Notebook: Lucas Oil 100 @ Petty Int'l Raceway
Petty International Raceway and the Lucas Oil 100 lived up to all expectations last Saturday night. The 24 drivers who showed up to the River Glade track put on a showcase of short track racing which featured a little bit of everything. Unlike the CARQUEST 100, we had some wrecks and like the opening race of the season, we had a lot of fast cars with many drivers in contention for the victory when the checkered flag drew close. When the flag did fly, it was Jonathan Hicken who took the checkers first, for his first victory since 2010 and his third career series victory.
Hicken started fifth and picked his way through the field in the early going, eventually taking the lead on Lap 27 from fellow Islander Kent Vincent and held it all the way to the victory. Vincent, who set the fast time in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials
and started on the pole for the race, would wind up finishing fifth in his Vector Aerospace Dodge Charger. Speaking of fast cars, the fastest car consistently in the green flag run we had during the Lucas Oil 100 finished second behind Hicken and looked to have a piece for Hicken when the laps ran out. George Koszkulics was subbing for Donald Chisholm in the #89 car and gave the car a run up to the runner-up spot at Lap 100. At the end of the race, the New Glasgow driver emerged from the Nova Construction/Pioneer Coal Ford with a smile on his face. “I didn’t know an old man could drive that fast!” said Koszkulics with a chuckle in victory lane. “They were telling me that he (Hicken) had a dozen Bud Light and I was trying to get up to it. I was working on him there at the end.” Koszkulics credited his crew for working on the team’s new car up until it was time to come to the track. “We had distributor problems on the car, we almost didn’t come but the crew worked up to 5am last night (Friday) to get it fixed. Great bunch of guys to run with tonight that gave each other room; we had a lot of fun tonight.”
Good to see Darren MacKinnon and Jerome Kehoe with top five runs on Saturday night. Darren came from 8th and moved his way to 3rd at the end of the night for his first podium run since he finished runner-up to Koszkulics at Riverside last August. Kehoe passed a lot of cars on Saturday night to claw his way up to fourth. After being put to the rear of the field after officials deemed he was involved in a Lap 8 caution with the #11 car of Marty Prevost, Kehoe went to work picking his way back up to the front of the field. I said on the mic on Saturday night that if there was any driver that I would like to have wheeling a car from the rear of the field on a high banked track, it would be Jerome, and he did just that. The #98 Zutphen Contracting/Ideal Concrete Chevrolet was there at the end when it counted and made his way to the fourth place spot before the checkers flew. It just goes to show that hard work and determination pay off and with that team’s home track upcoming on June 16th, the second podium finish and first win for Kehoe may be around the corner sooner rather than later!
You have to feel for Shawn Turple and Cassius Clark. Two different situations took those two strong cars out of top five finishes at Petty. In the case of Clark, a fuel pick up problem under one of the cautions stalled the #13 King Freight Lines Ford on the back straight, relegating the Farmington, Maine driver to a 16th place finish, two laps down. In the case of Turple, he had the left front fender of his #0 Dexter Construction/Municipal Group Impala dragging on the track inside the final quarter of the race. The fender was dragging far enough out from the car that it warranted race officials to call the #0 to the pits to get it pulled off. Turple raced back to the track, but could only scramble up to a 9th place finish at the end of the event.
The point standings were also jumbled up a bit with the top drivers from Scotia not faring as well as Petty. Craig Slaunwhite was the best of them, finishing in the 8th spot. Clark, as mentioned, was 13th. Greg Proude entered with the point lead but left New Brunswick with a 20th place finish and a 24 point deficit in the points to new leader Hicken. Mike MacKenzie was out of the race 29 laps in while Mike Stevens had an accident on the back straight just seven laps in and finished in 22nd place. So now, the point picture is a bit different. Slaunwhite is still second and is still one point behind, but now it’s Hicken in first with Chisholm’s #89 in third, followed by MacKinnon and Shawn Tucker. Tucker has been having a pretty quiet season, but don’t under estimate the power of the multi-time champion. With just 14 markers from first to fifth and still ten races to go, it may be too early to talk “big picture,” but it sure is fun to look at, isn’t it?!
Coming up next is the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 100 at Riverside International Speedway. Tickets are available now by going to www.riversidespeedway.ca, but if for some reason you cannot make it to James River, tune your Sirius/XM Radio to channel 157 Sports Express as Joe Chisholm and I will be calling the race live on Race Time Radio. The action gets underway at 6pm with qualifying (Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials at 5:10pm), for more information on the race, keep your browser here at www.maritimeprostocktour.com and for more information on the race broadcast, visit RaceTimeRadio.com.
Later this week, we set up the Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 100. Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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