JAMES RIVER, NS (July 16, 2013) – Brad Keselowski is excited to return to his roots in short track racing on July 20 at Riverside International Speedway in the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. He is excited to be making his first late model start in almost a decade and he is coming to Nova Scotia on a mission: to win.
“I can’t wait to get there and hopefully win a race,” said Keselowski, who will drive the popular Cat Car for Kids. “I fully expect to be racing against some of the best. Those guys would like nothing better than to beat me and I know that. I’m looking forward to it either way. It should be a lot of fun.”
His goal shouldn’t be too tough for a reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, right?
Only once since the first IWK 250 in 2007 has a NASCAR driver beat the locals to the finish line; that was in 2008 and the driver was Regan Smith. Keselowski is leaving no stone unturned in his mission to follow Smith’s trail to Riverside Victory Circle; he’s bringing his own car prepared in North Carolina by native Nova Scotian Gary Crooks/Crooks Racing who handles Keselowski’s driver developmental program. Keselowski is also bringing his top late model driver Austin Theriault as his IWK 250 teammate. And he hopes Crooks’ experience is their secret weapon.
“Gary is an excellent late model racer,” said Keselowski. “He knows the track and he knows the locals. I know they will be strong and it wouldn’t surprise me if Austin (Theriault) is one of the guys to beat as well.”
Keselowski will work a rare off-weekend from his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to make an even more rare start at a regional track start in the IWK 250. It will be his first trip to Nova Scotia and the reputation of the track and the regions fans have preceded them.
“I’ve heard the track is really racy, that it has a bottom and top groove, and that you can run either one,” said Keselowski whose Penske Racing teammate Joey Logano finished third in the 2012 IWK 250. ” I’ve heard the fans are very passionate and there are lots of them. I’m looking forward to a great race and a great crowd.”
The Cat Car for Kids program, presented by Atlantic Cat, was initiated in 2008. Prior to race day the car and Keselowski will visit the IWK Health Centre where patients and their families can sign the car as co-sponsors; the annual visit has become a ‘signature’ event on the hospital calendar. The IWK 250 has raised awareness and more than $130,000 for the IWK Health Centre since 2007.
While Keselowski’s IWK 250 entry may be the headline there are many more IWK 250 storylines, including…
Flemming Hopes Strong Start to 2013 Leads to IWK 250 Repeat
With three wins in six starts on the 2013 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour (PST) and a 73-point advantage in the point standings three-time champion John Flemming is looking to improve his season – by defending his 2012 IWK 250 win and becoming the first repeat winner of the prestigious event.
“Second is not an option,” said Flemming. “We can’t control everything but what we can we will. We know the car is better than last year and would like nothing better to be the first repeat winner – and to beat Keselowski. I hope it’s him we’re racing with for the win at the end.”
Besides Flemming, former IWK 250 champions expected in the field include Wayne Smith (2009), Kent Vincent (2010), and Darren MacKinnon (2011). Vincent and MacKinnon are racing full-time with the PST; this will be Wayne Smith’s first start in 2013. Maine’s Mike Rowe won the inaugural IWK 250 in 2007.
Thirty-four drivers from five Canadian provinces and two states in the U.S. have pre-registered for the IWK 250. See the complete IWK 250 Expected Entry List at www.riversidespeedway.ca/events/iwk-250/ (click on entries tab).
IWK 250 Marks Halfway in PST Chase for the Championship
While the immediate focus on July 20 for the 34 drivers expected to enter the IWK 250 will be winning the prestigious event, Parts for Trucks Series regulars will also need to be mindful that the event pays the same number of points as any of the other 11 races on the season schedule. And while Flemming holds a stout lead, a mere 27-point margin separates positions two through five (2. Shawn Turple, 3. Greg Proude, 4. Dylan Gosbee, 5. Darren MacKinnon). Complete PST point standings at www.maritimeprostocktour.com.
Weekend Purse Tops $100,000
One hundred six thousand four hundred dollars. That’s how much is up for grabs this weekend at Riverside International Speedway. The IWK 250 gets the lions share at $93,200 with a guaranteed $8,500 to the winner – and a winner-take-all tally at $17,100. The balance of the purse offering is on the line Friday July 19 and split between competitors in the Highland Home Building Centre 100 for the Napa Sportsman Series and the Maritime Legends Challenge for the Maritime League of Legends.
Fans Urged to Get Advance Tickets & Arrive Early
With a record crowd expected to attend the IWK 250 fans who want to avoid lineups (in traffic and at the box office) are encouraged to arrive early and to take advantage of advance ticket sales. Plenty of good seats remain and can be purchased by visiting RiversideSpeedway.ca or the track office at the Antigonish Mall (Monday July 15 to Thursday July 18). Tickets will be available at the track box office on July 19 & 20.
Champions Chasing Elusive IWK 250 Win
An IWK 250 trophy is on the bucket list for every pro stock driver in the Maritimes, but especially for former PST champions who have yet to win the prestigious race, including: Shawn Tucker – PST champion in 2004, ’07, 10 and Shawn Turple – PST champion in 2009, 2012.
While 2013 marks the seventh edition of the IWK 250, Riverside has hosted this historic event since 1977 when Ontario’s Billy Watson became the inaugural winner. Other former “Riverside 250” winners include the late Scott Fraser (six wins), the late Don Biederman (three wins), five-time Maritime champion Greg Sewart (two wins), Maritime racing legend Frank Fraser (two wins), four-time Maritime champion Terry Clattenburg, North America short track legend Junior Hanley, Maritime racing veteran Mike MacKenzie, and Maine’s Ben Rowe. Scott Fraser, Sewart, Biederman, and Hanley are members of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame, and Scott Fraser, Sewart, Frank Fraser, and Clattenburg are members of the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame. Since 2007 NASCAR celebrities that have entered the IWK 250 include Ricky Craven (2007), Regan Smith (2007, 2008), Aric Almirola (2009), David Reutimann (2009), Marcos Ambrose (2010, 2011), and Joey Logano (2012).
Opening Act – Sportsman & Legends On Track Friday Night
The Napa Sportsman Series (NSS) will see round two of four in their 2013 title chase Friday July 19, and first 100-lap feature for the series competitors this season. With this being the inaugural event of the Maritime Sportsman Challenge top racers from the Halifax are and New Brunswick are expected to join NSS racers on the grid. The Maritime League of Legends is also on deck Friday night and expecting a full-field of eager racers; this is round four of nine in their title chase. Racing starts Friday at 7 p.m.
The Main Attraction
Saturday July 20 will see the seventh annual IWK 250. Time trials start at 3:30 p.m., heat races are set for 4:30, followed by an on-track autograph session and concert. Pre-race festivities start at 7 p.m.
Tickets Still Available; RV Spots Limited
Advance reserved and general admission grandstand tickets are now available as single or two-day passes. Tickets will be available at the track box office on race days. RV parking spot availability is extremely limited and need to be reserved in advance of arrival at the track. Check www.riversidespeedway.ca or call 902.863.2410 for more information.
The IWK Health Centre Foundation helps sustain excellence in specialized care at the IWK for all Maritime families. Last year our generous donors contributed over $10 million to the areas of greatest need at the IWK, including neonatal and pediatric intensive care, women’s health and mental health services for children and youth. Funds raised also support world-renowned researchers and the purchase of modernized technology and equipment. Together with its donors, the IWK Foundation supported more than 16,000 inpatient visits and nearly 300,000 outpatient and emergency room visits in one year. Visit www.iwkfoundation.org for more information.
Riverside International Speedway is recognized as a premier stock racing facility in Canada. The 1/3-mile high banked asphalt oval roars to action several times a year for special events. It is the home for eastern Canada’s only NASCAR event, and of the IWK 250 – widely known as the best stock car race in Canada. Located in James River, between New Glasgow and Antigonish, the facility is easily accessible at exit 30 on Trans Canada Highway 104. For more information call 902.863.2410 or click www.riversidespeedway.ca.
From: Joan Roue for Riverside Speedway