Dylan Blenkhorn welcomed having last weekend off.
Hurricane Dorian and its aftermath grappled the province and forced the postponement of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour’s penultimate race last Saturday at Riverside International Speedway.
The Lucas Oil 150 has been rescheduled to this Saturday at the James River oval and the tour’s points leader has taken advantage of the breather. There hasn’t been much downtime for Blenkhorn and his crew during a dominant 2019 season.
“Honestly it was better for us,” Blenkhorn, who has three victories this season, said in a recent interview. “All season, I haven’t been able to spend as much time on the cars as I’d like.
“We’ve been pretty lucky so far but some things have been missed. I haven’t been able to try as much stuff as I’d like to do with the car preparation because I haven’t had time. If you show up at the race track and the car is off a little bit, it don’t matter how good of a driver you are, competition is so close, you’re not going to run good. Driving is still important but a lot of success is based on car preparation.
“This extra week gives us another chance to cross our T’s and dot our I’s. And it’s been a long year. I’m tired out. But having this extra week will make me refreshed. It don’t bother me at all having a weekend off.”
The Truro driver, a four-time feature winner at the James River track, holds a 21-point lead — 2,059 to 2,038 — over Jonathan Hicken of Montague, P.E.I., in the chase for the overall points title.
Jarrett Butcher of Porters Lake (1,949 points), Craig Slaunwhite of Terence Bay (1,945) and Dylan Gosbee of Cornwall, P.E.I. (1,933) round out the top five with two races remaining.
Blenkhorn, who turns 25 on Oct. 13 and is seeking his first season championship victory in seven years on the Pro Stock Tour, said this year feels different than any of his past seasons.
“This is as close as we have been to a championship and it’s probably been the least amount of time I have spent in a race car,” said Blenkhorn, the tour’s rookie of the year in 2013 as an 18-year-old.
“Years ago, this is all I did in the summertime. I didn’t have to work or anything. But this year, I have been busier than hell. For us to run this good has been amazing. The end goal is to win a championship. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into it. It’s rewarding for all of us.”
Family plays an extensive role in Blenkhorn racing. His grandparents, Evelyn and Sheldon Blenkhorn, have been big supporters. His father Paul, who used to race in the Sportsman series, is part of the team.
“We do this as a family thing,” said Blenkhorn, who runs an auto repair shop. “It’s cool to have my whole family involved. I have my cousins and my grandparents out there with me. They help out a lot.
“For me, it’s another full-time job. I’m in the shop nearly every night. We all do something different but it’s all related to cars. But whatever we’re doing, we seem to be doing it right.”
While the dangers of racing are obvious on the track, for Paul Blenkhorn it was off the track and in the infield during the IWK 250 at Riverside.
Watching his son from atop a semi truck during the July 20 race, he lost his footing, fell off the truck and suffered a compound fracture of his tibia, shattered his ankle and dislocated his left shoulder.
“It wasn’t good,” the younger Blenkhorn recalled. “I knew something was wrong. But nobody told me what exactly happened.
“But he’s good. He’s made it back to the races. That’s determination. He hasn’t missed a race since.”
Blenkhorn, who finished fifth in the IWK 250, will return to Riverside for the first time since his father’s mishap.
With the Lucas Oil 150 pushed back a weekend, the series finale Atlantic Oliver Tire 200 at Scotia Speedworld, originally scheduled for this
Saturday, has been moved to Sept. 28, starting at 4 p.m.