Fredericton, NB- A gorgeous sunny day always leads to a WicKID day or racing at Speedway 660. Today’s event, the Peterbilt 250 was a memorable one for many as Nova Scotia’s Craig Slaunwhite in the #23SFR made history tonight by becoming the youngest (27 yrs old) winner of the 8th annual Peterbilt 250. It was an emotional victory for the SFR team, five years from this day they won the Peterbilt 250 with the late Scott Fraser. In addition, this great event has yet to see a repeat winner as Slaunwhite becomes the 8th different winner of this event.
Today’s event was kicked off by heats for the Coast Tire Street Stocks as well as the Cummins Diesel Legend cars. When the Pro Stock heats hit the track it was time to get down to business. Thirty six cars hit the track looking for one of the 28 starting spots in the 250. The heat races provide a ton of action and a ton of stress for the drivers as they have to draw out of a hat for their heat starting position. Travis Kittleson was the luckiest man in the house as he drew the coveted #1. This gave him the pole in the first heat and a great shot at the pole in the 250 as the winner of heat one is the pole sitter for the 250. Kittleson cruised to victory in heat 1. Other heat winners included Travis Benjamin, John Flemming, and Paul Gahan. Consi winners were Johnny Clark and Mike Stevens with Brent Wiggins winning the last chance event. Provisionals went to Matt Harris (top points car in Speedway 660 points), Lonnie Sommerville (top CARQUEST Tour points), Kirk Thibeau (winner if the Irving Lubricants Best of the Best 100 – 250 qualifier) and Brian MacNaughton (top remaining Speedway 660 points car).
Fans were on their feet during intermission for the Steve Waylon band and opening ceremonies with driver introductions with included area dignitaries and guests.
The front row off the grid saw Travis Kittleson in the #29c on the pole position with #17b of Travis Benjamin starting outside on the front row. The early part of the 250 saw several yellows but once those were behind us the race got very interesting.
Kittleson dominated the first part of the event in the Cushman car leading the first 64 laps. Johnny Clark then tookcommand from lap 65 to lap 83 when Kittleson got around Johnny to resume the lead. Kittleson would lead for another 10 laps before CARQUEST Tour points leader Wayne Smith decided to flax his muscle and get around Kittleson for the lead. Smith was on a mission looking for his first Peterbilt 250 win. He led until around lap 150 when Johnny Clark reclaimed the lead and it was looking like we were going to see our first repeat winner of the Peterbilt 250. That wasn’t what Wayne Smith was thinking as he got around Clark to retain the lead. With about 70 laps to go the yellow flew and several cars headed for the pits including the 23s car of Slaunwhite’s. It would be Slaunwhite’s last pit stop.
Slaunwhite’s car had been decent all night but a chassis adjustment on this stop brought the car to life. Up front Smith was able to hold the lead and was heading for the victory. Slaunwhite was working his way towards the front but it didn’t look like anyone was going to catch Wayne Smith.
A late race yellow brought everyone back to together on a restart. Benjamin headed to the pits for tires and looked really strong as the race went green. Benjamin got all the way up beside Smith going for the lead but there wasn’t much roomon the outside of the 44 car. Benjamin tucked back in behind Smith and on lap 243 nudged him coming up the front stretch. Both cars had to lift for a fraction of a second to gather their cars and before they knew it the 23s car of Slaunwhite’s had beat them to turn one and took over the lead. Slaunwhite never looked back as we led the final 8 laps on route to the biggest win of his young career and a cheque for $15,400.
“I knew we had a good car all weekend but this race is about much more than a good car. Everything has to fall in place to win the Peterbilt 250” said Slaunwhite. When asked how he was going to top this win he responded “I don’t think I’ll ever do top this win”.
It was an emotion win for Slaunwhite and the Fraser crew as it was 5 yrs to the day since they celebrated in victory lane with the late Scott Fraser. In talking with Frank Fraser Sr after the race we saw that famous gleam in his eye. “I just can’t express how much we wanted to win this race again. We’ve wanted it so bad, we wanted to win another one for Scott! Craig has been doing well in the car and we knew he could get it done but tonight he showed us something special, he got up on the wheel and won it because he wanted it that bad, like we did. When he got by the 44 and 17b then was no way they were going to catch him the way he was wheeling that car. I’m proud of him and the guys. This is
a pretty neat deal!” said Fraser.
Seven cars finished the race on the lead lap with 22 of the 28 cars still running on lap 250. Wayne Smith in the #44 took the halfway challenge of one thousand dollars sponsored by Bulletproof Solutions.
Aside from the fast pace Peterbilt 250, the Coast Tire Street Stock division had their second biggest event tonight, the Fredericton Hyundai Street Stock 50. The winner of the Street Stock 50 hasn’t had the best of luck in the 2008 season, wrecking his car only a few weeks before the event. However, Shawn Hyslop and his crew have always worked hard to return with a big comeback and did just that in tonight’s Fredericton Hyundai Street Stock 50. Hyslop took home the feature win while the #54 of Rick Cashol finished in second and the #2 of Matt Matheson rounded out the top three.
In the Cummins Diesel Legends Feature Ian Mollins took home the victory over Cy Harvey and Justin MacNeill.
Earlier in the Peterbilt 250 qualifying a racing incident between Hal O’Neal and Graham Spinney resulted in Hal being sent to the Fredericton hospital after being unconscious after the wreck. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hal’s family and friends at this time.