Race Notebook: Fast Eddie Racewear 100 @ Petty Raceway
A string of twos finally paid off into a one for Shawn Tucker.
The last time we were at Petty Raceway, it was Tucker finishing second to Dylan Gosbee. One week prior, Tucker had to settle for second at Speedway 660. In both races, Tucker led the second most laps by one lap. On Saturday, Tucker qualified in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials in, you guessed it, second place. After 100-laps presented by Fast Eddie Racewear though, it was Tucker who was standing tall as number one in victory lane.
Something we saw on Saturday that we also saw at Petty International Raceway during the Lucas Oil 150 was that the #52 Rockico Equipment Limited Chevrolet was really stout on long green flag runs. Our longest run was over 50 laps on Saturday during the Fast Eddie Racewear 100 and Tucker had a lead of about a straightaway when the caution flew with three laps to go. In the Lucas Oil 150, he had lapped up to sixth place when the final rash of cautions flew with under ten laps remaining. The point is, with Riverside being a similar high banked race track and with Tucker having success at the James River oval, he may be starting a first place streak which will run right through this week’s IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body.
A few stats when it comes to last Saturday. The win for Tucker was his 19th series victory in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour era, dating back to when the series began in 2001. He now sits only one win behind Flemming for second. Wayne Smith has the most career victories on the Tour with 25. Tucker moved to within two when it comes to the career lead in top fives as his 69th top five finish is second to Smith’s 71. Tucker extended his lead in career top tens to 106, nine more than Smith.
If you look at it though, that’s a pretty incredible number. Tucker has 106 top tens in 140 career races, or an average of 76% of the races. That’s impressive.
Speaking of impressive, Gosbee’s run recently has been just that. The Wendell Taylor’s Garage Chevrolet is coming off four consecutive top fives and five consecutive top tens heading into Riverside. If it wasn’t for a blown engine on race one, we may have been talking about Gosbee going for the lead spot in the standings, instead he is fourth, just ten points behind Shawn Turple at second, who had a race to forget at Petty.
It was great to see Jonathan Hicken have a rebound night after a rough start to the season. After a couple mechanical failures combined with luck not being on the side of the #5 team for most of this season, Hicken put the Castle Building Centres Impala in the runner-up spot at the end of the race. This could be the turn of momentum the team has been searching for and should be a threat down the stretch, especially in these next two weeks at Riverside and Oyster Bed.
Mentioning turning it around, Cole Butcher had to come from the back early in the Fast Eddie Racewear 100 after he ended up pointed in the wrong direction in Turn Two on Saturday. Instead of hanging his head low, the 16-year old hotshoe got up on the wheel and was contending for his first career top five run in the series before having to settle for seventh. We said off the top of the season that any one of our rookies could win a race before this season is out, and by the runs that Butcher, Dylan Blenkhorn and Denver Foran have had, I believe we could see our fourth (at least) driver to ever win in his rookie year before 2013 is out.
We saw three established Island drivers (Hicken, Gosbee and Darren MacKinnon) have great runs within the top five on Saturday, but we also saw two youngsters who are scratching their way to make a name for themselves in this series. Brodie MacQuarrie made his second start on our series while Robbie MacEwen subbed for Shawn Pierce, who was attending a wedding on Saturday. These two would be perfect additions to our Tour full time, which is the goal at this point for MacQuarrie and the Big Poppas 63 Motor Sports team. In addition to Greg Proude, who is third in our point standings, Kent Vincent and Terry Dougay, we have a very strong roster of drivers from Prince Edward Island who continue to rack up some impressive numbers on our series.
We’ll close with this one for now - out of our six races at Petty Raceway, only two drivers have finished in the top ten in all six of those races. If you guessed John Flemming and Jerome Kehoe, you’re right! Kehoe finished tenth on Saturday to keep his top ten streak at the high banked bullring intact, while Flemming stretched his top ten streak to ten consecutive races. Flemming’s point lead is now 73 points, which means, assuming he starts the race, he could potentially finish dead last on Saturday night and not lose the point lead. Everyone says the #97 car has been strong all season and the points are an indication - but look at the standings. Flemming has not finished outside the top eight all season long. Looking at the results, everyone outside of second has either had one or two bad runs to date or hasn’t had the consistency that Flemming has had. With us halfway in the season and a few big races to come with big car counts expected, this thing is far from over folks.
Speaking of big races, we have a huge one this weekend. It’s the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body - and we’ll set it up for you later this week.
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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