Sheldon Mayert could not recall the last time he was given the green light to put on a post-race smoke show at PGARA Speedway.
Once he knew for sure he had his first WESCAR victory of the season in Round 2 of the Cariboo Gold Rush as winner of the 100-lap main event, he didn't hold back his enthusiasm, burning donuts on the well-worn asphalt of the three-eighths mile oval track as he made his way back to the pits.
That home-track celebration was a long time coming for the 50-year-old, who had been waiting to let loose like that since he last won at PGARA, on May 24, 2008, the year he captured the WESCAR points championship.
"I'm just thrilled we had an awesome run, man it's been years since we've (won) here, I can't even remember the last time we had a podium here," said Mayert. "We hung with the leaders and we were chasing behind (Grant Powers and Trevor Adelman) and just thought we could go faster and it worked."
After going two-wide for several laps in the outside lane with fellow Prince George driver Powers, Mayert grabbed the lead 61 laps into the eight-car race. He had just 12 laps left and a quarter-lap lead over the rest of the field when Darrell Horwath and Chris Babcock got into a spin with each other coming into Turn 4. That brought out the second caution flag of the race and with that Mayert's healthy lead was cut to the minimum.
On the restart with just eight laps to go, Trevor Adelman, the Quesnel driver who won Gold Rush No. 1 Saturday night in Quesnel, was a fixture looming large in Mayert's rearview mirror. As the two leaders made their way into the homestretch for the final lap, Adelman ducked low and got the inside lane on Mayert and as the two cars rounded Turn 1 they rubbed quarter-panels and Mayert took the worst of it, spinning out in a cloud of white smoke. But the track officials decided Adelman caused the spin. Instead of seeing the checkered flag come out as he crossed the finish line, flagman Jamie Crawford pointed the black flag at Adelman which meant automatic banishment to the back of the pack and an eighth-place finish.
"We'd used up our car going around the guys outside, which absolutely surprised even me, I didn't think we could have done that, but it was awesome and we went around (for the lead), " said Mayert. "Then the caution came out and we just couldn't get going again. I think it was Trevor that got in the back of us in the last corner but I'm pretty sure if there had been more laps we wouldn't have been able to hold him back. He just got under us coming out of (Turn 4) and he was going for it and I don't know what happened, but around we went."
Powers finished second and Babcock, the series leader from Fort. St. John was third. Powers, who got tagged in practice in Quesnel and was left with a seized wheel bearing and broken spindle which left him unable to start Saturday's feature race, led Sunday's 100-lapper from the start, until Mayert caught him.
"I thought we had a win there but we'll take second, it's our first year in WESCAR and I can't thank my crew enough, this is awesome," said the 55-year-old Powers. "The whole race I was not coming off the bottom. I gave the guys plenty of room. If they wanted to go by me they had the whole outside."
The track temperature was in the high-20s C at race time and it got a lot hotter than that inside the cars. Powers was feeling it at the end.
"I was just cooking in there," Powers said. "I started at 300 pounds and I'm probably down to 240."
Adelman, who edged Kendall Thomas of Williams Lake for the feature win on Saturday, set the pace in qualifying at PGARA with a fast lap of 16.587 seconds. Adelman had to work his way from the back of the pack when he and Donny Kunka spun each other to produce the first caution in Lap 45.
Knowing his apparent win had slipped through his fingers, Adelman showed his disgust for the officials' decision by kicking up a cloud of dust as ducked into the gravel-covered pit area. He obviously saw that final lap differently.
"As far as I'm concerned we won the race," said Adelman. "We come off of (the fourth turn) for the last lap and I was underneath him going into one and he got himself loose and I ended up with the bad break of the deal.
"We took fast time in Quesnel and won the main event and we had fast time here today and we should have won. Sometimes breaks don't go your way."
In the Prince George Auto Racing Association series, Lyall McComber won the 20-lap Canadian Tire street stock main event to stay ahead in the points race. Other main event winners were: Nathan Linfitt, Chieftain Auto Parts mini stocks; Jeremy Floer, Canadian Brewhouse pro minis; Phil Hustad, Northern Outlaws; and Zain Johnson, Ron's Towing hornets.