The Notebook: Lucas Oil 150 at Scotia Speedworld
Compared to 2012, the new season of the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour came in roaring like a lion.
Fans at Scotia Speedworld on Sunday sure got their money’s worth with the Lucas Oil 150. After all, it had a bit of everything. It had some great side by side racing when we were green, a couple big comebacks and more than a few yellow flags. With 29 teams in the field, there are 29 stories to be told from the first race, so here are some of those!
Let’s start with the winner. It was a great day for the John Flemming team. Just a few weeks ago, the team did not have a primary sponsor and faced having to possibly cut races from their schedule because of funding. Considering the team finished a strong second last year, and Flemming is a proven champion should be an easy sell but in this economic time, selling sponsorship is easier said than done. Enter Action Car and Truck Accessories.
Action Car and Truck Accessories came on board within the last couple of weeks to sponsor the #97 team and John ended up welcoming them into our sport with a victory in the season opening event. Not only did Flemming drive the new look #97 (which is a wild looking scheme with the green roll cage I may add) to victory lane, he did so from the rear of the field with 25 to go. To add excitement, he almost went a lap down when his car stalled coming off pit road as the green flag flew. An ensuing caution (and reverting back to the last green flag lap) would save Flemming on that occasion.
While Flemming will sit second in points to Shawn Turple, who led the most laps on Sunday and obtained five bonus points for it, the day for Flemming was impressive. He blistered the track in Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials and didn’t take long to drive his car to the front of the field. After his contact, he methodically made his way back up to the front and turned up the heat on Turple by turning laps over a quarter second quicker than the #0 in clear traffic. With the caution, Flemming lined up on the outside for the restart and set sail around Turple for the win. If Flemming can continue this impressive run throughout the season, it will be hard to beat the Dodge team when it comes down to it for the championship.
The win also puts Flemming with eight career Tour era sanctioned wins at Scotia Speedworld, breaking a tie with Wayne Smith for the lead in that statistical category. The win is also his 18th of his career, moving him into a tie for second with Shawn Tucker, just seven behind Smith’s mark of 25. Those are pretty impressive numbers if you ask me!
When we look at second place, don’t forget, Turple also had to put the rally cap on Sunday to get back to second place at the end of the Lucas Oil 150. Following a spin at the halfway point, Turple also picked off spots to get up to the bridesmaid position before the checkers. As mentioned, he is the point leader and extends his consecutive top ten streak he had coming into the weekend to 15 races. While Flemming looked impressive and looks like he will be a contender for this championship, Turple is on a history making run himself. Regardless how this plays out, it should be an incredible fight all season long between these two great ambassadors for our sport in this region!
Although he was a bit sour after the race, Greg Proude also had an impressive comeback following a late spin in Turn One. Proude knows how to pass cars at Scotia Speedworld and he did just that in the closing laps back to third. It is really a tale of two openers for the #29 car, which brought the rebuilt Red Rocket (renamed “Halli” as it will be the primary car at the Speedworld) to the track. Proude dominated the first half of this race last year before handing the reins over to Craig Slaunwhite, who went on to win in 2012. This year, it was Proude who had to do the opposite, scratching and clawing his way to a third place run. We’ll see what the #29 team can do in the Fast Eddie Racewear at Petty and see if the momentum carries over to New Brunswick.
Our rookies each had great runs building. Dylan Blenkhorn was the top freshman at the end of the day with a sixth place run, backing up where he would finish in the King Freight Dash. Colby Smith and Cole Butcher each had top five runs in the closing ten laps before finishing 13th and 12th respectively at the checkers. Denver Foran kept his car out of trouble for most of the day, except for a “hold your breath” moment on the front straight with another car which gave the car a ruffled fender on the right rear. In the end, Foran finished in eighth, which is what the team wanted when they entered the weekend. All four will be in action at Petty Raceway as they look for the coveted season long Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year Award.
How about Steve Ross and Terry Dougay with career runs? Ross, a multi-time Late Model Sportsman champion in the region, becomes the 62nd driver in the 135 races in series history to record a top five in the series with his fifth place run. Dougay joins a list of now 90 drivers who have ever placed in the top ten in a Tour era race. That’s pretty elite company if you ask me and goes to show how far these two sophomores have come since their rookie season in 2013.
Quick rundown of some of the guys that broke that we know what broke. Before crash damaged sidelined the #11 car, we had reported on Race Time Radio that Marty Prevost’s radio was dead. That was half true. Talking with the crew on Monday at Oyster Bed Speedway, they explained to me that the battery was dying in the radio, but the team could still communicate. Instead of wearing the battery down faster though, Marty would communicate by tapping on the roof if he heard or agreed with the message sent from the crew, which he could hear. After he and Flemming made contact for the lead, the team decided to come down and swap radios. The day started off rough for Prevost as well as missing the Drivers Meeting resulted in only one Time Trial lap and an unapproved tire change on the car following qualifying put the team to the back of the pack for the start of the feature.
I did confirm with one of the Dylan Gosbee crew on Monday that it was indeed a motor that went sour on the Wendell Taylor’s Garage Chevrolet. Reports were that it may have been something as simple as an oil line, but one of the crew members did tell me that it was the motor that let go. Gosbee will look to rebound at Race Two at Petty, a track where he recorded a second place finish at an open show back in October.
On my way to Oyster Bed Speedway on Monday morning, I caught up with Jonathan Hicken’s father David on the ferry heading to Wood Islands. When asked what put them out of the show, Hicken dug in his pocket and produced a broken trailing arm bolt. It’s something that you don’t usually hear of breaking, but it does happen and happened as recently as the Dartmouth Dodge 200 when Dean Clattenburg pulled the #13 car into the pits with the same problem.
Jason Carnahan’s #55 team had an electrical short in the Carnahan Property Management Chevrolet on Sunday. Carnahan and team called it a “lucky short” as all the caution fever that we had began to break out around where the #55 was running. Carnahan and team will be at Petty in two weeks with their sharp looking black and green Chevrolet Impala.
That will do it for now, next week, we preview the Fast Eddie Racewear 100 at Petty International Raceway.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
|BACK TO TIM'S CORNER ARCHIVES|