Race Notebook: July 12 @ Speedway 660
Before we get to what was in the feature, our drivers deserve a pat on the back for the heat race action they put on Saturday night. Shawn Turple and Darren Mackinnon hounded each other for the win in heat win which saw Mackinnon first to the stripes, while Dave O’Blenis and Matt Harris had Cole Butcher making it a three wide finish at the end of the second heat. Those guys ran hard in those heat races, did it clean and without any damage.
The same can not be said for a majority of the cars after the feature.
Winner Shawn Turple, who said in victory lane he was planning on putting at least a half body on his car before heading to this week’s IWK 250 anyway, might have the least work to do of the 16 other drivers that took the green Saturday. Turple quickly worked his way to the front and outlasted all the restarts and held off all challengers to take his second career victory at Speedway 660, the first coming in 2008. Minus some tire marks and rubbed off vinyl, the #0 Dexter Construction/Municipal Group Chevrolet looked pretty pristine after the feature.
The two cars that joined him on the podium found themselves at the rear of the field at one point in the feature. John Flemming was racing near the front when another car cut loose on his outside and subsequent contact cut his right rear tire on impact. He caught a caution and was able to get damage repaired to his #97 Dodge and rallied to second place.
Shawn Tucker was placed to the rear of the field by race officials with 28 to go for jumping his third restart of the race. The call, when Wade and I announced it to the crowd, was met with a mixed reaction of cheers, boos and some other words I couldn’t quite make out from the tower.
The result though, besides Tucker steaming in victory lane over the call, was the #52 car driving very hard back to the front of the field. Wade and I both commented that we had never seen Tucker drive so aggressively in those final 28 laps to get back to the front. If it was a 150, Tucker probably would have won that race. Heck, if it was a 125, Tucker probably would have ran to victory with the way the pace of the show went. Again though, those are “what ifs,” the race is over and I’m sure the team is focused on this week’s task.
You have to feel for Greg Proude and his team. Proude ran within the top five all night long and kept his #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers Dodge Charger clean all night, that is until the last lap. When attempting to lap a car going into turn three heading to the white flag, Proude ended up turned around in front of traffic after running in the fourth place spot. The contact triggered a multiple car wreck, the 16th caution flag of the night and officials decided to throw the caution/checkered on the race. Proude’s car came to a rest on the hood of Kevin Moore’s #88 car, while contenders like Dave O’Blenis also got swept up in the final wreck of the evening.
Jonathan Hicken and Dylan Blenkhorn came home with top five finishes, their first at Speedway 660 and both came from opposite ends. First off, both missed the wreck I just mentioned with Proude on the last lap. Blenkhorn started the day by winning his fourth Atlantic Tiltload Time Trial Award of the season, but drew sixth in the King Freight Dash re-draw. Ultimately, the traffic that Blenkhorn got caught up in may have been his downfall as he was involved in a few of our yellow flags on Saturday but still ended up fourth at the finish.
Hicken scored his fourth career top-ten at Speedway 660 with a fifth place run. Hicken kept himself out of trouble most of the night and showed strength throughout the race and was at the right place at the right time to put his #5 Castle Building Centers Chevrolet into the top five when it counted. For those keeping score, the top five finish was Hicken’s 23rd of his career, which is 11th all-time in the series and only one behind Greg Proude. The run also served as Hicken’s 52nd career top-ten finish, putting him into sole possession of ninth overall on the all-time list in the series.
In the up and down yo-yo kind of race we had on Saturday, it was great to see Steve Halpin and Craig Slaunwhite show strength at Speedway 660. While Halpin was out early and didn’t get the finish he probably deserved, Slaunwhite soldiered on throughout the race, was on pit road a few times during the race after running up front and came back with a sixth place run.
In our last race, Jason Carnahan became the 94th driver in series history to score a top-ten finish. This week, Sarah McKay etched her name in history by becoming the 95th driver and first female to score a top-ten on our series. McKay, who showed speed in practice at her home track, had a rough and tumble feature, like many veterans around her as well, and was swept up in a number of the yellow flags throughout the evening. In a battered #32, she never gave up and came home with a ninth place run.
At the end of the day, it was a long race with a lot of yellows and it is something that we have grown accustomed not to seeing. Every series, from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to the local grassroots weekly classes, have a bad race from time to time.
Later in the week, we look at some more stats and preview the IWK 250 presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body.
Until next time, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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