Posted on July 2, 2015
Super Truck Racing Series
“Can’t Touch This”
This past June 27th weekend, the Super Truck Series returned to the Edmonton International Raceway (EIR) for the ANNUGAS 100, making this the second 2015 stop at this popular NASCAR sanctioned ¼ mile paved oval.
Before getting to the action that unfolded at EIR, the Super Truck Racing Series has a very important announcement to make…………………
The ‘Caveman’ won his first Super Truck Feature race!!!
Yes fans, the ‘Caveman’ is alive and well and racing in Western Canada’s premier series! We are of course talking about Dean Braham of Lloydminster, Alberta in his Cave Inspections #44. ‘Cavie’ (The Caveman) and his team have been an integral part of the series for over 5 years and have shown steady progress in their quest to win a feature event in this series. And Cavie will be the first to confess that winning a feature event in this very tough series is no easy feat! He had his first feature win within his grasp in Kalispel Montana a couple of years back only to experience the agony of defeat by running out of fuel in the dying laps! Cavie had em’ covered though at the Academy B.O.P. 100 presented by Academy Petroleum Industries at Saskatoon’s Auto Clearing Speedway on June 13th. Cavie was fast all day, setting the fast qualifying time and beating everyone to the checkers at lap 100!
On June 27th Cavie had his chances again in the ANNUGAS 100! Ten Super Truck teams showed up on a beautiful Alberta evening to chase the big trophy in this first annual event at EIR. Cavie had his #44 Chevrolet making statements early on in the practice sessions and then laid down a blistering 13.232 second lap in qualifying. Just when his team thought this might be enough, his long time racing teammate and mentor Dusty O’Connell rolls out onto the speedway and trips the timing lights at 13.139 seconds, which holds on for the days fast qualifier. O’Connell is a relative newcomer to the series but has a wealth of experience in the sport with a long time association in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and has worked with RCR (Richard Childress Racing) in the NASCAR series. O’Connell has given up is regular ride (#76) for 2015 to his brother Kyle O’Connell, so he blew the dust off Doug Fisher’s #99 Big Bore Drilling Chevrolet and proceeded to blow the rest of the field away in qualifying! Calgary’s Wade Lee, Kyle O’Connell and the #07 of Brian Morrison rounded out the top five qualifiers.
The first heat race saw a completely inverted line-up (fastest qualifier at the back, slowest qualifier at the front), leaving the #99 and #44 in the back row. The start was paced by the front row of the #18 of Ron Elder Jr. and #5 of Calmar Alberta’s Gary Sarnecki. Sarnecki showed his racing experience by jumping on the green flag and carried the momentum into turn #1 and came out of turn #2 the leader. Sarnecki had a pack of hounds on his tailgate and on lap #3 he missed his mark in turn #1 and goes high on the 10 degree banking and stacks up the field. One lap later the #18 of Elder Jr. succumbs to the pressure of leading the group and spins his Chevrolet. The #00 of Kevin McLean tags the #18 as he goes by, causing only minimal damage to the race trucks. The NASCAR style restart format saw the #43 of Terry Kovacs and the #76 Oil City Diesel of Kyle O’Connell on the front row. The #5 and #14 entries are slow to respond to the green flag and stack up the outside line a bit, giving the #43 of Kovacs a bit of breathing room on his right passenger door! As the checkers fell, it was Kovacs followed by O’Connell (Kyle) and The Caveman in his Powdermill Inc sponsored #44!
Heat two saw the 99 of Dusty O’Connell on the pole with the #5 of Sarnecki at his right passenger door! Sarnecki’s Chevrolet is slow in coming to life, creating some interesting bumper to tailgate congestion behind him. The crowd was being treated so some very typical ‘edge of your seat’ action by the Super Trucks. A battle was brewing between the #00 of McLean and the #44 of Braham with Braham on the outside. The battle didn’t rage very long as Braham couldn’t find the needed grip in the upper groove, giving way to McLean. On lap 7 the yellow flies off the front straight for the spinning Chevrolet of Sarnecki. The 99 of O’Connell is going unchallenged at this point but has to pay attention to this short heat race as the #14 of Ron Larsson is having a solid run! Sarnecki has lost the handling in his #5, spinning again on the restart lap! He gathers it up and the field stays under green and this situation allows Larsson to make a daring move to the front around O’Connell. Another yellow flew on lap 7, and on the restart, O’Connell regained his lead and held on for his first win of the early 2015 season. Larsson held on for second with Kovacs tapping his tailgate for position at the line.
At 8:15 pm, with the Alberta sun still high and the grain fields around the speedway showing signs of life, the green flag was in the air for the ANNUGAS 100. The #5 of Sarnecki and the feature winner from Saskatoon led the field off turn 4 and they thundered into turn one all looking for some real estate to work with! The #76 of Kyle O’Connell didn’t answer the call for the ANNAGUS 100 after sustaining some radiator damage in an earlier heat race altercation. Cavie’s #44 bolted to the early lead with the #07 of Morrison and the #74 of Lee stalking him. On lap 5, the 99 of Dusty O’Connell gets a bit loose on cold tires and falls back a bit. The early side by side battles within this group of nine was fierce, with no one wanting to give up anything! By lap 10, the #44, #74, #07 and #00 were checking out! The Big Bore Drilling #99 of O’Connell was obviously ‘pacing’ the field in the early stages of this event by getting himself into a rhythm for the last part of the 100 lap event.
On lap 11, the #43 of Kovacs gets under the #5 of Sarnecki and now has a huge task of trying to catch the lead group of trucks. On lap #18, Ron Elder’s #18 gets a bit loose and opens the door for the 99 to get by. On lap 21 the #07 of Morrison is off the pace on the front straight and pulls his ride into the pit area. Morrison showing obvious signs of disappointment in the pit area as the battle raged on the speedway.
Still early in the ANNUGAS 100, the #99 of O’Connell continues his quest for the front as he gets past the #14 and #5 on lap 29. EIR is a tight track but with a definite second outside groove to work with. O’Connell knows this well and has his Chevrolet working the high side very well around the slower competitors. On lap 31, the mechanical flag was displayed to the #18 forcing Elder Jr to the pits. Now only 5 laps after getting by the #14 and #5, the Big Bore Chevrolet of O’Connell was now looking down both sides of Kovacs #43, trying to figure out a pass for position! Kovacs has to ‘pinch’ his Super Truck coming off the corners on occasion to keep O’Connell at bay. The large EIR crowd was definitely enjoying this heated action in round three of the 20125 season.
By lap 40, the leaders (Caveman and Lee) were still battling up front but now coming into lapped traffic. The #00 of McLean was a full straight back at this point, but now digging hard with the leaders were being held up. By lap 45 of 100, Cavie’s #44 was strong! His Chevy crate motor was working hard, the shock package was right and the truck was glued to the speedway! But don’t forget who was right behind him……………………Calgary’s Wade Lee!!
Lap 45 sees Cavie and Lee already on the bumper of the fifth place truck! These two guys were putting on a clinic while O’Connell was slowly making his way into that battle! A small field of trucks was putting on a great show for these fans and the cheering was evidence of their appreciation! With the crossed flags in the air (half way point), Cavie is stretching it out with a comfortable 6 truck lead. A yellow flag is not what this well respected racer needs right now! On lap 52, another 15 lap battle was being fought between the #14 of Larsson and the #5 of Sarnecki.! Finally on lap 53, the yellow flies for a spinning Chevrolet Super Truck…………..oh, did we mention that a yellow is not what Cavie wanted to see!
Here’s what happened race fans……………on the re-start with the sun glaring in the eyes of the drivers coming off turn four, the wily veteran Wade Lee sees the green flag first, jumps to the gas pedal and beats Cavie to turn 1! Cavie is not happy with himself and regains the lost ground but not the lost position. He is all over the bumper of the #74 but now has to figure out how to regain the lead. Ron Larsson spins his #14 on lap 57 and the #74 of Lee just misses him as the yellow flag comes out! By lap 78 the #44 of Braham is getting loose as Cavie has just about worn out the steering box, wheel bearings, tires, brakes etc by trying to get around Lee. Oh and by the way, O’Connell’s #99 has now joined the battle!
On lap 80, slower traffic was again coming into play for the leaders and two laps later, O’Connell was looking on the inside of Cavie. Both trucks pinched coming off turn 4 and get a bit sideways giving Lee a little bit of breathing room, but not for long! With 10 laps left, O’Connell is showing impatience and doesn’t appear to want to try the high line around two guys……………not enough laps left? O’Connell starts to wear on the back bumper of the #44, maybe trying to push the 44 into the 74!! With six to go, and Lee just barely holding onto the lead, Dusty (O’Connell) ‘bonzies’ the corner in an attempt to make the outside work but the front end washes out and he loses ground to the leaders.
As the double checkers flew and the crowd cheering, Lee is first at the line with Cavie only wishing for one more lap! O’Connell holds on to fourth with McLean and Kovacs rounding out the two five. With a smile, Lee admits to ‘having seen this picture before’ when asked about the restart on lap 53 that moved him to the lead! Cavie flat out admitted to learning something about restarts!
The series returns to EIR for round four on July 18th in the Irv’s Westside Auto Shootout 50. That race will see Lee take his marginal 28 point lead over Terry Kovacs #43 and 36 points over Sherwood Park Kevin Mclean. If you’re looking for some great racing entertainment, take in the next Super Truck event at EIR!
Checkered Flags Everyone…………………….