The Pinty’s Knights of Thunder 360 Sprint Car series and Pinty’s Action Sprint Tour Crate Sprint Car series are set for their final visits to Merrittville Speedway in 2021. Warm weather, great racing, and Merrittville’s famous food will greet fans who make the trip to the Thorold, Ontario track, while the event will also be broadcast live on GForceTV.
Each tour has run three events at Merrittville this season, and A-Main wins for drivers not named Poirier or Dykstra have been extremely hard to come by. Poirier has won all three Knights of Thunder races held at Merrittville this season, including a dominating victory at the historic Niagara Region track last Saturday. Dykstra has won two of the three Action Sprint Tour races at Merrittville this season, and took a runner-up finish behind Nick Sheridan there on August 6.
While Poirier’s sparkling record this season is well-documented, the driver with the best Knights of Thunder record at Merrittville this season other than Poirier is the unheralded Liam Martin. The 18-year-old has been in the top five twice at the Niagara Region track this season, including a runner-up last Saturday after starting in row six. Josh Hansen – another teenager – is the only other KoT driver with multiple top fives at Merrittville this season.
Jim Huppunen has a runner-up and three total top tens at Merrittville this season, but the results don’t show how competitive the veteran driver has been there this year. Huppunen spun and restarted at the back of the pack in two of the three races, including a charge to sixth last week. Other drivers to watch on Friday include Mikey Kruchka, Ryan Turner, Mack DeMan, and Aaron Turkey, who have all been on the podium at Merrittville this year.
Jesse Costa is the only driver besides Dykstra to score top fives in all three Merrittville AST events this year, but Costa won’t be in competition on Friday as he continues to recover from a crash at Brighton on Labour Day weekend.
Sheridan took a podium finish at Merrittville in July before taking a win in August, while Lucas Smith and Steven Beckett also have two top fives there with AST this season. Allan Downey scored a podium finish at Merrittville last month, and will be looking for a repeat of the last September AST race at Merrittville; Downey secured his first Sprint Car win at Merrittville on September 18, 2020.
Several teams had work to do after a rough night at Southern Ontario Motor Speedway last Saturday. Dykstra and Sheridan both crashed in the A-Main, while Ryan Fraser had engine trouble. The biggest incident of the night was Brett Stratford’s heat race crash which completely destroyed his BS39 car. All four drivers are planning to race at Merrittville on Friday night, including Stratford who took a runner-up finish in the most recent AST event held there. Darren Dryden scored the win at SOMS, his first in a Sprint Car and on a dirt track.
Jordan Poirier’s Knights of Thunder points lead was dwindling before last weekend’s events at Humberstone and Merrittville, but the Quebec driver put a stop to that trend by dominating the weekend. Poirier now holds a commanding 63 point advantage with three events left on the 2021 schedule. Ryan Turner moved into second in the standings last weekend, but Jim Huppunen is just one point behind in third. Josh Hansen and Travis Cunningham hold spots in the current top five, while DJ Christie is right behind Cunningham in sixth. Liam Martin, Cory Turner, and Jamie Turner are seventh, eighth, and ninth respectively, while Tyler Rand and Holly Porter are tied for 10th.
Jacob Dykstra’s Action Sprint Tour points lead shrank substantially after his crash at SOMS last weekend, but he still holds a 47 point lead over Allan Downey. Nick Sheridan, Eric Gledhill, and Lucas Smith hold the remaining top five spots, while Darren Dryden, Brett Stratford, Rob Neely, Dereck Lemyre, and Dale Curran round out the top ten.
- Report from Tommy Goudge