THOROLD, ON – Merrittville Speedway’s 61st consecutive season officially came to a close with the Night of Champions Saturday October 27th – honoring the 2012 Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Champions.
While Cody McPherson celebrated his 1st Career Championship in the Original Pizza Logs Sportsman DIRTcar Division – four drivers added another championship in their respective divisions to their career stats.
Josh Sliter and Rocco Conte each won their third straight Championships in the J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite and Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Divisions respectively. For the fourth time of his career Rob Murray was honored as Hoosier Stock Champion.
In the Bobcat of Hamilton DIRTcar 358 Modified Division – Pete Bicknell earned the title for the 22nd time of his career.
All 5 division champs earned traditional Merrittville Speedway Championship Rings and Jackets in addition to trophies and cash awards.
Merrittville’s Co-announcers Clint Geoffrey and Dana Huffman performed Masters of Ceremony duties – presenting the top 12 points finishers from the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinders, Hoosier Stocks, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lites, Original Pizza Log Sportsman and the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modifieds with point fund monies accordingly in addition to a wide variety of special awards.
Drivers in the Top 3 in each division’s point standings received Trophies as well.
Cody McPherson received top honors in the Original Pizza Log Sportsman Division for the first time in his career in his C. McPherson Jr Trucking/ Bobcat of Hamilton/ Advantage Trailers/ Maxximum Motors/Fourth Avenue Dental/ Brian’s Tire Repair/ Pine View Drywall/ Turn 4 Collision and The Trap #7.
McPherson racked up 6 feature wins and finished in the Top 10 in all 16 events with 12 Top 5 finishes. McPherson’s awards also included his first King of the Crates powered by David Chevrolet Mini-Series title that earned him a $500 Gift Certificate redeemable at the Welland GM Dealer towards the purchase of a 602 Crate Engine for the 2013 Season.
’’It was just an unreal season for us … everything went our way and just seemed to click,” said McPherson who drove for car owners Gord McIntosh Sr. and Jr. “even on nights when things didn’t go our way – we were able to battle back and salvage a top 10. It’s great to win this for the McIntoshes … I couldn’t have done it without the help of Advantage Trailer, Bobcat of Hamilton , my dad, and Barry Robertson and everyone that helped.”
Like McPherson, each Point Champion and special award winner expressed their thanks and appreciation to the people behind their successes – families, sponsors, crew members and supporters.
Special Award winners included Rookie of The Year Award winner and second generation driver Larry Czinege while Greg Panunte won the Best Appearing Car Award. Brad Rouse also collected The Sterling Silver Award that honors Bill Willard Senior from award sponsor Ken Walsh for his August 25th Feature Win honoring the racing pioneer.
Rocco Conte collected 6 feature wins and 17 Top 10 finishes to repeat as Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Championship. Driving the Semenuk’s Esso/Northtown Machine/Joe Serianni Century 21 Real Estate/Young Automotive Professionals/Riccis Auto Service #34c – Conte was also won the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Triple Crown Mini-Series Title.
Other special award winners in the division included Kourtney Kocarik won Rookie of the Year honors and Kyle Pelrine who won the Best Appearing Car Award.
Josh Sliter drove his Canadian Tire Port Colborne/ Thurston Machine/SWS Canada/South Coast Laser/Leader Race Cars/Crutchfield Performance # 17 to his third straight championship in the J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Division with 15 top 5 finishes including 10 feature wins.
Rookie of the Year honors went to runner up Dillan Sliter who also won the Best Appearing Car Award.
Rob Murray won his fourth career Hoosier Stock Championship in addition to the overall Duel on the Dirt Title – a mini-series amongst the Hoosier Stocks and the Pro Stocks from the Brighton (Ontario) Speedway.
Driving the Brian’s Tire/Murray Excavating/Canadian Roadside Service M1, Murray collected 7 wins and 18 top 10 finishes.
Third generation driver Cory Turner earned Rookie of the Year honors. The Best Appearing Car Award went to Ken Sargent.
Pete Bicknell won his 22nd career Merrittville Speedway Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Championship winning 3 Features over the course of the season that saw him finish in the Top 10 17 times in 18 events in his Lucas Oil Products/Bicknell Racing Products # 42.
Other award winners included Dave Small who won Rookie of the year honors while the Best Appearing Car Award went to Fred Carleton.
Several history-laden awards were also presented during the event.
The Ed MacPherson Construction Kelley-Winger Sportsmanship Award was presented by the Merrittville Speedway Reunion Committee to Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Veteran Rob Knapp.
The Begolo-Little Award for the most improved driver in the 358 Modified Division went to second generation driver Todd Gordon presented by former driver and Wall of Famer Jeno Begolo after he moved up 7 spots in the points from last season with 3 feature wins along the way.
The Gordie Award named after former Merrittville Announcer and Wall of Famer Gordie Wilson goes to a person, or group of people who exhibit dedication to the sport. The 2012 award was presented to Ed Curran.
The Crew Chief of Year Award named after Billy Matthews went to former racer, L. St. Amand Enterprises Wall of Famer and the force behind his son’s 3 three win season in the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Division in 2012 – Doug Gordon.
The Performer of the Year Award went to Cody McPherson and perform he did. On route to his first championship … McPherson outdueled family members to win 2 events, survived a 10 caution 2 red flag feature for another victory and battled back from a flat tire to win the King of the Crates Title by a single point en route to his first overall Divisional Championship.
The B&C Truck Centre Mack Canada Driver of the Year was second year J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Driver Derek Wagner as he was the driver that received the most points each week during the season in the Driver of the Week Award voting.
The Awards Ceremony concluded with Nancy Bicknell addressing the audience as co-owner of the famed facility.
On behalf of her husband Pete and her daughter (Merrittville GM) Erica and their partners – Randy and Tracey Williamson, Bicknell saluted the crowd and thanked everyone for their continued support throughout the 2012 Season. Plans are well underway for the upcoming 2013 season.
“Everything is starting to come together for next season,’’ informed Nancy Bicknell, “we are happy to announce that Bobcat of Hamilton is returning next season as divisional sponsors of our Modified Division … the schedule is being put together and racing season will soon be upon us once again.”
Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Division Top 12 in Points.
Pete Bicknell – 980, Mat Williamson – 966, Tim Jones – 924, Larry Lampman – 888, Travis Braun – 860, Chris Steele – 841, Tommy Flannigan – 815, Scott Wood – 810, Todd Gordon – 794, Rick Richner – 784, Chad Chevalier – 736, Bill Bleich – 732.
Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Division Top 12 in Points.
Cody McPherson – 832, BJ Willard – 770, Greg Panunte – 756, Brad Rouse – 735, Gary Lindberg – 723, Brandon Easey – 714, Mark Chiddy – 610, Jim Johnstone – 607, Rob Knapp – 588, Adam Leslie – 580, Justin Sharp – 576, Brent Begolo – 547.
Hoosier Stock Division Top 12 in Points .
Rob Murray – 1001, Brad Sheehan – 896, Chris Crawford – 880, Billy Hogue – 848, Jeff Dayman – 838, James Thompson – 828, Ken Sargent – 824, Pete Reid – 768, Jim Lampman – 739, Cory Turner – 696, Aaron Wiley – 682, Kevin Knapp – 671.
J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Division Top 12 in Points.
Josh Sliter – 862, Derek Wagner – 768, Jason Corless – 716, Randy Hollingshead – 690, Kory Howe – 678, Dillon Sliter – 616, Ray Sliter, Jr. – 586, Jeff May – 530, Rick Koabel – 486, Shawn Sliter – 428, Blair Young – 394, Rob Goulding – 380.
Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Division Top 12 in Points.
Rocco Conte – 754, Tony Kelly – 668, Rob Overholt – 650, Kyle Pelrine – 618, Greg Wilson – 548, Brandon Iudiciani – 530, Mike Sadusek – 524, Chris Sheppard – 502, Garnet Wilson – 502, Chris Laskey – 438, Jason Coutu – 477, Kourtney Kocarik – 420.
By Jim Irvine / Merrittville Speedway