Notebook: Harry Poole Memorial 100 Presented By Lucas Oil
It may have been a frigid day to watch a stock car race, but I tell you, the 26 drivers on the track sure put on a show that would warm up any race fan!
Lots of stories lines in this one, the obvious one was at the front between Shawn Turple and John Flemming. Just as we left you last year, the two battled it out in front of the field for the win at Scotia Speedworld, just as they did to end the 2013 season in the Dartmouth Dodge 200.
The sheet of record says the final official lead change took place on Lap 64, though there were many of those laps prior to and after that mark that were ran side-by-side with your leaders. Unlike last season where a bump and run was the difference in the final lead change, these two put on a clean and respectful show up front that we are accustomed to seeing on this Tour. Both should be proud of their performance and those in attendance Iím sure already have the Lockhart Truck Center 150 circled on their calendar for June 21st. After all, Flemming won that race in 2013 after Turple won the event in 2011 and 2010. The 2012 winner of that June race at Scotia Speedworld - well, he finished third on Saturday. Thatís right, Shawn Tucker.
While the three on the podium on Saturday were not new faces, there was some new about the look of the cars. Turple won the race in a brand new race car, which had a sharp look courtesy of Kirk Alexander and Finish Line Vinyl Design. John Flemming had Dartmouth Dodge on the side of the car, though Pat Ryder told me on Saturday the team is looking to add a major sponsor to the car. Speaking of, Shawn Tucker was sporting colors of Dobbelsteyn Service & Maintenance as his primary sponsor for 2014, among other new secondary sponsors that will be getting lots of press throughout the year if Tucker continues his run like he did Saturday.
While it was cold, it also gave us a bit of an interesting element in the race. With it being so cold, it took some laps to get heat in the Hoosier slicks, and it also presented us with less of a second groove. Yes, we saw Turple and Flemming each use it at more than one point during the race, but it further drove the point home that if you could somehow roll the top and get it to work, you would go to the front. Ultimately, thatís how Turple took the lead from Flemming by being able to keep the top rocking off a restart and ended up putting it in victory lane. While not entertaining to sit in, the cold presented us with a pretty interesting storylines throughout the afternoon.
Greg Proude showed some great speed late in the race, but the handle of the car went away in the closing laps. After the #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers Dodge was in the top five near the end of the race, the finish of sixth was not indicative of how hard the Springvale, PE driver pushed in the second half of the event. With Petty Raceway coming up this weekend, this will be a real indicator whether Proude and team can be thought of as championship contenders in 2014.
Craig Slaunwhite and Cole Butcher each earned themselves top five finishes after sneaking by Proude in the last few sets of corners. Slaunwhiteís #99 Halifax Glass Chevy has been a contender in the last handful of times we have been at Scotia Speedworld and backed it up with a fourth place run. Butcher was fast all afternoon, made the King Freight Dash for Cash and was patient throughout the event and was rewarded with a top five run for his effort.
Butcher wasnít the only sophomore driver that ran well Saturday though.
Credit has to go to Dylan Blenkhorn. If you asked me after practice, after watching the 67 work throughout the three sessions we had, I would have told you he would be racing for his first career victory later in the afternoon. Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials confirmed what I had seen in practice, but after a run in early in the feature which sent him to the back and after an incident with another car caused damage and a subsequent tire rub for the Blenkhornís Auto Recyclers Chevrolet, his winning hopes were dashed. Everybody knew Blenkhorn and his team were there though, they woke everyone up.
Donít count Blenkhorn out yet as a title contender though. Remember who finished 19th last year in the opener? The guy had a couple of stumbles at the start of the season but rallied late and was touted as having a season only drivers could dream of.
Thatís right, Blenkhorn finished in the same spot Shawn Tucker did in last yearís lid lifter at Scotia Speedworld. Could history repeat itself in 2014?
It also looked like for a while that we were finally going to be able to call Donald Chisholm as a winner at Scotia Speedworld. The Antigonish driver has tried everything to crack victory lane at the track, but hasnít been able to decode the place. The #89 Keltic Ford Fusion started on the pole after winning the King Freight Dash and was coming to the front after an early spin set him back. I know, seventh is nothing to sneeze at, but again, Iím sure the team after the way they ran throughout the afternoon wanted more than that.
Some familiar faces in some new places and it worked out for them. Colby Smith showed some speed in the King Competition car on Saturday and worked his way to a top ten run at the end of it. I donít think Smith even put a scratch on the car! It is a familiar place for Smith though as his maiden voyage on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour was at Speedway 660 in the #13 car as a fill-in driver. Weíll see the Cape Sable Island driver in a part-time role with the team this year as he also focuses on his Sportsman ride, but with this run I am excited to see what he can do the rest of his races in the #31.
Greg Fahey and the Big Poppas Motorsports team worked hard throughout the afternoon to get the former six-time Speedway 660 champ comfy in not only his new digs for the season but also with Scotia Speedworld, a track he had only seen once for an afternoon of testing a week prior to the season. Fahey is a great talent and wheeled the #20 car home in 12th in his first ever Speedworld start. The next time we are slated to see Fahey is the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body.
Another driver who got his feet wet for the first time as a full-time competitor on our series was Matt Harris. The driver from Fredericton Junction had an early end though as he was sidelined by Lap 14. It is great to see Harris on our series. He is a former podium finisher in the Auto Value 250 and is also a former winner on our series back in the day when he was a full-time competitor at Speedway 660. Iím excited to see what Harris can do with his Matt Harris and Son Limited car, which comes out of the Lonnie Sommerville Racing shop. Rumor is that he will not be at Petty with us on Saturday, though his car will be. Hmmmmm...
The only full-time rookie we have on the series finished a respectable 16th place. Letís call a spade a spade, Sarah McKay had a lot of eyes on her that may have created some pressure on the now 18-year old (her birthday was Monday) but she kept calm, racing on a race track sheís not accustomed to and only had one test on and racing against the best in the business. John Flemming had put her a lap down early and she had some contact in Turn Two that sent her around early and got some damage from a check up for a spin by one of the leaders in the same corner.
Eventful day? Sure.
She never gave up, put her head down and hit her marks at the end of the race, received a Back in the Race Award, got back on the lead lap and finished 16th. She enjoys racing at our next venue of Petty Raceway, did well there in a Sportsman car, has tested there in a Pro Stock and is looking for a good finish. Now that any pressure is off her as the first female to make a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour start, she can focus on other goals, like getting seat time in her #32 A.E. McKay Builders Chevrolet.
Left off a few drivers that had good runs on Saturday, because Iím going to talk about them here later in the week as I preview the Irving Blending & Packaging 100 at Petty Raceway. What better way to start off 2014 than with back-to-back races!
Until then, keep the hammer down and weíll see you at the track!
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