Late-race bump sends Thomson to the CASCAR pits

BARRIE, ON – So close and yet so far for Hamilton’s Don Thomson Jr. With just five laps remaining in the Canada Day 300 at Barrie Speedway, Thomson had his Home Hardware Chevrolet Monte Carlo holding onto the lead of the CASCAR Super Series as the field took a green-flag restart. Thomson was in front of DJ Kennington and Mark Dilley.

But moments after the green flag dropped, Kennington ran into the back of Thomson, sending him sideways and into the wall on the backstraight of the 1/3-mile tri-oval speedway. Thomson, the five-time and current national champion was done for the day along with Kennington. He was black-flagged by CASCAR officials for causing the incident.

With Thomson gone, it cleared the way for his teammate, J.R. Fitzpatrick of Ayr who slipped past Dilley and Ron Beauchamp Jr. for his first CASCAR Super Series race on Sunday (July 2).

The Ayr, ON resident lined up fourth on the grid for the third race of the season and cruised comfortably in fourth-place for most of the grandstand passes. With two laps left in the race, Dilley’s Dodge-sponsored Charger was pushed high into the second groove, and Fitzpatrick jumped into the lead. From there, he maintained his position in front of Beauchamp’s MOPAR Dodge Charger and came home less than one second in front of the Windsor driver. Three-time Super Series National champ Dave Whitlock celebrated his 40th birthday by finishing third in the 300, in his NTN Bower / NMT Dodge Charger.

Brantford’s Doug Brown grabbed the fourth spot, which was the pole position he started from but moved into third place in the points race. His fourth-place effort Sunday was his second of the season. That’s where he finished in the season opener, also at Barrie in May.

In addition to possibly costing Thomson the checkered flag, the crash put him in 10th place and knocked him into sixth place in the CASCAR Super Series points standings.

Thomson wasn’t the only championship front-runner to experience difficulty at the Barrie track. Former points leader Kerry Micks (Canadian Detailing Services / Trailers by Jim Bray Ford Taurus) had transmission woes and finished 20th; two-time national champion and 2005 championship runner-up Peter Gibbons was involved in a crash that grounded his Canadian Tire Chevy on lap 151; leaving him in 18th place at the end.

Hamilton’s Jim Lapcevich finished eighth; Ron VanEs of Smithville was 12th; and Dave Jacombs of Mount Hope placed 19th.

After contesting the first three races of the season in Ontario, the CASCAR Super Series goes west for a two-race swing through B.C. and Alberta. On July 15-6, the tour will visit Sun Valley Motor Speedway in Vernon, BC. The following week (July 21-23) CASCAR returns to Alberta for the Grand Prix of Edmonton ChampCar weekend.