Don Thomson Jr., in just his third race with Ed Hakonson Racing, held off Scott Steckly in a late-race dash to the checkered flag to win the Keystone Light 200 Saturday at Delaware Speedway.
In the process, Thomson, out of Hamilton, Ont., extended his streak of top-five finishes to eight, dating back to last season. With his move to EHR from Fitzpatrick Motorsports in the offseason, the streak covers two teams and, at least, four different cars factoring in road courses and ovals. The last time Thomson finished outside the top five in a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event was August 2010 when he finished 22nd at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres (Que.). Additionally, it was Thomson’s seventh series career victory and now has a win in each of the five seasons for the Canadian Tire Series.
“Over the winter I was thinking about hanging up the helmet when Ed Hakonson called to ask me if I was interested in joining them and I was,” said Thomson. “To win a race this soon with a new team is a testament to how hard everyone has worked in putting this thing together.”
Thomson took the lead from Steckly on Lap 155. A spin by Kerry Micks on Lap 188 set up an eight-lap sprint, with Thomson holding on for his first victory since August 2010 as he beat Steckly to the line by just .185 seconds.
“One of the most respectful racers out there is Scott Steckly,” said Thomson. “I knew that he wasn’t going to drive through me, so all I needed to worry about was me and doing what I needed to do.”
Steckly, like Thomson, is off to a hot start this season which has the complexion of the way he started the 2008 season in which he won the series championship. In three races this year, the driver out of Milverton, Ont., has one win and a pair of runner-up finishes.
“It has been a great start which, I think, is critical in this series,” said Steckly. “You have to keep it up, though. In 2008, we struggled a bit at the end and it was pretty close.”
On the race track as the laps were winding down, Steckly was not willing to gamble by making an aggressive move on Thomson for the win.
“I could get the nose under him, but then I didn’t have any bite,” Steckly said. “I could have been really aggressive, but that could have backfired and ruined in one second what we worked all day for.”
DJ Kennington, who won the two previous series races at his home track of Delaware Speedway, made a late pass of rookie Steven Matthews to take third. Despite it being a season-high finish for the defending series champion, it rang a little hollow after leading 38 laps in the early going with another winning car underneath him.
“We started out great, but then I don’t what happened,” said Kennington. “I got tangled up with a lapped car and tore the back of the car up a little bit. That didn’t matter as much as the track position I lost while getting it fixed. This is a difficult place to pass. It was a good night overall, but still a little disappointing.”
JR Fitzpatrick led a race-high 49 laps and rounded out the top five.
Micks held on for sixth, followed by Brad Graham, Jason Hathaway, Ron Beauchamp Jr., and Jason White. Pete Shepherd III won his first career Keystone Light Pole Award earlier in the day but ended up 17th after a mechanical issue forced him out of the race after 99 laps.
The race was slowed due to caution five times for a total of 36 laps and the lead changed hands four times among five drivers.
The win allowed Thomson to close the points gap on first-place Steckly to 20 points. Fitzpatrick is third, 68 back of Steckly, and is followed by Kennington and Lapcevich.
The Keystone Light 200 will be telecast by TSN on Sunday, June 26 at 1 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series takes next weekend off before heading to Mosport International Raceway on Sunday, June 26 to take on the 10-turn, 2.459-mile road course in the Vortex Brake Pads 200.
NASCAR CANADIAN TIRE SERIES-
Keystone Light 200 Results
At Delaware Speedway
Lap length: 0.5 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (9) Don Thomson, Jr., Hamilton, Ont., Dodge, 200 laps, 70.423 mph.
2. (3) Scott Steckly, Milverton, Ont., Dodge, 200.
3. (2) DJ Kennington, St. Thomas, Ont., Dodge, 200.
4. (6) Steve Mathews, New Liskeard, Ont., Ford, 200.
5. (4) JR Fitzpatrick, Cambridge, Ont., Chevrolet, 200.
6. (8) Kerry Micks, Mt. Albert, Ont., Ford, 200.
7. (13) Brad Graham, Glencoe, Ont., Dodge, 200.
8. (5) Jason Hathaway, Appin, Ont., Dodge, 200.
9. (10) Ron Beauchamp, Jr., Windsor, Ont., Dodge, 200.
10. (18) Jason White, Sun Peaks, B.C., Dodge, 200.
11. (14) Mark Dilley, Barrie, Ont., Dodge, 199.
12. (19) Kenny Forth, Lynden, Ont., Dodge, 196.
13. (12) Jeff Lapcevich, Grimsby, Ont., Dodge, 194.
14. (15) Dave Connelly, Arnprior, Ont., Dodge, 194.
15. (11) Dexter Stacey, Kahnawake, Que., Dodge, 178, rear end.
16. (17) Hugo Vannini, Repentigny, Que., Ford, 100, oil leak.
17. (1) Pete Shepherd, III, Brampton, Ont., Dodge, 99, rear end.
18. (20) Doug Brown, Brantford, Ont., Dodge, 99, electrical.
19. (7) Donald Chisholm, Antigonish, N.S., Ford, 72, accident.
20. (16) Derek White, Kahnawake, Que., Chevrolet, 26, engine.
Time of Race: 1 hour 25 minutes 12 seconds
Margin of Victory: .185 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: P. Shepherd, III (92.393 mph, 19.482 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 36 laps.
Lead Changes: 4 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: P. Shepherd, III 1-16; D. Kennington 17-63; S. Steckly 64-105; J. Fitzpatrick 106-154; D. Thomson, Jr. 155-200.
Standings: 1. S. Steckly, 535; 2. D. Thomson, Jr., 515; 3. J. Fitzpatrick, 467; 4. D. Kennington, 433; 5. J. Lapcevich, 416; 6. J. Hathaway, 410; 7. S. Mathews, 408; 8. R. Beauchamp, Jr., 397; 9. M. Dilley, 394; 10. J. White, 386.