FRASERVILLE, ON – It may have been a couple of weeks later than originally shown on the printed schedule, but Kawartha Speedway finally put their 2012 season opener in the books on Friday, June 15. Bright, sunny skies and strong car counts in all 3 regular divisions welcomed a new campaign of action at the popular 3/8-mile Fraserville, ON, oval.
A pair of NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model heats was first to roll from the turn 4 staging area. 2007 track champion Larry Jackson and 2011 Summer Sizzler Bryan Mercer split the 10 lap affairs. Matt Spence grabbed the Thunder Car preliminary round, while Brad Martin and 2011 rookie of the year Ryan Oosterholt shared the 8 lap Hasiuk Trailer and Container Rental Mini Stock qualifiers. Mercer, Spence and Martin also won their respective semi features, while Tim Cole and Daryl Fice advanced to the Late Model and Mini Stock main events with consolation round victories.
The 20-lap Thunder Car feature was the first of the ‘A’ main showdowns to hit the track, with 2007 track champion Steve Mayhew and Spence occupying the front row. Any racer will tell you that sometimes it’s just your night and there was no denying Spence his first career feature win. After keeping Willie Reyns and Chad Strawn at bay during the dance’s early stages, the Bailieboro, ON, runner stayed just a couple of car lengths ahead of a hard-charging Howie Crowe – who had started 7th – for the victory. Strawn held-on for 3rd, with Sunset Speedway regular Paul Geniole and Reyns completing the top five.
They may be called mini stocks, but there’s nothing minor about the performance of Kawartha Speedway’s entry level division. Rob Flindall and Ryan Oosterholt paced a pack of the province’s fastest 4 cylinder powerhouses to the line for the first Hasiuk Trailer and Container Rental Mini Stock feature of the new season. Like his Thunder Car counterpart Spence, Brad Martin – who ironically also pilots car #53 – earned a trip to victory lane. Coming from inside the second row, Martin worked lapped traffic to perfection to claim his second career win in the caution-free event. Oosterholt was second, with Flindall, Alex Lees and Michael Batchelor rounding-out the top finishers.
With one of the year’s biggest paydays on the line, the 100 lap NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model feature closed-out the opening night of action. Ryan Kimball and Dave Morgan brought the field to starter Michael Edgerton’s green flag, but the caution flew early when Tyler Betts looped his #86 Impala with only five laps complete. Another yellow was shown for Bryan Mercer’s spin as the pack clicked-off 11 circuits. Hard contact with the front stretch retaining wall ended the night for Larry Jackson and invader Stephane DaCoste, while Owen Smith – returning to action after a two-year layoff – hit in almost the same spot with 30 laps in the books.
The late stages of the race treated the crowd to some excellent green flag action, until Bryan Watts spun exiting turn 2 as the lap counter marked 84 down. With a solid field battling for almost double the regular prize money in a show 4 times the usual distance, the final 15 laps became a winner take all shootout. A first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish came after Betts, newcomer Wally Janzen and Jamie Horner came together in the first turn. Betts and Janzen were towed from the scene, while Horner continued under her own power. Mike Wallace brought the second try at completing the 100 marathon to a premature stop as his #27 slowed just as the field was coming to the green. Leader Ryan Kimball was denied his shot at a first hometown Late Model win after spinning on the turn one apron. When the green flag flew a final time, Dave Morgan held on for the win. The track’s all-time win leader Dan McHattie was second. Mercer, Kimball and J.P. Josiasse finished in positions 3rd through 5th.
Kawartha klips: It wasn’t a great night for Late Model drivers named ‘Brown’. Beeton, ON’s Dwight Brown developed rear-end issues during the practice rounds, while his ‘unofficial cousin’ Linc of Colborne, ON, had his machine loaded into the trailer before the feature when the #99 car experienced engine problems and a broken panhard bar in the semi feature…The opening night Hasiuk Trailer and Container Rental Mini Stock field featured first-timers Brandt Graham of Orono, ON, Newtonville’s Greg Dunham and Port Hope’s Eric Thompson. Peterborough’s Wally Janzen took his first laps with the NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Models, while Mini Stock graduate Brad Lavalle saw his first Thunder Car start sidelined by mechanical gremlins…Larry Jackson had his #81 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series racer on-hand for a few test laps prior to the tour’s first oval track event – Saturday, June 16 – at the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park… Action resumes Friday, June 22, as the Ontario Legends Series joins a regular 3 division show. See www.kawarthaspeedway.com for the full schedule.
From Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications