Parts for Trucks 100 Notebook
Saturday night in the Geary woods saw nearly everything - a rain delay, a rash of cautions to start the race and even a red flag for a scary wreck inside twenty to go. The most important thing we saw on Saturday night though twenty-six of the fastest pro stocks in the Maritimes take green for the 100-lap feature race presented by Parts for Trucks - and we got to the end without Mother Nature clipping it short!
Not only that, but we saw some of the best side by side racing from flag to flag that we've seen all season. Pole sitter Wayne Smith (Timberlea) and point leader John Flemming (Halifax) traded the lead numerous times over the first third of the race as the two raced side by side, providing the Speedway 660 crowd something to cheer about. As the run went on though, the #44 Jetco Contracting Chevrolet fell back through the field as the IWK 250 winner from one week ago battled his way to a seventh place finish at the end of the race. "The car just went away," said Smith on Sunday at Scotia Speedworld. The great run by The Oval Outlaw put his team up to fifth in points heading into the Parts for Trucks/Lucas Oil 200 on the Island this weekend, a track which Wayne is strong at!
As Flemming pulled away with the lead, two battles were brewing behind The Roofing Connection Dodge. Two time Maritime Tour champ Shawn Tucker (Fredericton) was involved in an incident on the front straightaway along with a handful of other cars about a dozen laps into the race, putting the #52 to the rear of the pack for the restart. Some drivers in that situation would pace themselves and make their way to the front of the field at their own pace but Shawn got up on the wheel of the Rockico Truck and Trailer Impala and tore back to the front of the field like a hot knife through butter. Tucker made his way back into the top five before the lap fifty mark and was on the hunt for the lead. After a late caution and the roar of the Geary crowd, Tucker started on the outside of Flemming on the restart, pulling away with less than ten to go to take the victory away from Flemming. This is Tucker's third tour triumph in 2009 and second time that he had to make a late pass on the three time Tour champ from Halifax - he beat Flemming by only 0.018sec at the Forbes Chevrolet 100 earlier this month!
The other battle brewing was as intense as the ones for the lead. The battle inside the top five which included Shawn Tucker going back to the front also included Tour top runners Shawn Turple (Enfield), Lonnie Sommerville (Saint John) and Mike Stevens (Riverview). Turple and Sommerville battled hard for second and third during the long green run as Stevens inserted himself as a contender for a top five spot for the second week in a row as his #26 Extreme Window and Entrance Systems Impala was a top five fixture all night long!
Give a call out to the Scotia Propane Chevrolet as well for a strong run in New Brunswick! Shawn Pierce (Bridgewater) finished eighth in the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body at Riverside last week and backed it up on Saturday with a tenth place run. Not too shabby for a driver who was top ten in all three practice sessions on the day! The crew had their work cut out for them this past week, repairing front end pieces and putting a nose piece on to the #21 car following the "250" in James River but the hard work paid off, way to go #21 crew!
The Speedway 660 regulars fared well against the Tour drivers as well, with Fredericton's Kevin Moore leading the Irving Lubricants Pro Stock drivers finishing eighth in the Parts for Trucks 100! The Wendy Hallahan/EXIT Realty Chevrolet was a top ten car for most of the event and should be a contender when all eyes are on the track again in September. Multi-time Martins Home Heating Sportsman champ Brian Gillespie also had a solid run in his first Pro Stock Tour outing, piloting the #69 Grand Prix to a mid-pack finish.
The tough luck award goes to the Halifax Glass and Mirror #99 Chevrolet Impala of Craig Slaunwhite. The Terence Bay driver recorded the fastest time in practice and was poised for a great run in the 100-lapper before something broke on the #99, ending his run in the Parts for Trucks 100 before the ten lap mark on Saturday night. This has been a roller coaster sophomore season for the 2008 EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Year and defending Peterbilt 250 champ and with the latest dip it will drop him to 12th in points. Expect the two time Scotia Speedworld Sportsman champ to rebound this weekend in the 200-lap event on PEI!
If you didn't check out my PEI preview from June, I suggest you go check it out. It'll give you a couple of numbers to consider and possibly a few pre-race favorites as you settle in on Saturday to watch 200 laps of great racing on the Oyster Bed Bridge oval!
We'll leave you this week with this. When John Flemming was asked about this weekend race at PEI, the point leader said "I haven't been over to race since they repaved the track. I heard it's lightning fast and it'll take some time to get the car dialed in but we should be there again at the end."
Until Saturday afternoon, keep the hammer down and we'll see you at the track!
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