@Merrittville • @Pintysfoods • THOROLD, ON – Pinty’s Delicious Foods Night got Merrittville Speedway’s 2016 Championship Chase cooking presenting the 65th Season Opener Saturday, April 30th. 2016 Rookie Gary Lindberg of Ridgeway drove away to his first career Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Feature. Veterans Jason Fontaine (Port Colborne) and Tony Kelly (Niagara Falls) were first time winners in the Hoosier Stock and Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Divisions.
Another first time winner was Lockport NY’s Tom Richau who won his first career Novice Feature while Brad Rouse of St. Catharines won his second Feature of the season both coming in the Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division.
Beamsville’s Paul Klager was also won his second straight event in the Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division.
“This is a heck of a way to start the season,” said Gary Lindberg after winning his first Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Feature as a rookie, “I had to keep it together … I hopped the cushion a few times.”
At the start, second generation drivers Ryan Susice and Gary Lindberg led the field to the green flag with polesitter Susice the first to lead the 35 lap Event before Lindberg took control down the backstretch.
Back through the field, cars were sometimes four wide battling for position behind the leader who held a 2 second advantage over defending champion Chad Brachmann who was in the runner up spot by lap 5.
Just as Lindberg came up on slower cars – the first caution would slow the pace on lap 12.
With Lindberg in control on the restart – contact through the pack had Brachmann off the pace and losing several positions until caution would slow the field once again on lap 13.
Multi-time champion Pete Bicknell was now in the runner-up spot after starting in 14th.
A multi-car incident on lap 16 involving several front-runners left Scott Wood facing the wrong way in Turn 1 with the flat tire. Wood’s night ended unfortunately then as he wouldn’t return after pitting.
With Lindberg resuming control once again, the driver who won 9 Features last season en route to his first Sportsman Title in what was then the Rick’s Delivery sponsored Division resumed a 2 second advantage by lap 25.
Susice battled back to regain second spot with Mark D’Ilario challenging Bicknell for third. D’Ilario would overtake Bicknell until a lap 33 caution slowed the field the final time.
With Lindberg out front, Susice and D’Ilario got hooked together but were able to break apart. Susice though would lose several spots.
At the finish, Lindberg was followed by D’Ilario, Tommy Flannigan, Brachmann and Bicknell.
“I can’t thank Rob Goulding and the whole Twisted Metal Crew enough,” said Tony Kelly after winning the first 4 Cylinder Feature of the new season, “this sure is a great way to start the season!”
Kelly’s car is the former Rob Goulding #1 that ran last season to the Points Championship that Kelly had purchased during the off season.
Kelly took control right away outracing fellow front row starter Brian Teeple to the initial green flag. That green quickly went red after rookie Austyn Werstroh slowed off the pace with a minor fire under the hood of his Volkswagen Beetle.
On the restart, it was Kelly out front of Jason Coutu who scraped the front-stretch wall several laps later slowing the pace once again. Under the same caution, Alex Riley slowed off the pace with smoke coming from his #17. Coutu’s night would get worse after losing a wheel.
When racing resumed it was Kelly ahead of new challenger Jeff Hill who quickly had team-mates Tyler Lafantaisie and Kyle Rothwell to deal with. Eventually Lafantaisie (in Rothwell’s car from last season) and Rothwell in a Trevor Clark owned VW would get by and into the top 3.
With 5 laps to go, Kelly was into lap traffic with a final caution with 3 laps to go slowing the pace.
At the finish, Kelly was followed by Lafantaisie, Rothwell, Hill and Mike Sadusek.
“This is the third straight year I’ve won on Opening Night … hopefully this will continue,” said Hoosier Stock Feature Winner Jason Fontaine.
Fontaine and Dale Shaw set the pace at the start of the 20 lap Feature – the two side by side until Fontaine found the advantage in Turn 1. By lap 2, defending champion Mark Fawcett had just taken over the runner up spot with caution slowing the early stages.
Fawcett pulled alongside the leader with Fontaine holding a slight advantage ahead of a three wide battle for third involving Chris Crawford, Peter Reid and Dave Bailey. A lap 5 incident would ease the battle.
Fontaine and Fawcett were side by side on the restart with Fawcett taking top spot the next lap out of Turn 4. Down the frontstretch of lap 9 – Fontaine was back out front.
Disaster for Fawcett would come on lap 10 after losing a wheel with Reid also heading to the pits on the lap 10 caution. Fontaine would resume control on the restart with Jim Lampman taking third spot.
With 5 laps to go, Fontaine’s couple car length lead over Dave Bailey would increase by the finish with Lampman about the same distance behind to close out the top 3. Jack Myers and Crawford would round out the Top 5.
“It’s awesome to be here again … we’ve got some good competition this season,” said Brad Rouse after his second straight win of 2016 in the Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Division, “Paul (Gaboury) and I had a great race … I just had to keep working on him”
Gaboury was first to lead the 25 lap Event after outracing former Tuesday Night Kart Racer Brett Senek. The first caution slowed the field on lap 6. Gaboury set the pace until the second caution on lap 8.
When racing resumed, Brad Rouse had landed in the runner up spot and was challenging Gaboury. A lap 16 caution had Gaboury out front but quickly Rouse pulled alongside the leader.
Rouse would take over top spot on lap 21 by half a car length. From 15th starting spot Cody McPherson was now in third spot behind Brent Begolo.
In the closing laps, Rouse and Begolo were followed by Gaboury who rallied to overtake McPherson. Adam Leslie rounded out the top 5.
After Chris Storm took the first ever Novice Sportsman 10 lap Feature to the green flag, Tom Richau quickly took control of top spot. The only incident on lap 10 shortened the scheduled 12 lap event to 10 after there were only three cars remaining.
“This is awesome … I’m hoping this is the start of a great season,” said the two-time Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Feature Winner, ”I didn’t win at all last year except for when Chris Steele drove it.”
Defending Point Champion Josh Sliter was first to lead the 20 lap Event before his uncle Shawn took control on lap 2. Quickly Paul Klager was in third spot and by lap 5 was the new leader.
2 laps later Klager had opened up a lead of some two car lengths with the race to watch for second between Shawn Sliter, Rob Misener and Jeff May.
With three laps to go the margins between first second and third had opened up with Klager, Shawn Sliter and Misener ahead of May and Josh Sliter at the finish.
For all the news on Merrittville Speedway’s 65th Consecutive Season in 2016 – visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com. Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville
Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Feature (35 laps) Gary Lindberg, Mark D’Ilario, Tommy Flannigan, Pete Bicknell, Wayne Conn, Tyler McPherson, Chris Raabe, Chris Steele, Ryan Susice, Mike Bowman, Bill Bleich, Fred Carleton, Jeff McGinnis, JF Corriveau, Todd Gordon, Scott George, Scott Wood, Brandon Easey. DNS – Tim Jones.
Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Feature (25 laps) Brad Rouse, Brent Begolo, Cody McPherson, Adam Leslie, Justin Sharp, Rob Knapp, Joey Mastroianni, Jay Mallory, Darrell Farraway, Chris Bellamy, Jim Harbison, Gord McIntosh, Chris Storm, Jesse Penner, Trevor Wright, John Babion, Tom Richau, Zach Sam, Austin Susice, Brett Senek, Sean Dominey.
Yager Bros Trucking Novice Sportsman Feature (10 laps) Tom Richau, Trevor Wright, Rick Moreash, Robbie Johnson, Chris Storm, Sean Dominey.
Hoosier Stock Feature (20 laps)Jason Fontaine, Dave Bailey, Jim Lampman, Jack Myers, Chris Crawford, Dave Small, Jeremy May, Ryan Dinning, Chris Schneider, Marcel Michaud, Derek VanMil, James Marr, Pete Reid, Tony Shintani, Steve Shaw, Mark Fawcett, Kyle Pelrine, Nick Dennis.
Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Feature (20 laps) Paul Klager, Shawn Sliter. Rob Misener, Jeff May, Josh Sliter, Steven Beckett, RJ Pietz, Chris Watson, Marty deMoel, Tyler Winger, Ray Sliter Jr., Craig Martin, Ryleigh Sliter.
Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Feature (15 laps) Tony Kelly, Tyler Lafantaisie, Kyle Rothwell, Jeff Hill, Mike Sadusek, Sam Iftody, Jay Moulton, Brian Teeple, Jeremy Smith Adam Hallett, Vincent Pagnotta, Gary Hodason, Kourtney Kocarik, Cole Hardy, Greg Lounsbury, Kyle Miller, Clinton Nicholls, Alex Pidgeon, Jason Coutu, Alex Riley, Tom Neale, Olivier Larocque, Austyn Werstroh, Jeffrey Larmet.