After winning two of the three segments and becoming the first Kawartha Speedway regular to claim a Summer Sizzler victory during the race’s 2011 edition, Bryan Mercer had high hopes heading into this year’s running of the Fraserville, ON-oval’s marquee event. Too bad things in the world of motorsports don’t always go according to plan.
A runner-up finish in the night’s second qualifying heat meant Mercer’s #81 Sine’s Flooring/Durmach Excellence in Tooling Chevrolet Impala would take the green from the 4th starting spot in the night’s first 50-lap segment. From the beginning of the run, the car seemed to be ready for a solid finish, but things changed quickly as the laps clicked away and it wasn’t long before Mercer was dropping back through the field. With only two caution flags to slow the pace, he’d have to rely on the changes that could be made from the cockpit. That led to a 9th place run in the first round. Not what the team was looking for, but there was still plenty of racing left.
“It’s tough to find the perfect set-up. From looking around, I think a lot of us are trying to find more speed and better handling,” said Mercer, while the crew checked his car. “Some of the guys were trying to win a 150-lap event in the first 50 laps and that’ll never happen. I would have liked to have the same results we enjoyed last year, but big picture racing is what’s most important. We’ll keep working on things to be around at the end of the night when it counts.”
A full-field inversion brought Bryan Mercer to the line in 9th spot to kick-off the second round of Summer Sizzler action. Changes made during the break allowed the Port Hope, ON-racer get more out of his equipment, but the frequent yellow flags made it difficult to find a comfortable race pace. Contact on the track sent the #81 pit side on a couple of occasions, but Mercer, who celebrated his 39th birthday the day before the race, kept a positive attitude. A 10th place finish wasn’t the perfect recipe for success, but another break gave the team time to try for a better result in the final 50-lapper.
Coming from 5th place gave Mercer to chance to run at the front of the pack during the final stanza, but getting through traffic was far from a walk in the park. Trying to stay in front of the drivers who started behind him after the last inversion meant pushing the car harder than usual and his normally pristine piece was showing signs of wear. An issue with another car in the 3rd turn saw Bryan Mercer’s machine leave the track on the hook and ended his day with a 14th place in the closing 50-lap run and 10th spot overall.
“The wreck that knocked us out of the show was one of the hardest hits I’ve ever had,” said Mercer, who also complained about sore ribs after the crash. “It was one of those nights where nothing seemed to go as we thought it would. There’s not a corner on the car that doesn’t have some sort of damage, but we’re not alone in that department. I’m going on a family vacation next week, so it’ll be nice to get away and put things out of my mind for a while.”
For 2012, Bryan Mercer’s #81 Kawartha Speedway NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model is supported by Sine’s Flooring, Durmach Excellence in Tooling, Creative Edge Graphics, Jim’s Pizza, Appleman Carstar Collision, APX Racewear, B & G Equipment, Cressman Tree Maintenance, DenTec, Glass1Autoglass Mobile Service, LVG Auctions, Northumberland News, Quantrill Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac, Reflection Glass and Accessories, UAP NAPA – Port Hope and Clarke Motorsports Communications.
From Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications