Wayne Smith could race his way into the Carquest Maritime Pro Stock Tour record books this summer.
The Timberlea native is in hot pursuit of a record sixth Maritime crown as a new season gets underway Saturday with the Lucas Oil 100 at Scotia Speedworld near Halifax.
Smith, who won MASCAR championships in 1994, 1999 and 2000 and another Carquest title in 2001, climbed back to the top last summer and is tied with Halifax’s Greg Sewart for the most career titles on the Maritime circuit.
But nobody has repeated since John Flemming in 2003.
“It’s hard to repeat,” Smith acknowledged. “It’s probably one of the best tours around for competition, so yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to win one, let alone win two in a row.”
Most of Smith’s main competitors are back. Chief among them is two-time champion Shawn Tucker of Fredericton; last year’s runner-up by just 17 points, Lonnie Sommerville of Saint John, N.B.; and Enfield’s Shawn Turple, who has three top-four finishes since making his tour debut in 2005.
Throw in Terence Bay’s Craig Slaunwhite, last year’s rookie of the year, and the points race should be tight.
“We ain’t got no plan,” Smith said. “All I’m gonna do is, as I do every year, go out and try to win the first one, try to win the second one, try to win as many races as you can … And just see where you are at the end of the season.”
The tour has also brought in a Triple Crown series for the IWK 250, Atlantic Cat 250 and Peterbilt 250. Points aren’t awarded for high finishes; only for showing up. There’s a $50,000 bonus for any driver who sweeps the series.
Smith said the big prize is exciting, but isn’t thrilled that only nine races count toward the point standings.
“If you have a bad night, you only have eight shots to get ’er back again, and the chances of getting it back are pretty thin,” he said. “That makes it a little more tough. You have to be on your game and make sure you finish every night.”