The Bruce Bernhardt Ford Fusion team and driver Wayne Helliwell Jr. arrived at Canaan Fair Speedway with a target on their backs after knocking off 3 consecutive victories in just the last two weeks at the New Hampshire oval. Week 3 of the Nascar Whelen All-American Series would not upset their hot streak.
Once again a strong 17 car field would circle the track on Memorial Day weekend. With Canaan's unique qualifying format the team would run 75 total laps of green flag action on the night. Starting with a 10 lap heat race that saw the only the top 4 cars transfer into a 15 lap semi feature for extra championship points that are up for grabs.
Helliwell would roll from the 9th starting position to claim the 4th and final transfer spot for the semi feature. With 15 bonus points on the line the bright orange Ekeys-4Cars, Unique Ford 27NH would come from 10th to clam the win.
"Dick [Therrien] came up with a interesting format for the points this year… it gives us more track time but also makes us run our tires more than the guys that don't make the semi [feature], said Helliwell. The format reminds me of something from the ACT [American Canadian tour]. You can't just ride in your heat, you have to get up on the wheel and go… If you don't you'll miss out on all those bonus points for the championship."
Helliwell would start from the 11th spot for the 50 lap A-main. Methodically working his way through the field a caution flag would fly at the halfway mark. Having worked his way to the 3rd position he would overtake Scott MacMichael for the second spot on the ensuing restart. The next 23 laps would see Helliwell try high and low to take the lead from race long leader Chris Bergeron. At times literally pushing Bergeron through the turns. As the pair entered turn 3 with two laps to go Helliwell pulled to the outside of Bergeron just as the 97 of Jess Ovitt would spin in front of them; setting up a green, white, checker finish. "I wasn't expect her to be there, my spotter was talking on the radio about the other end of the track. That was a surprise for sure," Helliwell said about the spun 97 machine.
As the pair of 27's headed into turn 1 on the restart, Helliwell would pull ahead by half a car length clearing Bergeron as they exited turn 2. He would go on to claim his 4th win of the season and extend his early season points lead.
"We were a little tight tonight, said Helliwell. We couldn't roll the center of the turn like we could the last two weeks. I really worked hard there trying to get next to him [Bergeron]. I didn't want to stick my nose in there and wreck both us… Who knows what would have happend without that caution... We needed a good run after the mess at Oxford [Plains Speedway] last week. This was a good win for us.
The Bernhardt Motorsports team heads back to Canaan next weekend for Residence Inn twin 35 lap features hoping to pick up win numbers 5 and 6. Post time is 6:00pm. More information can be found at, http://www.canaanspeedways.com/home.html
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