Race Notebook: Lucas Oil 100 @ Riverside Speedway
Can anyone stop Shawn Tucker?
The multi-time champion from Fredericton has been virtually unstoppable the last three weeks of the season. Including the Auto Value 250 open race at Speedway 660, he has won every feature he has participated in over the last three weeks. Saturday’s Lucas Oil 100 was once again Tucker’s time to shine.
The story had been written similar to his other victories on the series and the one he missed at Petty Raceway during the Lucas Oil 150. Tucker’s car gets increasingly better as the run goes along and he puts himself in a position near the midway point of the race to take the lead and never look back en route to the win. This week, it was a caution in the second half of the race that made the half straightaway lead held by Donald Chisholm vaporize, bringing Tucker’s #52 Rockico Equipment Limited Chevy into the picture.
The race would come down to a green-white-checkered finish, which is a situation Tucker told me in victory lane he had been in many times in his career. A flawless restart led to the rest of the field fighting for second and allowed Tucker to set sail for his fourth Tour victory of 2013.
This is truly a special ride Tucker is on. Ask anyone in this series, including Tucker himself. The competition in the Pro Stock/Super Late Model ranks in Atlantic Canada is so stiff that to finish in the top five in one of these races is a pretty big feat, let alone to win five features including the Auto Value 250 and IWK 250. The question is - can he win the championship? We’ll answer that later in the week in the Dartmouth Dodge 200 preview.
Maybe the most impressive number at Riverside Speedway this season is the average finish of Donald Chisholm over the three races at his home track. Chisholm has placed second twice, including a runner-up finish to Tucker at the IWK 250 and has a win in the Ron MacGillivray 150. That average finish for Donald Chisholm? 1.6! Chisholm led the most laps on Saturday night and kept with Tucker through the middle portions of the race. The two swapped paint on the two lap dash but Chisholm eventually fell back to duel with Darren MacKinnon, who got past Dylan Blenkhorn to duke it out with the #89.
Darren is always solid at the high banked tracks and it is great to see that team finish third. It also helps them in the standings and they will be 18 points out of third heading into the finale on Saturday. The team’s best finish in the standings is fifth and they will certainly trump that this year, it’s just a matter of how much they can beat it by.
The run to the front by Blenkhorn on Saturday night really impressed me. By the looks of practice, the team was off. Following the team fixing a broken track bar, they went out and qualified 13th in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials and then began their march to the front of the field. Dylan quietly worked his way up into the top ten…into the top five…and in the late run prior to the final caution he found himself battling through traffic with MacKinnon and Cole Butcher. Blenkhorn restarted third on the final dash and got shuffled to fourth at the end of the race. Considering the way they started and all the work the team put in, their second consecutive top five has to be a pretty good reward for the freshman team.
Talk about making the most of an opportunity, Brad Eddy did just that by wheeling the #13 King Competition Ford up into the top five at the end of the night for Eddy’s third career top five with the series. Eddy is one of the brightest young talents in our series but their #72 is looking for some funding to really put Brad on the right track. He showed he can wheel on Saturday. Think about it, a car Brad has never driven before and he comes in and runs top five with it. Some seasoned veterans have issues switching cars like that, unlike the sophomore with just over a dozen Pro Stock Tour starts under his belt. The driver for Saturday’s 200 has yet to be announced, but I think Brad has proven that he is a prime candidate for the seat!
Before we stray from the King team, I know it’s not Tour related, but a tip of the cap to Andrew Hicken for his second place run in the NAPA Sportsman Series 75-lap race on Saturday. Was great to see Andrew wheel a car to the front and it just goes to show that he is as good behind the wheel as he is preparing racecars.
The story for most of the afternoon was Cole Butcher. The #53 car won the first practice, time trialed second and started fifth in the feature. For many laps, Butcher ran up in the top three before a dust-up left him with some damage to the #53 car. Unlike others who would have come in to get it looked at, Butcher soldiered on and wound up sixth in his battered Atlantic Tiltload Chevrolet. This Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year battle has been fantastic and these two have been incredible to watch all season and mark my words, will win races on this series for years to come. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them won our season finale in a few days!
It was great to see Shawn Pierce up in the top ten for his second consecutive Tour race. Pierce and his team are a great bunch of guys and gals and are one of the hardest working crews in the pits on race day. Shawn started the season with a top ten at Scotia Speedworld in May and will look to continue the trend Saturday night.
John Flemming had a flat tire at the end of the race and was relegated to the 11th place spot after the restart with two to go. While Flemming lost 25 points on his advantage, it still sits as a 49 point lead on Tucker. We’ll look more at it later this week, but the mark sits at 19th for the finale. If the #97 car can finish 19th or better, he is your 2013 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour champion, regardless what Tucker does on Saturday night.
It was great to see Greg Proude climb from his race car Saturday after a heckuva hard hit in Turn One. The team credits a broken trailing arm bracket as the cause of the wreck, which sent the #29 straight into the fence heading into Turn One at Riverside, one of the highest speed corners on our series. Blake, Scott, Mark and the whole team will have some late nights getting the car ready for this weekend I’m sure and Greg will likely be feeling that hit for a few days.
That’s all my space I have for now. Coming up later in the week, we’ll preview the season finale Dartmouth Dodge 200.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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