The Notebook - Dartmouth Dodge 200
Dartmouth Dodge is “where the Maritimes come to save.” When it comes to the Dartmouth Dodge 200, we saved one of the best events for last in the season as this one was nothing short of action packed.
Craig Slaunwhite rolled into Scotia Speedworld with a big question mark in the trailer. “This is the backup,” said Slaunwhite after his primary car was destroyed in New Brunswick the weekend before. “We’re not sure what this car will do out there today, but this thing has won five features for us,” said Slaunwhite before practice with a smile on his face.
Slaunwhite and the #99 Halifax Glass and Mirror team quickly found they had a pretty good piece and at the end of the night they came home as champions of the Dartmouth Dodge 200. This after having to come from the rear of the field at lap 101 after Slaunwhite’s crew didn’t get his car serviced in the ten minute halfway break. Slaunwhite got up on the wheel and gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about!
The win comes three years after their last one which ironically came in this event in 2008. Slaunwhite also made history by becoming only the third two time winner of this event, joining John Flemming (2002 and 2006) and Shawn Tucker (2005 and 2009) as the only drivers to win the race multiple times. Slaunwhite will look for some more history in 2012 as he will look to become the first driver to capture the event thrice.
Shawn Turple finished his roller coaster of a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour campaign with a second place run at his home track. Turple had his #0 Dexter Construction/Municipal Group ride positioned near the front for most of the race but couldn’t outmuscle Slaunwhite for the win at the end. With the new car finally figured out, you better believe that Turple and the #0 team will be a title threat next season!
Shawn Tucker finished a strong third in the Dartmouth Dodge 200 after having to come from the rear of the field in the last quarter of the race. Although Tucker fell short of repeating his 2010 championship, there is a lot to be proud of if you’re the #52 AL Gullison Disaster Kleenup team. “We certainly can’t hang our heads after the season we had,” said Tucker after the Dartmouth Dodge 200. “We’ve accomplished a lot and we’ll come back next year and do it all over again!”
Two drivers who I continued coming back to during the call of the Dartmouth Dodge 200 and credited them on great runs were Leonard Boutilier and Dan Mackay. Boutilier and the team have progressively been gaining on the #45 NGH Industrial Services Chevrolet and it is showing. The team has two consecutive ninth place finishes on the Tour in the last two races and when you include an strong eighth place finish at Speedway 660 in their open show in September, the makings for a great run in 2012 are all there.
Meanwhile, Mackay was also optimistic pre-race of his chances. “We we’re good in qualifying,” said Mackay prior to the 200. “I think with a little luck we’ll have something for those guys!” Mackay ran in the top ten for a majority of the second half of the event before a spin late in the feature sent the #71 The Auto Store Chevrolet to a 13th place finish, still nothing to shake a stick at in a 29 car field!
There’s another fact that needs to be brought up. We had a 29 car field this past week. Not only is that our biggest car count of the season, it is the biggest car count of Pro Stock cars of any single Pro Stock race in Atlantic Canada this season. I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter if we have 15 or 30 cars on track, our product produced is one of the best you’ll see anywhere and I think we proved that this season.
It was also great to see veteran Mike MacKenzie up front during the Dartmouth Dodge 200. The veteran from Dartmouth put in a fantastic showing and it looked like for a long time the #02 HTP Hot Water Systems Chevrolet was going to have something for the win. In the end, MacKenzie came home with seventh after running a majority of the race within the top five. Hats off to the team for the great run!
The heartbreak of the race may just have to go to the #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers/Loyalist Marble and Tile Dodge of Greg Proude. The Red Rocket led more laps in the Dartmouth Dodge 200 than he has led all season before a check-up on a botched restart sent Proude backward into the light pole on the back straight. The last two races have been strong for Proude after the Springvale, PEI driver had run well within the top five before accidents in the second half have relegated him to finishes not indicative of how the car ran. Watch for Proude to storm back strong in 2012!
Oh, and there was a championship chase to talk about too, but we’ll hold that over till next week. Next week in the ‘corner, we’ll talk about Wayne Smith’s sixth championship, how he got to the unprecedented regional mark and who, if anyone, will be able to get to that plateau.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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