Race Notebook: Lockhart Truck Center 150
The boys of summer continue to put on a show wherever we go!
The Lockhart Truck Center 150 on Saturday night was a fantastic showcase of what this series has to offer. We saw lots of green flag stretches where the racing got hot, we saw some paint swapped and some broken fiberglass but in the end, the fans got treated to a fantastic night of short track racing. Oh, and by the way, the weather finally cooperated with us!
Onto the racing, John Flemming and Shawn Turple played some high speed chess in the closing few restarts of the race. While some of these restart games can get the blood boiling of the driver and crew that loses out, it’s intriguing for those sitting in the stands. Yes, the leader controls the start and is supposed to keep pace car speed but when does he pull the trigger and when he does, is the outside car going to go? We saw Turple on the last restart try to entice Flemming to go by being up on him on the outside line by a length. Keep in mind, the outside line was the preferred groove on Saturday night and only a few could make quality passes on the inside. One of those restarts ended up being called back, while the tower let one or two of the games go on with a green flag. Either way, it kept this guy on the edge of his seat in the closing laps.
Let’s begin with focusing on some positives from Saturday night. For Flemming, it was win #19 in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour era (2001-present), pulling him into second place when it comes to career series wins and only six behind Wayne Smith’s mark of 25. When it comes to statistics at Scotia Speedworld, Flemming now owns nine feature wins out of the 43 races run at the 3/10-mile oval. If you do the math, Flemming has won over 20% of the races run at the Speedworld. Dig deeper and you’ll find 35 top ten finishes at the Speedworld for Flemming - three more than Shawn Tucker! Talk about Flemming’s playground!
For Turple, Saturday marked his tenth time finishing on the podium at his home track. Behind him, Craig Slaunwhite put his #99 on the podium for the fifth time in his career at Scotia Speedworld. After not finishing race one, he has quietly been climbing the standings and now sits eighth after a trio of races heading into a track he has had success on before at Petty Raceway.
George Koszkulics and Dylan Gosbee recorded well earned top five finishes on Saturday. George Koszkulics hasn’t been able to catch a break in the first two races and finally had lady luck dial his number last weekend en route to a fourth place finish. In the case of Gosbee, the second year full time driver from Cornwall, Prince Edward Island continues to grow into one of the most versatile racers on our series. The top five is Gosbee’s second career top five after his first came on Prince Edward Island in 2010 and by the way he’s been running, it will be far from his last. Case in point, he enters a track this weekend where he may not have a top ten in Tour competition but does have a podium finish in last season’s open show at Petty Raceway.
How about our Legend car champs turned Pro Stock rookies and their runs on Saturday? Dylan Blenkhorn drove to the fifth quick time in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials then drew and finished second in the King Freight Dash for Cash. For a majority of the first half, he kept that second place spot before a caution and ensuing restart shuffled the Truro driver out of the top five. He never gave up and continued to race his way to a seventh place finish.
Typically in series like we have with the competition so deep, the seventh place finish would be enough to lock up the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Race Award, but not on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour! To say Cole Butcher’s team was busy on Saturday morning is an understatement. The team discovered issues with the powerplant in the #53 Atlantic Tiltload Chevrolet and they opted to switch the motor on the #53 car. They showed up to the track just prior to the first practice on Saturday and got to work dialing in their race car. Butcher got to work during the Lockhart Truck Center 150, picking his way through the field and when the checkers flew, the driver who went to victory lane 24 hours prior in a Legends feature at the Speedworld recorded his first career top ten finish at his home track with a sixth place run. Butcher becomes the 91st driver in series history to record a top ten finish on the Tour and with the way he’s been driving in the first three races this season, it will not be his last this year.
On the flip side, Shawn Tucker and the #52 team continue to struggle. While the #52 Rockico Equipment Limited Chevrolet has been quick in all three races, something has happened to the car, whether it be an accident or a mechanical failure, while running in the top ten. Jonathan Hicken also finds himself in a hole in the standings after having a car capable of running top ten in each of our opening races but finding mechanical trouble at both Speedworld events. Illness forced Marty Prevost from his #11 car and while Cy Harvey got in to collect points for the team, they are still deep in the standings. Same goes for Mike Stevens after a few tough weeks. The point is, while we have a tough top ten in the standings, there are over a half dozen others outside looking in that could easily be there too without some bad luck biting them!
We’ll take a look at those standings later in the week when we dive into the numbers for the Petty International Raceway Lucas Oil 150 preview.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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