You didn’t have to look very hard to see how Ross Thorne felt about his win in one of Monday’s twin finals in the Islander RV Victoria Day Weekend Speedfest main event at Eastbound International Speedway at Avondale.
A fist pump out his window after taking the checkered flag told the tale for Thorne who outbattled Josh Collins over the final dozen laps to earn the win in the second of two finals in the main event.
Collins was the victor in the other main-event final earlier in the day.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to race today. (But crew chief) Gary Thomas and the boys did a lot of work to get the car ready,” said Thorne, whose daughter Sara races in the Bandolero and Legends division at Eastbound. “I spent a lot of time this winter getting Sara’s cars ready for this season and didn’t put any time into mine, as you can tell by looking at it. The boys worked on the engine and not a lot of cosmetic stuff.”
Eastbound officials were forced to move the races to Monday due to rain Sunday afternoon. Time trials were held Saturday to determine starting positions for each of the four divisions that raced Monday.
The event was touted as the start to the most anticipated NASCAR and INEX racing season in the track’s five-year history. It proved well worth the wait, something evident by Thorne’s smile as he climbed out of the car after his win.
Thorne called the victory “awesome,” adding he hopes it is a sign of things to come this season.
He had a mirror full of the No. 23 car of Collins for the final four laps, but managed to hold the bottom line on the track, leaving Collins unable to get by on the outside.
“(The car) handled real well and I was able to bring it home in front,” said Thorne. “I had to do some work earlier in the race, but once I got by the 88 (Scott Sceviour), I was able to pick away, get to the front and hold off the rest for the win.”
The day started with a new feature, the Shamrock City Performance Stage Kitchen Party featuring the musical duo Two for One (Carl Peters and Dave White). The pit party provided an opportunity for fans to meet their favourite drivers, see the cars up close and learn a bit more about the sport of auto racing and all that the Eastbound facility has to offer.
Monday’s results in the Hanlon Realty Legends Series were carbon copies of Saturday as series rookie Michael Neary swept both legs in dominant fashion. Stepping up from the INEX Bandolero Series this year, he powered his No. 23 Legends car to the front and won going away.
Neary dominated the qualifying sessions Saturday, and Monday was no different as he started on the pole, extended his lead and coasted to victory. “Once I got out front, it was kind of like putting it on cruise control and driving for the win,” he said. “Every time I get in the car, I am getting more accustomed to it and learning what I can and can’t do with it. Ever since I started in the Bando cars, I always thought the Legends would fit my driving style better.
“ I am not sure what will happen next time out, but this was a good run for us.”
In the MNR Performance INEX Bandolero Series, defending champion Owen Groves flexed his muscles, showing his performance last year was no fluke as he dominated the nine-car-field. It was an exciting finish in the Atlantic Dodge Dealers Hobby Stock division as the No. 16 car of Andrew Morgan held off hard-charging Shane Collins, the other winner in a two-leg final. The next race at Eastbound, the Hanlon Realty Inex National qualifier, is set for June 3. Information on this race and tickets are available at eastboundpark.com, North Atlantic Orange Stores, or at the gate.