The Notebook - Lucas Oil 100, June 4th
That was a night to remember!
For Brett Benoit, Craig McFetridge and Wayne Smith it was a night to celebrate. The co-owners of the re-opened Petty International Raceway along with their team rolled out the red carpet for our drivers, officials and fans on Saturday and put on an opening act that will not soon be forgotten. Once again, hats off to everyone who had a hand at putting on the show we saw last weekend!
That being said, it was a typical “short track Saturday night” that can be expected when you have a track where everyone is starting with a blank piece of paper. Other than a test on Friday night and a couple laps laid down a week before by hometown boy Mike Stevens and Smith, this track was new to the cars and stars of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Add in changing temperatures and you have twenty four drivers that were scrambling to adjust to the high banked, ¼ mile layout prior to the Lucas Oil 100. Some of those, as we saw on Saturday caught on just a bit quicker than others.
At the end of the night it was Smith standing with the first place trophy. The race was dominated by Jonathan Hicken but unfortunately our tech staff found something not quite up to the rulebook on the #5 Chevrolet. Smith was then promoted to the top spot and though he was happy with his night after climbing from the #44 Jetco Contracting Impala, he knew what one of the next improvements to the speedway would be. “We need to put some stuff down on the top side [of the corner],” Smith explained in victory lane. “You can hold your position well on the second lane going into the corner but you can’t get the power off to hold it out of the corner. We’re going to make this place good for multi-groove racing!” The next stop for the Tour at Petty is August 27th for the CARQUEST 100.
It was another career night for Charlottetown’s Darren Mackinnon. Mackinnon laid down the second quickest lap in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials and drew hat one for the Fast Eddie Racewear Dash for Cash. He held that position and drove off to his first ever pole position on the Tour – winning by a healthy margin over Shawn Turple. Mackinnon’s night though would go sour in the late stages of the race when the #18 went spinning into the infield while battling for a spot at the front of the field. You have to believe that elusive first victory for Mackinnon is coming soon. Could he break out like Hicken did last season at his home track in Oyster Bed Speedway in three weeks time?
Another driver and team hungry for their first win on the Tour is Jerome Kehoe. “The Pride of Cape Breton” drove from the back after a blown tire late in the race to finish third by a few feet after a spirited battle with Antigonish’s Donald Chisholm. The two swapped their share of paint in the final feet before the conclusion of the 100th lap of the race with Chisholm edging Kehoe. With these two drivers calling Riverside International Speedway home, you’d have to think they would be favorites to take away Round Three and to continue their rivalry on the high banks in James River!
The finishing position that Dan MacKay was shown in after 100 laps of racing in River Glade is not indicative of how the #71 The Auto Store/Carroll South Shore Impala ran on Saturday. MacKay was in the top five in the final practice and showed speed throughout the night and was optimistic about his chances in the feature, despite a mid-pack starting spot. MacKay fell a lap down after the race’s first yellow on the third circuit and could not recover to receive the “Back in the Race” award after most of the first seventy four laps were run under consecutive green.
That’s what I think some people are missing about Saturday’s race. Sure, there were a handful of yellows in the final quarter of the Lucas Oil 100 but don’t let that overshadow the fact that we had SEVENTY FOUR laps (seven, four) of green flag running which was broken up by only two yellows! The racing during those laps was intense with drivers moving to the front and others falling back as the run progressed. That is what this Tour is famous for and I have a feeling we will see more of that in two weeks at Riverside.
How about Marty Prevost coming home with a fourth place finish? According to Tim Quievryn at TheThirdTurn.com, this is Prevost’s first top five finish since the 2006 season opener at Scotia Speedworld where he finished fifth. He mentioned pre-race about having to put together a full 100-laps and he did just that. We head to Riverside International Speedway next, a track where Prevost raced his way to a third place starting spot in the IWK 250 one year ago!
A speedy recovery goes out to Robbie MacLean. The Winsloe, PEI driver suffered a broken wrist in the first wreck of the feature Sunday which saw his #01 Universal Truck and Trailer Chevrolet collided with another car in Turn Four, sending MacLean’s car momentarily airborne. We at the Tour wish Robbie all the best!
One of the biggest cheers from the crowd came when Mike Stevens from just down the road in Salisbury, NB took the top spot in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials. The crowd erupted when he was announced as the provisional pole sitter after his two laps and every time Stevens inched closer to the front you could hear the crowd over the roar of the motors. Like Mackinnon though, he has had two great runs to kick off the season but not the finishes he’d like to have to show for them. Watch for Stevens to be fast at Riverside.
Speaking of Riverside, just announced today on Riverside Speedway’s Facebook page was that NASCAR Canadian Tire Series star Jason Hathaway will be coming to James River for the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet 100 on June 18th. Hathaway is fifth in points heading into their next race this weekend and will slide into a NOVA Racing car sponsored by Vortex Brakes for the third round of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour on his off-weekend. Vortex Brakes sponsors our Hard Charger Award on the Tour and it will be something to see if Hathaway can charge his way to the front of the field next weekend!
That will about do it for this edition of Tim’s Corner. Enjoy the off-weekend and we will see you here next week when we preview the first of four consecutive races on the Tour.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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