South Buxton Raceway, Merlin, ON- The black clouds that hovered over Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon and Chatham’s Louis Clements all season finally disappeared on Saturday night.
Both drivers started deep in the field and managed to avoid mayhem en route to their first feature wins of the year at South Buxton Raceway.
Lozon was running third coming out of the final turn but drove away with the win when the leaders tangled less than 100 feet from the finish line in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks.
Clements’ pivotal moment came earlier in the Schinkels Gourmet Meat UMP Modifieds feature as he went from 10th to third on lap four by steering through a multi-car pile-up. He took the lead eight laps later and led the rest of the way.
“I’ve had nothing but bad luck all year and I was starting to get a little frustrated, thinking I wasn’t going to get a feature win (this year), but tonight changed everything,” said Lozon after his dramatic win.
Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere and Steve Shaw, who had been running one-two since lap six, were door-to-door on the final lap but wound up on the infield just short of the finish line.
“I seen a lot of bumping and rubbing going on, so I just sat back and gave myself some room in case they messed up, and that’s exactly what happened,” Lozon said.
“I had a little panic for a second,” added Lozon, who was worried the tangled cars might cut down the track in front of him.
“But the car worked great, I knew where to shoot it and got across the line before they did,” he said.
Vanderiviere was able to break away from the entanglement to finish fourth behind Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse and Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse, while Shaw couldn’t get re-fired and finished 11th.
“I didn’t see the white flag because were racing so hard, he just got me sideways, we tangled and that was it,” Vanderiviere said of the incident with Shaw.
“We were racing for the checkered flag, neither of us lifted… it was just good hard racing,” Shaw said.
It was Lozon’s first feature win since last year’s season championship race when he took the lead with two laps to go after, coincidently, an incident between Vanderiviere and Shaw.
Lozon became the first driver other than Vanderiviere (eight) and Shaw (four) to win a feature in the class this season.
Clements, like Lozon, has experienced nothing but problems all year.
“It’s been my worst year in my 14 years of racing,” Clements said in his Winner’s Circle interview.
“It’s been stupid stuff all year, so to finally get going in the right direction, I’m pretty happy about that,” said Clements, who won two features in 2012.
Clements started 13th in the 20-car Modified feature field and was running 10th on lap four when Wallaceburg’s Drew Smith spun in turn four while running second, collecting several other top-running races.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I got through it,” said Clements.
“There was one opening, I tried to aim the car, let up off the brakes and lucked out.”
Eight laps later, there was contact while battling for the lead between Clements and Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra, who cut a tire and had to pit under caution.
“We got a good restart and stayed on the inside, he (Hoekstra) tried to take the line and I was already there,” Clements said of the contact.
Clements went on to lead the final eight laps of the caution-plagued race while Hoekstra, the division points leader, rebounded for a ninth-place finish.
Hoekstra padded his lead to 120 points over two-time defending division champion Jim Dale Jr., who moved up to second in the standings after a fourth-place finish.
Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich., finished second, while Chatham’s Jeff Daniels and Eugene Hoekstra were third and fifth.
Eugene Hoekstra won his heat and dash, his first checkered flags in his return to racing after a 15-year absence.
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford led all 20 laps to win his second straight and eighth Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Model feature.
The feature win was Glassford’s seventh in the last eight race nights.
“We’ve never had anything like this before,” Glassford said of his recent dominance.
“It’s a good feeling when things are going your way.”
Glassford, who also won his heat, reduced the deficit to 48 points behind Chatham’s Gregg Haskell with three race nights remaining.
Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis, who won his heat and dash, finished second, followed by Chatham drivers Brad Authier, Haskell and Jim Jones.
Cottam’s Rob Quick won his fourth Tirecraft Mini-Mod feature, completing a perfect three-for-three night.
“There’s a lot of fast cars out here, and I think I have the fastest,” Quick said.
“As long as the car holds together, I hit my marks and I don’t have anyone holding me up, that car will walk away,” said Quick, whose winning margin was a full corner ahead of Kingsville’s Larry Hart.
Dresden’s Matt Sorrell, Blenheim drivers Elliot Wilton and Trevor Jones rounded out the top five.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. had an opportunity to cut into Denis DeSerrano’s points lead when the Cottam driver suffered engine failure on lap six and finished 19th.
Seven laps later, however, Shaw Jr. was hit from behind and went on the infield, where he stayed as the race stayed green and he finished 17th.
Shaw Jr. trails DeSerrano by 57 points with two nights remaining, including the Sept. 7 championship.
Saturday was Autism Awareness Night, as fans donated over $1,000 in an impromptu pass-the-helmet collection during intermission, orchestrated by Daniels’ race team, which donated another $600 from its own t-shirt sales.
The annual Rick Haskell memorial feature for the Late Models highlights the Saturday, Aug. 31 race night.
From: Mike Bennett