By Gord Craig,
Director NPP Racing
For the second time this season the Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series has a first time Feature Race winner. Rookie driver Brian McCaughan drove his Lucas Oil/A-Men Contracting #42 Dodge to victory lane Saturday night at Central Alberta Raceways.
“It was one of those tracks where you had to be on the ball,” says the Okotoks, Alberta driver, “there was no forgiveness out there. You hit it wrong (corners) and you bust parts. It was a race where you had to be conservative and go hard when you could.”
Track conditions remained very tacky throughout the event with no major dry-slick issues. The front and back straights remained smooth but the corners developed some nasty ruts about ten laps into the feature.
“You had to plan out the corners. I knew a few of them (other drivers) were coming at me hard,” added McCaughan, “I did not have the fastest car on the track tonight but I still managed to hold on for the win.”
On the night, Stony Plain’s Mike Tom and Whitecourt’s Paul Grundberg were several NPP drivers that clearly had the faster cars but the tricky ruts in the corners would both directly and indirectly bring their challenge for the lead to an end.
After storming from the back to fourth, Dan Stewart’s #01 Dodge hit a rut in turn three/four and was launched into the side of Grundberg’s #19 Pontiac. Grundberg, who was running third, had his left rear tire punctured. Stewart was able to continue but Grundberg, who was aiming for his second feature win of the season, would finish the night in ninth. Several laps later Tom would try a high side pass on McCaughan down the back straight when the suspension on his front right tire collapsed.
“I guess there is only so much pounding the suspension could take,” said the driver of the #55 Chevrolet. “We were running such a good race and to have this happen. It’s too bad.” In his last four Features, Tom had registered a second, third, fourth and a win. Tom would be credited with a 12th place finish in Rimbey.
A two car crash marred Lap 20 of Saturdays Feature with two Edson drivers involved. While running in fourth, Ken Clark spun in the middle of turn one/two after the left rear tire of his car fell off. Shawn Kennedy drove into the side of Clark at nearly full throttle. “I had no where to go,” says Kennedy, “I saw the tire wobbling the last few laps but never expected it to fly off.”
For the final five laps, Seba Beach, Alberta’s Dan Stewart would successfully hold off Campbell River, BC’s Chris Beaulieu and finish second. Beaulieu was filling in for his father Jason who was racing his dirt modified in Elma, Washington.
“Pretty pleased with third,” said the substitute driver of the #46 All Weather Windows Dodge. “It’s only my sixth time on dirt. You really had to pick and choose your lines carefully. You pick the wrong one and it could cost you a race. We just wanted to play it smart, take our time and it worked.”
Stewart’s second place finish in his Rockhard Contractors sponsored #01 Dodge was his best finish since a fifth place in July of 2007. “We had bad luck at the beginning tonight with two flat tires,” Stewart said. “But we persevered and fought back.”