Race Notebook: IWK 250 Presented By Steve Lewis Auto Body
What an IWK 250 that was!
That race had everything a top short track event should have. From having to qualify drivers into the event, to close, hard racing throughout the pack and even a rivalry that heated up to a boiling point on pit road, all the ingredients were there for one of the best races of the season and one of the most action packed IWK 250ís I have seen in a long while!
Letís start with the racing itself. John Flemming finally got a bit of revenge on a race that slipped from his fingers one season ago. He positioned his #97 Dodge to the front of the field prior to the halfway point in the event and led a total of 142 laps to take the win. That means, in the last two IWK 250s, Flemming has led 369 of the 500 laps completed and has collected over $25,000 in those two races. Maybe more important - the fact that he can finally add the IWK 250 trophy to his already stacked accomplishments as a Pro Stock racer, which Iím sure will look good beside his CAT 250 trophy.
It was far from easy though. Flemming had the NOVA Racing teammates keeping him honest most of the night. If it wasnít Donald Chisholmís familiar #89 Ford behind Flemming, it was NASCAR Sprint Cup star Joey Logano keeping the Dodge driver on his game! Logano led laps early and was a contender throughout the event, but as he said in his post race interview, was hoping for one late race restart to give Flemming a run for the trophy. That didnít happen though, and Logano had to settle for third. After he thought he had a tire going soft on the #89, Chisholm had to work his way through traffic, which was halted at around the Lap 150 mark when a slow restart stacked up the inside line and, literally, stacked Shawn Pierceís car on top of Chisholmís. Chisholmís crew worked feverishly on getting the Keltic Ford Fusion back out, but when the car emerged from the pits, it was many laps down and was well off the pace of what it was prior to the wreck. The #89 car just canít seem to catch a break in this event in recent years, but you best believe heíll be gunning hard for the win in 2013!
Jonathan Hicken had a hotrod at the end of the race too! The #5 Castle Building Centres Impala was flying at the end of that race and got to second before the checkers flew. Hicken didnít have a chance to really show what he could do in our first Riverside appearance as an early wreck took him out of the Ron MacGillivray 100, but everyone certainly knew he was there this time! With our second Island race coming up next weekend and that team coming back to their home turf with lots of momentum, it might be hard to stop that #5 at Oyster Bed!
Two drivers who had good runs going that went sour were Mike Stevens and Greg Proude. Stevens, who won the Ron MacGillivray 100, got out of shape on the backstraight in the second half of the event and Proude had nowhere to go but into the side of the #4 R. Stevens Mechanical Impala. As I said on Sirius/XM, Stevens has had a very strong car in each of our races this year but has had some circumstance bite him in a few events, this one included. Proude looked like his car was getting better in the later laps of the event but we really didnít see if the Red Rocket V2 had enough to win the event. Watch for Greg and Mike to both be good at Oyster Bed in two weeks.
We canít talk about the IWK 250 without talking about ďthe brawl.Ē Darren MacKinnon and Wayne Smith, who battled many times before, including an epic one last year which resulted in MacKinnonís first win at Oyster Bed in 2011, made contact on a restart which resulted in a tire going soft on the #18 into Turn One and sailed MacKinnonís ride into the wall. Take that contact on the restart whichever way you want to, but dozens of laps later after getting repairs, the #18 emerged from pit road and eventually stuffed the #44 into the Turn One wall shortly after returning. Smith emerged from his sharp looking flat black #44 and he and his team marched to the opposite end of pit road and got into an altercation with the #18 team. The altercation heated up again after the race as the team tried to stop the #18 hauler as it was leaving the track after the race. How does it go, short tracks bring out short tempers? That was certainly the case on Saturday night.
We also had our biggest car count of the season at Riverside with 32 cars showing up for the 28 spots in the field, which made qualifying exciting to watch. Everyone knew the story going in - three Dartmouth Dodge heats set the field for the 250 with the top five from each making it in while four of the eight drivers who did not qualify through their heat having to rely on Tour point provisionals. At the end of the day, it was Cy Harvey, Pete Miller, Brad Brown and Dave Heino not making the show. It was a hard pill to swallow for some of the teams, but thatís racing. With the event, there were 32 cars and 32 different stories and so many we have to leave out of the column, but all the teams that took part this weekend in the 250 deserve a big pat on the back. You guys made this show one of the best the Maritimes has seen in years and we thank you for that!
The one thing that really gets me excited for this event and lived up to all expectations is that the IWK 250 is a real weekend event. Practice took place beginning on Tuesday, the Richard Petty Driving Experience was at Riverside Thursday and Friday and tailgate parties at Boston Pizza Antigonish also took place on Thursday and Friday. The on track action began Friday night with the Highland Home Building Centre 100 and Maritime Legends Challenge and we got on track on Saturday. I had the chance to be on pit road prior to practice and during intros and I can tell you I have never felt a race atmosphere more electric than I did on Saturday evening. Paul McLean and John Chisholm have done something with this event that will be very hard to top.
As mentioned, lots to do on the weekend. A tip of the cap to the VanZutphen family for their annual pig roast on Saturday, which raised $14,000 for the IWK. I got the chance to do the Richard Petty Driving Experience on Thursday and it is something that all race fans should do if you havenít already. A big shoutout to Frank Kimmel II (@frankkimmel2 on Twitter) for being my driver on the ride along, and who knows, maybe if he can slide it into his schedule, maybe heíll try to find himself a ride in next yearís IWK 250 - I know he was excited about the race on Saturday!
Okay, so youíre thinking, ďoh boy, I missed a helluva event. How am I ever going to make up for this?Ē Well, besides planning your trip to the 2013 IWK 250 right now, you can click on over to RaceTimeRadio.com to relive the IWK 250 broadcast! Joe Chisholm, Gerry Paxton, Jamie Maudsley and I called all the action last Saturday and you can go back to listen to all the excitement by heading to the RTR site. They also have the call of Fridayís Sportsman race, which is worth a listen to as well.
Next week, we head to Oyster Bed Speedway for Round Eight of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour. Who came out of the IWK 250 smelling like a rose in the championship points and who needs to take a swim on the red shores to clean up prior to a run at the $10,000 championship payday? Find out here next week. Oh, and to add to it all - Sterling Marlin will be in the field. I talked to many of our Pro Stock guys last Saturday (which can be heard on Episode #39 of my podcast at www.TimsCorner.ca), and they enjoy racing against drivers who race for a living and many of them are excited to strap in on the same track as the two time Daytona 500 winner. Weíll get a preview of the event next week here on Timís Corner!
Until then, keep the hammer down and weíll see you at the track!
|BACK TO TIM'S CORNER ARCHIVES|