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Event News Release:
Wetaskiwin, Alberta 30 May 2015
On a Saturday evening while the NASCAR Sprint Cup gang is practicing at The ‘Monster Mile’ in Dover Delaware, the Canadian Super Truck Racing Series was preparing for the first event of the 2015 season. Edmonton International Raceway (EIR) was the scene and the Super Truck Series saw nine well prepared trucks take to the new pavement at this meticulously prepared facility just west of Wetaskiwin.
The Peace Hills Irrigation Shootout is the first time the Super Trucks have been to this ¼ mile ‘bullring’ in over 15 years. The lightning fast Super Trucks did not disappoint! Many fans were seeing these NASCAR looking race vehicles for the first time and if the loud cheering and fans on the edge of their seats is any indication, the resurgence of the Super Truck Series at EIR will be a win-win for fans and competitors alike!
The excitement started early when the 2014 Series champion Wade Lee of Calgary left a concrete streak down the right side of his #74 Chevrolet, after coming hard off turn four in his second lap of qualifying…………the ‘pay-off’ was a 13.10 second lap which is now the new track record at EIR for the Super Truck Series. Wade Lee, driving the Chase Motorsports Chevy, is without a doubt one of the most experienced driver in the series. Lee has an extensive racing background which includes years in the Canadian Tire NASCAR (formerly CASCAR) series and another series that ran in the early nineties known as The Player’s Challenge Series. That series saw competitors take stock Camaros to the tracks (ovals and road courses) with limited modifications in what turned out to be a building block for many racing careers. Lee ran full time against two of Edmonton’s legendary competitors in Kevin Dowler and Carl Harr.
Second fast time went to Wainwright driver Brian Morrison in his #07 Chevrolet. Morrison is a new comer to the series from the Legends series and he is already getting the attention of the series regulars. Third went to #00 Kevin McLean in his Heartland Auto Supply /Edmonton Kenworth Chevrolet, followed by veteran Wetaskiwin driver Terry Kovacs.
Fans were treated to a wild 10 lap heat race that saw all eight trucks glued together for the entire 10 laps!! The #14 Annugas Compressor Chevrolet of Ron Larsson started up front but went backwards in a hurry when Larsson got caught on the outside and couldn’t hold that line while everyone sailed by on the inside! A battle between the #18 of Ron Elder Jr. and the #5 of ‘cagey veteran’ Gary Sarnecki of Calmar, Alberta was heating up when Elder Jr’s Chevrolet went high in turn two on lap 5 allowing Sarnecki to get underneath and gain the spot. On lap 8, the #43 Dodge of Kovacs goes to the outside and is the first to the while flag! The #74 of Lee followed Kovacs and this set up an ‘edge of your seat’ pass on the back straight! Lee puts his skill to work and makes the pass in turn 3 and leads the #43, #5, #00 and #18 back to the finish line. The crowd very quickly found out what they were in for during the five events at EIR for 2015.
The second 10 lap heat race saw the #14 of Larsson lead the 7 truck field around. The #44 of Dean Braham was scratched due to some rear gear problems and the #07 of Morrison could not get his 350 CID Crate motor to fire. Larsson lead early but the rear of the truck was stepping out which inevitably heats up the rear tires and always leads to giving up spots. On Lap 3, McLean’s #00 got underneath Larsson and got to the point and held on for the final 7 laps to get his team their first win for 2015! On lap 7, Sarnecki puts his Calmar Auto-Paint & Repair #5 into the ‘spin cycle’ in turn 3 but recovers enough to leave the field under green. Lee’s #74 started at the rear (as a result of the first heat win) of the field and found the Chevy had trouble in the second groove and had to pace the field for a 4th place finish. Series rookie, Kyle O’Connell driving the #76 Oil City Chevrolet rounded out the top five.
The 50 lap Peace Hills Irrigation Shoot Out saw Sarnecki and Elder Jr start up front with the #74 of Lee lying in the weeds in the third spot! The green flag comes out and the #5 of Sarnecki put all the sails out and led the first three laps. Sarnecki’s #5 was under assault from the stronger Chevy of Lee and had to start protecting the lead a lot sooner than he wanted. Sarnecki came down off the banking a couple of times, rubbing the Chevy decal off the front of the #74 but by lap 5, the stronger Lee completes the pass only this time bringing the #14 and #07 with him!
By mid race, the Dodge of Kovacs was struggling with handling issues and brought up the rear of the field. About that time the #00 of McLean was working the #18 of Elder Jr. like a prize fighter! McLean’s Chevy might not have liked the aggression of the driver and on lap 14, the truck slaps the front straight wall when the tires couldn’t hold the fresh asphalt! The #76 of O’Connell and #18 of Elder Jr. get by McLean and they will now be the fight to watch as Lee is having his way with the track! By lap 20, it was apparent that Larsson’s #14 was developing a ‘push’ meaning that the front end did not want to turn going into the corners.
The #74 of Lee was so dominate that by lap 25, he had caught the rear of the field and was about to start putting competitors a lap down. On a tight & fast ¼ mile speedway, things happen fast!!
On lap 37, the #5 of Sarnecki and the #14 of Larsson looked like synchronized swimmers as they got tangled together coming off turn two and spun together into the apron on the back straight. The ensuing yellow was just what the doctor ordered for the #74 of Lee as he would now not see any tailgates on the restart. The #14 of Larsson spins in turn three on the restart bringing out the second yellow of the evening. This allowed the #43 of Kovacs to return to the field, now 6-8 laps down. By lap 35, the #00 of McLean gets by O’Connell in turn 2 and all the drivers were now being extra cautious when coming up behind the#14 of Larsson who’s truck was in dire need of suspension work to correct an ill handling front end.
The Steve Morrows owned #74 was in cruise mode now and turning consistent 13.5 second laps! With eight laps to go the 76 of O’Connell gets into the tailgate of McLean’s #00 in turn four with no spots changing hands. With 5 laps left, Lee had a 10 truck lead over second place #07 Morrison and the third place truck of McLean was another 8-10 trucks back.
When the checkers fell on the Peace Hills Irrigation Shoot Out on this mild spring evening, it was Lee, Morrison, McLean, O’Connell, Elder Jr., Larsson and Kovacs. In the pits after the event, the drivers admitted to being a bit surprised on how fast things happen on this tight track and how much grip the new pavement provided.
Race #2 for the Super Truck Racing Series will unfold at the popular Auto Clearing Motor Speedway in Saskatoon Saskatchewan. The Academy Petroleum BOP 100 will see the green flag fly on Saturday June 13th around 7:00 pm. A field of 12-14 trucks are expected for that event so if you happen to find yourself in that area that weekend, take the event in………The Super Truck Racing Series never disappoints!
Checker Flags everyone!