Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Cautions and weather can't stop Steckly

Scott Steckly and crew celebrate winning the Prairie Thunder 250.
    Scott Steckly was worried the hand of fate might deliver a cruel blow.
    The Milverton, Ont., product consistently worked his way to the front of the field at the Bayer CropScience Velocity Prairie Thunder 250 at the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway here in Saskatoon, but victory was far from a sure thing. The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race was plagued by a number of cautions over the last 60 laps, and Steckly was worried about losing jump after the various restarts.
    The longest stop saw the field forced to drive about 25 laps under a yellow flag due to a light spitting rain that fell on the track. Those laps were split up with a lengthy wait after the race was red flagged. The racers went to the pits, while the tow trucks and emergency vehicles on site ran laps to help dry out the track.
    After the race returned to green from that ordeal, about three more cautions followed due to various accidents. Those obstacles didn’t stop Steckly from pulling out his second career win in Saskatoon, as he crossed the finish line edging out Jason Hathaway.
Andrew Ranger (#27) holds an early race lead over Scott Steckly.
    “When you are sitting there when it is raining, you are thinking that something is going to happen, and you are not going to win,” said Steckly, who has won the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series season title three times. “To pull it off was great. My crew does an amazing job week in and week out.”
    For most of the first 190 laps of the race, Steckly was trying to hold off Andrew Ranger, who ultimately finished third. The top spot did rotate between the two Dodge drivers, as Ranger jumped to the front on a handful of occasions only to be overtaken by Steckly.
    Louis-Philippe Dumoulin, who claimed Prairie Thunder 250 and the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series title last year, made a challenge for top spot late in the race moving up to second place. His push for victory was halted, when he had to pit during a caution to fix a problem with his front right tire.
Jason Hathaway (#3) made a challenge for first before finishing second.
    Hathaway came on strong during the second half of the race. The St. Thomas, Ont., product held the lead for a short time, when he jumped to a quicker restart than Steckly did after one of the late caution periods.
    “I got a real good restart on the outside, and on the second one, I didn’t,” said Hathaway. “I spun the tires a little bit.
    “It is the way it goes. In this game, you have to take your lumps and celebrate when you can. I would say this is a victory for us with the situation we were in earlier.”
    Hathaway said a scheduled five-minute break at the race’s halfway point allowed his pit crew to make adjustments to his Chevrolet, which allowed him to be more of a factor in the race. The break allowed all the drivers a chance to change up their tires and take on added fuel.
    “It was a pretty cool,” said Hathaway. “We got to lead some laps.
    “I didn’t think we were going to win it. I knew Scott (Steckly) was pretty strong. At least we got up there and led some laps.”
Scott Steckly crosses the finish line to win the Prairie Thunder 250.
    Steckly said he was pushed the whole race by the 19 car field that hit the track, which made the win feel that much better.
    “Andrew (Ranger) was very fast,” said Steckly. “Jason (Hathaway) was very fast. It wasn’t an easy one that is for sure.”
    The Prairie Thunder 250 finished out a busy stretch for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, which saw the circuit hold three races over 11 days. With two straight wins, Steckly leads the series standings with 247 points, while Hathaway is second with 243 points. Ranger and Gary Klutt are tied for third spot with 222 points.
    The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series resumes action on July 25, when the Lucas Oil National 250 is held at the Autodrome St-Eustache in St-Eustashe, Quebec.

    If you have any comment to make about this blog post, feel free to email them to Check out more race photos on Twitter @StanksSports.