In 1st ARCA Start, Gosselin Goes at Lowe's By Don Radebaugh Making his first ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series start, Mario Gosselin came to Loweâ€™s Motor Speedway just hoping to make the field for the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100....
In 1st ARCA Start, Gosselin Goes at Lowe's By Don Radebaugh
Making his first ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series start, Mario Gosselin came to Lowe’s Motor Speedway just hoping to make the field for the EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 100. The Lake Wales, Florida driver made the field alright, and a little history too when the two-time Hooters Pro Cup champion rolled his WJ Plemons Chevrolet into victory lane after qualifying for the pole position two days prior.
Gosselin, who led 54 laps, snagged the lead away from Darrell Lanigan on the 59th circuit just before time ran out in the 67 lap race which was shortened to 63 laps because of a one hour time limit. "This is great," said Gosselin in victory lane. "We came here hoping to qualify in the top 25 on the first day. Then to sit on the pole and win the race too; it’s awesome. We got the 29-car (Lanigan) in traffic. That lapped car held him up and we were able to get around him. We were digging pretty hard from there."
Kirk Shelmerdine, aboard the AutoStar Industries Chevrolet, held off Shawna Robinson’s Jeremy Mayfield-owned K-Mart Ford for third while Bobby Gerhart hustled his Kewadin Casinos Chevrolet from the 17th starting position to fifth in the final running order.
Lanigan, inches away from Gosselin’s bumper, was ready to mount another challenge for the top-spot when the caution flag waved for a four car accident in turn four. From there Lanigan could only helplessly watch as time restraints would take away any remaining possibilities to challenge for the lead while the race finished under caution. "That was my race," said Lanigan afterwards. "It wasn’t the caution that hurt us, it was the fact that they took away the last five laps or I would have won it. I had a mighty good car." Drivers and owners were forewarned in the pre-race drivers’ meeting that the race could be cut short due to time restraints and television commitments.
Gosselin led at the onset for 17 rounds before outside polesitter and current ARCA point leader Bill Baird, in his Eagle One Chevrolet, took command. Baird led two laps before Gosselin reassumed the lead, one he would keep through lap 51. Meanwhile Lanigan, who started 13th, mounted a charge of his own and tracked down the leaders to challenge for the victory. Lanigan easily overhauled Gosselin and appeared to be on his way to victory lane before the Union, Kentucky driver got held up in traffic allowing Gosselin to retake the lead for good.
While most of the front-runners came down pit road for service at least once, four cautions for 27 laps helped Gosselin and Lanigan conserve enough fuel to forego pitside service in favor of staying out and maintaining the first two positions.
Mike Swaim, Jr. brought the Xlerator Pontiac home in sixth ahead of Sammy Potashnick, former NASCAR Winston West champion Lance Hooper, Dan Pardus and Billy Venturini to complete the top ten. Baird battled back to finish 11th after recovering from an earlier race spin down through the grassy area along the frontstretch.
Gosselin won $21,200 for his efforts including the Bondo/Mar-Hyde Pole-Win award and the Auto Value Halfway Leader honors. Pardus earned the Hoosier Tire Midwest Hard Charger honors for advancing the most positions, from 28th to ninth while Robinson’s fourth place finish was good enough to garner the STP-Prestone Highest Finishing Rookie honors. Matt Mullins was BSR’s Second Round Fastest Qualifier. Next action for the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series will be at Michigan Speedway Saturday, June 12th in the Michigan ARCA 200.
Series Point Leaders: Bill Baird 1315, Bobby Gerhart 1205, Frank Kimmel 1150, Bob Strait 1135, Joe Cooksey 1070, Bob Schacht 1025, Mark Gibson 970, Ron Cox 935, Cavin Councilor 920, Dill Whittymore 885.