Atlantic CAT 250 Notebook
The Triple Crown is living up to expectations in its first season!
The IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body got the Triple Crown party started in July and the Atlantic CAT 250 we saw this weekend kept the excitement hoppin' as Lonnie Sommerville took away another big win to add to his already impressive Maritime racing resume - but it was far from easy!
The former Peterbilt 250 champ had to come from the rear following unapproved adjustments to his #23 A.E. MacKay Builders Impala at the halftime intermission. The Saint John veteran hasn't got to where he is now in his career by just laying down to challenges and proved that as he drove up to the front of the field once again to take the lead late in the race from Wayne Smith (Timberlea, NS). Following the battle for the lead which saw Smith shuffled up the track in the exchange, Sommerville assumed the lead position and was chased by John Flemming (Halifax, NS), Dave O'Blenis (Boundary Creek, NB) and Smith. The four weaved through lapped traffic and when it came down to the final showdown, it was Sommerville, Flemming and O'Blenis going for the over $10k first place prize.
With just a handful of laps remaining in the 250, the #48 Burger King Toyota Camry began to make his move for the lead. O'Blenis had methodically made his way to the front by picking off positions and quietly running in the top five, eventually placing himself on the back bumper of Flemming and Sommerville in the late stages. When Flemming's Dodge slipped up the track, O'Blenis moved his Pro Stock car to the inside, taking second from the 3-time Tour champ. In the same sequence of corners, the Boundary Creek driver swept to the inside of Sommerville to battle side by side for the lead - until lapped traffic sat in front of the battle. With the car occupying the low line which O'Blenis was in trying to win the Atlantic CAT 250, the two made contact, sending the lapped car around on the front straightaway as the leaders took the white. On the CARQUEST Tour, as in the Sprint Cup Series we see on Sunday afternoons on the 'tube, if the yellow flag waves during the last lap the race is deemed official, giving the win to Sommerville by a matter of inches!
The win was even more special for Sommerville as he not only became the second ever Canadian winner of the event in the ten year history of the Atlantic CAT 250 but he got to hoist the Scott Fraser Memorial Trophy. "I can still remember coming out to test and Scotty would tell me to slow down," said an emotional Sommerville following the win.
With the second Triple Crown event now over, the big race focus shifts to the third in the Geary woods in September. Just announced this weekend is that 2-time Daytona 500 titlist Sterling Marlin will be entering the event to attempt to steal the Peterbilt 250 crown away from the Pro Stockers at Speedway 660. No driver has won this event twice and Marlin will look to keep it that way but when you take the awesome talent we have here on the tour, combined with the Irving Lubricant Pro Stock regulars at Speedway 660 and the PASS North invaders expected to come play - the Peterbilt 250 will be one of the greatest races of 2009! If you don't have plans for the Labour Day weekend, come on up to the track just outside Fredericton. With a corn boil and party on Friday night followed by a huge 150-lap Sportsman event on Saturday to prepare for the Pro Stock 250 on Sunday, it is a full weekend of racing excitement. And, well, if you already have other plans for that weekend, you may want to consider re-scheduling them - you will NOT want to miss this event!
Speaking of trackside party, the party we had at Scotia Speedworld on Friday night was hopping! A big thanks to all those who came out and had fun during the first Trackside Party! A shoutout also goes to Ed Smith, the winner of the Hooter's Hot Wing Eating contest. Ed kicked back twenty of the hottest, spiciest wings I have ever tasted and a 591mL bottle of water in the quickest time to win the contest! Bobby Nielsen, our Tour flagman still thinks he won the contest but as far as I know, slamming the bottle of water down on the table making half of the liquid blow out of the top of it does not count as drinking it. Nice try though!
Kudos also go out to Jordan Veinotte and John Flemming. Veinotte, who drives the #11 Veinotte's Truck and Auto Ford Fusion in the Sportsman and Flemming, the Roofing Connection Dodge in the Pro Stocks were the only two drivers man enough to take turns in the dunk tank. Lonnie Sommerville was challenged by John to go in the tank after Flemming took the plunge but the driver of the #23 Chevrolet "disappeared" after John was in the tank - coincidence maybe?! We had a lot of fun with the party on Friday and we hope to do it again real soon!
Back to business though now, the Lucas Oil 100 is next up on the docket for the Tour drivers. This event was moved to Scotia Speedworld for the weekend as the previous scheduled venue for the event and the Tour "failed to reach a mutual agreement" to host the event, so we are back at Scotia this weekend! After the 250, we expect nothing but side by side and fender to fender racing out of our Pro Stock boys on Saturday night.
Greg Proude (Springvale, PEI) is considered a heavy favorite heading into the 100-lap affair as he has won both of the previous Lucas Oil sponsored events this season, including the season opener at Scotia Speedworld. Proude will have some competition in the event as Sommerville will be looking for back to back wins with O'Blenis and Flemming looking to each notch their first. Though Wayne Smith has won the IWK 250 this season, he has yet to notch that first regular season point paying race win and this could be a great opportunity on Saturday to do so. A couple of fans I talked to on Saturday summed it up the best: There are over two dozen drivers out there attempting to win every week and any one of them has the opportunity to come away with the victory!
If you are looking for something to do Friday night, look no further than Scotia Speedworld! We will have points racing in five of our weekly racing series divisions and if you are like a majority of the 5000 people in the stands on Saturday and you loved the C&R Auto Supply Sportsman action, you won't want to miss them as they run towards their season championship in the homestretch of the summer! Action starts at 7pm with the Sojourn Signs Bandoleros, Miller Tire Lightning, Lockhart Truck Centre Hobby Stocks and Legends with the Sportsman cars on Friday night. The Weekly Racing Series Legend cars will play support to the Pro Stocks on Saturday, racing in an extended 50-lap feature to make up for the one that was "fogged out" earlier in the season!
That'll do it for now, until Friday and Saturday nights, keep the hammer down and we'll see you at the track!
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