Cassius Clark wins Atlantic CAT 250; Colby Smith takes Sportsman 100
If you consider yourself a fan of motorsports, but somehow haven’t checked out a Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour race this season, you need to fix that as soon as possible.
The Tour has provided absolute top-calibre racing entertainment all season long and after the Atlantic CAT 250 at Scotia Speedworld (Enfield, NS) this past weekend, the intensely competitive series has produced an unbelievable nine different points leaders through nine races. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.
The level of competition has already attracted NASCAR’s Joey Logano and two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin. Race Time Radio has taken note and carried live flag-to-flag coverage on SiriusXM on several occasions this year.
And the CAT 250 just added short track legend Mike Rowe (Turner, ME) and Pro All-Star Series North standout Cassius Clark (Farmington, ME) to the roster of 2012 imports eager for a piece of the action.
As a total of 26 drivers lined up for a shot at the highly coveted CAT 250 title on Saturday, mother nature decided to crank up the degree of difficulty.
With rain pouring on and off around the province, prospects of completing a 250-lap feature were looking grim. But the Tour has been lucky so far this season, and there seemed to be a miraculous protective bubble over Speedworld that ensured the show would go on.
A slick track meant locals most familiar with the surface had the edge. #99 Craig Slaunwhite (Terence Bay, NS) set the pace with a storming 14.480s lap during Atlantic Tiltload time trials, with #0 Shawn Turple (Enfield, NS) right on his heels. Turple’s experience at Scotia showed as he won the 10-lap Fast Eddie Racewear Dash as well.
When the green flag dropped for the feature race, it was the track that quickly got the best of the field. With drivers desperately fighting to tame the tarmac, the yellow flew a dozen times before a scheduled halfway pit stop break at lap 126.
A particularly devastating wreck along the front stretch on lap 106 ended the night for four drivers, including #89 Donald Chisholm (Antigonish, NS) and #4 Mike Stevens (Riverview, NB) who had been running strong.
But despite all the carnage, Slaunwhite and Turple were putting on a show up front. The pair are good friends off track, but battled fiercely and exchanged the lead on several occasions. Prior to the midway pause, it looked to be a sure thing that either the #99 or #0 would walk away with the checkers.
What a difference that little pause made. The whole field immediately seemed to find a groove, and the remaining 124 laps were run clean with just two cautions.
And Slaunwhite and Turple suddenly had company up front. Imports Clark and Rowe played the aces they had tucked up their sleeves and put the hammer down in the second half, while Islanders #5 Jonathan Hicken (Montague, PE) and #8 Kent Vincent (Crapaud, PE) both put on a charge to challenge for the podium.
But it was Clark putting a final move on Slaunwhite on lap 163 that sealed the deal. From that point on, Clark continued to pick up steam, while Rowe moved up past both Turple and Slaunwhite, who started to lose pace in the final laps.
One last re-start on lap 220 kept things interesting, but Clark would not be stopped. He grabbed his second ever CAT 250 checkers, with Rowe right behind him.
Turple walked away with the final podium position and has no reason to complain about that result. He picked up just enough points on Hicken, who finished 5th, to become the new Tour championship points leader.
Meanwhile, Slaunwhite took Linde Most Lap Led honours and the King Freight Halfway award before settling for 4th on the night. #72 Brad Eddy (Sackville, NS) was Exide Batteries Rookie of the Race, coming home in 9th, while fellow rookie #91 Dylan Gosbee (Cornwall, PE) finished 10th and picked up the Absolute Traffic Hard Charger award.
The rough race shook up the points picture once more. Hicken now sits just 4 points behind Turple, while #97 John Flemming (Halifax, NS) completes a very tight top three just 6 back from Hicken.
The CAT 250 weekend also featured the Dartmouth Dodge Sportsman 100, which ran Friday night. #17 Colby Smith (Cape Sable Island, NS) picked up the victory ahead of #0 Frank Fraser Jr. (Shubenacadie, NS) and Dartmouth native #15 Dean Clattenburg, who thrilled fellow racers and fans on a visit up from Concord, North Carolina.
Next up for the Tour is the Lucas Oil 100 at Riverside International Speedway, this Saturday, August 18th. This final visit to the high-banked, high-speed oval for 2012 will set the stage for the home stretch in a thrilling championship battle.
Weekly racing resumes at Scotia Speedworld this Friday, with five divisions of racing on track.
Hope to see you out there, and keep your eyes on MaritimeProStockTour.com and ScotiaSpeedworld.ca for all the latest news, standings and photos.