Pete Vanderwyst Vancouver race report

Vanderwyst finishes on lead lap in Vancouver, despite transmission woes. ST. THOMAS, ON - Saturday's CASCAR Super Series race at the Vancouver Indy saw Exide Pontiac driver Pete Vanderwyst complete the two-race western swing with a 19th-place ...

Vanderwyst finishes on lead lap in Vancouver, despite transmission woes.

ST. THOMAS, ON - Saturday's CASCAR Super Series race at the Vancouver Indy saw Exide Pontiac driver Pete Vanderwyst complete the two-race western swing with a 19th-place finish. With a car that was stuck in third gear for the majority of the 35-lap event around the temporary street circuit, in downtown Vancouver, the CASCAR veteran felt like he'd brought a pea-shooter to a gunfight.

Considering it an accomplishment that he was able to stay on the lead lap throughout the event, the St. Thomas, ON resident talked about the outing. "Right off the bat, the transmission locked up in third gear. All I could do was just drive around and enjoy the scenery. I spent most of my time driving the Exide Pontiac with one hand, waving guys by. The only real goal was to stay on the lead lap, which we accomplished."

For a while, Vanderwyst thought he was back in the race after his team was able to free up the transmission. But the relief was only short-lived. "We waited for a caution, and when we finally got one, the boys managed to get it to shift. But after two laps, it jammed up again. It was just one of those deals. We still don't have an idea of what caused it. The trailer only arrived back home last night [Tuesday]."

The Vancouver outing was a tough one for the #99 Exide team, who struggled to overcome brake trouble in both the Friday afternoon and the Saturday morning qualifying sessions. After posting the 18th-fastest lap around the 12-turn temporary track, Vanderwyst felt that the brake troubles had been resolved and that he might have a chance to progress through the field in Saturday afternoon's main event. But his transmission troubles dashed those hopes.

On the bright side, the team believes it has a handle on the trouble it's been having with right-front tires going flat, late in the race. At Cayuga the team cut a tire while near the front, with just laps to go. And while in Calgary for the Mopar 500 weekend, the #99 Exide Pontiac encountered flats with just a handful of laps to go in both its 100-lap qualifying sprint race, as well as in the 300 lapper, on July 21.

"We think we have an idea about what has been happening to the front right tires, which we hope will make a difference in the last three races," continued Vanderwyst. "There's an open practice before the Sunday afternoon race at Montmagny [on August 11]. We think we might be working the right-front too much with the camber, which could be killing it. It's happening too often to be a fluke."

Looking at his goals for the rest of the season, which includes three more events - all on ovals - Vanderwyst is hoping to end on a high note. "We're out of the top 10 in points and that's never happened to us before. We're currently 12th and we feel we're more than capable of moving up several spots in these last few races. We've worked too hard and run too well to be where we are. "

In Calgary, Vanderwyst timed in third-fastest during time trials, on July 19. "It was another testament to how well our qualifying program has been going this year," said Vanderwyst, of his timed run around the half-mile, high-banked Race City Speedway oval. "We had a great car for the 100 lapper. We were right up there with 10 laps to go and the right-front tire blew. We lost two laps changing it." Because of that, Vanderwyst had to take par in Saturday night's Final Qualifiers' race.

"In the Final Qualifier, we started on the third row, and by lap 5, we were leading the race. We had a great car that night, and we practiced, that afternoon, quicker than we qualified the day before. That's the first Final Qualifier we've had to run in a long time," continued Vanderwyst, who picked up the checkered flag on the same track where he earned his first CASCAR Super Series feature win.

In the 300 lap feature race at Race City, on July 21, Vanderwyst started 23rd and quickly cut through the field. "By the time we made our first stop, we managed to make it up to third. There was only one car that passed me on the track all afternoon, aside from when we cut the tire down. We even passed Jimmy [Lapcevich], on the outside, and he went on to win the race."

But with a podium finish in sight, the right-front tire gremlins struck again, dropping him to 20th at the end. "It was too bad for the Exide guys and our team. With 10 laps to go, the tire went down again and it took the wind out of our sails. It hurt us big-time in the points, but you just have to deal with it. I either run to the front and win, or I break or crash. I don't like being passive or hanging back, just playing the points game. Second place is no-place. We want to put on a show and we go out there every race and try to do just that.

"It's just unfortunate that in the last three races, we've had a tire go down late when we've been doing so well. Everyone has a story when they don't win, but I honestly feel like if these races were 10 laps shorter, and we hadn't had all the trouble we have at the end, we'd be third in the points right now. It's both frustrating and encouraging to me and the guys, because we all know that we're fast and in contention."

Prior to heading out west for the two-race swing, Vanderwyst competed in the Toronto Indy, on July 6. The Exide Pontiac racer recorded the ninth-fastest lap during Saturday morning's lone half-hour qualifying session before the 36-lap race. Five laps into the feature, Vanderwyst was up to eighth, but was slowed somewhat after being tagged by another spinning car. But by lap 25, Vanderwyst had recovered to seventh, and was involved in a spirited battle with fellow racers Carl Harr, Neil Fair and Ron Beauchamp.

Over the next 11 laps, Pete settled into a rhythm in seventh place, and finished there, just eight seconds back of winner Kevin Dowler.

"We've always run well at the Toronto Molson Indy," said Vanderwyst of the event. "We're far from a road course 'ace' like Robin Buck, Kevin Dowler or the Lapcevich boys [Jeff and Jim]. But we have to do the best we can if you want to be in position for a championship and we feel pretty comfortable there."

NEXT RACE: Following an off-weekend, the CASCAR Super Series resumes on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 11, near Quebec City, with a 200-lap race at Autodrome Montmagny. The one-day show will mark the inaugural Super Series appearance at the Quebec oval.

-pwr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Kevin Dowler , Neil Fair , Pete Vanderwyst , Robin Buck , Carl Harr