Race Notebook: Parts for Trucks 100 @ Oyster Bed Speedway
Well, if that was “the wildcard” race, it certainly was a tame one.
Compared to some of the races we’ve seen in the past out of the tough bullring at Oyster Bed Speedway anyway. Out of the seven cautions, only a few cars got tore up and by my recollection, only one will really need a lot of TLC prior to the Atlantic Cat 250.
Let’s start up front though. Since we’re on the card topic, let’s call a spade a spade, there were three cars in the Parts for Trucks 100 that showed throughout the race that they were the class of the field. Six lead changes took place amongst these three drivers, including the final one with eight laps remaining which gave Jonathan Hicken his third win on his home track and second win on the 2014 season. The win was a popular one but also a critical one. Yes, this is Hicken’s home track, in front of all his friends and family but he also welcomed three new sponsors onto the car on the weekend, including K.A. Holdings Inc., CARS Auto Services and Central Engine Services. I know they were all happy to see Hicken in victory lane, especially Dale Holmes of Central Engine Services, who once drove a Castle Building Centres sponsored car to victory lane on our series at Oyster Bed Speedway.
If you are a fan of Hicken, a fan of the hometown team taking the win, or a fan of great Super Late Model racing in general then you left Oyster Bed Speedway happy on Saturday night. I know I did.
The driver Hicken swapped the lead with on Lap 92 was the defending winner of the race, John Flemming. Flemming led over half the laps in the race and finished second. With the way our point system works, Flemming’s second place finish and bonus points for leading a lap and the most laps gives Flemming the most points on the night and subsequently will pad his point lead by seven over the driver that finished right behind him, Shawn Tucker. Tucker, who said he threw an oddball setup at his #52 car, finished on the podium at Oyster Bed for the first time in ten years. With Scotia Speedworld, Riverside Speedway, and Petty Raceway all up in the final five races to settle the title and combined with Flemming and Tucker being good at all three, this should give us a fantastic finish for the championship. Yes, I know there are more drivers in the picture, but if these two run the way they did on Saturday, it will be hard to catch them.
On the opposite end of that point picture, Shawn Turple was quiet most of the night and came home with a seventh place finish in the Parts for Trucks 100. Dylan Blenkhorn’s night came to an abrupt end when contact with Robbie MacLean sent his car into the wall and on the back of the Shaw’s Towing hook - which should be noted is the only time in the 100-lap event that we had to use the tow truck. Blenkhorn and his team will have many busy nights at the shop this coming week to get “Bird Bird” ready for the Atlantic Cat 250.
George Koszkulics put on a show from the rear of the field to pick up the Exide Batteries Hard Charger Award Saturday night. Koszkulics started his Nova Contruction/Pioneer Coal Ford Fusion last in the 19 car field and wasted little time picking off cars en route to the front of the field. While he lost fourth in the last laps to Cole Butcher, who scored his fourth career top five on the series, Koszkulics still managed to come home fifth on the evening. Great showing for the #88 car!
Sarah Mckay, who described the layout of Oyster Bed as “weird and different” during Driver Introductions, was impressing fans in the late laps of the race, myself included. McKay drove up to the ninth spot and was battling for eighth with Blenkhorn late in the feature before spinning out in Turn Two with a little help from the #22 of Joel Hickox. Hickox started third in the feature but found himself last by Lap One after spinning in front of the field in Turn Four coming to complete the first circuit. In the end, McKay was denied her second career top ten by one spot, which was ironically occupied by Hickox, who scored his first career top ten on the series. Hickox is the 95th driver to score a top ten in 153 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour races.
The one driver that impressed me was Robbie MacEwen. The Central Engine Services Late Model point leader at Oyster Bed Speedway qualified ninth in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials, won his Dartmouth Dodge Heat Race and ran as high as fifth place before a mechanical problem with the car put them out at Lap 74. The team, who are rookies at preparing their own Super Late Model for this series, had a faulty power steering pump after their heat win, which they repaired prior to the feature. MacEwen is a great kid and showed lots of race craft in his debut with his own car Saturday night. Let’s hope he can fill those blank quarter panels in the off-season so he can do some more racing with us, because he and his team would be a perfect fit for our series.
Let’s end this Notebook with the driver who ended the field on Saturday night. Chris Hughes made his return to the seat of a Super Late Model, driving the #63 Winsloe West Royalty Irving Chevrolet for Big Poppas Motorsports and the Racing for Kidsport team and while he was out just after the halfway mark, I don’t think the smile left his face all night from the time he passed through the back gate. If only for one night, and I personally hope it wasn’t because Chris has been a staple on this series for so many years, it was great to see Hughes on track and hopefully he doesn’t become a stranger.
All in all, it was a great night of racing and every one of our teams, though we don’t have space here to chronicle each of their nights, deserve a pat on the back. Keep in mind, this race served as the start to a four races in four weeks stretch and with the lack of attrition, minus the #67 car, it should give teams a morale boost heading into the Atlantic Cat 250 knowing they don’t have to fix the front or rear clips on their cars on a track that can be notorious for eating race cars for an appetizer and main course.
Next up, we’ll preview the 15th Annual Atlantic Cat 250. Be sure if you are in the area of Burnside on Wednesday to check out the Meet and Greet at Atlantic Cat from 7 to 8:30pm. We’ll officially be unveiling the #00 and #12 cars that will have their numbers retired Saturday night after the 250. We know who is driving the #00, but who is piloting the #12? Show up Wednesday, or check this page out Thursday night to find out and maybe see a picture or two.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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