(Bowmanville, ON – May 28, 2013) Last Saturday’s unseasonably cold temperatures added another element into the challenges faced by the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Speedway competitors. But the drivers and teams forged through, producing the usual, exceptionally entertaining stock car racing action on the Bowmanville-area half-mile oval.
Lucas Oil Pure Stock-
Determined to defend his 2012 Lucas Oil Pure Stock championship, series sophomore Willy Howells was able to put his stamp on the series Saturday night, winning all three of his on-track appearances.
Following wins in the heat race qualifiers, Howells took the green flag for the 15-lap feature from the inside of the second row. Immediately pressured by the #45 Link Greenhouses Acura of pole sitter Henk Mulders, Howells took the long, outside line as the two frontrunners raced side-by-side until Lap 4, when the Oshawa resident was finally able to make the passing maneuver stick.
Never able to break away from Mulders and Jeff Vanderbelt (#33 Attention to Detail Automotive Integra), Howells nevertheless doggedly hung on to his lead while Vanderbelt passed stable mate Mulders on Lap 6 for second spot.
A last lap caution, produced by a spin from track newcomer Mike Batchelor (#5) ended the contest under yellow, with Howells in his #19 Sanford Racing Engines Prelude claiming his second consecutive feature victory over Vanderbelt and Mulders.
“That was a fun race,” proclaimed Howells from the Winners Circle. “Jeff was strong tonight. He’s going to be strong all year. He’s got something figured out in that car.”
Stuart Hinds (#57) and Gary Fallis (#64) rounded out the top five Pure Stock feature finishers.
Bob’s Towing Thunder Car-
Caution flags are an evil necessity in stock car racing, and can be especially frustrating for not only the driver who produced the yellow, but for others in the field as well.
On Saturday night, the Motor City’s Bob Kish (#78 Rapid Racing) had the upper hand in the Bob’s Towing Thunder Car feature, leading the race and enjoying an ever-increasing advantage over series newcomer Howie Crowe. Unfortunately, the yellow was thrown on Lap 8, allowing not only Crowe to close up onto Kish’s back bumper, but also putting hot shoe Ken Donaldson Jr. and defending class champion John Baker Jr. within striking distance.
Fighting hard on the restart, Kish was able to defend his front running position for a while, but with his train of pursuers mounting increasing pressure, it was almost predictable that Crowe in his #28 Crowe Brothers Roofing Chevy would eventually find a way to wrestle the point away from Kish. With three-to-go, Crowe made the move work emerging with the race lead, Baker following suite one lap later to secure the runner-up spot.
Holding on to a two car length advantage over the defending champion, Crowe claimed his first Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Speedway feature race victory in just his second start on the half-mile oval.
“I was driving way out of my comfort zone tonight,” admitted Crowe. “Bob was a little loose so I was able to stick my nose in to get position on him. We got together a couple of times in (turns) One and Four. That was some pretty hard racing.”
To add insult to injury, Kish fell down the order one more position, being passed by the #03 Monte Carlo of Ken Donaldson Jr. on the last lap. Bill Northam (#85) rounded out the top five finishers.
A quick review of the Late Model scoring sheet showed only a single ‘pass for position’ over the course of the 25-lap feature finale, that move allowing Bryan Mercer to snatch third away from defending series champion Kyle Donaldson on Lap 16.
But the lap charts fail to describe the frantic, five-car train that was heading the pack in the ‘Clean and Green’ sprint to the checkers.
Making full use of his pole position, Darren Kearnan (#55 Jessup Motorsports Chevy) launched into the early lead, fiercely chased by the #99 of Colbourne’s Linc Brown, Donaldson’s (#53), track newcomer Mercer (#81) and opening night feature winner Mark Gordon (#52).
Except for the previously mentioned Lap 16 swap of positions between Mercer and Donaldson, the running order remained static, although the fans were treated to plenty of dodging, ducking and attempted passing maneuvers among the front runners.
Ultimately, Kearnan would score the feature victory, with Brown crossing the stripe just two car lengths behind him. Mercer, Donaldson and Gordon would complete the Top 5, each separated by three car lengths.
“We’re lucky we started on the pole, this field is so close,” proclaimed Kearnan. “It seemed like everyone was a little loose tonight. I know my tires went off real bad, this car was a pretty good handful at the end.”
Techtonix Open Wheel Modified-
In Round One of the Techtonix Open Wheel Modified schedule, Dwight Brown was forced to follow eventual race winner Darren Kearnan to the checkered flag. With Kearnan sidelined from last Saturday night’s action due to a blown motor in the #46 Modified, Brown was able to exact some revenge, as the driver of the familiar red #2 Mod enjoyed a Saturday night Hat Trick, claiming checkered flags in both of the heat races as well as in the 25-lap feature contest.
But his success was not as easy as it sounds.
Although he was able to power in the feature race lead by lap 3, Brown had his mirror filled with a frantic, three-way scrap, with Rick Warnes, Chad Strawn and Nick Lees all battling for the right to lead the challenge to the front.
Ultimately Brown would hold on to score the victory, taking the checkered flag four car lengths in front of youngster Strawn, who had squirted past Warnes for the runner-up position on the next-to-last lap.
“I was watching those guys (Warnes/Strawn) and they were really competitive. I was turning one hard lap after another, and I wasn’t able to pull away,” commented Brown.
Strawn analyzed his night; “I think the cold messed with everybody’s setup tonight. We had our car a little tight, but as the night went on, the tight condition got worse and worse. It took me a couple of tries to get around Rick. I don’t know if I had anything left for Dwight.”
Lees crossed the line in fourth spot, while Bill Pickford (#61) edged Rob Warnes (#95) to claim a Top 5 result.
For further information: Ryan Chalmers, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
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