The event was the final point events for all Divisions with Cody McPherson winning his first Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Championship while for Pete Bicknell – the 2012 edition was his 22nd at the Thorold facility. Rob Murray, Josh Sliter and Rocco Conte were also introduced to the crowd as 2012 Champions in their respective divisions.
Going into the 50 lap John Spencer Memorial 358 Modified Feature, Mat Williamson sat 26 points behind Bicknell and had a shot at overtaking the perennial champion. After a redraw for starting positions – Williamson would start on the pole with Bicknell 9th.
Williamson was first to lead with Bowman second a few car lengths behind with the two driving away from the field right away. Quickly Williamson would stretch his lead on Bowman by almost a full straightaway by lap 5.
By lap 9, Williamson was into lap traffic allowing Bowman to close to within a couple car lengths. By lap 20 still in heavy lap traffic Williamson would again open up a comfortable lead – a gap Bowman was again able to narrow by the halfway point.
Down the back stretch of lap 28 Bowman became the new leader.
Williamson got hung up behind slower cars allowing Bowman to open up a huge lead by lap 35. By the time Williamson cleared the traffic Bowman was a straightaway ahead.
In the closing laps, Williamson closed in some on Bowman but with the entire 50 laps run under the green flag – Bowman was able to lap up to the 10th place car.
"We were set up for the last 20 laps – I didn't think the track would be so fast though," revealed Bowman in Victory Lane, "I could barely drive it early on. Mat was fast first ... but a little mistake and we were better in lap traffic ... Congrats to Pete (Bicknell) and his crew on their championship and thanks to my guys as well – just racing for fun this year allowed us to think outside the box some – I'm glad to get our 3rd Spencer Memorial on this car!"
Bowman and Williamson were followed by Tim Jones, Todd Gordon and Travis Braun with Pete Bicknell in 8th just 14 points ahead of Williamson who would finish third in the standings for the third straight season.
"I've got it real lucky," admitted the 22 time Champion Bicknell, also co-owner of the Speedway, "I'm either working here or at the shop – I'm just the wheel man ... Ted ... Mikey ... T Ball ... Jessica ... Art ... Gary and Steven – they do it all. Thanks also to all the fans and teams for your support – we couldn't do any of this without you!"
Rob Knapp was first to lead the 25 lap Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Feature before caution slowed the pace on lap 3 after a flat tire for Tyler McPherson. Knapp regained the lead on the restart pulling away to about a 5 car lead on runner up Adam Leslie. By lap 10, Knapp's lead was about half a straightaway.
As Knapp came up on slower cars by lap 15, Leslie had closed some with Brandon Easey, BJ Willard and Brad Rouse as the top 5.
By lap 22 Leslie took the lead out of Turn 4 but the next lap it was Knapp back out front by a car length and through to the finish for his second win of the season.
Knapp was followed by Leslie with Willard overtaking his cousing Easey while Rouse settled for fifth.
"It was a little shaky ... I started to do some stupid moves the last two laps ... I didn't know whether to high or low but I'm glad it worked out," confessed an overwhelmed Rob Knapp, "thanks to all my guys – they work so hard ... we get mad at each other sometimes but we all keep coming back and doin' it. We don't have the same equipment some of these guys have and some nights we aren't on the same lap so to win twice ... it's awesome!"
First time Champion Cody McPherson who finished 10th commented, " We try and come with our A game every weekend – we had a good season and some good luck along the way – I wish we could've closed it out a little better but thanks to all my guys and our sponsors ... it's a team effort!"
Bobby McNamara was first to lead the 20 lap Hoosier Stock Feature with Ryan Turner taking top spot in Turn 2. With 3 and 4 wide racing back in the pack in the early going it didn't take long for caution to slow the pace as a multicar incident on lap 4 had last week's Feature Winner Cory Turner among others involved.
Ryan Turner – brother to Cory was back out front on the restart enjoying a couple car length advantage over Jeff Dayman and Chris Crawford until a second caution on lap 9 again slowed the field.
With Turner back out front - Chris Crawford quickly landed in the runnerup spot. By the halfway point Crawford was trying the inside groove to get by the leader - grabbing top spot on lap 14. The two front runners had pulled away from the field considerably with three wide action for third spot among a number of drivers including Billy Hogue, Dayman and Brad Sheehan.
Crawford would hold off Turner with Dayman edging Hogue with Sheehan closing out the top 5.
"I was hoping to make it back to Victory Lane this year," thanked Chris Crawford, "the first time I forgot to thank two of my sponsors ... Mr. Transmission in St. Catharines and Wildgoose Performance ... and tonight – a special thanks to Brian's Tire ... it's great to get a win for Brian – he has been helping us for a number of years!"
"It was a great season ... I'm real fortunate to be here as Champion once again – the talent of the drivers in the division is something else," prided Rob Murray, "at the start of the season I hadn't really thought about winning the points and I don't really follow the standings every week – it takes the fun out of it! I was happy to see the tech again – everything on my car has been checked at least once!"
Jeff May first to lead the 15 lap J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Feature before Randy Hollingshead took control the first time down the backstretch. Caution on lap 2 would slow the field originally for Josh Sliter on the backstretch with a flat tire until an evasive move by Paul Klager in Turn 1 resulted in Klager flipping his car.
Jeff May resumed control on the restart with Hollingshead challenging right away. The side by side battle allowed Kory Howe to close before a caution for debris on lap 5 slowed the field once again.
May again set the pace on the restart with Hollingshead back in front of a four wide battle amongst Howe, May and Josh Sliter. Eventually Sliter took control of top spot on lap 8 with Howe to second.
Caution once again on lap '10 saw Sliter back out front on the restart and through to the finish – the 10 time winner Sliter had driven away to about a ¼ lap lead over Howe and Hollingshead with Dillan Sliter and Jason Corless rounding out the top 5.
"Another Championship is nice ... but I really want it next week," challenged Josh Sliter in Victory Lane after rebounding from the early visit to the pits, " I got hit by someone in the rear and spun around so fast ... with the red out too I didn't know what shape the car was in so I ducked in the pits to have my crew check things out. Thanks to everyone that helped all season!"
Jeff Larmet first to lead until Greg Wilson took control before a lap 2 caution slowed the field. The reason for the caution – unfortunately Larmet had slowed off the pace. Wilson resumed control on the restart with Even Curtis now in the runnerup spot – pulling side by side down the frontstretch of lap 5. The next time out of Turn 4 – Curtis was the new leader.
Curtis would soon open up a healthy lead and stretching it by lap 10. Wilson would soon be challenged by Brandon Iudiciani , Tyler Lafantaisie and Kyle Pelrine with Lafantaisie into second with one lap to go.
At the checkers, Curtis was followed by Lafantaisie, Iudiciani, Pelrine, Rob Overholt and Rocco Conte.
"This is just awesome ... I started way back maybe mid pack and just trucked along," said Evan Curtis in Victory Lane for the second time of the season, "we just kept picking them off ... I couldn't have done it without my sponsors ... my Dad and Thanks to Brian's Tire!"
"A good year overall ... we ran pretty consistent and had some luck along the way," commented Rocco Conte after being introduced as 2012 Point Champion, " I couldn't do any of it without our sponsors though – thanks to everyone that helped!"
INSIDE TRACK MOTORSPORT NEWS PIT NOTES
Cory Turner began the night as the newest B&C Truck Centre MACK Canada Driver of the Week for his first Merrittville Speedway Hoosier Stock Feature Win in the Pen Centre Night August 25th.
Former Merrittville Racer Doug Allison went home the winner of a Fan Appreciation Prize – a Husqvarna Trimmer donated by Dave's Small Engines in Welland.
UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY
J&S Heating and Air Conditioning will present the 2 Day International Modified Lite Championship Weekend Friday September 7th and Saturday September 8th kicking off the final events for the 2012 Season at Merrittville Speedway.
Friday's events include the Modified Lites, a 25 lap Hoosier Stock $500 to win Big 6 Event in addition to the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinders and the Pro 4 Trucks.
Saturday's events include the Modified Lites, a 50 lap Hoosier Stock $1,000 to win Big 6 Combined Event against the Brighton Speedway Pro Stocks and the 50 lap Super DIRTcar Series for the Original Pizza Logs Sportsman.
The 2012 Season concludes Sunday September 9th when the Grantham Lions presents Smash-o-Rama featuring the $1,000 to win 100 lap Enduro accelerated by Niagara College plus a Freestyle Monster Truck Show by Aftershock and Krazy Train.
Friday and Saturday's Event find the gates opening at 5:30 with Showtime at 7:00 PM while Sunday ... the Grandstand opens at 11:00 with Smash-o-Rama starting at the new time of 1:00 PM.
With the purchase of a Grandstand Ticket on any of the three dates – Race Fans will receive a Free Ticket to the Thursday September 13th Thorold Blackhawks Home Game at the Thorold Arena.
For further information on the Triple Header 61st Season Finale or any other event - 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
Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville).
BOBCAT OF HAMILTON DIRTcar 358 MODIFIED JOHN SPENCER MEMORIAL FEATURE (50 laps) Mike Bowman, Mat Williamson, Tim Jones, Todd Gordon, Travis Braun, Bill Bleich, Pete Bicknell, Scott Wood, Larry Lampman, Chris Steele, Mark D'Ilario, Fred Carleton, Chad Chevalier, Tommy Flannigan, Rick Richner, Ken Cosgrove. Shayne Pierce, Steven Schumacher, Dave Small, Rob Pietz, Dave Flannigan Jr., Rick Hoctor.
ORIGINAL PIZZA LOGS DIRTcar SPORTSMAN FEATURE – (25 laps) Rob Knapp, Adam Leslie, BJ Willard, Brandon Easey, Brad Rouse, Jason Farraway, Greg Panunte, Mark Chiddy, Gary Lindberg, Cody McPherson, Justin Sharp, Brent Begolo, Tyler McPherson, Jim Johnstone, Jason Moore, Paul Gaboury, Larry Czinege, Austin Wood, Paul Williamson, Chris Bellamy, Doug Fralick, Ron MacAulay, Pat Sonnenburg, John McKenney Jr., Travis Miller, Remington Price.
HOOSIER STOCK FEATURE (20 laps) Chris Crawford, Ryan Turner, Jeff Dayman, Billy Hogue, Brad Sheehan, James Thompson, Aaron Wiley, Rob Murray, Ken Sargent, Devin Habiuk, Bryce Richardson, Lee Winger, Charlie Lynch, Doug Crawford, Tyler Anderson, Richard Champignany, Bob McNamara, Pete Reid, Cory Turner, Jim Lampman, Kameron Kocarik.
J&S HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING MODIFIED LITE FEATURE (15 laps) Josh Sliter, Kory Howe, Randy Hollingshead, Dillan Sliter, Jason Corless, Jeff May, Kellie Mason, Ray Sliter Jr., Rick Koabel, Greg Mills, Dan Kviring, Blair Young, Paul Klager.
TURN 4 COLLISION 4 CYLINDER (15 laps) Evan Curtis, Tyler Lafantaisie, Brandon Iudiciani, Kyle Pelrine, Rob Overholt, Rocco Conte, Greg Wilson, Garnet Wilson, Tony Kelly, Kyle Rothwell, Chris Laskey, Mike Sadusek, Chris Sheppard, Johnathan Ayrton, Kourtney Kocarik, Mike Giberson, Brandon Boychuck, Jason Coutu, Jeff Larmet.
Join us this season on a Saturday Night for a LUCAS OIL WEEKLY RACING SERIES EVENT featuring FIVE Divisions with local heroes and up and coming new stars. Make your plans ... call your friends and maybe even get a carpool together and enjoy a staycation at the speedway with plenty of free parking and camping spots – a night at the races is so much fun and so close to home!
From Jim Irvine / Assistant General Manager / Merrittville Speedway