Consistency is the key to winning championships at any level of motorsports. Running in the top 5 or top 10 on a regular basis can often mean more than recording a feature race win. On the opening night of Kawartha Speedway’s 2012 season, Bryan Mercer wheeled his #81 Sine’s Flooring/Durmach Excellence in Tooling Chevrolet Impala to a 3rd place showing in the 100-lap main event. That effort, combined with wins in his heat race and semi feature, earned the Port Hope, ON, racer 91 points. With a 10-race schedule, the slightest advantage, even one as small as a single point, can pay off with the seat of honour at the season ending championship celebration.
“It’s still too early in the year to be point racing, but I’ve been around the sport long enough to know that nobody – not the race team or the sponsors – benefits if the car is loaded in the trailer before the show is over,” said the 38-year-old father of three. “The most points we can earn in any night of racing is 100. To come away from the first night of the year with the point lead is a solid foundation to build on.”
As Kawartha’s NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Models rolled onto the track for the second week of action, Bryan Mercer was confident that his machine was ready for battle. The car performed well during the pre-race practice sessions and there were only a few changes needed before he came to the line for the second qualifying heat of the evening. By virtue of the draw for starting positions, Mercer would fire from the outside of the front row and managed to lead the entire 10-lap distance.
“The car was good in the qualifier, but not perfect,” said the driver during a post-race debriefing. “It was a little bit tight, so the team made some minor adjustments – that included tinkering with tire pressures – during the break and we used the semi as a test session for the feature.”
Track handicapping meant Mercer would start the semi-feature from the back of the pack. During the opening stages, the car was tough to handle but improved as the tire temperatures increased. A finish just outside the top five in the final assessment before the main event gave the team the information they were looking for and Mercer would start 4th in the final race of the night.
“By the time we got on the track for our feature, the sun had gone down and things had started to cool-off a little,” said Mercer. “Every race track has its own personality and characteristics that make it unique. Kawartha has always been very weather- and temperature-sensitive. I had a good feeling about what we’d learned during the heat race and semi-feature – as well as the other set-up notes we had – to give us a strong run in the feature.”
At the drop of the green flag, the outside line seemed to get a jump on the pack and Mercer followed second place starter Dan McHattie in a break from the field. With just one caution flag to slow the pace, Bryan Mercer was forced to play follow the leader and came away with a second place effort. While the track takes a week off (Friday, June 29) Mercer and the crew will be hard at work getting their equipment ready for this year’s edition of the Summer Sizzler.
“After picking up the win last year, I like our chances coming into this year’s running of the Sizzler,” said Mercer. “I know we have the team and equipment to do the job. All I need now is a little racing luck to grab the crown in consecutive years.”
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