WHEELER WINS BIG ‘E’ FINALE
ELMA,WA – The Northern Provincial Pipelines Late Model Series wrapped up its first ever road trip to the United States with its first ever scheduled race event on a holiday Monday. With only three scheduled race events left in the 2008 season, grabbing maximum points was the goal for all drivers this night. This desperation for top points may have been a factor for several track incidents during the race night. Whitecourt Alberta’s Rod Wilde and Entwistle Alberta’s Arvid Fonstad duplicated Saturday nights performance by once again winning their respective Heat races.
What happened behind them however grabbed more attention. Heat 1 saw a incident which could have resulted in serious injury. Whitecourt Alberta’s Travis Day was slowing due to mechanical problems. Day was heading for the back straight exit to the pits when Campbell River, BC’s Chris Beaulieu clipped his front right fender. Beaulieu would ricochet head on into the back straight wall. The seriousness of the crash forced track officials to immediately throw the red flag. As the red flag flew and crews responded to the crash scene, Grays Harbor Raceway experienced a brown out with half of the track lights going dark. Beaulieu was uninjured in the crash. The checkered flag was flown under red conditions. With the facility lights back on, Heat 2 saw plenty of four-wide action coming out of the turns which lead to plenty of body contact and several multi-car spins.
Edson Alberta’s Ken Clark finished the race missing his front nose clip and hood, Port McNeil BC’s Brad Purdey, Whitecourt, Alberta’s Paul Grundberg completed the heat race with visible body damage. Defending season champion Jason Beulieu, who also was involved in early heat race contact, would be forced to pit just before the halfway point with a malfunctioning water pump. There was a little bit of good news for drivers who suffered mechanical problems or damage during the Heat races. Race officials announced a change of schedule. The NPP Feature would now follow the World of Outlaws Feature on Monday night. This allowed both Beaulieu cars (Jason and Chris) and Kevin Clark the extra time needed to fix their cars. Even with the extra time, damage to Travis Day’s car was too extensive and could not be repaired in time. There were still more surprises on this cool September 1st evening in Washington State. As the trophy was being presented to World of Outlaw Feature winner Kraig Kinser, Grays Harbor Raceway had its second brown out of the evening. Half the race track was illuminated the other half sat in darkness.
NPP Series teams drove onto the racetrack with lights still out on the raceway. With the tracks lights flickering back to life, the green flag was dropped on the 25 lap Feature. Sherwood Park Alberta’s Curtis Moore jumped to the early race lead and held onto the number one spot for close to half the race. Heading into turn 3/4, pole sitter Rod Wilde would brush into the left rear side of Moore attempting a low side pass. Wilde would briefly climb the back of Moore’s car causing the left rear tire to go down. On the restart, Wheeler would take over the race lead from Wilde and hold on for his first Feature win of the 2008 season. Right at the flag stand Series point leader Dwight Kennedy would get by Wilde to steal second. Wilde would take third.
The win for Wheeler puts him within striking distance of the top 5 in the NPP Series Points Chase. Kennedy’s second place finish puts some distance between himself and Brian McCaughan, who remains in second place in the points chase with just two races to go. Both races will be run at Edmonton’s Castrol Raceway.
NEXT NPP SERIES RACE EVENT
> Saturday, September 6th
CASTROL RACEWAY – Edmonton
Racing @ 6:00PM