FRASERVILLE, ON – Racecar drivers may think they’re the stars of the show, but smart speedway promoters will tell you its all about the fans. Without the audience, there just isn’t a show. On Friday, July 20, Kawartha Speedway paid tribute to the proud supporters of action at the Fraserville facility with their annual Fan Appreciation Night. Midway through the evening, drivers from the track’s three regular divisions brought their equipment onto the front stretch of the spacious 3/8-mile oval to meet the fans and sign autographs for the capacity crowd.
Close to 20 NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Models signed-in pit-side, with the night’s 10-lap qualifying events shared by Ryan Kimball and Dan McHattie. Willie Reyns – making one of his infrequent 2012 starts – picked-up the Thunder Car heat, while Ryan Oosterholt and Brad Martin split the Hasiuk Trailer and Container Rental Mini Stock preliminary rounds. Linc Brown scored the Late Model consolation, with invader Nolan Gould taking the same honours in the Mini Stock 8 lapper. Dwight Brown, Reyns and Martin claimed their respective Late Model, Thunder Car and Mini Stock semi features.
A 25-lap Thunder Car feature kicked-off the night’s main events, with John Baker Jr. using the inversion draw to his advantage on the way to a dominating performance in the caution-free ‘A’ main. In his first Kawartha start in almost two years, Baker started from inside the front row and sprinted away from the pack. The popular speedster had almost a half a straightaway advantage over runner-up Reyns at the checkered flag. Former track champion Kyle Donaldson – wheeling a car from the Crowe Brothers Racing stable – was third, with Matt Spence and Donny Beatty fourth and fifth.
In his first start of the season, John Baker Jr. rolled his #63 machine into the Thunder Car winner’s circle.
With a heads-up start based on the earlier heat race wins, Ryan Oosterholt and Brad Martin paced the Hasiuk Trailer and Container Rental Mini Stockers to the line for a 50-lap spectacular. Oosterholt led the early stages, but Martin was on fire…literally. Unfortunately for the Plainville, ON-racer, his #53 Dodge Neon showed signs of smoke for a couple of laps late in the race before erupting in flames as a result of engine woes with 40 laps complete. Although disappointed, the division’s current point leader was unhurt.
While the clean-up crew looked after a trail of fluid that Martin left behind, the field was stopped on pit lane. Many of the drivers surveyed mentioned that running through the oil was like driving on ice. Almonte, Ontario’s Nolan Gould experienced the issue first-hand as he spun in the middle of turns 3 and 4 before the caution flag came out.
The pack came back to the green for a 10-lap shootout that would finish the feature. Daryl Fice – who had been running second – took over the top spot after Martin’s demise. As he had done earlier, Oosterholt took the lead and held-off every challenge Fice could muster, until the freshly painted #44 machine was able to power past with less than two laps remaining for his third consecutive win. Oosterholt was second, with Ottawa’s Casey Cavanaugh third. Michael Batchelor and Rob Flindall completed the top 5.
Before getting their feature event underway, front row starters Bryan Mercer and Larry Jackson ran the NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model pack around the track to blow off any speedy dry that was left over from Brad Martin’s incident. On the start Mercer paced the early going, with strong runs by Dan McHattie and Ryan Kimball in his rear view mirror. The race ran caution free until just short of halfway, when Bryan Watts and Tyler Betts came together in turn 4. During the yellow flag, Betts hunted-down Watts on the backstretch where he spun the #61 and was parked for the night.
Seven-time and defending NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model track champion Dan McHattie of Cavan, ON, picked-up the main event win.
Back under green flag conditions, McHattie was now in control of the field with Kimball and Mercer close behind. Another yellow flag, this time for contact between Watts, Wally Janzen and Scott Harrison brought the crowd to their feet for a 5 lap shootout. McHattie kept the competition off his back bumper and added another win to his all-time totals. Kimball, Mercer, Dwight Brown and opening night winner Dave Morgan were next across the stripe.
Kawartha klips: Former Challenger, Limited Late Model and Thunder Car track champion Kyle Donaldson joined the Thunder Car ranks in one of Howie Crowe’s back-up cars. John Baker Jr. – the dominant Thunder Car runner at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – won in his first Kawartha start of the year. Invaders Casey Cavanaugh and Nolan Gould – regulars at Capital City Speedway – ran with the Hasiuk Trailer and Container Rental Mini Stocks. Stuart ‘Stuie Hatchback’ Hinds – a Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Pure Stock rookie – made his first Kawartha Mini Stock start…The 2012 season continues Friday, July 27th as the Ontario Legends Series makes their second appearance of the year. Action will also include Mini Stocks, Late Models and a 50 lap Thunder Invitational event.
From Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications
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