HAIL OF A STORM HANDS BEAULIEU FIRST NPP CHAMPIONSHIP
EDMONTON, AB – A freak Alberta hailstorm cancelled race action at Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway on Saturday night. “Never seen anything like it in my 15 years here,” says NPP Late Model Series announcer Gord Craig, “the sky just opened up on us. The clouds were threatening from the north. Then in the blink of an eye everyone was running for cover. The scary part was race teams in the pits had no where to go.” Pea size hail fell non stop for close to 10 minutes. Fans ran for the parking lot and for spots under the bleachers. “It was a very surreal scene as the track turned into a winter scene.”
The storm left all drivers shaking their heads. “We were pretty stoked coming in here tonight,” says Whitecourt’s Kevin Wheeler, “we had a great run in Lethbridge last weekend (win) but mother nature beat the heck out of us tonight.” The weather not only cancelled race action it also ended the season championship chase as Jason Beaulieu clinched the 2007 Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series Championship in his All Weather Windows sponsored Dodge. “I don’t like winning it this way,” says the Campbell River, BC driver, “I would have rather won it on the track rather than mother nature deciding it for all of us. I was telling Dwight (Kennedy) that I would like to have beat him two more times. I don’t travel all the way from BC to sit in a trailer and watch the weather.“
Beauelieu had a 184 point lead heading into race action on Saturday night and would have clinched the season Saturday night with a top 10 finish in the Feature. “It was a great battle with Dwight, both Kevin’s (Clark/Wheeler) and Darrel (Midgley) all season. All four drivers were right behind me in points several times.” For Beaulieu it was his first championship with a race series entirely run on clay/dirt oval tracks. “This was my first full season on dirt,” exclaims Beaulieu, “I had a blast. It’s a great series with a fun bunch of guys.” For the NPP Late Model Series it was also the first time in its seven year history that a British Columbia based driver has taken top spot. Edson, Alberta’s Dwight Kennedy now has one race remaining to hold onto second spot in the standings. “Jason had a good year with very few bad nights on the track. We started out a little slow but came on strong winning three in a row. The wreck last weekend in Lethbridge pretty well ended our chances at winning this thing again. We just ran out of races to catch the point leader. Now I have to fend off Kevin (Clark) cause’ he’s right behind me in points.”
Last years NPP rookie of the year finished just out of the top ten last year (12th). “I can finish as high as second or drop to sixth in the last race of the year,” says Kevin Clark, “where I finish (standings) will be up to me the end of the month in Edmonton”. The Altario, Alberta driver is just 97 points behind Kennedy but holds a slim 24 point lead over Sidney, BC’s Darrell Midgley who sits fourth in the overall standings. The season champion may have been decided for 2007 but with one race to go and the bulk of the $100,000 points fund money still to be handed out, the final race of the season at Castrol Raceway on September 22nd could be one of the wildest race events of the year…..if the weather co-operates.