DELAWARE - One checkered flag and two top-five finishes added up to a good night for St. Marys racers in their season openers here at Delaware Speedway Park last Friday night.
After the first two race dates were cancelled because of inclement weather, the half-mile oval south of London finally kicked off its 2005 regular schedule with races in three divisions.
Scott Lindsay powered his Monte Carlo to a third-place finish in the Cintas Late Model division. The veteran St. Marys driver is the defending champ in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Delaware.
Shawn Johns also got his season off on the right foot with a solid fifth-place finish in the Challenger Motor Freight Trucks Division. Twenty-six trucks took the green flag on opening night.
Wins exciting heat race
Lindsay took the checkered flag in an exciting 10-lap heat race. He held off Cole Pearn, of Mt. Brydges, at the finish line and earned the pole for the 50-lap feature race.
Lindsay and Pearn continued their battle in the early stages of the 16-car feature. Race winner Pete Vanderwyst, of St. Thomas, grabbed the lead on Lap 7. He appeared to be on cruise control as he held the top spot the rest of the way.
Lindsay ran in third place for the final 43 laps, chasing Vanderwyst and Pearn, as the field became well spread out. The St. Marys driver averaged 20-second laps, but couldn't seem to gain much on the two fast cars in front of him.
"They're going to have to slow those two guys (Vanderwyst and Pearn) down," Lindsay said following the race.
"The track official said they were going to make parity. Hopefully they do something because that wasn't a very good show for the fans tonight."
He suggested that track officials could 'penalize' the Vanderwyst and Pearn cars by adding a couple of hundred pounds of weight to each vehicle.
"They have brand new chassis, and the aero-dynamics are a lot better," Lindsay explained. "They're just driving much-better designed race cars. Their centre of gravity is lower. There's a whole list of things that make them corner better."
The first of three caution flags in the race didn't come out until Lap 30. Thirteen cars finished. After Vanderwyst, Pearn and Lindsay, Strathroy's Ron Sheridan was fourth, Londoner Doug Stewart fifth and Appin's Jason Hathaway sixth.
Lindsay said his Monte Carlo ran well in its first distance race of the season.
"The motor/drive train was excellent," he reported. "But we had kind of a handling problem all night; I'm not sure what it is. It felt like something in the rear end was coming loose in the feature.
"But we're happy with the third. We came out in one piece; we'll go home and try and improve on it," he added.
Seeking top-five finish
Shawn Johns, meanwhile, made significant progress last season, finishing ninth overall in the competitive trucks division. This year, he has his sights on a top-five finish in the track points standings.
Johns and his crew didn't get in much practice time this spring, so they were quite pleased with Friday's result.
"We're pretty happy; everybody did a good job tonight," Johns said following the race.
"The truck is working and handling really good, but we had a miss in the engine all night. We thought we had it fixed, but we found a couple of bad wires."
Racing notebook . . .
- Following Scott Lindsay's win in their heat race, the '20' crew changed the left-front shock absorber, in hopes of getting the Monte Carlo to 'corner' better.
- After the first week of racing, Lindsay is just five points behind leader Pete Vanderwyst. Shawn Johns is 14 points behind trucks leader Darrell Limon, of Watford.
- Pete Vanderwyst competed on the CASCAR Super Series circuit for the past 10 years.
- London driver Jay Doerr told the Journal Argus that he thinks the crate motors, worth $7,200, will entice drivers from the street stock and trucks divisions to move up to the Late Model class next year.
Doerr predicts over 30 Late Models will compete on Friday nights at Delaware next summer.
- Johns and the trucks division are back on the track this Friday, May 13. Lindsay and the Late Model return to run twin 50-lappers on Saturday, May 21 during the long weekend.
- Scott Lindsay and the Lindsay Motorsports program has a long list of local sponsors this year. They include: Kittmer Enterprises, GOCO Fuels, AW Millwrights, McKay Farms, River Valley Golf Resort and Tube Slide, Joe Taylor and St. Marys Ford, Forman Electric, Heritage Renovations, Darcy Robertson and Stonetown Door Tech, Tadd Automotive, Penzoil, Knott Auto Body, Fram, Mark Lindsay and Investors Group, Ashton Tire, BOC Gases and Leaf Racewear.
"It seems like the whole town has gotten behind us," Lindsay said.
- This year, the '20' crew consists of team manager Ron Lindsay, Matt Humphrys, Brian Harris, Steve Thomas, Rob Robinson, Jeremy Burgess and spotter Jeff Vyse.
- The '20 team has a new website: Lindsay Motorsports.com. Dan Oliver is responsible for the web design and maintenance.