Former Hamilton resident Don Thompson Jr. had the pole position but couldn’t capitalize on his No. 1 position as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series hit the starting line in Cayuga on Saturday (May 24).
Thompson, who won last year’s inaugural race of this series, and his Chevrolet had to settle for a 13th place finish in the Crown Jewel 200 at Cayuga Motor Speedway’s .625 mile track at Nelles Corner. One position back of him was Hamilton’s Nic Lapcevich, who started in the No. 18 spot, also driving a Chev..Hamilton’s Jim Lapcevich (Chev) moved from his No. 22 position to finish 19th.
But for Scott Steckly and his Tow Truck In A Box/Erb Group Dodge, the season started just as it had ended _ in victory lane.
The Milverton, Ont., driver, who had the No. 5 pole spot, was able to hold off a hard-charging Kerry Micks and his Beyond Digital Imaging Ford). Micks used a different strategy than the rest of the field in an effort to win, opting to pit for fresh tires nearly 30 laps later than everyone else with the feeling that he would be able to work his way through the field with enough time to contend for the win.
“I knew I would have enough time to get back to the front,” said Micks. “I had to sacrifice a little there around lap 100 when everyone else stopped. Honestly, I really didn’t think that everyone would stop that time but they did.”
Meanwhile, Steckly was not aware of Micks’ plan and didn’t really need to. He had the dominant car of the night by leading a race-best 150 laps. Several cautions forced his concentration on re-starts. Series rules mandate a double-file re-start with lead lap cars to the front which leaves little room for error.
“I just concentrated each time on the re-start not to miss a shift or make any mistake at all,” said Steckly. “I had no idea when (Micks) pitted. No one told me. My car was just unbelievable all night long. The credit goes to the crew. Winning that last race last year just gave us a lot of confidence. Hopefully we’ll go on from here.”
Third-place went to Ron Beauchamp Jr. (Mopar/Mobil 1 Dodge). He ran just behind Steckly most of the night, but with his tires loosing grip on the late re-starts, he fell a position at the very end.
“It’s a great start to the season after the bad luck we had last year,” said Beauchamp. “I knew it was going to be a good car after it got dark and cooled off. I felt we were as good as (Steckly), but the tires just went away.”
Mark Dilley (Dodge/Leland Industries Dodge) and Peter Gibbons (Canadian Tire/Mobil Super Chevrolet) each had strong showings to start the year by finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Derek Lynch, Dave Whitlock, Jason White, Kent Nuhn and Anthony Simone rounded out the top 10.
Defending series champion Andrew Ranger (Wal-Mart/Tide Ford) never got the car quite right and spent much of the race in heavy traffic while finishing 17th.
The Canadian Tire Series is back on the track next Saturday for it first-ever visit to the Autodrome St-Eustache in Quebec for the Kodak 250.
NASCAR CANADIAN TIRE SERIES presented by SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO-Crown Jewel 200 UNOFFICIAL Results
Saturday (Start position in brackets)
1. (5) Scott Steckly, Milverton, Dodge, 200 laps, 65.436 mph, $8,127.
2. (6) Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert, Ont., Ford, 200, $3,840.
3. (9) Ron Beauchamp, Jr., Windsor, Dodge, 200, $4,604.
4. (13) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Dodge, 200, $4,007.
5. (7) Peter Gibbons, Stouffville, Ont., Chevrolet, 200, $2,406.
6. (16) Derek Lynch, Warkworth, Ont., Dodge, 200, $3,674.
7. (15) Dave Whitlock, Petrolia, Ont., Dodge, 200, $2,310.
8. (19) Jason White, Sun Peaks, B. C., Chevrolet, 200, $3,000.
9. (17) Kent Nuhn, Williamsford, Ont., Chevrolet, 200, $1,900.
10. (8) Anthony Simone, Holland Landing, Ont., Chevrolet, 200, $1,800.
11. (4) Brad Graham, Glencoe, Ont., Dodge, 200, $1,500.
12. (14) John Gaunt, Barrie, Dodge, 200, $1,400.
13. (1) Don Thomson, Jr., Ayr, Ont., Chevrolet, 200, $1,350.
14. (18) Nik Lapcevich, Hamilton, Chevrolet, 200, $1,300.
15. (11) Jason Hathaway, Appin, Ont., Dodge, 199, $1,200.
16. (3) J.R. Fitzpatrick, Cambridge, Chevrolet, 198, $1,170.
17. (10) Andrew Ranger, Roxton Pond, Que., Ford, 198, $1,135.
18. (20) Shawn McGlynn, Kitchener, Ford, 196, $1,087.
19. (22) Jim Lapcevich, Hamilton, Chevrolet, 194, $1,064.
20. (23) Joey McColm, Ajax, Ont., Dodge, 160, $1,041.
21. (21) Alex Tagliani, Lachenaie, Que., Ford, 151, electrical, $975.
22. (12) Doug Brown, Brantford, Ont., Dodge, 79, drive shaft, $925.
23. (2) D.J. Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont.,, Dodge, 17, motor, $900.
Time of Race: 1 hour 54 minutes 37 seconds.
Margin of Victory: 0.884 seconds.
Fastest Qualifier: D.Thomson Jr. (107.378 mph, 20.954 seconds).
Caution Flags: 10 for 54 laps.
Lead Changes: 4 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D.Kennington 1; D.Thomson,Jr. 2-45; S.Steckly 46-98; K.Micks 99-103; S.Steckly 104-200.
Standings: 1. S.Steckly, 190; 2. K.Micks, 175; 3. R.Beauchamp,Jr., 165; 4. M.Dilley, 160.