Vanderwyst nabs second with late charge.
LONDON, ON - Pete Vanderwyst went a long way toward erasing the frustrations of the past two CASCAR Super Series seasons on Sunday afternoon at Delaware Speedway. The Exide Batteries Pontiac driver started third and made a dramatic last-turn pass to steal second, by a nose, and in doing so, record his best finish in the past few years.
The St. Thomas, ON driver was thrilled with the result and hopes it's a precursor of things to come. Sophomore racer Robbie Thompson won the race when he finished less than a third of a second ahead of Vanderwyst.
Asked if the result relegated the misfortunes of '00 and '01 from his mind, Vanderwyst replied, "They're already gone. I don't even remember 2000 or 2001. We're back in the saddle. I'm making my own calls. Today was about patience and making it to halfway before making our stop for tires. We never made a chassis adjustment on the car all day; it was just that good. I wouldn't have changed anything in the way things went today. The guys did an awesome pit stop. Of the other guys who stopped with us, we came in fourth and got out first."
The 250-lap race was slowed by 16 cautions. Like the majority of the 38 cars in the field, the Exide Pontiac was sporting several battle scars by the end of the event. But a few knocks and worn tires couldn't prevent Vanderwyst from diving to the inside of Mark Dilley as the pair emerged from turn 4, for the last time. At the finish line, the Exide Pontiac was less than a fender ahead of Dilley, to edge him by just .245 of a second.
"We've had a lot of wild finishes in our time," continued Vanderwyst. I remember one time in Street Stocks when I was third and drove under both the first and second-place cars, to win the feature. This one was almost as good as that one. I thought I could have gotten Robbie [Thompson], but that Dodge just has so much power."
The temperatures were extremely cool throughout the entire May long weekend and were a distraction to many of the competitors, who are more accustomed to battling intense heat than cold. According to Vanderwyst, the frigid conditions didn't come into the equation, as far as he was concerned.
"It was just so intense out there that you had to focus on the track, lap after lap. To say if I noticed if the sun coming and going made a difference to the car, I can't really do that. I was just trying to keep the nose straight and to stay out of the marbles, up the track."
Vanderwyst's weekend started smoothly with a qualifying time of 19.710 seconds around the half-mile Delaware oval, on Saturday afternoon. The 91.324 mph lap was good enough to place the Exide Pontiac on the inside of the second row for the season opener. According the Vanderwyst, who was involved in just one 'fender bender' during Sunday's race, starting and staying near the front was the key to his success. "I don't know what happened [in the lap 190 incident], but all the leaders checked up and everyone got into the back end of everyone else. I know there was a lot of banging, but we qualified up front and stayed ahead of a lot of the stuff that was going on back in the field."
The Exide Pontiac will be back in action this Saturday night at Peterborough Speedway (May 25). Races at the high-banked, 1/3-mile bullring are traditionally among the most 'physical' on the entire CASCAR Super Series schedule.