10th Anniversary Pro Stock Tour Year in Review Extravaganza - Part 2
The tenth season of the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour roared to a close just about one month ago. With the Awards Banquet just over three weeks away, it is time to take a look back at the season that was in 2010. Over the next five weeks leading into the final celebration of the summer in Charlottetown, we’ll take a look back at ten of the stories (in no particular order) that shaped our series this year. This week we give credit to our two first time race winners on the Tour.
KEHOE WINS FRESHMAN TITLE
Geoff Boyle. Ian Mollins. Dale Holmes. Shawn Turple. Russell Smith. Lonnie Sommerville. Craig Slaunwhite. Josh Jaillet.
Those eight men have the honor of calling themselves the EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Year Award recipients on the CARQUEST Tour in the past. Many track and tour championships are represented in those names including one Pro Stock Tour title on the resume of the 2005 top rookie. In 2010, Jerome Kehoe added his name to the impressive list above but it was far from easy for the Sydney driver.
Kehoe came into the 2010 season with a stacked list of Maritime racing accomplishments already under his belt. Fans knew his name recently for racking up wins in the Sportsman division at Riverside International Speedway at the helm of the familiar black, white and yellow Chevrolet Impala emblazoned with the #98. With a few Pro Stock laps under his belt, he came into this first full time season looking to get the ever valuable seat time on the Tour.
He was met at Scotia Speedworld by two other fresh faces to the Pro Stock scene looking to capture the coveted award. Halifax’s Brad Brown followed in his father Stephen’s footsteps by climbing aboard of the #9 Brown Ventilation Pontiac in the 2010 season. Meanwhile, Speedworld Sportsman vet Leonard Boutilier made the jump from the top weekly division at the 3/10-mile oval to the Pro Stock Tour, driving the #45 Alpine Auto Glass Chevrolet – a number and sponsor duo familiar to fans of the Dutch Settlement driver.
When the Lucas Oil 100 at the Speedworld was met by rain, it meant that Kehoe would have home track advantage at Riverside for the CARQUEST Tour’s opening event at Riverside International Speedway. The three rookies danced with the veterans at Riverside in the first race of their first full seasons on the Tour and when the music was over it was Boutilier besting Kehoe and Brown.
The season was cut a bit short for Brown though as a hard wreck at Speedway 660 during the fifth race of the season sidelined the youngster. Brown was very competitive throughout the six races he competed in during the 2010 season and will be a contender in years to come in racing circles.
Following the first race, Kehoe went on to capture five straight EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Race Awards. The #98 captured three straight top ten finishes in the stretch, beginning with an eighth place run at the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body. Boutilier would take top honors at the Atlantic CAT 250 before Kehoe ended off the season with three straight top nine finishes – good enough for three more EIT Race Radio Rookie of the Race nods.
Even when faced with the biggest of challenges this season, Kehoe seemed cool as a cucumber. Minutes before first practice for the Pro Stock 250 at Speedway 660, the pilot of car #98 knew he had a tall task ahead of him. “There is a lot of good gear up here,” Kehoe commented. “If we can get into this race, it would be considered a win to us.”
Kehoe picked up his share of heat wins during the season which included his first at Oyster Bed Speedway in PEI. In that Dartmouth Dodge Heat Race, Kehoe looked like a veteran of the Island oval as he navigated his Impala SS to victory in the qualifier. He also made the Dartmouth Dodge Dash for Cash at the season finale Parts for Trucks 200, where he ended up leading feature laps and swapping paint with the likes of Proude and Hicken for the lead in the final race of 2010. Kehoe faded to ninth in the second half of the event but still had a smile on his face. “We just ran out of rubber in the second half,” said Kehoe after the 200-lap event.
With Kehoe, Boutilier and Brown gaining valuable experience on the Maritime’s top tracks this past season, expect them to be gaining on the top guns in the series. Could next season be the first win for one or more of the ’11 sophomores? We’re just months away from finding out!
VINCENT TOPS IWK 250 FIELD IN THRILLING FINISH
Riverside International Speedway always lends itself to excitement and edge-of-your-seat racing every time race cars grace its high banks. July 17th was no exception as the annual IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body hit the James River racing surface with the best pilots and pro stock chariots in the region battling for the top prize. In the books of some race fans, the 2010 IWK 250 ranks as one of the top Pro Stock races of the season as it provided many heart-stopping and breath-taking moments throughout the day!
With NASCAR Star Marcos Ambrose in the field as a teammate to local heroes Donald Chisholm and George Koszkulics, the NOVA Racing Team was one to watch as the green flag flew on the IWK 250. After all, Chisholm set fast time in the Atlantic Tiltload Time Trials, won the Dartmouth Dodge Dash for Cash and was looking racy in his #89 Keltic Ford Fusion early in the event. The night became an uphill battle for the Antigonish native though as Chisholm had to bring his Ford from the back to the front thrice before late race contact sent him to pit road with fourteen circuits remaining. I had said throughout the season that the #89 team was one of the hardest and quickest working pit crews on the Tour and they showcased their talents on this night.
Through the race, many favorites would develop problems. Greg Proude visited pit road on the final pace lap before the green, placing the #29 APM/Loyalist Marble and Tile Dodge laps behind the pace. Marty Prevost celebrated his birthday by qualifying third for the big race but an incident before the halfway mark claimed the IWK 250 chances of the Fall River driver. Ambrose and Koszkulics found mechanical problems with their cars just past the midway break and found themselves watching the remainder of the event from the infield.
Up front, defending race champ Wayne Smith and Fredericton’s Shawn Tucker were the two top dogs. Smith had led fifty-three of the first 126 tours of Riverside while Tucker took the lead on the next circuit and never let up for the next 102 laps. Islanders Chris Hughes and Jonathan Hicken shadowed the then two time CARQUEST champ most of the second half and the driver hailing from Brudenell would be the one to take the point away from Tucker on lap 229 following a restart. The two battled up until the final restart with fourteen to go. At that time, six drivers remained on the lead lap with Smith, Kent Vincent, Hughes and Shawn Turple still in contention for the victory.
The next few laps would see a mad dash made by Vincent and Smith to grab the top two positions. Tucker pushed up the track out of turn two on lap 242, opening the door by a hard charging #8 and #44 cars to grab the opportunity. The two ran hard but clean the last eight laps to the checkers and with that move, Kent Vincent earned the IWK 250 trophy!
“That’s great Saturday night racing right there,” said the Crapaud, PEI driver after emerging from the #8 Vector Aerospace Dodge Charger. “I gave it up to Wayne last year and I had to make it up to the crew.” Smith would come home in second, a flip flop of their ’09 IWK 250 positions with Tucker having to settle for third.
Vincent not only became the fourth different winner in as many races on the CARQUEST Tour in 2010 but also became the first (and only to date) Prince Edward Island driver to win a Triple Crown event since the “Triple Crown” era began in 2009. Vincent’s win in the IWK 250 Presented by Steve Lewis Auto Body stands out as one of the ten greatest moments of the 10th Anniversary Season on the CARQUEST Maritime Pro Stock Tour.
Next week, we come back with two more defining memories from the 2010 season. Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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