Ever since Shawn Turple burst onto the Carquest Pro Stock Tour scene, he’s been able to run with the best.
But the Enfield native — now five seasons removed from winning the tour’s rookie of the year — has never been closer to claiming a Carquest crown than he is heading into Saturday’s Parts For Trucks 200 at Scotia Speedworld.
Turple has a 19-point lead over second-place Wayne Smith of Timberlea and should be able to guarantee his first tour victory with a top-five finish on Saturday. In addition to bragging rights, he’d take home the $10,000 top prize.
“I don’t even really think about the money,” said Turple, who has tour finishes of second, third, fourth and ninth.
“It would just be a great accomplishment to put your name on the list with the previous Maritime champions.”
Turple also had the lead in points heading into the final race in 2007. That year, he crashed and ended up finishing 24th, surrendering the title to Shawn Tucker. It’s a fate he obviously hopes to avoid this time around.
“That was just kind of bad luck,” Turple said. “I just got tangled up. I’ll be cautious this time out, but you can’t be too cautious. There are a lot of good cars out there.”
The 30-year-old has used consistency to power himself into championship contention. Although he has only one victory, he has three seconds, a third, a fourth, a sixth and a seventh. He’s also coming off a $5,000 payday after a runner-up finish at the Peterbilt 250 last Sunday in Geary, N.B.
Turple said his team has “really had our stuff together” in the past two months. He’s hoping to start near the front on Saturday and grab some points by leading a lap early.
“Then maybe just — not ride around — but take it easy for the first half of the race,” Turple said. “See what happens in the second half (and decide) whether or not we go for the win.”