Track record but no checkered flag for Hamilton’s Thomson Jr.

VERNON, B.C. – Hamilton’s Don Thomson Jr., set a track record in qualifying for last Sunday’s Castrol 300 CASCAR Super Series stop at Sun Valley Speedway.

Thomson’s 18.459 seconds to lap the half-mile tri-oval in time trials also earned him the pole position for the race. But first wasn’t where he was when the 300 circuits were completed, although he did finish in the top 10. Thomson slipped to ninth, right behind another Hamiltonian, Jim Lapcevich, in the 34-car field that was beaten by another Ontario driver, Brad Graham. With the victory, the Challenger / Logel’s Dodge Charger driver became the third first-time Super Series winner in four races this season.

Heading into the final laps of the race, Graham was wondering if fate was going teasing him again. Then Glencoe driver had overtaken points leader J.R. Fitzpatrick on lap 296 and found himself in the lead with veteran racer DJ Kennington sniffing his exhaust fumes.

Last year at this race, Kennington passed Graham with just three laps to go, denying him his first trip to victory lane on CASCAR’s top circuit. This time, however, Graham, a former Sportsman Series champ, beat Kennington’s Castrol Dodge Charger by 0.647 seconds for his first-ever Super Series win.

“I knew it was DJ [Kennington] behind me again,” said Graham, after the race. “It wasn’t going to happen to me twice. This track kind of owed me one. It feels pretty awesome to win, for me and my whole family, who have been supportive of me doing this for the past 20 years.”

Other CASCAR winners this season have been Scott Steckly, Kerry Micks and J.R. Fitzpatrick.

J.R. Fitzpatrick (Milwaukee Tools Chevy) finished third in the Castrol 300, in front of Steckly (ERB Dodge Charger) and Micks (Canadian Detailing Services Ford Taurus).

For Thomson, his ninth place finish moved him into fourth place in the CASCAR standings, a jump of two position from his last outing at Barrie. In that race he was five laps from the finish and leading the field when his car was bumped into the wall.and out of the race. He had to settle for tenth.

Thomson now has 731 CASCAR Super Series points, 45 back of J.R. Fitzpatrick.

Two other local drivers had respectable outings. Ron VanEs of Smithville came home in 12 position after starting in the No. 18 pole spot and Brantford’s Doug Brown was 11th after starting from pole 12. VanEs holds down 15th place in the points race.

Mount Hope’s David Jacombs placed 29th.

On Saturday, Thomson took the checkered flag in one of the Twin 100 Sprint Races. He dominated the first heat, leading the final 98 laps. Fitzpatrick and Steckly were second and third, respectively. In the second 100, Micks earned the victory, in front of Peter Gibbons (Canadian Tire Chevy) and Graham.

Lapcevich’s eighth place finish left him on the 11th rung of the points ladder with 677.

The next CASCAR Super Series / Western Series takes place next weekend in Edmonton, during the Grand Prix of Edmonton ChampCar race weekend.

POINT STANDINGS (Unofficial after 4 events, top 15): 1. J.R. Fitzpatrick (776 pts.); 2. Scott Steckly (761); 3. Kerry Micks (745); 4. Don Thomson Jr. (731); 5. Dave Whitlock (716); 6. Doug Brown (715); 6. Brad Graham (715); 8. DJ Kennington (707); 9. Peter Gibbons (682); 10. Mark Dilley (681); 11. #25 Jim Lapcevich (677); 12. Ron Beauchamp Jr. (661); 13. Jason Hathaway (652); 14. John Fitzpatrick (632); 15. Ron VanEs (606).