Ice Chips by Debi Domby, Southgate, Mich. The second round of the Royal Truck and Trailer GTEC Gold Cup Series was held at Flat Rock Speedway Saturday night. The race was rained out two weeks ago and is part of a four race series between the...
by Debi Domby, Southgate, Mich.
The second round of the Royal Truck and Trailer GTEC Gold Cup Series was held at Flat Rock Speedway Saturday night. The race was rained out two weeks ago and is part of a four race series between the sister tracks of Flat Rock and Toledo (two races each). Next week at Toledo will be race three.
There were 27 cars on hand tonight with 26 taking the green flag for the 100 lap feature. Paul Pelletier broke a J-bar in hot laps and crashed heavily during the first hot lap session. Pelletier was fine but the car sustained major damage.
Rookie Regan Ford was the fast qualifier for the evening as he toured the high-banked quarter mile track with a time of 11.552.
Royce Cornett started ninth and spent most of the latter part of the race chasing then leader Don St. Denis. When the final caution flew on lap 74 Cornett only had a lapped car between himself and St. Denis. The final 10 laps saw the two leaders nose to tail with a batch of lapped cars just ahead of them. It would be the lapped cars that would help decide the race with St. Denis getting trapped behind the lapped car of Robbie Loving allowing Cornett to pass him for the lead on lap 94. “I’m happy just to be here tonight. The crew worked all week long repairing the car from last week’s accident (when Robbie Loving’s car drove up and over the left side of the car). I’m kinda embarrassed. . . tonight be the first time I’ve ever brought a car to the track that wasn’t fully painted and lettered. We just ran out time. Varsity Ford has been with me for 13 years and I feel a little bad that we didn’t have their sponsorship on both sides of the car. We finished the body last night and finished hanging the suspension this morning,” said Cornett, from Temperance, Mich. “The car ran great all race long. I’m kinda excited because one on my best friends, Dennis Setzer, won the NASCAR truck race today with a broken shoulder from a big wreck last weekend in the trucks. Just like Dennis, we had a big wreck last week and came back to win tonight.” Cornett has associate sponsorship from Carl’s Hide-a-way on his Thunderbird and recieved an extra $30 in lap money.
Don St. Denis took over the lead on lap 23. He immediately built a half straightaway lead but it was short lived as Bill Steinhilber quickly caught him over the next eight laps when the caution wave. On the restart Steinhilber and St. Denis bumped with Steinhilber losing seven spots. St. Denis again built up a large lead which he kept until Cornett caught him late in the event. “We had to run the Toledo car tonight because I had engine problems last week and we decided to use this car. The car was good and ran great early but as the race went on the car got tighter and tighter. I just wore off the right front tire. Lapped cars were a big issue all race long. Some of them just wouldn’t move over when they were given the move over flag. Between the right front tire and those lapped cars it allowed (Royce) Cornett to catch me. I believe that I could’ve held him off if not for those lapped cars,” said the driver of the Dart/Compac Taurus. St Denis led a race high 71 laps, worth $355 in lap money.
The fastest car on the track tonight was Bill Steinhilber. He was challenging St. Denis for the lead after restart from the second caution on lap 30. The pair came together with Steinhilber getting the worst of it, diving through the edge of turn two of the infield, coming back onto the track on the backstretch, losing seven positions and put about a dozen as far as cars between himself and St. Denis, who retained the lead. Steinhilber kept fans on the edge on their seats as hie weaved his way back towards the front pulling off several daring moved as he meticulously picked cars off. By the final caution on lap 74 he was back up to fourth place. He battled for nearly a dozen laps with Stan Yee Jr for third. The lapped traffic that slowed the leaders down, helped Steinhilber as by the time the checkered flag fell he had caught St. Denis. “I could’ve won that race a 100 times over!” said the excited South Lyon, Mich. driver. “The car ran terrific. I think it’s the best car I’ve had here in two years. Too bad about what happened on the restart, but thankfully they didn’t throw a caution, because that would’ve sent me to the rear. Without the caution I didn’t lose my momentum and was pass a lot of cars. Didn’t like being behind, but it was a lot of fun passing cars. Too bad tonight wasn’t the 150 lap race (to be held next month), because I know I could’ve passed both Royce & St. Denis.”
Rick Knowles finished fourth, the same position he started in. “We messed up a little on the setup tonight. The car was suppose to come in about lap 50 and it didn’t start coming in until about lap 80. I think we would’ve had something for them, but just ran out of laps.” said the driver of the Definance Ford.
Dennis Strickland, who on the 50-lapper at Flat Rock last week, came home fourth after starting 11th. “I started the car off loose, expecting it to tighten up during the course of the race. It did tighten up some, but not enough. Actually the car was better tonight than last week when I won. I guess you could say the car was steadier.” said the driver of the Provide.net Monte Carlo.
Only five cars dropped out of the event. Joe Hawes was running a consistent fourth when he blew his rear end on lap 74. He finished 22nd. Art Rozanne dropped out with brake problems while Dennis Dombek, Brian Nelson and John Rowloff were eliminated with mechanical woes.
Robbie Martel’s team had a lot of work to get his driver Robbie Loving back on the track this weekend. Last weekend during an opening lap accident, Loving climbed Royce Cornett’s car and flipped onto his roof. Although Loving did return to the event, it was just to find out what work the team had to perform this past week. A new body and “just about everything” but the frame and engine was replaced. Loving finished 17th, two laps down.
Ed Hage moved up the most positions, 10, to 11th place after starting 21st.
Fast Qualifier: Regan Ford, 11.552
Royce Cornett, Don St. Denis, Bill Steinhilber, Rick Knowles, Dennis Strickland, Stan Yee Jr, Steve Cronenwett, Ron Allen, Tim Hebert, Ford, Ed Hage, Chris Benson, Mike Jaynes, Len Roberts, Steve Bunge, Craig Pace, Robbie, Loving, Scott Barnes, Arnold Kirsch, Dan Trosen Jr, Kevin Stahl, Joe Hawes, Dennis Dombek, Brian Nelson, Art Rozanne, John Rowloff