumping up a division, the elevation of his skill set from 2014 to 2015 was evident.
This year, the second-generation racer finds himself alongside a bevy of other former MIGHTY division standouts, all jockeying for their opportunity to climb the Mini Stock ladder. Given the number of hungry young stars on the roster, a big performance in the opening weeks of the 2016 season could go a long way to building some much-needed momentum for the dog days of the season in July and August.
The Graham Construction Corp NASCAR Mini Stock division will open their 2016 campaign on Saturday, April 30th with a 25-lap feature event. Joining the Mini Stocks on the card will be the Sauble Falls Tent & Trailer Park NASCAR Late Models, the St. Onge Recreation NASCAR Super Stocks and the Signs of Innovation MIGHTY Division.
Details, including gate times and ticket prices, can be found at www.SunsetSpeedway.ca. For additional information, be sure to follow @Sunset_Speedway on Twitter.