By MIKE MALLETT
Montreal, Que., driver Alain Boisvert was the highest finishing Canadian driver on Saturday afternoon in the Salute the Troops 150. It was Boisvert’s third ever start on the Mile at the New York State Fairgrounds and his first in 17 years.
“It’s a good taste in our month, a fantastic day,” said Boisvert afterwards. “We have a big following of Canadian fans in the stands. We have good cars coming here to race, this is unbelievable. What a great day, a great feeling.”
The 48-year-old driver ran much of the second portion of the race trying to conserve fuel allowing him to make it to the end of the race. He had a very fast Bicknell car, but was forced to get in line and not push the card too hard.
“We had a great car today and rode around for 75 laps,” stated Boisvert. “That is the slowest I’ve ever been on the race track. I was lifting before the flag stand. I was gaining on the cars in front of me. It was a little frustrating when you know you have a good enough car to pass the guy in front and then guy on radio is telling you that you have to lift, you have to coast.
Boisvert won a handful of features on Friday night’s at Autodrome Granby and ran the very same car on the Mile powered by a Lafrance racing engine. The engine was detuned in order to get the most fuel mileage possible. Even with that, Boisvert was worried in the closing laps that he wouldn’t make it on fuel.
“Nervous you say, when the guys telling me that the first 25 laps I only did 4 miles to the gallon I was freaking out,” laughed Boisvert. “I started to slow down. I wanted to pass some cars and I passed some cars and they were telling me don’t pass any cars. I was very concerned. We knew that the scale at the house the car weighed 2355 with not a drop of gas in it. I know I lost a few pounds during the race I was concerned about the weight, concerned about the gas, what a great day though.”
Horton Has a Good Day: Legendary New Jersey driver, Jimmy Horton, was the fourth place finisher in the event. Horton conserved as much fuel as he could as he worked his way up through the field into a top five finish for car owner Dieter Schmidt.
“I want to win but I also want to finish,” said Horton. “We haven’t finished one in a long time. We’ve ran out of fuel or something stupid so it is nice to help the car owner out and make a little money.”
The last 20 laps of the feature Horton was really backing off the throttle in order to have the fuel necessary to make it to the finish.
“It’s hard to conserve fuel with the Small-Block because you are on the throttle so much,” stated Horton. “I was thinking about it especially the last 20 laps trying to figure out a way to save fuel. I was trying to do the best job I could to save fuel.”
Horton did say the track was difficult and that he hoped the track widened out for Sunday’s 200 lap affair.
From Back to Front: Matt Billings started 36th and wound up finishing fifth. He had a smile from ear-to-ear afterwards considering what the team went through to get the car ready for action on Saturday afternoon after getting the wall hard in the Friday Night Light’s portion of the event.
“We worked on the thing until two o’clock in the morning and then all day from 7:30 this morning after getting into the wall pretty hard last night,” said Billings. “We came from 36th to fifth that is one hell of a drive. Without these guys slugging on it all day and all night we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did. I can’t thank everyone enough for helping me out and being a part of this. This is a good. Hopefully we can carry some momentum into the 200 tomorrow.”
The feature for wasn’t without concern for Billings as his car was pushed across the scales out of fuel at the end of the day and his crew reported to him that he ran the race with a broken torque arm.
“It was falling apart as we were driving it but this it made it,” smiled Billings. “I’ve had this car since 2009 and I think it is time to retire it. I’m glad everything panned out the way it did today. Hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”