McCAUGHAN WINS CHAMPIONSHIP
EDMONTON, AB – Jason Beaulieu, the defending Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series Champion, won the final race of the 2008 season Saturday night at Castrol Raceway in his #46 All Weather Windows Dodge. However it was Brian McCaughan who made NPP Series history. The Okotok’s Alberta driver became the first rookie and southern Alberta competitor to win a NPP Series Championship. McCaughan entered race action in second place just 59 points behind two-time NPP Series Champion Dwight Kennedy. “We had an unbelievable night,” says the driver of the Lucas Oil/avenuebuilt.com Chevrolet, “we did everything we needed to do. We got the big win two weeks ago which gave us the chance we needed tonight. We started off well (Heat win) but then had problems in the Dash.”
McCaughan’s placed 8th in the ‘A’ Dash which, at the time, meant a near impossible task of catching Kennedy in the points chase. However, an uncharacteristic and shocking move from the veteran driver at the conclusion of the ‘A’ Dash would change everything this night. Kennedy and Stony Plain Alberta’s Mike Tom were in a heated battle for third during the entire 12 lap ‘A’ Dash. At the end of lap 11, Kennedy and Tom would get together coming out of turn 4.
Kennedy’s race car would careen into the front straight wall losing several positions. Kennedy managed to drive his damaged car into turn 1 and 2 only to get tapped from behind from a faster car. Kennedy spun right in front of the pit exit as the checkered flag flew for ‘A’ Dash winner, Campbell River BC’s Jason Beaulieu. What transpired next stunned the Castrol Raceway crowd and fellow race car competitors. With Dash cars coming into the pits, Kennedy looked to be heading directly to his pit stall. Without warning, the rpm’s on his race car came up. In a 45 foot launch, Kennedy steered his #81 Dodge directly into the side of Mike Tom’s race car. Kennedy’s car suffered heavy front end damage.
The two-time NPP Series Champion was immediately disqualified from the Feature by Castrol Raceway officials. Although the impact looked severe, most of the visible damage to Tom’s car (tire change) was repaired at the site of the crash. Tom then drove his car back to his pit stall for further repair. Hidden frame damage would be discovered later. The Kennedy disqualification opened the door for McCaughan, who would have to finish 10th or better in the Feature to clinch the 2008 NPP Series championship. McCaughan fell to ninth on lap number 2 but made the hard drive up to fourth. By lap 21, McCaughan would get by Bruce Broughton, Paul Grundberg, Kevin Wheeler and Arvid Fonstad.
His fourth place was all that was needed to claim the 2008 Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series Championship and the $15,000 point fund check to go with it. “We thought we’d have to fight for it (championship) a little differently tonight. To win it this way, we are kind of freaked out. It’s just awesome and it’s slowly sinking in. That incident with Dwight though was a little unique,” adds McCaughan, “but one thing everyone has to remember, I don’t care who it is. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And he (Dwight) made a mistake. That’s what humans do.” Defending season champion Jason Beaulieu would win his fourth Feature of the year on the final night of the 2008 NPP Season. Despite what happened after the ‘A’ Dash, Mike Tom finished second in his #55 Hinton Oilfield Services Chevrolet. Kevin Clark, driving his Clark Constructions # 5 Dodge, finished third. Plans for the 2009 Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series are about to get underway. A tentative scheduled is hoped to be released before the middle of December.
NPP PIT BITS
– the NPP point lead changed hands 7 times in 2008 (NPP Series record)
– 4 different drivers lead the points chase in 2008 (NPP Series record)
– 5 of the 8 NPP Season championships awarded since 2001 have been decided by less than 40 points.
– McCaughan’s 24 point margin over Kennedy for the 2008 Championship is the third lowest in NPP Series history (6 points in 2006 // 11 points in 2001)
– this is the third time Kennedy has finished second in point since 2001.
– nine drivers surpassed the 1,000 point plateau in 2008 which beat the old record of eight set back in 2005.
– for the second time in NPP Series history the driver with the most Feature wins did not win the Season Championship. (2008: Jason Beaulieu > 4 // 02: Trevor Emond > 4)