Did You See That Racing Action?

Episode 58

June 7, 2015

Wow! Action Everywhere This Weekend

This weekend in motorsports for me started Friday night when I made the late evening trek to my brother’s home in Caribou. I do not get Fox Sports 1 and Bob convinced me that I would be disappointed if Austin won in Texas and I did not see it.

Austin did not disappoint. He may not have won but came home with a fifth place finish that was thrilling due to a late race restart.  Theriault in the Brad Keselowski Racing #29 swapped paint with Joe Nemechek for a couple laps and just got by him on the last lap.

I thought when Daniel Hemric in the #14 spun that he was going to pin Austin into the wall. however, the Fort Kent native showed his driving skills avoiding the spinning truck and motored on. Austin mentioned to me that Hemric saved the truck at the last instance allowing him to get through.

Austin had this to say about the race,”The Cooper Standard Ford F-150 was really fast.  It was really fun racing in the top five there at the end.  Joe Nemechek was on my left rear and we got really tight out of Turn 2 on the last lap but you’ve got to hold on.  Confidence is huge at these mile-and-a-halfs.  We struggled a little bit in practice on Thursday but we leaned on our teammates and that was a big help.  I’m really proud of the effort by everyone at Brad Keselowski Racing.”

Chad Kendrick – Crew Chief,  for the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F150.

  “Austin did a great job.  He got a top five in his first start at Texas and you can’t ask for much more than that.  He learned a ton.  You could see the progression from the start of the race to the end and how much better he got.  I think he had more competitive passes during the race than anyone else.  We struggled on pit road and could not get a smooth pit stop put together so we are grateful for this finish.”

I agree that the pit crew seemed to drop Austin a few spots on each stop. I would like to see their times compared with the others. Austin remarked that he attempted to make passes of other trucks on the track as soon as possible after a pit stop thus allowing him to get in the clean air and make up those spots before the next pit stop.

I was curious to know the fate of the # 29 truck  that Austin slammed into Tyler Reddick in qualifying for the Kansas race a couple weeks ago. Austin said the frontal impact with the almost stationary Reddick bent not only the front clip but the middle of the chassis. After removing and saving as many bolt on components as possible the truck nicknamed “Vortex” is dead,… scrap.

It appeared his sister Brittany was at the Texas track when the National Anthem was played so I asked Austin if that was her. He replied, “Brittany was at Texas. She had never been to the Texas Motor Speedway so she had to make the tough decision to be there rather than back at Vermont with husband Joey Pole.”

Wouldn’t you know it Brittany’s husband, Joey Polewarczyk, defending American Canadian Tour (ACT) Champion, was at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in West Haven, Vermont on Saturday. Joey Pole won the race his third of the 2015 season. You just cannot be two places at once.

Austin heads to Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois on Saturday evening June 13th on FoxSports 1. Could be another late night at my brother’s house. Austin races the next week on June 19th at Iowa Speedway for the American Ethanol 200. He then has a long break until the Chicagoland race September 18th.

Bangor’s John Cassidy Rally Racing in Pennslyvania

Last Ditch Racing based out of Bangor with driver/owner John Cassidy made the trek to the Rally America Susquehannock Trail Performance  Rally (STPR) in Wellsboro, Pennslyvania. The team competed and finished with not all tires pointing in the correct direction and with huge quantities of Pennslyvania mud, yet in one piece. The ride home was slow since the tow van was in the “limp” mode due to a faulty egr valve.

 

Not many cars escaped unscathed from the STPR in Pennslyvania. This 2014 Ford Fiesta ST driven in the 2 wheel drive class by Greeley, Colorado's Cameron Steeley hit a tree shortly after beginning a stage on Saturday. Steeley and co-driver Preston Osborn of Broomfield, Colorado were both okay but disappointed since they were leading their class at the time. Photo courtesy Cameron Steely

Not many cars escaped unscathed from the STPR in Pennslyvania. This 2014 Ford Fiesta ST driven in the 2 wheel drive class by Greeley, Colorado’s Cameron Steely hit a tree shortly after beginning a stage on Saturday. Steely and co-driver Preston Osborn of Broomfield, Colorado were both okay but disappointed since they were leading their class at the time. Photo courtesy Cameron Steely

As of the publishing time I have no results from John. I do have a quote from winner David Wiggins who along with co-driver Craig Drew had an almost perfect result. Courtesy Rally America’s website,

Now, after five straight wins in the 2015 Rally America series, the team is on track to claim the first perfect season in American rally history.

“The more rallies you do, the more wins you get, the more times you drive in different conditions, the quicker you can adapt,” said Higgins, explaining how he comes by the confidence to push ever-faster in a technical and dangerous rally made even more difficult by heavy rains at the close of the first day of competition.”

Higgins, who has scored 11 consecutive wins in Rally America competition over the last two years, also credited the Subaru Rally Team USA and Vermont Sports Car team behind his Open class 2015 Subaru WRX STI. “We’ve put an awful lot of thought into the car: we’re not just coming out with the same setup all the time. We’re always trying to adjust and prepare.”

I had the privilege to visit Vermont Sports Car’s race shop last year in Colchester, Vermont. You can go back in my last year’s blog and read all about it. Very interesting place to visit.

 

Gage Theriault (six years of age) of Limestone in his Kids Kart at Spud Speedway's open practice for racing karts. Theriault the son of Erin and Galen Addington of Limestone is beginning his second year of racing at the kart track at the Caribou facility. HTF Motorsports photo.

Gage Theriault ,six years of age, races his Kids Kart at Spud Speedway’s open practice for racing karts. Theriault the son of Erin and Galen Addington of Limestone is beginning his second year of racing at the kart track at the Caribou facility. HTF Motorsports photo.

Spud Speedway Opener June 14th

Spud Speedway opened it’s doors Saturday  June 6th for kart practice and Sunday June 7th for stock cars to practice. Thirteen karts took advantage of the track time. This represents an increase in the number of participants in just a couple years since a kart racing track was built and racing began at the Caribou track.

With the assistance of JRT Custom’s Jason Theriault I was able to bring my Aroostook Limousine’s and Stag Brands, the Alpha Vegetable Senior Champ Kart to the track and run times comparable to the fastest times I ran in 2014. Thanks to JRT Customs for that help.

Northern Lights rookie driver Mike Coventry of Van Buren displays the thread worn right front tire on his 1998 Chevy Cavalier. Coventry is learning how to keep such a thing from happening in a race. HTF Motorsports photo

Northern Lights rookie driver Mike Coventry of Van Buren displays the thread worn right front tire on his 1998 Chevy Cavalier. Coventry is learning how to keep such a thing from happening in a race. HTF Motorsports photo

On Sunday several area stock cars took to the track to work out the kinks for the season opener. I asked three drivers about their plans and goals for the 2015 season.

Mike Coventry formerly of Connecticut acquired his Northern Lights racer late in the 2014 season. He was able to run the last race of the season and was excited to return in 2015. When it was announced that there would be no racing he was very disappointed. After track owner Troy Haney announced that John Albert was leasing the track Coventry was relieved that he would be able to race in 2015.

The rookie racer is assisted by crew member Dustin Palmer-Lavoie also from Van Buren and supported by his wife Karri Ann and son Noah.

Seven-year veteran in the Street Stock class Carl Tucker of Presque Isle prepares his 1986 Monte Carlo SS for the upcoming season. Photo by HTF Motorsports

Seven-year veteran in the Street Stock class Carl Tucker of Presque Isle prepares his 1986 Monte Carlo SS for the upcoming season. Photo by HTF Motorsports

With one feature race checkered flag to his credit in his racing career Carl Tucker hopes to add a couple more in 2015. The Presque Isle man is optimistic not only about his chances to do so but about racing at Spud Speedway.

“I think it is one of the greatest things (John Albert’s leasing of the Caribou track) that has happened in quite awhile, ” said Tucker. “I think Johnny could be a wonderful candidate to run this track. Really glad he stepped in.”

“I think all car counts are going to consistently increase throughout the year into next year as well. I think when people come out here and see the job that everyone is doing not only running the track but the cars that are here now and the competitiveness, other people from other tracks are going to come. New cars are going to start coming as well as old cars that have “disappeared”.

Robert Tomlinson on right assisted by pitcrew member and brother Maynard both from Arthurette, New Brunswick mount new Hoosier tires on the #29 ProStock car in preparation for practice at Spud Speedway. HTF Motorsports photo

Robert Tomlinson on right assisted by pitcrew member and brother Maynard both from Arthurette, New Brunswick mount new Hoosier tires on the #29 ProStock car in preparation for practice at Spud Speedway. HTF Motorsports photo

Twenty nine year veteran driver, Robert Tomlinson, had new tires mounted on his Pro Stock car Sunday as he prepared for the season opener in a week. The sixty year old Tomlinson plans to run at least two races at Speedway 660 in New Brunswick as well as all races at Spud Speedway.

“I am very proud of John,” said Tomlinson. “We’ve raced back 20 or so years ago when he owned the track. We have had a lot of fun and I respect John.”

“I hope to get all the other guys in this County and the Province to support this track.”

On a side note track promoter John Albert was featured in the “County Faces” column in the June 3rd edition of the Houlton Pioneer Times, Presque Isle Star Herald, and The Aroostook Republican. The story was well written by staff writer Kevin Sjoberg who gave a good account of the story of one of the County’s best known motorsports figures.

Got To Proclaim It, Truex Finally Wins!

After running up front in just about every Sprint Cup race in the 2015 season New Jersey’s Marin Truex won the race at Pocono Raceway putting him in the Chase to the Championship.

Driving for a one car team based out of Denver, Colorado not North Carolina the Furniture Row team from the driver to the book-keeper have performed extra-ordinary despite the odds stacked up against them.

A win by anybody in a single car team is so rare that when it does happen people sit up and notice. Sometimes a driver/team coming out of nowhere will pull it off then drop like a stone for the rest of the season. The Furniture Row team has performed almost flawlessly in several races, leading the most laps only to come up short in the end.

Truex had this to say after the race courtesy of Chevy Racing, ““Well we finally got it. That is all I can say we finally got it. We have had a good run. We have had a great season. We have had everything it has taken to win races we just hadn’t got it done yet.”

“I felt like we had the best car a few times today. I’m not sure we were. The No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) was really good at times and we were really good. It just takes a lot of things to go your way to pull these things together. Just can’t thank all my guys enough, Barney Visser, everybody at Furniture Row, everybody back in Denver for working so hard. This is a brand new racecar and they have been working really hard lately. Just proud of them and thankful to drive great racecars.”

Let’s Go Racing!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.