Robbie Thompson wins CASCAR season opener. London, ON (May 19, 2002) - Victoria Day weekend traditionally marks the start of professional racing in Canada and there were plenty of fireworks in the CASCAR season opening Mopar 250 today. Once the...
Robbie Thompson wins CASCAR season opener.
London, ON (May 19, 2002) - Victoria Day weekend traditionally marks the start of professional racing in Canada and there were plenty of fireworks in the CASCAR season opening Mopar 250 today. Once the smoke had cleared Southampton Ontario's Robbie Thompson driving his #9 Team Logel / Shear Metal Products Dodge Intrepid emerged as the winner and fan favourite.
Under the guidance of veteran crew chief Steve Mifsud, Robbie and the team were at the top of the timing charts right from the start of practice on Saturday afternoon. Qualifying was held under very cold conditions later that same evening and Thompson would post a best time of 19.847 for an average speed of 90.694, giving him the 8th starting spot for Sunday's feature event.
Under partly cloudy skies and frigid temperatures Robbie's day would not get off to a great start. On lap 33, the car of Doug Day blew a motor on the front straightaway right in front of the lead pack and laid oil all over the track. With cars spinning and a slippery track in front of him Thompson made heavy contact and sustained significant front end damage. He got the car going again, brought it down pit road to the attention of the Team Logel crew. They made quick work of removing most of the fiberglass on the front and patched up all the ductwork and hoses that were dragging on the track. Still on the lead lap, Thompson would take the green on the re-start in 34th position.
"I still felt like we had a good chance. There was damage but the steering wheel was still straight and nothing seemed to be bent so we just kept charging," said Thompson of the incident.
In the next 10 laps Thompson passed inside and out to climb back to the 28th position. By lap 60 Thompson had the leader of the race breathing right down his neck. In what can be described as the defining moment in the race, Thompson fought him off for the next 26 laps to stay on the lead lap when a caution came out for a 3 car wreck. Robbie's determination kept him in contention.
During the caution period Team Logel brought the battered car down pit road for right side tires and fuel. After the re-start the car was clearly the fastest on the track and Robbie made quick work of most of his competitors to charge back in to 3rd position by lap 119. It would take only five more laps to claim the 2nd spot.
Thompson would move underneath the car of Mark Alguire to take the lead for 12 laps until Don Thomson Jr. claimed it form him. Robbie sat patiently behind the National Champion for the next 40 laps or so until Thomson Jr. slowed suddenly between turns 1 and 2 causing Robbie to slam on the brakes and several cars further back to spin and crash. Don Thomson Jr.'s actions would force him to visit pit road for a black flag penalty, giving Robbie Thompson the lead.
Thompson would not look back after that. Several more caution periods and some pressure from Mark Dilley and Pete Vanderwyst were not enough to rattle the freshman. This was Thompson's 1st CASCAR Super Series victory in only his 13th career start.
A couple of donuts on the front straightaway and a jubilant victory dance on the roof of the car with Team Owner John Logel got the party started...one which is sure to last right up until the next event at Peterborough Speedway on May 25.
Finishing Order: 1. Robbie Thompson 2. Pete Vanderwyst 3. Mark Dilley 4. Dave Whitlock 5. Mike Alguire
Point Standings: 1. Robbie Thompson (166) 2. Pete Vanderwyst (159) 3. DJ Kennington (153) 4. Mark Dilley (152) 5. Mike Alguire (148)