Race Notebook - Atlantic CAT 250
I mentioned it during the Race Time Radio broadcast on Saturday night and the sentiments were echoed by many race fans following the Atlantic CAT 250 – that was one of the best CAT 250’s that has been seen in the Speedworld in years and is a prime candidate for one of the best races of the season thus far.
The green flag run to kick off the race was what we are accustomed to seeing on the Tour. One hundred twenty-five laps of fast paced, door-to-door and fender-to-fender action between 24 of the best drivers in the region. That is an unofficial Tour record of consecutive green flag laps without a caution and rivals the best green flag stints of racing in the prestigious event, which dates back to 2000 under different sanctioning.
Though a majority of the first 125 laps will say that it was Wayne Smith out in front, it was Ben Rowe who shadowed him. Rowe and Smith traded lines many times while running side-by-side during that first half but the Maritime veteran would get the best of the Maine hotshoe in most of those first half exchanges. They also set an incredible pace by lapping just over half the field, combine that with only two cars out of the race at the halfway point and the drivers each have something to smile about!
John Flemming is on a role on the Tour. In the last thee races, John’s average finish is 1.6 and has led nearly 300 laps in the last three races (or just under half of the feature laps completed in that span)! In his own words, Flemming is going to try and make the points picture “interesting” and if he can keep this run up could very well do that with three races to go.
Darren MacKinnon didn’t go down without a fight either, the fourth place driver in the Atlantic CAT 250 fought tooth and nail with Smith in the closing laps but had to settle for fourth in his #18 Shaw’s Towing Chevrolet. The two drivers leaned on each other in the closing laps and each had tire marks on their cars following the race, a true sign on how hard those guys wanted to be on the podium after 250 laps.
That’s really what we saw most of the night. Minus a few spins, we never saw that “big wreck” that took out any cars. In fact, the only three drivers that did not finish the race had been knocked out due to mechanical failures. Even when we thought we were going to see a big stack-up on the first restart when the front runners came together, we saw everyone who was involved grab a gear and pull away.
That restart was nearly the end of the night for Smith. Smith had slowed on the restart in which he shared the front row with Rowe and limped the car to pit road on the same lap that the green flew. The crew then went to work on the rear of that #44 to find a shock had broke on the car. The crew not only fixed the car but got it back on track before the field went green again, keeping Smith on the same lap as the #10. Fantastic work by the JETCO Contracting crew to keep their driver in the game and in the hunt for that sixth Maritime touring championship.
A tip of the cap goes to Dartmouth’s Mike MacKenzie for a top five run. MacKenzie methodically worked his way towards the front of the field and was a mainstay in the top five for most of the second half of the event. The performance of the #02 HTP Hot Water Systems Chevrolet was worthy of the Vortex Brake Pads Hard Charger Award.
Derek Christie and Russell Smith Jr got their first starts at Scotia Speedworld under their belts in the Atlantic CAT 250. Christie, the regular at Speedway 660 from Fredericton got seat time at the helm of his #9 Northside Ventilation/A.L. Gullison Disaster Kleen-up Ford while Smith, the two time Lumbermart Lighting car champion had the clutch go away on him in the #33 car. Watch for these two to get seat time in the coming years, they will be names you’ll be hearing of more often.
Before I close the Notebook off, some love has to be shown to The Score. If you didn’t know, as of September 1st, Sirius Radio is pulling the plug on Channel 158 The Score. The Score, along with Race Time Radio believes in Canadian Motorsports and believes firmly in this Parts for Trucks Maritime Pro Stock Tour. If you believe that Sirius Radio is making a mistake by axing The Score, please contact their customer care center by calling 1-888-539-7474 or go to their website at Sirius.ca and make your voice heard!
Later this week, we preview the Lucas Oil 100 at Riverside International Speedway, Round Ten of 12 on the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour.
Until then, keep the hammer down and we’ll see you at the track!
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