@Merrittville • @Pintysfoods • THOROLD, ONTARIO – Niagara’s complete concrete contractor hosted Niagara’s complete Canada Day Celebration Saturday June 25th. When the night was over and the Firemaster Fireworks were done – Stepehntown NY’s Matt Tanner was celebrating his first Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints A Main Victory of 2016 in winning the Gary Cunningham Memorial.
Also taking home their first wins were two St. Catharines Drivers – Tyler McPherson in the Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modifieds and regular Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Driver Jason Coutu who won the Ballhockey.com Enduro Qualifer accelerated by Niagara College.
Stevensville’s Pete Reid backed up his Welland and Fort Erie Timber Marts Dash Win last week adding his first Hoosier Stock win.
Photos courtesy of BMD Photography with exception of Bowman and McPherson Photo by Alex Bruce
Matt Tanner needed nearly every lap in Saturday night’s Lucas Oil Super Sprint/Mach 1 Chassis A-Main to put himself out in front of the field. Tanner worked and worked to get to the front and finally secured the top spot in the Gary Cunningham Memorial with just two of laps to go.
That wasn’t the end of the fight for Tanner as he had to navigate traffic while not surrendering the lead back to upstart Ryan Turner. At the end it was Tanner picking up the $2,350 winner’s share in the Einstein Construction Group Canadian Series event over Turner for his first win since August of last season at the I-88 Speedway.
“This is great,” Tanner said. “We’ve struggled so bad this year. We’ve had some super-fast race cars. We were here earlier in the year and we thought we had a win, but we gave it away. It feels good to finally take a fast race car and put it in victory lane.”
Steve Poirier started on the pole with Parker Evans alongside. Evans gained the advantage on the top of turns one and two but that was the end of their battle as before a lap was concluded contact between them sent Evans tumbling in turn four. Evans night was over and Poirier was relegated to the rear.This now put Jordan Poirier on the point with Stan Zanchin flanking him to the outside. Jordan gained the lead on lap one before Turner got a run on the inside to take the position on lap two. Jordan then shot back around Turner to lead lap three.
Turner remained patient while parking his No. 91 on the inner part of the surface. Jordan continued to work the cushion. Turner’s lane proved to be faster allowing him to retake the top spot on lap nine.
Turner opened up a slight lead on Jordan before caution slowed the pace of the action on lap 12 as Zanchin spun in turn four. This set up a double-file restart. Racing went back to green with Turner holding off the challenges of Jordan with Tanner joining the fray from his 12thplace starting spot.
As the laps clicked off on the three-eighths mile oval, Tanner ran the middle lane with Turner low and Jordan on the cushion. The three drivers never deviated from there line. That was until the race reached the final few laps. At that point Tanner decided it was time to make a move.
Twenty-two laps were complete when Tanner was finally able to use slide job in turns one and two to get by Jordan for the runner-up position. This put him back on the cushion, the line that he had used to work his way into the top three. From here he tracked down Turner.
“I’d been running the top there but when I got to Jordan we were running the same line,” stated Tanner. “I could never clear him coming out of four to get up in front of him. The one time I finally did. Once I got the top back, the car was so good on the top.”
Tanner made the pass for the lead as the pair exited the fourth turn with only two revolutions of the track remaining. He barely beat Turner to the line. That wasn’t the end as they now had to fend off each other while working through cars at the back end of the field.
The while flag came with Tanner working the high line and Turner down low. They both cleared the slower cars as they exited the second corner. Tanner remained on the cushion as Turner dove as low as he could to find moisture to propel him back to the lead. At the line it was Tanner by .473 over Turner for the win.
“It was tough telling where they were going to go because they were racing themselves,” stated Tanner about the traffic. “Luckily it all played out. They kind of left the top and that gave me what I needed. I kind of used a little pick there. At that I was just hoping that it was over.”
For Turner, of Caistor Centre, Ont., it was his best career finish with the series. He made every effort to keep Tanner in the runner-up position but came up just short in his quest.
“I could hear someone outside of me almost the whole race,” commented Turner. “I looked ahead with about five to go and I knew it was going to be interesting. I thought I could get him (Tanner) underneath but I just didn’t have enough. I’m really happy with this run. I wish we were sitting up there in first but we’ll take this one.”
Jordan, of St. Mathieu de Beloeil, Que, matched his career best with his second third place finish on the season. The younger side of the Poirier family was in the mix as well at the checkered just a few car lengths back.
“It was fun racing with Matt and Ryan,” mentioned Jordan. “It was hard in turn four because the track was coming along and getting slick. I gave it my best so I’m pretty happy with my third.”
Port Colborne, Ont., driver, Dave Dykstra finished fourth in the order while Poirier rebounded from the lap one incident to secure the final spot in the top five.
Doc Magilligan’s Restaurant & Irish Pub http://www.docmagilligans.com/#specials presented the Cobra Coaches Dash and the winner was Paul Kinney of Canastota Ny.
“I can’t thank Mike (Bowman) enough,” said Tyler McPherson who won the 35 lap Feature for the Pinty’s 358 Modifieds, “I’ve raced against him since I was 15 … we’ve raced 1000 laps or more against each other – thanks again to him and his team and all my sponsors … family and crew.”
Scott Wood was first to lead the 35 lap feature for the Pinty’s 358 Modifieds with fellow front row starter Wayne Conn taking over top spot with a few laps on the Lucas Oil Live Leaderboard. By lap 10, Wood still had control of second with Tyler McPherson, Fred Carleton and Gary Lindberg as the top 5.
Down the front-stretch to complete lap 11, Wood regained top spot until caution the next lap slowed the pace. Wood resumed the lead on the restart only to be slowed with one more lap complete.
With Wood back out front, Conn would quickly regain the lead on the restart. Past the halfway point Conn would break away from the battle for runner-up spot which now belonged to Tyler McPherson in the borrowed Mike Bowman #71.
Lap 26 would find McPherson closing in on Conn eventually taking over top spot.
By lap 30, McPherson – whose own #777 has all kinds of problems the last few weeks would drive away to a comfortable lead with Gary Lindberg taking over the runner up spot.
At the finish McPherson was followed by Lindberg, Chad Brachmann, Fred Carleton and Conn.
“I think I’ll have to apologize my wife when I get home,” said Hoosier Stock Feature Winner Pete Reid of Lori at home expecting the couple’s first child, “she said don’t win tonight … you can finish second … but don’t win for me. My guys worked on this car all week and the track was so smooth – thanks to the Merrittville crew for the work after our qualifying.”
Steve Shaw took control of the 20 lap Hoosier Stock Feature at the start and quickly Kyle Pelrine and Pete Reid joined the leader at the front of the pack. Reid would become the new leader down the front stretch of lap 4.
Reid would quickly drive away from the field as Billy Bleich, Jason Fontaine and Chris Crawford raced into the top 5 ahead of Pelrine. Caution would slow the field for the first time on lap 8.
Reid resumed control of top spot on the restart with Crawford and Bleich joining the leader in a break away pack. To start lap 14, Reid would lead the field into lap traffic before caution once again on lap 15.
Reid was back into the lead on the restart with the return to action again slowed on lap 16. Reid set the pace once again with a caution right away after Bleich lost control of his car between Turns 3 and 4.
Reid led Crawford back to the green flag with Dave Bailey in third spot. Down the backstretch of lap 19, Bailey would take over second.
At the finish it was Pete Reid ahead of Dave Bailey, Chris Crawford, Jason Fontaine and Mark Fawcett.
46 cars were led to the green flag for the 2nd Ballhockey.com Enduro Qualifier accelerated by Niagara College by former Merrittville Racer Shayne Pierce who was filling in behind the wheel of the Thorold Auto Parts Pace Truck for Theo Curvin.
Quickly the 25 lap event would be a battle between James Mercer, Nick Masi – who won the first qualifier back on the Pen Centre and Premier Equipment and Rentals Night and Jason Coutu.
Mercer was first to lead before a see saw battle between Masi and Coutu.
With top spot changing hands several times – at the finish Coutu was followed by Masi, 2015 Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Champion Rob Goulding, Jack Myers and Benjamin Hage.
With Masi and Coutu now locked into the front row for Sunday September 11th’s Ballhockey,com Enduro 100 lap Main Event accelerated by Niagara College … the final Qualifier will lock in the third starter as part of Tim Hortons Night Saturday July 30th.
On behalf of the Cunningham Family, Merrittville Speedway would like to thank the Drivers that helped collect just over a $2,000 Donation to McNally House Hospice and THANK YOU to the fans and race teams that donated!.
McNally House Hospice is a residential setting that provides 24 hour specialized palliative care, free of charge, to people living with terminal disease, as well as those in their life circle.
To learn how to make a donation to McNally House Hospice – visit http://www.mcnallyhousehospice.com/donate-now/
Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Mach 1 Chassis A-Main – Matt Tanner,Ryan Turner, Jordan Poirier, Dave Dykstra, Steve Poirier, Ryan Susice, Glenn Styres, Jason Barney, Jamie Turner, Paul Kinney, Cory Turner, Jim Huppunen, Brandon Kidd, Jake Brown, Mikey Kruchka, Dylan Westbrook, Tim Axton, Stan Zanchin, Chad Miller, Chris Jones, Dave Axton, Jonathan Preston, Mitch Brown, Parker Evans DNQ – Mike Stelter, Lee Winger, Shawn Donath, Havard Daniels, Scott Sherk, Jim Porter.
Lap Leaders – J. Poirier 1, R. Turner 2, J. Poirier 3-8, R. Turner 9-22, Tanner 23-25.
Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Feature (35 laps) Tyler McPherson, Gary Lindberg, Chad Brachmann, Fred Carleton, Wayne Conn, Scott Wood, Tim Jones, Erick Rudolph, Mike Bowman, Pete Bicknell, Chris Steele, Mark D’Ilario, Tommy Flannigan, Ryan Susice, Phil Vignieri, Todd Gordon.
Hoosier Stock Feature (20 laps) Pete Reid, Dave Bailey, Chris Crawford, Jason Fontaine, Mark Fawcett, Jim Lampman, Billy Bleich, Kyle Pelrine, Steve Shaw, Jack Myers, Dave Small, Robin Mortensen, Mike Miller, Tanner Podwinski, Nick Dennis, Tony Shintani, Jeremy May.