Don Thomson on winning Castrol Cup

LONDON, ON - The final 86 laps of Sunday's 'Great Canadian Race' must have seemed like an eternity for Castrol Super Series driver Don Thomson Jr. The Home Hardware Chevy driver was leading the 300-lap series finale at Delaware Speedway when he...

LONDON, ON - The final 86 laps of Sunday's 'Great Canadian Race' must have seemed like an eternity for Castrol Super Series driver Don Thomson Jr. The Home Hardware Chevy driver was leading the 300-lap series finale at Delaware Speedway when he felt the same stomach-dropping feeling he experienced back on August 4, in the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières. Prior to lap 214 on Sunday, Thomson was confident of his chances of capturing both the checkered flag and his first Castrol Cup; the trophy that goes to the champion of Canada's top racing series. But that dream was shattered when he pushed the throttle, on the exit from turn 2 on lap 214, and the car faltered. "The car ran good and then the clutch started slipping," said Thomson. "I came off the corner, nailed the gas, and the engine spun up. I had a pretty good idea of what it was. It had a touch of a vibration for maybe 30 laps before that. But I thought it [the trouble] was just in my head. They say that when you're trying to win championships, you'll hear every vibration there is in the car." But the veteran racer had a good idea what was happening in his car. At Trois-Rivières, Thomson's clutch failed totally and he coasted to a stop, just yards away from the checkered flag. It was a heartbreaking result after a dominant weekend. Fortunately though, at Delaware, Thomson's clutch failure wasn't catastrophic. "When the clutch slipped coming off turn 2, I knew I had two choices. I could either baby that thing and hope we could stay on the lead lap or within a few laps to win the championship or go hard and probably not finish." The decision was a simple one. Thomson went on to finish seventh, one lap behind race winner Peter Gibbons, and claimed his first Castrol Cup by 126 over his nearest points rival, Kerry Micks. Al Turner finished the 12-event Castrol Super Series season just eight points back of Micks. Both Micks and Turner experienced mechanical troubles on Sunday, which forced them behind the wall for repairs for an extended period, effectively dashing their already slim hopes for catching Thomson. Asked how it felt to finally win the Castrol Cup, Thomson replied, "It feels really, really good. It really does. I didn't want to end it that way [not winning]. It took a little bit of the wind out of my sails. I would have loved to have been on the podium, but hey, we'll take this championship and carry on." Prior to Sunday, the Hamilton, ON racer had two CASCAR East championships to his credit. But Thomson made it clear, following the 'Great Canadian Race', that winning the National championship was a different experience. "This is the big one. I've felt over the past couple of years that the Eastern championship was a step down from the National championship. The National crown was the big one and the Eastern championship was a secondary prize. In a way, it felt like that sometimes. "The Eastern one was tougher to win, because there were more races involved. But when they talked about the champion the past two years, they talked about Peter Gibbons. The Eastern one seemed secondary. But now, we won the big one and we are the National champions. That's all that matters." By Tuesday morning, Thomson was back in the Ayr, ON shop of the championship winning, two-car Fitzpatrick Motorsports team, looking over the equipment and working on a gameplan to defend the Castrol Cup in 2002. "We're going to be busy doing our homework over the winter," vowed Thomson. "The guys in this series... man, they're competitive. There's a lot of good runners every week. We're going to have to be busy the next few months trying to stay ahead of these guys, or even just keep pace with them. That's what we're going to do. We're probably going to start right away."

-CASCAR-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Canada
Drivers Peter Gibbons , Kerry Micks , Al Turner , Don Thomson Jr.