@LOSC_Series •@FTMSpeedway •(Mt. Forest, ON) – The Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup tour rolled into Full Throttle Motor Speedway last Saturday night for the first visit of the season to Canada’s ‘fastest 1/4-mile track’. It was race six of the seven race championship campaign, and Brandt Graham (#14) of Bowmanville, entered the night with a 13-point lead in the championship race, while riding a three-race win streak. He led the points over ‘The Flying Farmer’ Kevin Gallant (#51) of Vanessa, and had a 19 marker edge on Josh Wood (#66) of London.
Qualifying was the first order of the day, and Tim ‘The Intimidator’ Tolton (#3) of Guelph, put his machine on the pole with a lap of 13.077 seconds, good enough to break the existing track record. Graham turned the second fastest time, at 13.244 seconds, with Wood third in a lap of 13.248 seconds. ‘The Bandit’ Alvin McNicol (#77) of Exeter, and Mike ‘Hollywood’ Hrynuik (#15) of Kingsville, rounded out the top-five.
After the Lucas Oil ‘Fast Five’ draw, pairing drivers with some young fans, the front of the field was shuffled, putting Graham and Wood on the front row, and Tolton and McNicol in row two.
Wood was able to fight his way to the lead early, but Graham, the point leader, faded through the pack. He finally settled into fifth-position
Tolton continued to put the heat on Wood, and finally found his way to the inside on lap 53, taking the lead and shuffling Wood back through the pack.
McNicol started to put the heat on the Tolton, and on lap 67 they made contact, with Tolton going around. McNicol was sent to the back of the pack to join Tolton for the contact, handing the lead to Hyrnuik.
Hyrnuik talked about his run to the front of the pack, “We had a long green flag run at the start, and I settled into fourth. I stayed with the leaders for a while, but had some trouble in traffic and just tried to run my pace, and save something for the end. We got a yellow, and just after that Josh lost the lead, and he ended up not getting in line until he was behind me, putting us third. Then I saw those guys beating and banging up front. The next thing you know one is spun, one is sent to the back, and we’re leading.”
Hrynuik held serve on a number of restarts over the final 32 laps, and held off a furious charge from Josh Wood in a thrilling duel to the finish.
For Mike the victory was a thrilling way to return to the track after a few races off, “My car owner Dennis Reamy has been sick, and I said we weren’t coming back to the track unless we could come as a team. It’s so awesome to not only come back, but to win in our first race back. I think we had a third-place car, but I guess it makes up for Sauble earlier in the year when we had the best car, and didn’t win. It was also cool racing Josh for the win. We’ve been racing each other for 20 years now – he raced me hard and clean. He just couldn’t get to the inside of me enough in turn three, and just never got position on me. Donald Reinhart did a great job spotting, and was able to help me figure out where to run to keep Josh behind me.”
Though he came up one position short, Wood was still pleased with his run, saying, “We had a solid third-place fun in qualifying, and led the first half of the race until I got shuffled back. At the end it came down to Mike and I, and I was doing everything I could to get past him. We’ve raced together for a long time, and think we have a lot of respect for each other. We’re not too upset that we finished second. We improved on the car through the night, and had some fun at the track. We can’t really win the championship now, but I’m not too worried about points. We’re going to go to Flamboro and try and have some fun for the night.”
Graham continued his torrid summer streak, and backed up his trio of victories with another podium outing. While he finished third, Graham thought he could’ve made a charge at the win, saying, “We were second to Tolton, who has so many laps here. In the race, the car wasn’t great off the bat, and the track seemed a little different then when we won here last year. I found my rhythm and the car got better as the night went on, so I just tried to save my stuff. The #3 [Tolton] and the #77 [McNicol] got together, and that put us up to third for the final part of the race. I had a look under Josh a few times, but my dad was spotting and reminded me that we had a lot more than Josh to lose. I think we only have to finish 11th in Flamboro, but we’re going to go and try to run as well as we can, just like we have all season. You do drive a little different – at the end of the day we still want to win races as well – but you have to remember the championship.”
Rookie Donnie Beattie (#40) of Beaverton, scored a solid fourth-place result, while fellow freshman Scott Laporte (#88) of Mt. Hope, finished fifth to record his second consecutive top-five finish. With the finish, Laporte jumped two positions in points to sixth, while Beattie shuffled from 11th to eighth and closed to five points back of Laporte in the Rookie-of-the-Year race heading into the season finale.
The 2016 Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup campaign will wrap up September 17th at Flamboro Speedway, and Graham will likely only have to start the feature to lock up a series championship in only his second season of competition. With the second-place finish Wood moved to second in the standings, while Gallant fell to third.
Final Results – 1. Hrynuik 2. Wood, 3. Graham, 4. Beattie, 5. Laporte.
Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup – Championship Points Standings (after 6 of 7 events) – 1. Brandt Graham (585 points), 2. Josh Wood (568), 3. Kevin Gallant (567), 4. Chad McGlynn (555), 5. Alvin McNicol (543).
For more information on the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Series, Lucas Oil, Full Throttle Motor Speedway, or Flamboro Speedway, please visit www.lucasoilsportsmancup.com,
www.lucasoil.ca, www.fullthrottlemotorspeedway.com, www.flamborospeedway.ca, or contact Series Director Dave Didero at email@example.com.