In typical Barrie Speedway fashion, Hamilton racer Don Thomson Jr., won the Torbram Electric 300 presented by The Source in NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 action on Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd.
Racing in Barrie is the epitome of short-track competition, but it suits the veteran Thomson just fine. He led a race-high 106 laps on the cozy .333-mile tri-oval and took his Home Hardware Chevrolet to Victory Lane for the first time this season, beating Mark Dilley to the line by .180 seconds. It was Thomson’s fifth series career win and his first since last September.
Howie Scannell Jr., of Milton, drove his Dodge, to a 14th place finish after engine problems forced him to the sidelines with 239 laps completed. Grimsby’s Jeff Lapcevich was 16th, and completed 173 tours of the circuit before transmission woes sent him to the pits.
Very little has gone right for Thomson in 2009, but everything fell into place at the end of the race for the former five-time CASCAR Super Series champion. “It hasn’t been a great season for us,” said Thomson, “but things really worked out for us (this time). (Scott Steckly) had the best car on the track. We had nothing for him, but he got involved in that deal there at the end.”
Steckly led a fair portion of the final third of the race, but with just 18 laps remaining, Anthony Simone and Ron Beauchamp Jr. made contact in Turn 2 and blocked in Steckly causing him to lose the lead to Thomson before eventually finishing third. Thomson still had to deal with a hard-charging Dilley in the closing laps.
“(Dilley) and I battled pretty hard there at the end, but it was just good short-track racing,” he said. “I’m just so proud of my team. They have worked hard all season without much reward, but, hey, this is two in a row for Fitzpatrick Motorsports.”
Thomson’s teammate, JR Fitzpatrick, won at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve two weeks ago.
Like Thomson, Dilley, a Barrie native, has persevered through a sub-par season and is every bit as hungry for a win. Dilley, however, has now reeled off consecutive top-five finishes as he looks to finish the season strong.
“Whatever can go wrong has for us this year,” said Dilley. “I really wanted to win this one here at home, but we’re pretty happy with a second-place finish considering how things have gone this year.”
Brad Graham finished a season-best fourth followed by Jason Hathaway in fifth. Kerry Micks, John Gaunt, Joey Hanssen, Andrew Ranger and DJ Kennington rounded out the top 10.
The race saw 16 lead changes involving eight drivers and was slowed eight times due to caution for a total of 83 laps. At Lap 225, there was one red flag that lasted just over four minutes while track workers cleaned up the track.
Earlier in the day, Simone won his first series career pole position continuing a breakout season for last year’s rookie of the year runner-up.
In the championship point standings, Ranger extended his lead over Kennington to 138 points heading into the final two races of the season with Beauchamp and Steckly not far behind.
Ranger, who had a solid top-10 run in the race, is looking to wrap up his second series title in three years. The 138-point lead is sizeable, but no one is ready to concede anything. Kennington, Beauchamp and Steckly are all within striking distance, but it is an uphill battle for any of the three.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 heads east for next week’s Komatsu 300 at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, N.S.
Standings: 1. A. Ranger, 1862; 2. D. Kennington, 1724; 3. R. Beauchamp,Jr., 1693; 4. S. Steckly, 1676; 5. K. Micks, 1621; 6. D. Thomson,Jr., 1565; 7. A. Simone, 1530; 8. J. Hathaway, 1519; 9. M. Dilley, 1470; 10. D. Whitlock, 1466.