Craig Cole picked up a pair of DADS checkered flags during the season opener Craig Cole picked up a pair of DADS checkered flags during the season opener Delaware Speedway

Delaware's 67th season opener a thriller

Written by  Ryan Dyson on Monday, 07 May 2018 12:31

LONDON, ON – Delaware Speedway’s 67th season began on May 5th with the annual running of the Spring Nationals, albeit with a new look for 2018. Steering away from the non-points season kick-off, drivers were met with a new challenge, one that saw them dive right into the championship hunt with full points racing.

All five weekly divisions were on deck for the season opener, including the Case ’N Drum Oil Late Models, TransAxle Super Stocks, Demar Aggregates Trucks, Doxtator Property Maintenance V8 Stocks, and Discounted Autoparts Depot and Supply Bone Stocks.

After opening ceremonies officially got the event underway and the engines were brought to life, the Case ’N Drum Oil Late Models got right to it with their first of two 25-lap feature races. A familiar face in Jesse Kennedy (#10) started on pole, alongside Jaden Chapman (#13). Kennedy immediately opened up a lead as those behind worked each other over and shuffled spots. On the ninth lap, 2017 Super Stock champion, Jake Sheridan (#52), moved into the runner-up position after a pass on Windsor, Ontario driver Lloyd Rawlings (#69). Rookie drivers Chapman and Kevin Lay (#5) battled it out for the fourth spot as the halfway mark came and went, all as Kennedy continued to extend his margin. Kennedy would score the opening victory of 2018 as Sheridan and Rawlings rounded out the podium spots.

The Glencoe Gladiator, David McCullough (#39), started on pole for the first TransAxle Super Stock feature alongside Andrew Ferreira (#9). McCullough led the opening laps of the race as the battle ensued behind. Kathleen Green (#16) had a mechanical failure on lap 6 and became the unfortunate first caution of 2018 as she made contact with the outside wall. Darrell Lake (#77) joined the battle up front by halfway as McCullough still led Matt Robblee. McCullough would score victory with Robblee and Adriaensen (#55) capping the top three.

Former series champion, Tom Zagorodny (#77), started on pole for the Demar Aggrgeates Truck Series first of two 25 lap feature events, and he would immediately open a sizeable gap. Mickey Brydges (#55) made a quick pass on Komoka driver Lucas Manning (#66) to advance to second. Randy Thompson (#1) went around in front of Connor Van Steensel (#71) on lap 14, bringing out the yellow flag for the second time in 2018 as slight contact was made after the initial spin. Mickey Brydges took the lead on the high side on the restart and began to stretch his legs on Zagorodny. 0.038 seconds decided the finish as Brydges held off a charge from Zagorodny, with Lucas Manning finishing in the third spot.

Derek McCullough (#45), filling in for Barry Watson, started up front beside Kyle Mezenberg (#810) for the Doxtator Property Maintenance V8 Stock first feature event. Right away there was trouble as Jamie Grover (#51) and Jeff Ferguson (#23) made contact on the back straightway and collected Steve Aubertin (#28). Kyle Mezenberg took the lead on lap three with an inside pass, bringing Paul Fothergill (#33) with him, before Cody Payne (#00) advanced to second shortly after. Mezenberg would go on to score his first career V8 Stock feature win as Payne and Jeremey Taggart (#11) finished second and third respectively.

The Discounted Autoparts Depot and Supply Bone Stocks came with numbers to start their 2018 campaign and got the action started right away. Craig Cole led the field to life off of turn four and led the opening segment with defending champion Bill Brekelmans (#007) challenging. Jordan Morris (#73) moved around Brady Smith (#07) on lap 15 before the caution came out for a spin in turn 3 by Dave Chant (#19). A quick caution came out again for a dual spin in turn 4, after the leaders beat and bang on the restart with Craig Cole holding off the field. Morris entered the infield with an apparent issue as the race wound down, allowing Smith to regain the podium spot. Craig Cole would hold on to score the victory as Brekelmans, Smith, Bryan Rockwood (#90), and Derek Moesker (#51) rounded out the top five.

Jaden Chapman led the field to green for the second Case ’N Drum Oil Late Model feature and led the opening few circuits before Jesse Kennedy advanced past. Jake Sheridan began pressuring by lap five and made a few runs to the inside before a stackup resulted in Kennedy going around and bringing out the caution. Sheridan was sent to the rear, handing the lead back to Chapman for the restart. Sheridan made quick work through the field and took the lead back as Kennedy followed and pressured from behind. Young Jake Sheridan quickly found his way to Late Model victory lane for the first ever time as he held off Jesse Kennedy. Lloyd Rawlings, Jaden Chapman, and Scott O’Connor (#23) rounded out the top five.

Jason Lidster (#11) and Rick Verberne (#21) roared off turn four in front of a hungry field of TransAxle Super Stocks to start the final 25 lap event for the series. Verberne took the lead off the start before trouble between David McCullough and Darrell Lake on lap three brought out the caution flag. The restart was trouble for Jamie Klumper (#07) and Devin Jarvis (#88) as the field stacked up, but the race stayed green as they entered the pits. The finish brought fans to their feet as the front four bumped, slid, banged, and raced in what will be a race of the year candidate come the year end banquet. Verberne held off numerous charges as he looked for his first win in his first night behind the wheel of his new Super Stock, until the final turn on the final lap when Andrew Ferreira made a flawless bump and run and the two beat and banged down the front straightaway with a mere 0.052 second margin of victory in Ferreira’s favour. Gary Adriaensen finished the event in the third spot.

The Demar Aggregates Trucks took to the track for their second feature race with Connor Van Steensel jumping to the early lead. Tom Zagorodny took the top spot on lap three with Lucas Manning and Mickey Brydges following through. Brydges began closing the gap at just over a tenth of a second a lap, however as the laps wound down that speed began to ware off. The race would end with Tom Zagorodny out front as Brydges and Manning would finish second and third.

Manuel Ferreira (#8) and Paul Fothergill led the second Doxtator Property Maintenance V8 Stock feature to green, with Fothergill getting the advantage early. Jeremy Taggart began pressuring for the lead shortly after and took sole possession of the spot on lap eight as Payne and McCullough trailed close behind. The caution came out on lap 11 as Manuel Ferreira was turned in corner one, setting up a restart with Taggart leading. Derek McCullough took the lead on lap 17 with a power move to the inside, but Taggart did not let him get away. On lap 23, Taggart turned McCullough for the lead and brought out the caution flag. Taggart was sent to the rear, handing the lead to Paul Fothergill for a green-white-checkered finish. Paul Fothergill would score the win, holding off McCullough and Cody Payne.

The final race of the evening was another 25 lap event for the Discounted Autoparts Depot and Supply Bone Stocks. Bill Brekelmans had troubles right off the start, meeting the outside wall and having to pit for a flat tire. Trouble on lap two saw Jay Chappell (#17) and David Rockwood get tangled on the back straightaway and the caution flag came out. Kassy Howard (#59) took the lead off the restart, before Brady Smith took it two laps later. The caution came out on lap six for a stalled car, setting up another restart. The battle for second heated up between Derek Moesker (#51) and Craig Cole at the mid-point, while Smith continued to pace the field. Craig Cole made his move for the race lead with two laps to go and would become the only repeat winner of the 67th season opener at Delaware Speedway. Brady Smith and Derek Moesker rounded out the podium spots.

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