THOROLD, ON – Racing action returned to its Saturday Night Home in Niagara at Merrittville Speedway. While St. Catharines, Ontario’s Mat Williamson extended his win streak to four features at Merrittville in the Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modified’s, the Right Choice Auto and Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman saw a fresh face on top in Nelson Mason of Niagara Falls, Ontario, score his first win of the season. Pete Reid from Stevensville, Ontario also scored his first win of the season at Merrittville in the Hoosier Stocks. Port Colborne’s Josh Sliter got his second feature win on the season in the Rona Doidge Mod Lites and Welland native Olivier Laroque won his feature at Canada’s Oldest Dirt track in the Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinders.
The Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modified’s had one of their wilder feature events in recent memory Saturday night at Merrittville Speedway. Brandon Gruhl and Darrell Farraway lead the field to green. The first caution came on lap 10 when Gary Lindberg stopped on the high side of turns three and four with a right front flat. Farraway controlled the restart, but the field would make only one lap before caution fell once again for the first of two multicar wrecks. Brad Rouse tried to make a move on leader Farraway but ran out of room and spun from third place in front of the entire field, collecting nearly a dozen cars.
After a red flag, the race would restart only to have another caution when Tom Neele was turned in front of the field in the first corner, blocking up the track and again involving many cars. While most of the field sustained damage in or were involved in the lap 11 incidents, most were able to continue. Mat Williamson would take the lead from Farraway just before the halfway point. Farraway then found himself in trouble on lap 24, when Gary Lindberg tried to force his way by on the inside on his march back through the field after being a part of two cautions. Lindberg tried to force his way under Farraway and climbed the inside barrier with his left front before making contact with Farraway, creating a spin that involved more cars.
Things would settle after the last caution and Williamson would drive off to his fourth straight win at Merrittville, finishing ahead of Pete Bicknell. Ryan Susice and Dalton Slack would recover from their involvement in the lap 11 pileup to finish third and fourth while Fred Carleton rounding out the top 5.
It was a very different race in the Right Choice Auto and Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman feature. A field of 27 cars took the green with Nelson Mason and Paul Gaboury on the front row. Unlike the Modified’s, the Sportsman ran caution free for the full extent of their 25-lap feature. Mason took the lead early and never looked back even with his teammate Taylor Vanderzanden and defending track champion Cody McPherson taking tenths of a second off in the closing laps.
After tiptoeing through lap traffic, Mason would save just enough of his at one time three plus second lead to seal the deal by under a second and get back into the win column after what had been a tough start to the year. Vanderzanden, McPherson, Brent Begolo and Chad Chevalier completed the top 5.
John Couture and Bryce Richardson started on the front row for the Hoosier Stock feature. On lap six, two front runners in Zach Bleich and Jason Fontaine tangled off corner two while running inside the top 5 to bring out the first yellow. Mark Fawcett got to the lead and controlled much of the event. Pete Reid, who had a strong run Monday in the 75 lap Hoosier Stock feature, tracked down Fawcett in the closing laps. Coming to the white flag, Reid made a slick move to dive under a lap car while leader Fawcett went around the outside, allowing Reid to take the lead and the win. Fawcett settled for a frustrating second, Rob Murray came home third, Dave Bailey was fourth and Zach Bleich recovered to fifth after his incident lap six.
In Rona Doidge Modified Lite racing, Chance Kotar and Chris Watson started the race on the front row. Caution came early on lap 2 when Kotar spun and collected Leroy Buscumb. Josh Sliter took the lead quickly after the restart, building a healthy lead on the field. Lap 14, another caution was brought when Kotar spun again. Brent Begolo challenged Slitter for the lead and attempted to make it back-to-back wins, however his car began smoking and leaving a trail of fluid with two laps to go. Slitter survived a late restart and took his second trip to victory lane this season. R.J. Pietz, Tyler Winger, Buscumb and Rob Misener completed the top 5.
Blair Rousselle and Richard Hadler brought the Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinder feature to green. Olivier Laroque who started fifth, was the class of the field and lead early and often. He survived multiple challenges from the like of Cole Hardy and Kyle Rothwell including after debris brought out the yellow with six laps to go to claim his first feature win at Merrittville Speedway. Rothwell and Hardy came home second and third, with Tyler Lafantaise finishing fourth in his return as defending champion in the division and Alex Riley completing the top five finishers.
RACE RESULTS –- May 27th, 2023
Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modifieds – MAT WILLIAMSON (4), Pete Bicknell, Ryan Susice, Dalton Slack, Fred Carleton, Tom Neale, Luke Carleton, Dave Flannigan Jr., Scott Wood, Trevor Wright, Darrell Farraway, Ken Winfield, Boyd MacTavish, Derek VanMil, Todd Gordon, Dylan Davidson, Gary Lindberg, Brandon Gruhl, Brad Rouse
Qualifying Heats – Todd Gordon, Scott Wood, Gary Lindberg
Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman – NELSON MASON, Taylor Vanderzanden, Cody McPherson, Brent Begolo, Chad Chevalier, Paul Gaboury, Justin Sharp, Jason VanMil, James Friesen, Terry Smith, Jordan Cosco, Rob Knapp, Curtis Friesen, Mitch Dumont, Billy Bleich Jr., Jeff Panunte, Spencer Smolders, Matteo Panunte, Noah Mamo, Rob Pietz, Daniel McKay, Nathan Peattie, Bill Gill, Adam Leslie, Joey Mastroianni, Ryan Ferri, Graeme Roth
Qualifying Heats – Nelson Mason, Curtis Friesen, Brent Begolo
Hoosier Stocks – PETE REID, Mark Fawcett, Rob Murray, Dave Bailey, Zach Bleich, Donny Lampman, Kyle Pelrine, Ron Loggie, Ryan Dinning, Jim Lampman, Kyle Haynes, John Couture, Gofast Teeple, Jeff Bean, Murray Nicholls, Kyle Andress, Mason Smith, Keith Dale, Bryce Richardson, Ross Crowe, Jason Fontaine
Qualifying Heats: Mark Fawcett, Pete Reid, Donny Lampman
Rona Doidge Modified Lites – JOSH SLITER (2), R.J. Pietz, Tyler Winger, Leroy Buscumb, Rob Misener, Ryan Anderson, Dan Kviring, Anthony Kelly, Dave Cornish, Sam Iftody, Ryleigh Sliter, Chance Kotar, Brent Begolo, Chris Watson, Ashton Anderson
Qualifying Heats – Chris Watson, Josh Sliter
Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinders – OLIVIER LAROQUE, Kyle Rothwell, Cole Hardy, Tyler Lafantaise, Alex Riley, Ken Hair, John Lubeck, Austyn Werstroh, Randy Alway, Brian Aube, Vincent Pagnotta, Douwe Degroot, Dave Winniger, Jordan Denobriga, Richard Hadler, Blair Rousselle, Donald Deagle, Alex Tebow, Steven Ellis, Rick Beales, Josh Silvio, Cierra Keus, Scott Brown, Mason Anderson
Qualifying Heats – Kyle Rothwell, John Lubeck, Cole Hardy