Race Notebook: Atlantic Cat 250 @ Scotia Speedworld
Every race has its moments that we will remember them by for years. The 2012 Atlantic CAT 250 may be enshrined forever as the race that Mother Nature tried to run with 26 of the best Late Model drivers in the region - and lost.
Going into Saturday, the forecast looked pretty grim. While the threat of rain dwindled throughout the day, the fog remained for the duration of the day, like it tends to do around Scotia Speedworld. The practices, heats and Atlantic CAT 250 were run under a bit of fog and changing temperature and track conditions, which made things interesting for drivers and teams as they chased their cars to dial them in throughout Saturday afternoon. When the checkered flag flew at the end of 250 laps, it was Cassius Clark as the winner, but as we’ve seen before, it was really the tale of two races for Clark and pole sitter Craig Slaunwhite.
The #99 Halifax Glass and Mirror Impala dominated the first half of the Atlantic CAT 250 on Saturday night. Slaunwhite led 147 of the 250 laps but faded in the second half prior to a pit stop in the final 50 laps of the race. Once Slaunwhite emerged from the pits, he began picking off positions and eventually made his way to fourth when the checkered flag came down. When Slaunwhite stumbled, it was Clark that was there to pick up the pieces. If there was any driver that wanted to get that race in on Saturday, it was Clark. The Farmington, Maine driver led the PASS North points heading into this weekend and needed our race to end no later than 11pm to start his trek south to White Mountain Motorsports Park in New Hampshire on Sunday where the #77 Hight Chevrolet sat in waiting for Clark. I’m sure the all night ride to New Hampshire was worth it with the dumptruck trophy along for the trip!
The point picture took a shake up as well on Saturday night. John Flemming started off the race strong but after contact with another car early in the feature, it seemed like the #97 wasn’t quite the same afterward and Flemming faded to an eighth place finish. Shawn Turple ran up front all night long, and even led a lap when he and Slaunwhite went at it on the early restarts to take five bonus points. Those points were the difference makers when it came to the standings as Turple’s third place finish was worth nine more points than Jonathan Hicken’s fifth place run. Those five points, which was the difference between the #5 and #0 teams coming into Saturday, have vaulted Turple to the top by a slim four point lead over Hicken and a ten point advantage over Flemming.
Shawn Tucker was right there with the top three heading into the feature point wise, but the #52 Rockico Equipment Limited Chevrolet looked like it was missing something in that race. Tucker ran mid-pack for a majority of the event before “the Big One” on Lap 106 took Tucker and about a half dozen others out of contention for the win. The wreck ended the night of Donald Chisholm, Frankie Fraser, Mike Stevens and Pete Miller, while others involved sustained some damaged but continued, in most cases, many laps down. There were some heavy hits in the wreck on the front straight and thankfully all drivers emerged from their cars okay. Another scary wreck in the Atlantic CAT 250 saw Leonard Boutilier get airborne on the backstraight after he and Brad Mann tried to avoid contact in front of them . It’s rare when you see a black mark high up on the wall, but that’s how high the #45 got. Boutilier was alright and Mann continued in the event, but it just goes to show how important safety is in these race cars and how important emergency staff like Dave MacKenzie and his crew at Scotia Speedworld can be.
Great to see Mike Rowe running with us on Saturday night. The ageless veteran from Turner, Maine raced his way up to second at the end and had to fend off his teammate Turple at the finish. A tip of the cap goes to Daryl Mahar as well after the #66 finished with a very solid seventh place finish. Our Exide Batteries Rookies also had strong showings. Steve Halpin made the Dash before getting swept up in a wreck in the first half, Brad Eddy kept his car on the lead lap for most of the race in front of about 40 Dana’s Collision Centre - CSN representatives before finishing ninth, one lap down while Dylan Gosbee picked up the Absolute Traffic Services Hard Charger Award with his tenth place finish in the 250. These guys continue to impress and will be factors in years to come as they continue to get seat time!
A big thanks goes out to Tom Powell for helping our Race Time Radio crew get on the air Saturday night. We had an issue with our telephone line at the track and Tom was there to help us out, as was Peter Lawrence, who helped Tom string wire throughout the tower to get us on Sirius/XM Channel 157. You can relive the Atlantic CAT 250 and the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman 100 later in the week on RaceTimeRadio.com.
There’s a small look at what made the 13th Annual Atlantic CAT 250 what it was. Later in the week, I’ll preview our final stop at Riverside International Speedway of the year in the Lucas Oil 100. While you’re on the web, click on over to RiversideSpeedway.ca for information on how you can get advance tickets for the show!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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