BARRIE, ON – Mother Nature would once again spoil Simcoe County race fans and drivers alike, producing a picture perfect evening for racing at Barrie Speedway on July 21, as cooler temperatures in the air would bring about an extremely competitive racetrack come feature time in all three divisions.
With the good folks from Centennial Chrysler and G.D Coates Suzuki aligning the sponsor deck, the large crowd in attendance would again be treated to a familiar sight, as defending track champ #57 Ron ” The Dominator” Quesnelle of Penetang returned to victory lane, capturing the win in the second of twin 30 lap features for the Wahta Springs Late Models.
The win for Quesnelle would be his first since the final race night of 2011, when the driver captured both feature segments that evening, en route to amassing a stunning 13 feature wins and the 2011 track title. The win would be hard fought for Quesnelle, who was chased every inch of the way by current point leader #48 Dwayne Baker of Stayner who finished 2nd. Baker, would also notch the win in the initial 30-lap feature, further widening his point lead from 25 to 40 over #19 Keith McLeod of Barrie, who could only manage a 4th and 5th place set of results on this night.
In the first 30, it was a pair of longtime division veterans doing early battle from the front row, as #33 Dave Lewis and #69 Al “Red Rocket” Inglis raced side by side on the opening lap, with Inglis finally clearing his counterpart by lap 2, using the high side between turns 1&2 to complete the pass. Quickly following Inglis through on the top side was #10 Gord Shepherd, as the 2009 track champ would quickly run up on Lewis by lap five, and relieve him of the runner up post on the exit of turn two.
The first caution would appear on lap 7, when Lewis went around on the nose of Quesnelle while racing for 3rd place, the result would see both drivers sent to the rear of the field for the restart as involved cars, as Inglis and Shepherd now comprised the front row for the restart. Inglis, would once again break out to a marginal advantage, with the 48 of Baker now running third, and briefly looking for a three wide move low in turn 2 around both Inglis and Shepherd, a move he would eventually back out of, perhaps an instance of descression being the better part of valor. Also on the move towards the front was the 19 of McLeod, as the stout competitor would pass #14 “Hurricane” Thayne Hallyburton for 4th, using the low groove along the backstretch to accomplish that task.
Approaching the midway mark, leader Inglis would get crossways out of turn two, allowing the #10 of Shepherd to power to the point on the outside, as Baker quickly followed Shepherd’s momentum, to eventually wrestle away runner up positioning from Inglis. Inglis, would be able to fall into line in front of the hard charging McLeod for 3rd in the running order however, with Baker now really increasing the pressure on Shepherd for the race lead. On lap 22, Baker would dive down inside Shepherd in turns 1&2 to assume control at the front, as the action was heating up for fifth place a little further in behind, with #02 Shawn Murray completing a pass of Hallyburton for that position.
Also making a charge back towards the top 5 was the 57 of Quesnelle, as the driver would pass Hallyburton for 6th, in a valiant attempt to get a decent finish after suffering some earlier misfortune. At the front of the pack, Baker was looking cool and collected with laps in the 14.7 second range, holding a game Shepherd at bay by two car lengths. Over the duration, Baker increase his lead marginally on Shepherd, as Inglis and McLeod were now locked in a duel for 3rd, with McLeod looking to the high side out of turn two on the final lap. Baker, would march on unclallenged to notch his 10th feature win of the season in just 11 race nights, taking the checkered by 4 car lengths over Shepherd at the finish. Inglis, was able to fend off the late race McLeod challenge in coming home third, while pesky rookie Murray rounded out the top 5.
The 30-lap finale to the evening would see the 33 of Lewis break out to the early race lead, after getting the jump on #74 Roy Manary from the drop of the green. Quickly giving chase along the inside line was the impressive rookie duo of Hallyburton and Murray, as the pair would also slip past Manary to check into 2nd and 3rd respectively. On lap 3, Murray would make a low move on Hallyburton in turn 2, and assume control of the runner up post, with Quesnelle following that move one lap later to take over third place.
Hallyburton, coming off very strong races in the past two weeks, would find himself trapped to the high side, and was quickly passed in turn by the trio of Inglis, Baker, and Shepherd. These three former track champs would battle furiously amongst each other, as to which one would find the front of the pack first, with nobody willing to give up an inch on track along the way. Just past the ten lap mark, Quesnelle began to really crank up the heat on Murray for 2nd, but was unable to make a pass stick as the superlative rookie held firm in fending off the staunch Quesnelle challenge.
Just past the midway point, the best battle on track was the race for 4th, as Baker would take that spot with a clean low pass on Inglis entering turn three. The Baker pass would soon be negated however, when the lead duo of Lewis and Murray made contact while racing out of turn 4, with Lewis sent spinning towards the infield, and both drivers summoned arrears as involved cars. This turn of events would totally reshuffle the front row, with Quesnelle now the race leader, and the ever ominus red #69 of Inglis to his outside for the restart. Quesnelle, would move out to a single car length advantage at the front of the field, as Inglis would fall back into the clutches of Baker, who would complete a nifty inside pass to advance to 2nd in the running order. The trials and tribulations of Inglis would not end there however, as Shepherd would pull to the outside of his fellow competitor looking for 3rd place, with the two wily veterans waging side by side war for that position, as Inglis was able to hold firm, in what was a fine display of tough and clean short track racing.
At the front of the pack, Quesnelle was parading the one third mile tri oval with laps in the 14.9 sec. range, with Baker now pinned to his back bumper and looking for any type of slip up. On the final circuit, Baker would have one last look to the high side of Quesnelle while racing out of turn 2, with Quesnelle finding the necessary horsepower down the backstretch to maintain control of the race lead. They would come to the stripe in this order, with Quesnelle nipping Baker by a single car length at the finish. Inglis would cap off a solid point night with his second 3rd place showing, while Shepherd and McLeod would comprise the remainder of the fast five.
The story of the night in the Canestoga Sprayers & Asphalt Repair Thunder Car division was the performance of #39 Travis Hallyburton, who captured the 30 lap feature win in a caution filled affair. The win for rookie Hallyburton was his first feature victory in a Thunder Car, and should help further cement the promising upstart and his Lo Jack Sequre Quip/Hillsdale Service Center/Elmvale Carquest sponsored Monte Carlo SS within the top 5 in the season long point standings.
After a complete restart was called when #80 Doug Shakell and #72 “Pistol” Pete Marquardt collided when coming to the initial green, newfound outside pole sitter #5 Mike “The Hulkamaniac” Langley powered to the point, after getting the jump on #55 Shawn Goggins from the onset. Fast on the move towards the front was the duo of #77 Brian Murray and Hallyburton, as talented pair would quickly follow Langley’s progression on the outside, to land in 2nd and 3rd in the running order, after both drivers disposed of the 55 of Goggins. Hallyburton, would make quick work of Murray in the race for second, and by lap 7 he found himself welded to the bumper of leader Langley, looking both high and low for a way past. On lap 11, Hallyburton would make the winning pass, pulling alongside Langley and powering to the point as the duo raced into turn one, as #44 Dave “The Deuce” Doucette would claim 2nd one lap later, after advancing through the pack from his 6th place starting position. The second caution would appear on lap 13, when point leader #10 Rick Walt would spin underneath the flagstand, the victim of a cut left front tire.
This turn of events set the stage for a Hallyburton/Doucette duel from the front row, with Hallyburton powering out front by a single car length, as Doucette checked into 2nd and Langley and the defending track champ #12 Jim “Polish Prince” Belesky battled door to door for third. Belesky, would eventually slip under Langley to assume control of that position, and quickly approached the lead duo. At the midway mark, the caution flag would again fly, as Belesky and Doucette would make contact on the exit of turn two, in what was simply a racing incident. The result would see both drivers sent to the back of the pack, having just half the scheduled laps remaining to find a way to salvage a decent finish.
This time on the restart the unthinkable happened, when Langley spun along the backstretch, with the third place car of Murray catching a piece of the action, but the rest of the field doing a miraclous job to avoid the prone Langley ride. The contact would be enough for the hard luck Murray to land in the infield for the evening however, as Hallyburton and second place point man #24 Leonard Johnston were now set to do battle from the front row. Hallyburton, would again break out to a marginal advantage, with #21 Desi Walt and cousin Rick who was now back at the front, checking into third and fourth respectively. By lap 20, the man on the move was once again the 44 of Doucette, as the 2007 track champ would climb back through the field and dispose of Rick Walt for 4th, with a clean low pass in turn two. On lap 22, the caution would again appear when the front running #00 Darryl St. Onge spun on his own accord, just on the exit of turn four, with Doucette who seemingly was driving with a little extra vigor on his main sponsor’s night claiming the runner up post from Johnston shortly after the restart, with a nice low pass in turn 3. Further back in the pack, the Walt cousins were locked in an impressive dice for third, with Belesky now tucked comfortably in the pocket in behind in fifth place.
The sixth caution period came about on lap 29, when Belesky would run up on Desi Walt and inadvertantely spin her on the exit of turn 4, with both drivers sent to the tail of the field. This turn of events set the stage for a green, white, checkered finish, but one that wold not go smoothly when leader Hallyburton would get partially crossways between turns 1&2, with the field beging forced to scramble in behind, as the fifth place car of St. Onge would turn Rick Walt in turn 1, with St. Onge having nowhere to go on the low side of the track to aviod the gaggle of cars in front of him. The race would be called final at this point, with Hallyburton awarded the win, as Doucette displayed incredible determination in battling back through the field to record a second place result. #24 Leonard Johnston would continue an impressive string of feature race finishes in coming home 3rd, while Langley and Belesky rounded out the top 5.
Four different heat race winners came in the form of Hallyburton, Doucette, Belesky, and #21 Desi Walt.
In St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock action, it was #9 Charlie Smith who notched his 4th feature win of the season in his quick Hardwood Hills Ski & Bike sponsored Dodge Neon. With the win, Smith narrowed the 15 point lead of #11 Adam Misener of North Bay, with a scant seven points now separating the two competitive rivals heading into action this weekend. The race would begin with #23 Terry Tompkins taking control of the point from the outside pole position, as #77 Mike Gettliffe would pull off a cunning three wide move past the duo of #6 Josh Inglis and #63 Jamie Cairns to advance to second place in the early stages.
On lap 3, Gettliffe would take over the lead from Tompkins with a nice low pass in turn two, as #91 Kyle Lethbridge would land himself in 2nd position one lap later, after working around the duo of Tompkins and #1 Ralph Sikes. The first caution would appear on lap 7, when Cairns and #54 “Smokin” Joe Ireton collected between turns 1&2, as both drivers landed themselves at the tail of the field for the ensuing restart. The top five at this point in the race would be Gettliffe leading the way, with Lethbridge, Sikes, Tompkins, and last weeks feature winner #99 Drew Stieler slotted in the positions in behind.
On the restart, Lethbridge was quick to confront Gettliffe to the outside, as that duo was parading around the track with laps in the 17.2 second range, when the second caution period came about on lap 10, as Tompkins, Stieler, and #400 Justin Holmes were involved in an incident in between turns 1&2. At this point in the race the car to watch was the #49 of Larry “Doc” Woodward, as the former Late Model and Thunder Car pilot had progressed to 4th in the running order from his 13th place starting position in the vastly deep 22 car field. Woodward, would use the high side to accomplish his passing for the most part, opening up the necessary room for Smith to enter the top 5 as a result. Smith, would then pass Woodward to take over 4th place, and from there the Orillia resident would execute a stunning 3 wide move low in turn three, to land himself in third place positioning.
After disposing of the 2nd place car of Lethbridge, veteran Smith would pull alongside leader Gettliffe on lap 14, with the two rivals and longtime friends battling door handle to door handle over the next two laps, as 2010 track champ #15 Will Davies made a low pass on Lethbridge for third, with 2008 Charger champ #14 Billy Melenhorst quickly following that move to assume control of fourth place. A late race caution would fly when Lethbridge would slow in turn two with mechanical issues, ending what was an otherwisse solid race for the hard luck driver. Gettliffe, would take to the perferred inside line for the restart, but his valiant effort to maintain the race lead would prove fruitless, as Smith would power past on the high side just on the exit of turn two on lap 17, as an alert Melenhorst shot into runner up positioning on the high side, after another solid lap door to door with Gettliffe. As has been proven multiple times this season, once out front Smith is tough if not impossible to catch, as the talented wheelman took the win by 3 car lengths over Melenhorst at the stripe. Gettliffe, would hold on for a season best third place showing, as #11 Adam Misener, and #15 Will Davies comprised the remainder of the fast five.
Heat wins went to impressive sophmore #400 Justin Holmes with a pair, Melenhorst, and Misener.
PIT NOTES ——— A new face would make an appearance in the St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock ranks, as #54 “Smokin” Joe Ireton would make just his 2nd career Barrie start. Ireton, the 2008 Sunset Speedway Pure Stock track champion, would turn in a respectable 7th place showing in the feature race, this after being caught in an early race incident and working his way from the back of the pack in a deep and talent laden 22 car field.
On tap this weekend all three regular divisions are back in action, with a special apparance by the Lucas Oil Can Am TQ Midgets also slated to take place for heat races and a 25 lap feature. The Midgets are the fastest cars that will appear at Barrie Speedway this season, with many of the top cars able to run 12.5 second laps, covering the tight and tricky mile tri oval at an average speed of just under a 100 miles an hour.
2009 Barrie race winner #48 Darren McLennan currently holds the points lead, just 40 points in front of longtime Barrie dominator #82 James Gray. Gray, who has also had a 3 race winning streak of his own at Barrie in the past, sits just 5 slender points ahead of third place #40 Mack Deman, with 2010 Barrie race winner and former Cascar Super Series star #74 Rob Neely just 20 points further in back of Deman. Circle this one on your calendar as one you just cant afford to miss!!! Pit Gate opens at 3pm, with spectator gates open at 5pm, and green flag scheduled for 7 p.m. sharp.
By Dave Vokey