Jeff Daniels admitted there has been some frustration, but he never lost the belief that one day, he would be back in the Winner’s Circle at South Buxton Raceway.
That ‘one day’ came on Saturday night.
The Merlin driver overcame an early spin while battling for the lead to win the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature.
“Finally!” Daniels hollered as he exited his 20D car to wave the feature checkered flag for the first time since his 2009 season championship race win in his rookie season.
“We were getting quite frustrated, but we knew it was a matter of time,” said Daniels, who has led several features over the last three seasons but couldn’t pull off a victory. “Our team works pretty hard, we were bound and determined we were going to get back here (the Winner’s Circle) sooner or later.”
He was locked in an early battle with Chatham drivers Louis Clements and Eugene Hoekstra for the lead when he spun in turn three, bringing out a caution on lap five.
“I really don’t know what happened, I think I came up a little bit on (Eugene) Hoekstra and we touched a little and around she went,” Daniels described the incident. “I was hard on myself, but I was determined to get back up front somehow.”
It only took one lap for Daniels to get back into the top five, aided by the attrition of a half-dozen cars from a rash of early cautions.
“We took the green and I just put it on the bottom and passed about three or four cars on that first lap,” said Daniels, who moved into second on lap 11 behind his brother-in-law Brian Speelman, of Chatham.
“That was a lot of fun,” Daniels said about racing his sister Tricia’s husband.
“He wore me out … he wasn’t giving up, I wasn’t giving up … it think it was the pride of the family,” Daniels laughed.
Daniels ran the bottom as they battled door-to-door for five laps before taking the lead for good on lap 15.
“We didn’t want to touch each other or Mom might have gotten mad,” Daniels said of his mother Donna. “We just ran our lines. The bottom line had a lot more tack so I was able to take off.”
“It’s great, I’m still on cloud nine,” Daniels said after the race. “But it’s more for the team … my team works so hard and it’s really good to get the motivation back.”
Daniels credited Justin Coulter, the Leamington Late Model driver, for setting up his car.
“The car handled perfect, it would go where ever I wanted,” Daniels said. “It was a lot of fun starting at the back and coming up through the field.
Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra passed Speelman for second with five to go, while Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. – driving Shawn Jones’ No. 27 car after his own 00 broke down in the heat – was fourth and rookie James Beaulieu of Tilbury was fifth.
Cottam’s Denis DeSerrano took the lead on lap five and ran away to his third straight Tirecraft Mini-Mod feature.
Chatham’s Randy McKinlay and Blenheim’s Brett Hope ran second and third for the second week in a row while Merlin drivers Steve Shaw Jr. and Jody Mason rounded out the top five.
DeSerrano finished second to Cottam’s Rob Quick in the heat and dash as the points leader has seven wins and two second-place finishes in his first nine races of the season.
“Just luck,” said DeSerrano, when asked for the reason behind his torrid start.
“We try the best we can every week. Right now, everything is working well … nothing’s breaking. But we’re bound to have some bad luck sooner or later,” DeSerrano said.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw led all but two laps to win his second straight Windride Transportation Sport Stocks feature.
He lost the lead to Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere on lap 12 but regained the lead two laps later.
“I slid up going into (turn) three and he got under me. I could stay with him but I didn’t know if I would get around him,” he said of his two-lap chase of Vanderiviere.
“I had to back up from him a bit because I didn’t want to go in too hard and slide up into him.”
But he didn’t have to worry about any contact as Vanderiviere hit a slick spot in turn four and spun, surrendering the lead back to Shaw as he led the final six laps to take the checkered.
Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse, Vanderiviere, Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse and Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse rounded out the top five.
“So far so good,” Shaw said of his two-for-two feature win streak, as last week’s feature was cancelled by rain. “But there’s something in the car not quite right, so we’ll put it on the scales and see what’s out of whack.”
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford smoked the field – literally – to win his first UMP Late Model feature of the season.
Glassford’s car started smoking heavily with eight laps to go but was able to nurse the injured machine home, with Chatham drivers Jim Jones and Don Gordon the only other cars from the original five-car field still on the track.
“We broke a fitting on an oil line and was spraying oil onto the mufflers,” Glassford said. “It probably looked worse than what it was. It wasn’t a particular good thing to have happen but it wasn’t anything terminal.”
Coulter, who won the opening night feature, led the first five laps but left the race three laps later with mechanical issues.
Defending points champion Gregg Haskell’s car broke down in the heat race and he borrowed Clinton Emery’s car for the feature to collect fifth-place points.
The 2013 season continues this Saturday, May 25, starting at 7 p.m.
South Buxton will host four memorial races on Saturday, June 1 – Brian Outhouse Modifieds, Gord DeWael Late Models, Len Bryden Sport Stocks and Cory Schives Mini-Mods.
For more information contact: Mike Bennett/ South Buxton Raceway- 519-351-4765