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Tim's Corner
Issue 177

Race Notebook

Lucas Oil 100 at Scotia Speedworld

After the season the Blenkhorn Racing team had in 2014, winning three races including the Atlantic Cat 250, there are no more “surprise wins” for this team. Like numerous other top drivers in this series, Blenkhorn is one of the front runners we expect to run up front each week. While we may not know who is going to win until the late laps, as seen in both the Pro Stock and Legends feature yesterday at Scotia Speedworld, seeing the yellow and black #67 up front is no surprise anymore.

After an unapproved adjustment after Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials, Blenkhorn would rally to seventh in the King Freight Dash and start in the position for the Lucas Oil 100. Blenkhorn would not run lower than ninth, which is where he was on Lap 38. By Lap 64, he was third and battled for many laps with Greg Proude and Dylan Gosbee for second place behind Cole Butcher. Shortly after an opportunistic caution fell which gave Gosbee the lead over Butcher on a restart, Blenkhorn got under Butcher to take second with 11 to go. Three laps later, Blenkhorn was a part of the final lead change of the night with Gosbee and drove on to the win.

The win is big for Blenkhorn. It moves him tied for 11th place overall on the All Time Series win list with four. Only ten drivers have won more races on this series than the Truro, Nova Scotia driver. Think about that, this is Blenkhorn’s third full time season. He only has 26 starts under his belt and he has won four times. Quick math tells us that’s 15% of his races he has won.  While I don’t have concrete numbers in front of me for them, that is in the same ballpark as the percentages of Shawn Tucker, John Flemming and Wayne Smith, whom have been racing for years and each have over 20 wins to their credit.

It was also the first night for Quinn Flooring on board with the team, and they got rewarded with a trip to victory lane. We all know how critical sponsors can be to get us up and down the road, and it is guys like Tony Quinn who help keep this sport alive. Tony was all smiles yesterday as he celebrated with the #67 Quinn Flooring Chevrolet team.

The other two joining Blenkhorn on the podium had to come from the back of the pack to get to where they finished. Gosbee hung around the top ten most of the opening laps after starting eighth and setting fast time in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials, until a Lap 20 fracas with Jonathan Hicken set the #91 back to the rear of the field. Gosbee does not have the word quit in his vocabulary and got up on the wheel of the Greenfield Enterprises car, entering the top five with 40 laps to go and when Proude broke, it gave him an inside starting spot for the Lap 79 restart. Six laps later, he was the leader after taking the top spot from Butcher. Gosbee would leave a hole just big enough for Blenkhorn to capitalize on and would have to settle for second. Not bad for “burning his stuff up” getting back to the front.

Shawn Turple had to recover from leaking fluid with 38 laps to go to finish third. Turple was a constant up front, never leaving the top three until that leak was discovered. Getting it fixed and with the help of a caution and the free pass, Turple got back on the lead lap, put his head down and got to work. He and Butcher swapped a bit of red paint at the end and it was Turple getting third at the end of it.

Cole Butcher. You have to feel for the youngster from Porter’s Lake. Much like last year’s Lucas Oil 150, he dominated the opening portions of Sunday’s race before a restart with less than 20 to go would be his undoing. With no high line to find grip on, once Butcher was off the bottom, he went backward, eventually finishing fifth. Once he finally finds that magical combination to get himself into victory lane, the wins will come quick I’m sure, much like they have in the last twelve months for Sunday’s victor!

Here’s a few more stories from the day:

Donald Chisholm told me after Saturday’s shortened practice that the #89 Keltic Ford Fusion was one of the best he ever had at Scotia Speedworld. Chisholm was a constant within the top ten, did not get himself into any major trouble and squeezed by Butcher in the final turn to finish fourth.  The finish was Chisholm’s 14th top five and 32nd top ten in series history at the track in 50 races the track has held in Tour competition. That win still eludes him though.

 Like Brad Mann assumed in the booth yesterday, it was a right rear trailing arm assembly issue for Greg Proude’s #29 car. In fact, the mount for the arm pulled clean away from the frame rail of the car! Proude was a threat to win yesterday and was running in the top five when the car broke on Lap 78.

Brad Eddy confirmed via his Facebook page that a right rear wheel spacer failed on the #13 King Racing/LFR Chassis Chevrolet yesterday. Eddy was a contender yesterday, finishing third in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials and third in the King Freight Dash and was within the top five before fading and eventually retiring at Lap 62. If we see him anymore in that car this season, mark my words, he’ll win races.

Jonathan Hicken had a tough afternoon yesterday. Hicken got sent to the rear of the field twice for separate incidents with Dylan Gosbee and Darren MacKinnon - each incident happening within the top five. Hicken was 12th after 100-laps, but finished the race with a car in one piece heading into his house, Petty International Raceway, where  he leads the Tour with three wins at the track.

John Flemming and his #97 team completely air balled on their setup yesterday, which is something we have not seen in this magnitude from the team in years. Flemming told me after the race that they just missed it on the setup yesterday and that he had to stick handle the race car every lap in that race. Through all the mid and late race caution periods, Flemming escaped with eighth. That’s big for the championship if it comes down to a drag race later in the season.

Marty Prevost will be with us all season, and if he shows the speed he did on Sunday, he will be knocking on the door to victory lane before this season is over. Prevost was third in Sunday’s final practice and was quick enough to make the King Freight Dash for Cash for the first time in years. The #11 Mega Enterprises Chevrolet wound up just outside the top ten in 11th on the afternoon. Prevost is excited for Petty Raceway, a track where he has two top fives and hasn’t finished any worse than 13th in four starts in Tour competition at the track.

The heartbreak in the day came early when Joel Hickox had his car get out from underneath him in Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials and slammed the front straight wall. Spoke with Joel and his team after the race, he is okay but the car is bent bad and will require a new front clip. The team does plan on being at Petty this week with the car as straight as it can be before refitting a clip before our third event at Riverside in June.

That’s a brief scratch of the surface of what went down on Sunday. There are many more stories, but our time is up for now. Thursday night, we’ll preview Petty Raceway and the Irving Oil Blending & Packaging 100.

Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track.