The stakes at the IWK 250 are higher than ever for the Carquest Pro Stock Tour drivers.

The much-anticipated event, set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Riverside Speedway near Antigonish, will count fully toward the Carquest standings for the first time in the event’s history.

In the past, local racers received a set number of points just for showing up.

“I’ve been saying ever since the start of it, it should count,” said Timberlea’s Wayne Smith, the IWK 250’s defending champ.

“You try harder. If one of the top guys falls out, you want to be there (to capitalize). It definitely (improves the event) for everybody there.”

This year’s IWK 250 features NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Marcos Ambrose, who sits 28th in the series point standings with more than $2.2-million in earnings.

Smith, a five-time Maritime champion, currently sits third in the Carquest standings and is looking to make up ground on leader Shawn Turple of Enfield.

Smith said he has Penske Racing Shocks on his car for the first time in his highlight-filled career and hopes they’ll make a difference.

“You never know what happens when you play with that stuff,” he said. “Everybody’s saying these shocks are the way to go so it should only help me, not hurt me.”

Smith hasn’t led a lap since the first lap of the season and hasn’t won a race all summer, so it’s a good sign he’s still in contention.

“Turple’s got a few points on us that way but we’ve still got a lot of season left,” Smith said.

Turple sits at top of standings
Enfield’s Shawn Turple leads the Carquest Pro Stock Tour standings heading into Saturday’s IWK 250.

Turple, who won the Lockhart Truck Centre 100 on July 3, has 615 points, good for a 30-point cushion over Prince Edward Island’s Greg Proude.

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