THOROLD, ON – JUNE 2, 2012 – Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series action saw Derek Wagner and Chris Steele share their first 2012 wins Saturday, June 2 at Merrittville Speedway in the Archer Truck Services and Semenuk’s Esso shared event. Steele drove away from the field for his first Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Win of the season while Wagner’s first win came in a spirited battle in the J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Division.
Returning to Victory Lane were Rocco Conte, Rob Murray and Brad Rouse in the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder, Hoosier Stock and Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Divisions respectively.
Steele has got to love iffy weather.
When he won his first career 358 Modified Feature in June of 2008 the event was cut to 33 laps after rain turned the track untraceable. As the laps wound down this time – while officials noticed rain beginning – the entire 35 laps would be in the books with Steele in Victory Lane for the first time for car owner Pete Cosco.
“The bottom of four was awesome… it was fun slide jobbing no one,” said Steele in Victory Lane once again with a light shower coming down. “It’s been discouraging last few weeks … it’s something to win in your own car but to do it for a car owner like Pete Cosco – it’s really awesome to be here!”
With Archer Truck Services and Semenuk’s Esso sharing the night as co-sponsors – the threat of rain also had to share the event with a full moon which affected the course of events the entire night.
A series of cautions around the halfway point saw Steele take over top spot from early leader Rob Pietz who had drove away to a ¼ lap lead on the field by lap 5. 5 laps later Steele would be in the runner up after starting eighth.
The first caution on lap 11 saw last week’s winner Mike Bowman off the pace and while under caution , Tim Jones who went into the night just 2 points out of top spot in the points fell victim to a flat tire.
Both drivers would return but once Steele was in control – he too would drive away from the field. By lap 15 – Steele had almost a half lap lead on new runner up Mat Williamson with a rash of cautions slowing Steele’s pace.
The final yellow came on lap 23 which allowed Steele to pull away once more to almost a half lap lead on Williamson with the race for third the one to watch between Pete Bicknell and Tommy Flannigan. A race that Flannigan would win bumping Bicknell to fourth spot. Mike Bowman rallied from having issues with his car earlier in the feature to take 5th.
“When the track changes … you have to be on your toes,” shared Derek Wagner in Victory Lane. “We made some last minute changes to try and get close to the front and here we are … it was a wild run though swapping the lead as we did!”
When Wagner took the lead out of turn 4 to complete lap 19 – it was the second time out front after initially taking control of top spot down the backstretch of lap 8 from then leader Jason Corless.
With Corless in the runner up spot now – a challenge from Shawn Sliter actually carried Corless past Wagner on lap 11. By lap 15 Corless enjoyed a couple car length lead over Sliter and Wagner.
The two battled back and closed in on Corless with Sliter taking over top spot along the front stretch of lap 17 before Wagner regained the lead for good.
The start of the event saw Ray Sliter Jr. as leader before two cautions on laps 2 and 4 slowed the field in the early stages. The first yellow was for Jeff May who miraculously started the feature after flipping his car in qualifying earlier in the night.
May would spin his car in Turn 3 after the drive shaft let go.
Corless would be the new leader after a lap 4 restart but would have to settle for third behind Wagner and Sliter at the finish. Josh Sliter and Randy Hollingshead would round out the top 5.
“It’s great to win on Semenuk’s Esso Night … they’re one of my newest sponsors – I wouldn’t be here without them and everyone else!” thanked Rocco Conte in Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Victory Lane for the third time of the season. “I was a little worried whether we’ed even be racing tonight … I knew I would be starting at the back – but that’s when I have the most fun!”
Early on in the 15 lap Feature it looked like fun for Conte, Rob Overholt and initial leader Chris Sheppard with the three battling each other for second behind leader Kyle Pelrine who took over top spot out of turn 4 to complete lap 2.
Eventually Conte would land in second and set his sights on Pelrine – becoming the new leader on lap 5.
After a lap 9 caution Conte would find Overholt and Trevor Goulding trailing until a red flag on lap 13 paused the event.
Rookie Kourtney Kocarik and veteran Mike Giberson came together high in Turn 4 and both cars apparently flipped with both landing on their wheels with both drivers ok.
On the restart, Overholt began to pressure Conte for the lead but at the finish the defending point champion came home a couple car lengths ahead. Trevor Goulding was third with Pelrine settling for 4th ahead of Tony Kelly in fifth.
I thought it had jumped out of gear but it must have been a bad axle or something,” relayed initial Hoosier Stock Feature leader Jason Fontaine during a mid race interview after bringing out the second caution on lap 8, “I finally got the car working good – we’ll just have to fix her up and give it another try next week.”
Fontaine was first to lead the 20 lap Event before Aaron Wiley slowed with a flat tire on lap 2 after contact with another car. On that restart Fontaine was out front of quite a battle between a number of drivers that saw Charlie Lynch eventually take control of second.
After Fontaine dropped out of the lead after loosing a tire, Jim Lampman was the new leader on the restart before Rob Murray took control.
Murray was quickly off to a couple car length lead over Lampman with the two pulling away from the battle for third that saw Chris Crawford trying to hold off third generation driver Cory Turner and Kevin Knapp.
Caution on lap 17 for debris on the front stretch had Knapp taking over third before the yellow. With Murray back in control a last lap caution set up a one lap dash.
At the finish it was Murray with Lampman settling for second a couple car lengths back. A pretty close finish in the top 5 saw Kevin Knapp edging out Pete Reid and Chris Crawford “I asked some of the 4 Cylinders what the track was like and they said tacky but I went for a dry set up,” revealed Murray in Victory Lane for the fourth time, “it took a while to come in but when it did … it was pretty good actually!”
“Everybody sees everything differently,” relayed Brad Rouse in Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Victory Lane for the second time, “you just have to race your way back up to the front.”
A second caution early in the event almost meant disaster for the defending champion Rouse who was in line for a penalty after Officials deemed he pulled out of line too early on the restart. Rouse would be put back two spots on the next caution or at the conclusion of the 25 lap event which ever came first.
Luckily Rouse would get his break on lap 13.
Jason Farraway was the initial leader taking the 28 car starting field to the initial green flag through the two early cautions until Paul Gaboury took control of top spot.
Gaboury would resume control with Rouse storming back into the runner up spot right away after being put back to 4th. Rouse would soon battle Gaboury – taking over top spot to finish lap 16.
Three additional cautions would slow the field in the final stages – the last one setting up a one lap dash to the checkered flag.
At the finish Rouse and Gaboury were followed by Cody McPherson who had to qualify from the consolation, Jim Johnstone and Tyler McPherson.
INSIDE TRACK MOTORSPORT NEWS PIT NOTES: The night began with Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Driver Mike Bowman receiving honors as the B&C Truck Centre Mack Canada Driver of the Week after his first 2012 Feature Win May 31st.
UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY: The Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Division returns to the spotlight Saturday, June 9, at Merrittville Speedway when Baron Roofing & Siding presents the second 40 lap David Chevrolet King of the Crates Series Event of 2012.
The Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Program will also feature action in the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified, Hoosier Stock, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite and Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Divisions.
When the Grandstands will open at 5:30 PM – MT Bellies will present their second BIG Food BIG Fun Night of the season with 2 Adults, 2 Children under 16, 4 Pepsi and 4 Popcorn all for just $40.00. Showtime is at 7:00 PM.
For further information call the Speedway Office at 905-892-8266 or visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com.For directions to Merrittville Speedway click on www.merrittvillespeedway.com/track_map
BOBCAT OF HAMILTON DIRTcar 358 MODIFIED FEATURE (35 laps) Chris Steele, Mat Williamson, Tommy Flannigan, Pete Bicknell, Mike Bowman, Rick Richner, Travis Braun, Chad Chevalier, Larry Lampman, Rob Pietz, Dave Small, Ken Cosgrove, Tim Jones, Fred Carleton, Bill Bleich, Kenny Winnfield, Shayne Pierce, Erick Rudolph, Rick Hoctor, Todd Gordon, Paul Ashton, Steven Schumacher, Scott Wood.
J&S HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING MODIFIED LITE FEATURE (20 laps) Derek Wagner, Shawn Sliter, Jason Corless, Josh Sliter, Randy Hollingshead, Robert Goulding, Kory Howe, Dillan Sliter, Ray Sliter, Jr., Phillip Wilson, Derek Bredin, Blair Young, Kellie Mason, Jeffrey May, Greg Mills, Rick Koabel.
TURN 4 COLLISION 4 CYLINDER FEATURE (15 laps) Rocco Conte, Rob Overholt, Trevor Goulding, Kyle Pelrine, Tony Kelly, Chris Laskey, Brandon Iuducianni, Chris Sheppard, Mike Sadusek, Jeff Larmet, Greg Wilson, Mike Giberson, Mike Giberson, Kourtney Kocarik, Jason Coutu, Terry Larmet.
HOOSIER STOCK FEATURE (20 laps) Rob Murray, Jim Lampman, Kevin Knapp, Pete Reid, Chris Crawford, Cory Turner, Brad Sheehan, Billy Hogue, Billy Bleich, James Thompson, Charlie Lynch, Chris Schneider, Tyler Anderson, Kameron Kocarik, Richard Champigny, Evan Curtis, Ryan Turner, Devin Habiuk, Jack Myers, Jeff Dayman, Ken Sargent, Vince Fargnoli, Terry Ronning, Aaron Wiley, Jason Fontaine, Bryce Richardson.
ORIGINAL PIZZA LOGS DIRTcar SPORTSMAN FEATURE – (25 laps) Brad Rouse, Paul Gaboury, Cody McPherson, Jim Johnstone, Tyler McPherson, BJ Willard, Brandon Easey, Greg Panunte, Adam Leslie, Robert Baker, Jason Moore, Austin Wood, Mark Chiddy, Jesse Penner, Gary Lindberg, Paul Williamson, Joey Mastroianni, Brent Begolo, Larry Czinege, Justin Sharp, Jason Farraway, Paul Jorgenson, Travis Miller, Rob Knapp, David Flannigan, Chris Bellamy, Ron MacAulay, Tony Cowell.
From Jim Irvine / Merrittville Speedway