EDMONTON, AB – There could be new names heading to victory lane in 2014 if performances from Saturday nights test ‘n’ tune session carry over to the race season. Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series race teams were back at Castrol Raceway for the first time since last August. Crystal Kennedy, Mark Miller and Dean Deatherage posted the fastest laps times in three separate on-track test sessions. “The car felt real good,” exclaims Deatherage, “it got quicker by the end of the night.” The Whitecourt, Alberta driver posted the fastest lap time of the evening in the third and final session running 18.236 seconds on 3/8 mile clay oval track in Edmonton.
“I haven’t been on the track since September [Kindersley, Saskatchewan]. It was good to be able to shake down the car and get ready for the season opener.” Deatherage drove his Scott Safety #18 Dodge to a fourth place finish in the NPP Series Championship points chase last season.
Calgary, Alberta’s Mark Miller was quickest in Saturday night’s opening practice session. “I know I put the good numbers down early,” says the driver of the A-1 Autobody #69 Chevrolet, “because I couldn’t see where I was going at the end.” All the visor tear-off’s on Millers helmet came off just four laps into the first session. “I was driving blind. I’m just glad I didn’t run into anything.” Miller finished ninth in the NPP Series Championship points chase. He wrapped up the 2013 season with a sixth place finish in the Feature event at Sangudo Speedway. “Very happy to get this test session in,” adds Miller, “lots of positives heading into the season opener.” Running for NPP Series Rookie of the Year honors this season is Jay Carr. “I know I’m going to be competitive this year.” Carr ran only two NPP Series points races last season wrapping up his season on a strong note with a fifth place finish in Sangudo, Alberta. “I’m making a little bit more power this year with some of the changes I’ve made. Unfortunately that extra power found the weak point in my car tonight.” The Devon, Alberta driver broke the rear end in his #33 Chevrolet halfway through the first test session. “It’s an easy fix. We’ll be ready for Rimbey.”
Edson, Alberta’s Crystal Kennedy got a huge confidence boost for the upcoming season Saturday night posting the fastest lap time in the second on-track test session. “It’s been a long off-season. I just wanted to get back out on the track.” Kennedy’s lap was her fastest lap in Edmonton in two seasons clocking in at 18.362 seconds. “Had a lot of fun tonight. The car ran really well. Hopefully we can run this strong in Rimbey in a few weeks.” Kennedy finished sixth in the NPP Series Championship points chase last season. The NPP Late Model Series opens the 2014 season at Central Alberta Raceways on May 31st. The last time the Rimbey, Alberta race track hosted a NPP Series opener was back in 2006.
SIDENOTE: The NPP Late Model Series attempted to LIVESTREAM the entire ‘Test ‘n’ Tune session from Castrol Raceway Saturday night. Unfortunately the camera malfunctioned leaving only the audio feed.