Sunday, 23 July 2017

Local super late models to get bigger spotlight at Saskatoon NASCAR Pinty’s stop

SSCRA’s super late model class will race in a prime spot.
    Matthew Shirley might be jumping a little more than normal with excitement for this year’s NASCAR Pinty’s Series stop in Saskatoon.
    The 22-year-old races in the Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association’s super late model class, and that group is going to have a prime showcase spot at the NASCAR Pinty’s stop. The event runs over two days on Tuesday and Wednesday with the main NASCAR race set for the second of those days.
    This year, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will hold two feature races 100 laps in length on Wednesday, and both of those races count in the drivers’ standings for the circuit. Those races will be split up by a 100-lap feature race from the local super late model class.
    “It is going to be absolutely exciting, and all the drivers are going to have the jitters going to the max,” said Shirley. “We are going to have a full crowd, we are going to have a great car count and we also going to be racing in front of the NASCAR guys.”
    Tuesday’s action begins at 7 p.m. and that day’s program contains 75-lap feature races for the local pro truck and sportsman class and heat races for the super late models. Wednesday’s action starts at 6 p.m. and that day’s program contains the two Pinty’s Series races and the feature run of the local super late model class.
    The Pinty’s Series is a minor-league circuit that prepares drivers to compete one day on NASCAR’s top level – the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
    On the local circuit, Shirley moved to the super late model class last year after winning two straight track titles in the sportsman class in 2014 and 2015. He turned some heads during the two day NASCAR Pinty’s stop last year capturing the Bryce Mann Memorial super late model feature race.
The SSCRA’s super late models charge down a straightaway.
    “It was one of the highlights of my career winning that Bryce Mann last year,” said Shirley. “That was my first super late model feature win.
    “It was in front of a NASCAR crowd on the Tuesday show. The Tuesday show the crowd is not as strong as the Wednesday. Now, it is on the Wednesday, so the memory you can have of winning this is huge.
    “The main thing I think for us young drivers is we are doing it in front of the NASCAR drivers and they are going to be watching. As a young aspiring racer, you’ve always wanted big names watching you race.”
    Shirley said driving in the local super late model class has been challenging due to the presence of a number of strong veteran drivers. They includes the likes for Jim Gaunt, Trent Seidel, Dave Bone and Doug Bienia, and Shirley watched them race while growing up. He said the veterans seem to get faster as they age.
    “It is pretty humbling and cool when you get to race against them,” said Shirley. “They always pull out different tricks.
    “They set the bar so high, which is great for me as a developing driver. I won two championships in a row in sportsman, and it was like hey we have to move up to super late, so I can kind of just keep developing as a driver.
    “Those guys, they push you. They are the peak of the mountain for definitely here in western Canada racing that is for sure.”
    Shirley said you will be on the track thinking you are doing well in a super model race, and all of a sudden you would be shocked when one of the veterans pulls a move to blow by seven cars to take the lead. The young driver said you have a moment of being both stunned and in awe trying to comprehend what just happened.
    With that said, Shirley is part of a youth contingent in the class along with Jared Reddekopp who are getting noticed. Shirley said the veteran drivers always have the edge, but the super late model feature race on Wednesday will be a competitive one. He believes the crowd that is expected to be around 5,000 will get a good show from the local class.
Jim Gaunt takes a victory lap in 2015.
    It is expected a field of 21 to 22 cars could be present for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series races, and a field of 18 cars is expected for the super late model feature race.
    “When NASCAR comes around, it is always bigger, because there is a lot more excitement,” said Shirley, who is the local track’s director of fundraising. “There is a lot more of a buzz.
    “As a local driver, especially with this new format they have given us where we get to put our super lates in between the two 100 races, it is a big opportunity to show the city of Saskatoon, the corporate sponsors, everybody kind of what they are missing on their week to week racing.”

Blogs of Interest are worth checking out

Ashley Bernstein, left, writes a good-vibes blog.
    Recently, I added a blogs of interest column to my site that contains blogs I find I get engaged with and hope other readers will be engaged with as well.
    I figured I should give a brief description of each blog. They are listed alphabetically. The links to these blog can been found on the “Blog of Interest” bar running down the right side of this page.
    Dominic’s journey with AML – This blog is put together by my former sports editor at the Medicine Hat News – Sean Rooney. Rooney created the blog to document the journey his family went on after his toddler son, Dominic was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia on Sept. 12, 2013. Dominic passed away shortly before his third birthday on Sept. 3, 2015.
    Rooney still documents the journey his family still encounters and also details fundraising initiatives they undertake for the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Rooney is a talented writer, and his best work is chronicling some of his family’s most emotional times.
    Dubnetwork – Is the brainchild of co-founders Paul Figler and Jesse Phillips. It is a site devoted to cover the happenings of the Western Hockey League. In just over a year, they have built up a nice roster of writers to help cover the league.
    It is a good independent site that doesn’t have attachments to the mainstream media. Even casual WHL followers will enjoy what Dubnetwork has to offer.
    Hurricane Watch – Pat Siedlecki, who is a former radio play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, put together this blog that collects all the various new items involving the Hurricanes. For anyone that is looking for a nice way to get a quick roundup with what is happening with the Hurricanes, this blog makes for a nice one-stop place.
    Pick-It Or Flick-It – A movie blog that is produced by my cousin Justin Chomitzky. I myself am not a movie junkie, but when I do want to watch a movie and make a theatre stop, I want to know if it will be good. My cousin’s passion is movies, and his blog reviews have always been bang on in saying what is good and what isn’t good.
    If you are interested in watching a movie on a night out or at home, checking my cousin’s blog is always a wise decision.
    Regan’s Rants – Regan Bartel, who is the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, produces this blog. He writes opinion pieces on happenings involving the Rockets and elsewhere in the WHL. Bartel’s blog gives a good look into one of the most elite and successful franchises in the WHL’s Western Conference. – Saskatchewan Roughriders play-by-play voice Rod Pedersen produces this blog, and it is one of those blogs that has been around for a lengthy stretch of time. Of course, Pedersen writes about the daily happenings and his views on everything involving the Roughriders.
    His blog also does a good job in rounding up everything else that is going on in Regina’s sports scene. With it being summer, Pedersen’s blog contains frequent posts on the Regina Red Sox of the Western Major Baseball League, who have a big following in “the Queen City.” Pedersen has frequent round ups involving the WHL’s Regina Pats, the University of Regina Rams and the CJFL’s Regina Thunder as well as pieces from a few veteran media members.
    Shawn Mullin’s Swift Current Broncos Blog – Created by Swift Current Broncos play-by-play voice Shawn Mullin, this blog features news about what is happening with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. It is another blog that has a lengthy history dating back to 2010.
    Due to the fact the Broncos exist in the Canadian Hockey League’s smallest market, they don’t receive a huge amount of media coverage. Mullin provides an easy place that allows you to quickly get a handle on all the news involving the team.
    Taking Note – The granddaddy of major junior hockey blogs produced by Gregg Drinnan and dates way back to June of 2007. When it comes to covering the WHL, Drinnan is the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. He has produced the one stop shop place for everything that happens in the WHL, and he always produces his work in a way that is understandable for everyone.
    Drinnan also gives a few good looks about other happenings in the sports world. He has always been a big supporter of the work I’ve done on this blog, and his Taking Note is always a must to check out.
    The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World – This blog is produced by Ashlyn George, who is a freelance travel writer, photographer and videographer. The former University of Saskatchewan education grad is pretty much an experience junkie, who has visited 55 countries and seven continents all before the age of 30.
    You will be drawn in by her blog of her adventures around the world. Even the stories from her home province of Saskatchewan are amazing and gives those from the province a new look at their home area.
    This is 25 – This blog is produced by Ashley Bernstein, who a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders Cheer Team. She produces upbeat happy posts that create positive vibes in just going through life. It gives you a chuckle when she tells stories about the struggles she has had in dating, and her stories come off in a way they make you laugh.
    She also shares some battles she has had on the mental health front, which have been linked to issues with body image. Bernstein looks perfect, and being on the Riders Cheer Team, you would never think she would deal with any of those issues. That makes her human, and you have to admire the fact she always strive to be that ray of sunshine that seems to brighten up everyone’s day.

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to