TRURO – Rookies only get one kick at the can to prove they’re the best of the young guns.
Dylan Blenkhorn made sure he took advantage of it this season on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour, laying claim to the Exide Batteries rookie of the year crown Saturday in the season’s final race at Scotia Speedworld in Enfield.
“At the start of the year I didn’t expect it,” the 18-year-old Brookside resident said. “But it’s really cool to win it, especially since there was so much competition. The rookie battle was really fierce.”
Blenkhorn finished 14th in Saturday’s Dartmouth Dodge 200 to top Porters Lake resident Cole Butcher by 36 points in the championship points standings. Blenkhorn finished the season eighth overall.
Halifax’s John Flemming became the first driver to win a fourth title thanks to his fifth-place finish while Fredericton’s Shawn Tucker finished runner-up in points after crossing the line third.
Defending series champion Shawn Turple, whose cars are prepared by East Mountain resident Steve Henderson, did all he could Saturday by running away with the race and finished third in points. P.E.I.’s Jonathan Hicken rounded out Saturday’s podium.
It looked as if the rookie title might slip through Blenkhorn’s grasp as he got caught up in a Donald Chisholm spin while running in sixth spot and had to pit to repair the front end of his Chevy Impala SS. He fell back to 18th while Butcher ran up front.
“I just got up on the wheel and tried to pick off as may positions as I could and it worked out in the end,” Blenkhorn said.
Blenkhorn, who moved up to the top flight of oval track racing in the Maritimes this season after several successful campaigns in the legends cars ranks, said the title means a lot to him.
“You’re only a rookie for one year so it’s pretty cool to do it.”
Blenkhorn, who celebrated with Butcher afterward, said winning the title is the perfect way to repay his crew and the series’ other drivers who have helped him so much this season.
“We had a few bad weeks but we just never gave up,” he said.