Race Notebook: Atlantic Dodge Dealers 100 @ Speedway660
For the third consecutive weekend, Mother Nature danced with the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Like the previous two events on our schedule, we beat Mother Nature but she packed a punch this time when she made her visit during the Atlantic Dodge Dealers 100! You have to give credit to the Speedway 660 and the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour staff for their efforts to get the track dry and the race in. All the fans that stuck it out with us too deserve gold stars. In my opinion, we have the best short track racing in North America and I know we have the best fans on this continent as well too - and you guys proved that fact on Saturday!
As Mike Stevens summed it up after the race, it really was a tale of two races - the first 59 laps prior to the rain and the 41 laps following the rain. It both instances, eventual winner Shawn Tucker fell under pressure from his peers hunting the lead. Stevens and Greg Proude chased Tucker prior to the rain, but the charge of the #4 R. Stevens Mechanical Chevrolet was halted in its track by Mother Nature. When the rains let up and we got back to racing, Tucker set out again and looked to have the car to beat after extending the lead over the other 20 cars in the race before a caution in the final 15 laps set up a dash to the finish - one that John Flemming probably wishes was about 5-10 laps longer. The #97 was on a mission in the closing laps and was putting the heat on Tucker before the checkered flag flew from Ralph Vokey’s hand. Shawn told me in victory lane that he didn’t have a direct line to the weatherman, but his two wins this season have came on days in which rain had fallen prior to racing on the same day. I wonder if there are any raindrops in our forecast for July 21st?
Greg Proude had plenty of reason to celebrate after Saturday’s Atlantic Dodge Dealers 100. The driver of the #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers Charger finished fourth at Speedway 660, the best finish with the new #29 car which debuted two weeks ago at the Lockhart Truck Center 100. Like Flemming has with his Dodge, the Springvale, PEI based team continues to gain on their car as they learn their new piece and with this bit of momentum, the field may want to be on watch in two weeks as “The Red Rocket Version 2.0” should be a factor on the Riverside high banks after 250 laps of racing!
Saturday was the much anticipated debut of Cape Sable Island’s Colby Smith at the wheel of a Pro Stock car. Smith was driving the #13 King Freight Lines Ford Fusion for Rollie MacDonald on the weekend and scored a lead lap, top ten finish in the car - a finish that any first timer would be proud of! I’ve had the chance to watch Smith progress through the Sportsman class and can easily say that he has a very bright future in this sport with Saturday’s run being the first in what I’m sure will be many top ten finishes in one of Canada’s most prestigious touring series!
Kevin Moore showed the way for the Speedway 660 Pro Stock regulars on Saturday, though the 11th place finish wasn’t indicative on how the #88 Mosman’s Jewellery Chevrolet ran. Moore and team were experimenting with a new shock package on his car, ran within the top ten for most of the night before having to pit during the rain delay. The #13 team pitched in to get the #88 back out on track and the veteran from Fredericton drove the car to 11th at the finish. Moore is currently in a battle for the weekly Pro Stock title at the track with Dave O’Blenis.
After a strong start to the season, Leonard Boutilier ran into some mechanical problems during the Atlantic Dodge Dealers 100 qualifying at Speedway 660. Coming off his first career top five run at Oyster Bed Speedway, Boutilier’s car developed axle problems during the qualifying heat, which prevented him from taking the green in his qualifier. Boutilier’s team got the car fixed for the feature and though the Dutch Settlement, NS driver had some tough sledding during the feature, he finished all 100 laps and came home 16th. We head back to Riverside in two weeks, where Boutilier was seventh in the Ron MacGillivray 100 in June.
Four drivers continued the Exide Batteries Rookie Battle Saturday and it looked like it would be tilting Steve Halpin’s way again. After all, the #03 AJ Mallette and Sons Toyota qualified third and ran well early in the feature but it looked like the handling went away in the #03 late in the going and the home track favorite finished 15th, three spots behind top rookie Dylan Gosbee in 12th. Halpin continues to hold the Rookie lead at the halfway point in the season by 32 over Brad Eddy, Terry Dougay and Gosbee. There’s still a long way to go and this battle will certainly go down to the wire!
With the win at his home track, Tucker becomes the first repeat winner of the 2012 season on the Tour. The victory also moves Tucker to within eight points of the new point leader Darren MacKinnon. MacKinnon started on the pole and led in the opening laps before fading back from the pole to the sixth - two spots ahead of former point leader Donald Chisholm. Those laps that MacKinnon led gave the #18 car an extra five points, which is a difference when we look at the standings as the Charlottetown driver is just two points up on the #89 for the top spot heading into the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. The top six, which also includes Flemming, Shawn Turple and Stevens are only separated by 19 points heading into the IWK 250.
If you have not put in your order for tickets for the big dance yet, do so now by going to RiversideSpeedway.ca. Can’t make it to Riverside on July 21st? Listen to the show on Sirius/XM Channel 158 with Race Time Radio. Joe Chisholm, Gerry Paxton, Jamie Maudsley and I will call all the action from Riverside - so you really have no reason to miss a lap of the action at James River! We’ll have the preview here on the ‘Corner of the 250 next week, along with a little look back on the first half of the season.
Until next week, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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