Race Notebook: Atlantic Cat 250 @ Scotia Speedworld
How about that Dylan Blenkhorn kid?
Even three days after the Atlantic Cat 250, I keep being told by fans that this year’s race was one of, if not the best 250’s ever seen at Scotia Speedworld. Some have it as the best Pro Stock Tour race of the year, and some even pegged it as the best Pro Stock race they have ever seen at Scotia Speedworld.
I could agree to all of those statements!
Blenkhorn was the one constant up front, as can be seen by the 131 laps he led Saturday night. Yes, John Flemming busted out of the gate early as the leader and Ben Rowe found his way to the front at the back half of the 250, but it was the #67 that was up front all night and I don’t think fell back any further than fourth in the running order at any one time during the race.
Let’s look at what Blenkhorn has accomplished. In just 21 Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour starts, the Truro teenager has won three features and has set fast time five (and a half if you count Saturday’s tie) times. His win percentage is 14%, and on a series as competitive as this, that is pretty big.
Not only that, one of the wins comes in one of our biggest and hardest races to win, the Atlantic Cat 250. He beat one of the best in our industry to do it in Rowe, a three-time Cat 250 winner himself. To add to it, he did it on a four lap dash, out-powering a built motor with his crate to get the job done.
Ben was quick to complement Blenkhorn on his driving, saying that he needs to keep his head on straight and he’ll go places. We have a real wheelman on our hands and it was great to see him work Saturday night to earn the Atlantic Cat 250 crown.
John Flemming was third on the night after looking at second in the closing laps of the event. Again, while the battle for the win raged on, Flemming logged another respectable point night and padded his advantage on Shawn Tucker, who finished fourth. It was a tough sled for Tucker in the second half, after a mismatched set of tires at the half forced the #52 car to the pit. Tucker got up on the wheel but ran out of time and had to settle for fourth.
The complexity of that battle for third on back changed with four to go. Cassius Clark and Craig Slaunwhite had a lot of friends with them battling for the final podium spot when the two made contact with Clark going around off Slaunwhite’s bumper. Clark then made his way through the field under the yellow flag and spun the #99 car of Slaunwhite. While fans got a kick out of the retaliation, it can be a dangerous game to play with track officials and clean up crew on the track. Clark was black flagged for the final four laps of the event, and Slaunwhite went on to finish 11th after taking the Atlantic Tiltload Pole Challenge.
Need to give a tip of the cap to Atlantic Tiltload for offering the pole challenge. It was exciting to see Slaunwhite work his way from the rear of the field and work into the top five before what transpired in the final five laps. It brought another aspect to the race and hopefully we see more of these in the near future.
Greg Proude went from spinning to fifth place on Saturday night. Proude narrowly missed the inside wall as he spun onto the Bandolero track, leaving me speechless as heard on the Race Time Radio broadcast. The team needed a good run after the Oyster Bed Speedway race, which saw the team struggle big time with the #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers Dodge. With Riverside and Petty comprising the next three races of the season, the #29 team should be on the upward curve on the homeward stretch of 2014.
I’m sure it wasn’t the homecoming Dean Clattenburg wanted as he made his first Atlantic Cat 250 start of his career. Driving for Daryl Mahar, he spun with 50 laps to go in Turn Two, which ultimately ended the night for Leonard Boutilier after he was collected in the incident. Clattenburg soldiered on to a 13th place finish, one lap down while Boutilier was taken out of the race with the Lap 203 incident and after making the dash and running well throughout the race, had to settle for 20th place.
When we look at the point standings heading into the Ron MacGillivray 150 later in the week, we’ll see Shawn Turple took a huge hit when a trailing arm bolt broke heading into Turn Three on Lap 90 after running within the top five. Mentioned that the top five drivers could not afford a slip up with the way Flemming and Tucker were running and that one by Turple may have thrown his third championship chances.
A few drivers needed a great run and one of those was Shawn Pierce. Pierce finished ninth on the night, but it was not easy after spinning four times in the main feature. Pierce had an uphill battle, but at the end of the day he was in the top ten, in front of Donald Chisholm and Slaunwhite on the lead lap. Terry Dougay was happy with his 14th place finish and while his car sported battle scars after 249 laps, he and his team from Albany, PE continue to make strides on his car.
It was nice to be joined by Brad Mann in the booth for the call of the 15th Annual Atlantic Cat 250. A veteran who has seen a handful of these from the seat of his #35 car, he really added insight into the race Joe, Gerry, Josh and I could not. I suggest if you haven’t listened to the Race Time Radio broadcast of the Atlantic Cat 250, head over to RaceTimeRadio.com and do so! You’re in for a treat!
Lots of stories and not a lot of time to cover them all, but I’m sure we’ll look at a few more later in the week when we preview Friday’s Ron MacGillivray Chevrolet Buick GMC 150 at Riverside Speedway.
To wrap it up, the Atlantic Cat 250 weekend was awesome. Minus the rain we had on Friday night that delayed the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman 100, the whole weekend was great. From the Meet and Greet at Atlantic Cat on Wednesday and the huge response it got to the incredible racing in the 250 and support classes on Saturday to beating Mother Nature Sunday to get the Dartmouth Dodge 100 in, it was a memorable weekend for sure. Not sure how we can top it in 2015, but I’m sure the management at Scotia Speedworld and the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour is on it.
Until Friday, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track.
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