INNISFIL, ON- OSCAAR sophomore Kevin Cornelius closed out a mentally trying first week of competition, with an 8th place finish in the 3rd annual Lucie Aylwin Memorial.
“Two days ago we didn’t even have a car for opening night”, smiled Cornelius post-race. “We were out last Sunday for the test session and the car started to run hot and was dropping oil pressure. At first we thought the car was just low on oil, but upon closer inspection on Thursday, we found terminal engine damage”
As soon as the word went out that Cornelius was likely to miss the OSCAAR season opener, McColl Racing Enterprises’ Mike McColl contacted the sophomore, offering use of MRE’s ‘house’ Pro Late Model.
“I can’t say enough about Mike and his guys”, said Cornelius. “They definitely didn’t have to rush to save us, but they didn’t think twice about it. They’re quality people. And our entire team is lucky to have them in our corner”
At first, the strategy was simply for Cornelius to survive the event. Scrounging up as many points as possible, to keep the KDR Motorsports team in the title hunt. However, after a spirited performance in practice and qualifying, the team called an audible.
“We definitely came into this event just happy to be an ‘also-ran'”, admitted Cornelius. “On paper, this style of car gives up quite a bit to a purpose-built Super Late Model. But, Sunset is our strongest track, and this chassis responded perfectly”
“Once we saw that we were able to roll around the outside and actually pick up spots in the heat races, the reigns were loosened up a bit, and I was allowed to go to work in the feature”
Despite being down on power, Cornelius did not look out of place for an instant in the 50-lap feature event, making a number of moves through the feature and running in the top-10 for the bulk of the event.
“We were just going to come to grab some points and show our faces”, said Cornelius. “To run as high as 6th and walk out with a top-8 finish is a testament to the MRE equipment and to this whole KDR Motorsports team”
Cornelius admitted he’s unsure of a plan heading into Round 2 of the tour at Kawartha Speedway on June 1st.
“We’re hoping we’ll have our primary car and engine back for Kawartha, because that’s where you’re really going to see the horsepower difference. Right now, it’s a 50/50 chance we’ll have our primary car ready”
KDR Motorsports’ efforts are made possible thanks to Halton Crushed Stone, Lee Sand & Gravel, Sandbox Tech Child Care, TripleCrete Ltd., Hanson Pipe & Precast, Alliston Transmission, Ed’s Automotive and MacMaster Pontiac Buick GMC.
Follow Kevin on Twitter @KDR_Motorsports.
By Spencer Lewis (@itsspencerlewis)