Race Notebook: Atlantic Cat 250 @ Scotia Speedworld
Either way you look at it, history was made Saturday at Scotia Speedworld.
The Atlantic Cat 250 was shortened to 160 laps due to rain, and as far as I know, this is the only time the race has been shortened due to weather. Everyone knew that going in the weather could make or break the race on the weekend. Environment Canada issued a special weather statement early Thursday morning, saying it could get very wet on Saturday and it would taper into Sunday. Fortunately for us that system, for the most part, missed us and we were able to get the event in this weekend.
Thankfully for the King Racing team, they got the race in this weekend and Cassius Clark was standing tall in the drizzle as the second three-time winner of the Atlantic Cat 250. That car was hooked up and showed a ton of speed, leading all but 14 laps in the shortened race. Now, we can all sit here and ask “what if?” What if we got those last 90 laps in, could Clark hold on to the top spot or could someone catch Clark? Granted, he had a near miss with the lapped traffic as he went up in the rhubarb in Turn Two to avoid an accident, but unless he had some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure, I don’t think anyone was touching Clark. On the other foot, yes, I know the last 33 laps of the IWK 250 were nothing short of wild and guys will do anything to win one of these 250 lap events. At the end of the day though, the race is official.
Joining Clark on the podium on Saturday were two of the best in the region right now in Craig Slaunwhite and Donald Chisholm. Craig has had a fast car all season, but some of the finishes he has are not indicative of the way his team has performed throughout some of these races. He now has two consecutive second place finishes heading into Petty International Raceway in two weeks and has to be considered an early favorite heading into that 150-lap race. Chisholm kept his championship hopes thriving as he was coming to the front in a short lived second half of the Atlantic Cat 250. I would have loved to see what the #89 car had over those last 90 laps, but I’d have to believe that team is happy with a podium finish in one of the biggest races of the year.
It was so great to see Daryl Mahar up in the top five throughout the Atlantic Cat 250. Mahar came home in fourth, which is the worst position he was in all night. Mahar qualified well, drew the pole in the King Freight Dash, started second in the feature, led a dozen laps and ran many laps in second before falling to fourth in the second half. With this Clattenburg Racing Enterprises prepared race car and Daryl’s talent, mark my words, he will win a race sooner rather than later. This thing has run like a rocket in the last two races at Scotia Speedworld, and I think the Dartmouth Dodge 200 will be working right up his alley in September.
Dylan Blenkhorn started up front, went back to as low as eighth at one point in the Atlantic Cat 250 and was in fifth when the checkered flag flew and the pay window opened. Blenkhorn and the team lost the stagger on the tires at the end of the first half before the pit stop and with the changes made in the second half, the #67 Quinn Flooring Chevrolet was on its way to the front before the rain came. Combined with a bit of a struggle from Cole Butcher (eighth) and Darren MacKinnon (13th), it is Blenkhorn coming out on top of the standings by two points over Chisholm and up by 14 over Mackinnon. Remember the last time Mackinnon was in fourth, 21 points back from the leader? That’s right, he went out and won at Oyster Bed Speedway. Stay tuned for next week as we preview the point chase heading into Petty Raceway, we got ourselves quite the race!
Great to see guys like Marty Prevost and Brad Eddy back in the seat of a race car. Eddy ran the #02 car for the first time this season while Prevost, who had been struggling to find crew after starting out the season shot out of a cannon, ran his iconic #11 car. I’ve said before, Eddy deserves to be in a race car with his talent but again, this racing thing at the Pro Stock level isn’t the easiest on the pocketbook. At the end of the day, like Gosbee, they both would have loved to have seen the last 90 laps play out, but it was really good to see them on the track and hope to see them in a few of the final three races!
It was great to see Cale Gale come and run against some of the best in Canada in the Atlantic Cat 250 on Saturday, though his night didn’t end the way he wanted it to. On Twitter, Gale said a ring gear and pinion broke on the car, ending his night after taking the Atlantic Tiltload Pole Challenge. His teammate Shawn Turple didn’t fair much better, finishing on the same lap and one spot behind Gale in 18th. The blow was crushing to Turple, falling to sixth in the standings and now is only 63 points up on 11th place. Again, we’ll take a peek at the point chase next week, but with 75 points between fifth place Greg Proude and 12th place Sarah McKay, there is a nice little battle to play out with three races to go for our top ten spots.
Congratulations to Marshall Bezanson, who got down on one knee prior to Atlantic Cat 250 and proposed in front of the crowd to his girlfriend Megan Crews. Bezanson is a long time Chickenburger Lightning racer at the Speedworld and wanted to surprise his girlfriend. I think it’s safe to say it was mission accomplished. Congratulations to Marshall and Megan!
Next week, we will preview the Petty International Raceway 150-lap feature, which will be pivotal in the point chase.
Until next week, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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