Race Notebook: Parts for Trucks 150 @ Petty Raceway
Welcome back, Craig Slaunwhite.
Slaunwhite scored his sixth career Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour victory, first since August 2013 and first at Petty International Raceway when he pulled his #99 car into victory lane following a dominant performance in the Parts for Trucks 150.
It was truly Slaunwhite’s night. The #99 Archibald Drilling and Blasting/Halifax Glass and Mirror Chevrolet led all but one lap, which was Lap 12 when Darren MacKinnon edged by the #99 for five bonus points in the championship chase. Slaunwhite kept his margin comfortable up front, but not enough to use his stuff up. At the end of the race, Slaunwhite got up on the wheel and pulled away quick from the rest of the field, leaving them over three seconds in the dust at the checkered flag. Three seconds is a lot on a short track!
Slaunwhite and his team have been on quite the tear. They finished second in the previous two races leading up to the Parts for Trucks 150 at Petty Raceway, and previous to that led the IWK 250 with 30 laps to go before getting tangled up in an incident late in the race. They are also locked now in a battle for fifth in the standings coming down to crunch time. While we will look in a couple weeks at Riverside Speedway and Scotia Speedworld, Slaunwhite has been good there late in this season and there is no reason why he cannot take that spot in the standings.
Oh wait though, there’s Greg Proude.
Proude had a solid run to the front of the field at the end of the race, coming from the rear to finish third in the event. I spoke with Greg between practice sessions and he wasn’t sure about how his strategy was going to go down on the tires he was on. Keep in mind too, we weren’t sure at a few points during the day whether Mother Nature was going to interfere in the race, so many had Lap 76 in mind (the halfway point) and how hard you race up to that point knowing rain was in the area. At the end of the day, we saw the Greg Proude fans are accustomed to seeing, a veteran who ran up to the front late in the race and proved that you can never count out the #29 car.
Proude holds down that fifth place spot in the standings, and pointed out to me on Saturday that if it wasn’t for two mechanical breaks (trailing arm bracket at Scotia Speedworld during the Lucas Oil 100 and the rear axle tube during the IWK 250), that they would be in the mix for the championship. Greg figures they would have finished in the top five in both races. With a 19th place in that first race of the season and a 28th place run at the IWK 250, they threw away an average of 37 points if a top five was achievable. I know we can coulda, woulda, shoulda all we want, but if Proude had those two races back, he would be fourth in the standings and less than a dozen points out of the championship. Instead, he sits fifth, 84 points out and while mathematically still involved in the title hunt, he would need a lot of help. Still, fifth place is nothing to sneeze at and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the #29 Atlantic Dodge Dealers/Loyalist Marble and Tile Dodge on the podium in the next two races too.
Speaking of that point battle, it got even more tighter after Petty Raceway and is the closest it has been all season. When it looked like Darren MacKinnon was going to finish on the podium after leading a lap in the early stages, a late race flat tire after a restart rub with another car forced the #18 to the pits and rallied back to finish sixth. That leaves him nine points out of Donald Chisholm, who took the point lead after a fifth place finish in the Lucas Oil 150. The driver who had the most to gain was Cole Butcher, and he did that by finishing second. That closes him to 13 points in the standings with two races to go after his second consecutive second place finish in the River Glade International. Dylan Blenkhorn, who entered with the point lead, was kind of quiet all night long and wound up eighth at Petty. He falls to second in the standings, four points back from Chisholm.
Long story short, it’s four drivers within 13 points. With all four having solid runs this season at both remaining race tracks, we are in for quite the show when we return to racing on September 12th.
Excellent run by Dylan Gosbee and the entire #91 team on Saturday night. The team went about their business and at the end of the day; Dylan put his head down and drove up to a fourth place finish when the checkered flag flew. That team is involved in that fifth place point brawl with two races to go and will be tough in these final two races.
It appeared John Flemming was on his way to a top five finish and potentially his first podium finish of the season until the second half of the race. The #97 team wound up ninth at the end of 150 laps, not indicative of how he was running and I’m sure it’s a race they would like back. If they can carry some notes over to Riverside International Speedway, I firmly believe he will be a contender for his first win of the season.
Tough breaks for both Wayne Smith and Alison Mackinnon on Saturday night at Petty. Mackinnon suffered a mechanical issue in the first 50 laps of the feature and was forced to retire in 19th while Smith ran many laps up front before having to pit late in the Parts for Trucks 150.
It will be a long two weeks for DJ Casey to get his car back together after a late wreck in the Parts for Trucks 150. After Darren MacKinnon’s tire started going soft in Turn One on a restart, MacKinnon worked his way to the back on the outside line until Casey came in contact with him three quarters of a lap later on the front straight away. The contact also collected Robbie MacEwen, and while both Islanders were able to continue, Casey’s car suffered major damage and the leading car in the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Year chase will require some massaging before the Lucas Oil 150 at Riverside Speedway. Here’s hoping the team can get it back straight, because it is a car that was second this year with Casey driving at the IWK 250.
With ten races completed, we’ve created some great summer memories, but now it is time for a little “reset” before we get the final two under our belts. After two weeks off, we will head to Riverside International Speedway for the Lucas Oil 100 on September 12th, which we will preview here in this space in the week leading up to the race. For those race oriented folks that read this column, okay, you’re here, you like racing, I understand, there are some great race tracks in the region putting on some weekly shows and big events alike in these next two weeks. For example, I’ll be heading across to Newfoundland and Eastbound Park to take part in the Edward Collins Contracting 125 race. I won’t be alone as Dylan Gosbee will be running a Sportsman car and Dylan Blenkhorn will do some Legend racing this Saturday.
Whatever these next two weeks hold, be sure to have some fun, spend some time with those you love, and we will see you back here the week of the 12th to preview the final trip to Riverside International Speedway of 2015. Hard to believe summer is almost over, eh?!
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track.
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