BARRIE SPEEDWAY: Murray maneuvers his way to first Late Model win

BARRIE SPEEDWAY: Murray maneuvers his way to first Late Model win

Written by  on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:27
BARRIE, ON - A near-capacity crowd came out to Barrie Speedway on July 28 to catch some of the hottest racing action in the province, and the drivers would not disappoint on The Dock 104.1 FM Night, as the evening's festivities featured tight, close quarter racing all night long, producing many close finishes along the way.
The biggest story to form on this evening was the performance of rookie Late Model pilot #02 Shawn Murray of Alliston, as the former two-time Pure Stock division titlist would capture the first of twin 30-lap features in the Wahta Springs sponsored division.

Murray, would be chased to the line every inch of the way by current point leader #48 Dwayne Baker of Stayner, who eventually finished second. Baker, would cap off his evening by winning the second 30-lap segment, further widening his point lead from 40 to now 51 over his nearest competition #19 Keith McLeod of Barrie, as both drivers look to notch their second track championship moving forward. In capturing his first Late Model victory, Murray moved inside the top 100 in the Nascar Whelen All American Series, as he currently sits 4th among rookies, just 7 points in back of fellow Barrie competitor #14 "Hurricane" Thayne Hallyburton, as the two drivers look to chase down the highest placing rookie Vince Quenneville of Devil's Bowl Speedway in Vermont in the coming weeks.

In the first 30 lap feature, it was #33 Dave Lewis who moved out front early after gaining the advantage of #74 Roy Manary from the drop of the green. Quick to follow Lewis through along the inside line was the duo of Murray and McLeod, as they would file underneath the 74 of Manary to check into 2nd and 3rd in the running order just a couple laps in. By lap 4, the three car train of Lewis, Murray, and McLeod had began to marginally break away from the pack, as #10 Gord Shepherd stuck a nose to the inside of #69 Al "Red Rocket" Inglis, as the two former track champions began to wage war for fourth place. At the front of the field, a very game Murray had several looks to the inside of Lewis looking for the race lead, but he was unable to find the necessary opening to make a pass work. Further back in the pack, Shepherd would eventually power his way past Inglis on the outside to land in 4th, as Inglis was now coming under heavy fire from Baker for the final top 5 position. Baker, would eventually complete a clean outside pass of his fellow longtime competitor between turns 3&4 on lap 12. Just past the midway mark, Lewis was still clear of Murray by a single car length at the front of the field, with Murray again closing in and having a look to the inside in corner 3, again being unable to make a pass stick, as Shepherd was now digging on McLeod for third, giving his fellow competitor the "chrome horn" from behind in an attempt to free up the preferred inner groove.

The race's first caution would come about on lap 20, when #4 Glenn Lloyd spun underneath the flagstand, setting the stage for a battle from the front row featuring veteran Lewis and rookie Murray. After two solid laps door handle to door handle, Murray would move to the point, getting a great run off the high side in turn two to capture the lead from Lewis. Lewis, would soon find the 10 of Shepherd nipping at his heels, as the 2009 track champ was able to complete a pass of Lewis on the outside to take over runner up positioning. A strong race for Lewis would turn sour on lap 24, as the driver would slow in turn two, the victim of a cut right front tire incurred while battling with McLeod and Baker for third place. This turn of events would set up a five lap dash for the checkered, with Murray's Lake Simcoe Heating & Air/Hitch House Dodge Charger and Shepherd's BFI Canada/Montana's Cookhouse Ford Fusion making up the front row. Murray, would have a textbook restart, getting the jump on Shepherd, who now had the 48 of Baker filling the opening to the low side, with Baker slipping into 2nd with a nifty low pass on the exit of turn two on lap 27. Murray, was holding a narrow two car length lead at this point in the race, as the hard charging Baker had now set his sights on the race lead in behind. Over the duration, Baker closed right in on the back bumper of Murray but was unable to find his way past, as Murray remained cool and collected with laps in the 14.9 second range, taking the win by a slender margin over Baker at the checkered. Shepherd, would get his night kick started in fine fashion in coming home in 3rd, while McLeod and Inglis rounded out the top five.

In the 30 lap finale to the evening, it was once again the 33 of Lewis who powered to the point, this time from the outside pole position after outduelling the 74 of Manary while racing into turn one. Also fast on the move towards the front was the 14 of rookie Hallyburton, as the Hillsdale resident would slip past Manary on the outside of turn two and begin his pursuit of leader Lewis. Approaching the ten lap mark, the best battle on track was the race for 3rd, as Baker had charged from his 8th place stating spot to challenge McLeod for that position, having a look to the low side exiting turn two, but unable to make a pass work. On lap 12, Hallyburton would slip down to the inside of Lewis exiting turn 4, with light contact made between the pair causing Lewis to get crossways approaching the flagstand, thus losing several positions along the way, as Hallyburton was now the new race leader. Hallyburton, would soon find the ever ominus 48 of Baker on his rear bumper, with Baker hounding the promising upstart to both the high and low side in an attempt to capture to point, while further in back McLeod was now locked in a dogfight with Shepherd for third, as Shepherd pulled alongside his counterpart on the outside of turn 3, as the duo continued to race fast and furious side by side for several laps.

The race's first caution would fly on lap 22, when Lewis and Murray would make contact between turns 1&2 while trying to work their way around the lapped car of #4 Glenn Lloyd of Barrie. This turn of events would send Murray pitside with a cut right rear tire, with the hard luck Lewis also joining him for a brief stop on pit road, setting the stage for yet another duel featuring rookie and veteran for the restart, as Baker slotted alongside leader Hallyburton. Baker, would make short work of Hallyburton when the race went green, with Shepherd taking advantage of Baker's momentum on the outside to also move past Hallyburton and advance further in the running order. The Shepherd pass would soon be negated however, when the caution again flew for a nasty crash involving #54 Randy Bull and #2 Ron Lethbridge on lap 24. On the restart, Baker would again capture the race lead after outduelling Hallyburton, with Shepherd quickly taking over 2nd in the running order, again taking advantage opening created by Baker. Over the closing laps Baker was able to marginally distance himself from Shepherd with laps in the 14.7 second range, as McLeod would relieve Hallyburton of third, with a clean low pass between turns 3&4 as the drivers were approaching the white flag. Baker, would drive on unchallenged from there, capturing his division leading 11th feature victory of the season by three car lengths over Shepherd at the checkered. McLeod would cap off a solid point night with a workmanlike third place showing, with the impressive Hallyburton and Inglis comprising the remainder of the fast five.

In Canestoga Sprayers & Asphalt Repair Thunder Car action, it was a familiar face returning to victory lane as point leader #10 Rick Walt of Hawkestone brought home the win in the 30 lap main. The win for Walt was his sixth feature victory of the season, but first since mid June after the driver ripped off an ashtonishing five feature wins in succession to begin the 2012 season. The race would begin with #72 "Pistol" Pete Marquardt and #5 Mike "The Hulkamaniac" Langley battling door to door from the front row, as #21 Desiree Walt and cousin Rick were running in 2x2 fashion in behind the lead duo. On lap 3, Langley would clear Marquardt at the front of the field, with Rick Walt moving from his 4th place starting spot to eventually capture 2nd in the early stages. The Walt charge to the front would not end there however, as the talented wheelman would relieve Langley of the race lead one lap later, executing a nifty low pass in turn three. Also making his persence felt at the front of the field was #00 Darryl St. Onge, as the 2009 track champ would complete as pass of Langley for 2nd on lap nine, leading the way for the duo of #39 Travis "The Enforcer" Hallyburton and #44 Dave "The Deuce" Doucette to advance to 3rd and 4th in the running order respectively, this dropping the ever improving Langley back to the fifth place position.

Approaching the midway point, Walt was still steadily pacing the field with laps in the 15.8 second range, holding St. Onge at bay by two car lengths, with the duo of Hallyburton and Doucette fast approaching St. Onge's Marnoch Electrical/Industrial Commutator sponsored Pontiac Grand Prix. On lap 19, the action really began to heat up further back in the pack, as #24 Leonard Johnston was turning up the heat on Langley for fifth, executing a low pass between turns 1&2. This move would lead the way for the duo of Desi Walt and #12 Jim "Polish Prince" Belesky to follow through to 6th and 7th respectively, dropping Langley even further back in the pack after a strong first half of the race. Inside of five laps remaining, Doucette began to pressure Hallyburton for 3rd, when suddenly the second place car of St. Onge would slow on track with mechanical issues, allowing the stout rides of Hallyburton and Doucette both to slip past. It was clear on this evening the win belonged to the front running Walt however, as the division veteran was able to pilot his Abstract Hair Salon/Shepherd Trucking Monte Carlo to victory lane by a comfortable margin over the oncoming Hallyburton in the caution free affair. Former track champion Doucette who is still looking for that elusive first feature win of the season, came to the stripe a tidy third, while St. Onge and Johnston rounded out the top five.

Heat wins went to Doucette, St. Onge, Johnston, and #21 Desi Walt.

In St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock action, it was 2010 track champ Will Davies of Orillia who claimed the win in the 20 lap feature race. The win for Davies, was his first since that championship season, and should help further cement the driver inside the top 5 in the season long point standings. The race would see #06 Ryan Hardy and #91 Kyle Lethbridge battling door to door from the onset, with the trio of Davies, #400 Justin Holmes, and #9 Charlie Smith all entering the top 5 after disposing of #3 Randi Sequin who got crossways while racing into turn 2. After an early caution, Lethbridge would take the lead on the outside of Hardy, who quickly fell back into the clutches of Davies and Smith, with that pair filing through along the inside line on the exit of turn two on lap 6. One lap later, the hard charging Davies had caught up with leader Lethbridge, pulling off a cunning low pass in turn 4, as Smith again followed, dragging #14 Billy Melenhorst along with him to take over third position.

On lap 12, the man on the move was point leader #11 Adam Misener, as the Noth Bay resident snatched 4th away from Lethbridge with a low move in turn three, after racing 3 solid laps door handle to door handle with his fellow competitor. Approaching five laps remaining, Davies was still looking poised at the front of the pack, running impressive laps in the 16.8 sec. range covering with tight and tricky one third mile tri oval, with Smith just a single car length in behind, as Melenhorst was pinned Smith's bumper, having a brief look to the high side in attempt to wrestle away second. Over the duration, Davies was able to fend off a late race challenge from close friend Smith, taking the win by a slender margin at the checkered. Melenhorst, would continue a string of impressive results in coming home 3rd, with Misener and #57 Ryan Toon rounding out the top 5.

Four different heat winners came in the form of Davies, Smith, Melenhorst, and #49 Larry "Doc" Woodward.

Also on hand were the super fast and highly entertaining Lucas Oil Can Am TQ Midgets, who were making their first Barrie appearance in two seasons, after having last season's race fall victim to Mother Nature. It wouldnt take long for the stellar field of 17 to adjust to the tight and tricky track, as the drivers put on a miraclous show for the large gathering in attendance, completing both their 10-lap heat races and the 25-lap feature event in a caution-free manner. In that feature race, it was pole sitter #39 Corey Moseker who grapped the point from the onset, with outside pole sitter #16 Chris Holman battling back to take the lead with a low move between turns 3 and 4 on lap two. Holman, would quickly find the duo of #74 Rob Neely and #40 Mack Deman attached to his rear bumper, after that pair started 4th and 6th respectively. These three drivers raced covered by a blanket over the next 10 laps, when Neely finally powered out front with a clean low pass of Holman in turn two. Neely, the most recent winner at the Barrie track, would soon find a stern challenge from the 40 of Deman, with the latter powering into the lead to the low side in turn 3, as the duo were clicking off astounding laps in the 12.9 second range. Approaching lap 20, Neely and Deman would exchange the race lead on sucessive laps, with each driver executing a sucessful crossover type pass of the other between turns 3 and 4, a turn of events made all the more impressive due to the fact drivers were working lapped traffic at the time. Over the final laps, Deman began to marginally check out on Neely in behind him, opening up a three-car length advntage, as Holman and #82 James Gray waged a late race war for 3rd in the running order, with Holman able to hold firm and maintain that position. They would come to the line in this order as Deman would notch his 3rd feature win of the season, taking the win by just 2 car lengths over Neely at the checkered. Holman, would record his first podium of the season with a third place effort, while Gray and point leader #48 Darren McLennan made up the remainder of the fast five.

Heat wins went to Holman and McLennan.

From Dave Vokey

Last modified on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 13:40
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