McNeil wins biggest event of his career in a thrilling finish!!!!
Fredericton, NB – The 1st leg of Speedweekend 2009 started out with a bang and end with a bang on Saturday night. First off it was the 43 cars that tried to qualify for 28 starting positions. This created a hectic set of qualifying heats with several cautions having an impact on the flow of the night. Some might say it was the huge crowd and maybe a few nerves to go with it. Whatever it was, it ended quickly once feature time hit the Geary Woods. The racing action heated up as the temperature dropped.
During qualifying Derek Christie charged his was to a pole position with Brent Roy “the Camry Kid” on the outside pole. With the exception of an early caution because the 12 of Glyn Nott broke the first 75 lap segment treated the Speedway 660 faithful to some awesome racing. Derek Christie led until lap 35 when he got into the back of a lapped car which brought out the caution and sent him all the way to the back for the restart. With Chrisitie’s misfortune Brent Roy and Wade Harris would do battle.
The “Camry Kid” made an impressive pass on the outside just out of turn two on lap 37 to lead the charge and once Harris was passes it looked like he had used up his rubber as he moved back to 5th. On lap 65, Bradley Logan in his #37 was exactly where he wanted to be, on the outside of Brent Roy in 2nd place. Logan would make the outside pass just 1 lap after the green flag restart. He would hold this lead barely until lap 75 when the competition yellow was brought out. As the competition yellow was coming to an end, officials at Speedway 660 instructed the #80 of Dan McNeil to make his way to the pits due to a tire that had been badly damaged during competition. McNeil was able to return to the racing surface just prior to the event going back to green flag racing. In the end this would prove to be a crucial event in the race.
As the race resumed it was Bradley Logan leading the way with Wade Harris in the preferred spot, the upper groove. Once again it proved to be the place to be. Just two laps in Harris made a strong pass on the outside. As the leaders made their way around the Geary oval, McNeil back in last place started to make strong charge to the front with fresh right front tire to aid in his attack on the remaining field of 22. A caution late in lap 89 would see the front of the field bunch up once again allowing McNeil to gain some much needed track position. On lap 90, out of turn 2, Wade Harris slipped just so slightly and the no 9 of Derek Christie took it three wide down the backstretch making the pass on Harris and the “Camry Kid” Brent Roy on the inside. With the entire crowd of over 6,500 people on the edge of their seats, the 5 of Wade Harris made the right move and backed off to avoid what would most certainly have been a huge wreck. Meanwhile Logan took advantage of the side by side racing behind him to take a 3 car length lead over Christie and the 26 of Roy.
With just 35 laps left, Christie seemed to all but use up what he had left for rubber as he dropped back one by one in the field. Logan in his Dairy Queen ride seemed unbeatable at this point but the top 5 thought otherwise. Logan going nose to tail with the Harris knew he had to be perfect with only 15 laps to go or the veteran Harris would make him pay dearly. That slip looked like it might happen as the leaders crossed the line at 142 but Logan was able to gather it up and looked like he had it when Wade Harris got the caution he was looking for on lap 147. That put the 5 car of Harris in the preferred outside lane for what looked like a 3 lap shootout between the two front runners Harris and Logan….boy was I wrong, along with the other Geary faithful in attendance. ! On the restart Logan and Harris battled for the next 1.5 laps when Logan drifted up the racetrack on the backstretch seemingly to do what any driver might do in that situation; protect the lead. Harris had to back off and did everything he could to save the car. While this happened a complete shuffle took place with the #80 of Dan McNeil diving for the bottom of the racetrack and a 2nd place position. McNeil with his newly found rubber post the 75 lap competition yellow made the #80 stick like glue on the inside lane, something most had not been able to do all night. With just a half lap left, the stage was set for the most dramatic finish in the history of the O’Leary Pontiac Excitement 150. McNeil made the unthinkable pass on the inside coming out of turn 4 on the final lap to win the biggest race of his life not to mention a cool $ 2,000 for his heroics. McNeil vibrating from his win arrived on the Auto Pride Victory Lane stage and proceeded to the rooftop of his Chevy Monte Carlo Snooty Fox #80. As he jumped up in celebration, the fireworks display wowed the crowd and the 1st event of SPEEDWEEKEND 2009 was complete.
The Atlantic Open Wheel modifieds also put on great show in their 30 lap main event with Shelley Stewart of Emerald PEI taking home the checkers in a very popular win with the crowd. Mike Raeburn and Mark Price rounded out the top three respectively.
On a side note of interest, 45 pro stocks practiced on Saturday in preparation for the Peterbilt 250 on Sunday.
O’Leary Pontiac Excitement 150 Sportsman Feature
# Driver Hometown
1 80 Dan McNeil Douglas, NB
2 37 Bradley Logan Harvey Station, NB
3 26 Brent Roy Hanwell, NB
4 5 Wade Harris Canal, NB
5 70 Dave Biggar Lake George, NB
6 9 Derek Christie Fredericton, NB
7 29 Matt Maillet Burton, NB
8 46 Ron Lane Moncton, NB
9 1 Micheal Banks Lake George, NB
10 28X James Graves Moncton, NB
11 34 Randy Moore Saint John, NB
12 11 Cal Hatfield Rothesay, NB
13 07 Robbie Fraser Moncton, NB
14 99M Marc Gautreau Grand Barachois, NB
15 28 John Rankin St.Martins, NB
16 40 Richard Atkinson Geary, NB
17 45 Calvin Rankin Quispamsis, NB
18 99 Shawn Hyslop St. Stephen, NB
19 03 Steve Halpin St. John, NB
20 33 Charlie Wilkins Keswick, NB
21 0 Frank FraserJr Shubenacadie, NS
22 6 Terry Charters Dieppe, NB
23 31 Myles Harris Nasonworth, NB
24 22 Claude Gaudet Moncton, NB
25 83 Corey Little Rowley, NB
26 12 Glyn Nott Burton, NB