“I was really good (in clean air),” Hansen said in Victory Lane. “I thought the top was going to be a bit faster and I was trying it for the first four or five laps and then I decided to go to the bottom and I was able to catch big time on Jacob (Dykstra). I stuck with it once I realized (the bottom) was a lot faster.”
The win was the second of Hansen’s career with the tour and second in as many starts after he won the 2018 finale. He also becomes the third different winner is three series races at Merrittville, joining Shone Evans and Jacob Dykstra on the victors’ list. The third-year Sprint Car pilot said following the race he will run the entirely of the Action Sprint Tour schedule in 2019 while also racing 360 Sprint Cars on Friday nights at Ohsweken Speedway.
McDonald and Brad Herron started on the front row for the 20-lap A-Feature after grabbing those positions in the RaceRivalz.com redraw. McDonald jumped out to a convincing 10 car-length lead over the opening five laps with Dykstra, Hansen, Herron and Ryan Hunsinger leading the way early.
That changed on lap nine when Dave McKnight Jr. spun at the top of turn two with a complete 360 and continued on as the race stayed green. However, McDonald was forced to slow to avoid contact with McKnight and Dykstra followed suit, allowing Hansen to pounce from third and take the lead down the backstretch.
“I saw Jesse was pretty hung-up and I saw some of them slide high. It feels like I’m racing go karts again. It looked like Jesse was a little too tight and I was able to roll the bottom a bit better,” Hansen explained.
Hansen took full advantage of the track position and negotiated his way through some slower traffic. Fourth-running Aaron Turkey was not so fortunate and spun at the top of turn two while working through lapped traffic. The spin collected McKnight, who rolled to bring out the red flag. He was uninjured.
Hansen was strong again on the single-file restart, while Hunsinger used some extra momentum he found in the outside groove to move past Herron and run his fastest lap of the race to that point. The race was slowed again on lap 14 when rookie Adrian Stahle spun at the top of turn two. Stahle did not continue.
On the ensuing restart with six laps remaining, Hansen proved he had the best car in clean air. While McDonald threw everything he had at the Beamsville teenager, including a late challenge on the outside, it was not enough to steal the victory. Regardless, McDonald was happy to be back in a car after a year absence from Sprint Car Racing.
“It was amazing,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t be happier. The car was good in clean air, but as soon as I got in dirty air I couldn’t really do much. I kept missing my marks and then lapped traffic kept screwing me up. As soon as I got back into clean air I was able to catch the No.88h and I just didn’t have anything for him coming out (of the corner). I moved my wing back at the end of the race and I should have done that sooner. Either way, I had a blast.”
Dykstra, who had a pair of wins on the tour last year, was third. Over the final five laps, Hunsinger went back to the outside, but twice got over the cushion, allowing Herron to claim the fourth spot. Hunsinger rounded out the top-five.
Hansen, Herron, and Rob Neely claimed qualifying heat race wins to begin the night. Liam Martin of Binbrook, Ont. won the 10-lap B-Main and transferred to the A-Feature with fellow top-6 finishers Trevor Young, DJ Christie, Adrian Stahle, Johnny Miller and John Verney. Martin was also the Hard Charger in the main event, racing from the 19th starting spot to an eventual 13th-place finish.
The Action Sprint Tour powered by RaceRivalz.com will return to competition for round 2 of the 2019 series on Sunday, June 2 at Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne, Ont. For more information on the Action Sprint Tour, including a full break down of the Series’ 2019 point fund and race purses as well as series rules, visit www.ActionSprintTour.com.
ACTION SPRINT TOUR MEDIA
About the Action Sprint Tour: The Action Sprint Tour is a travelling Winged Sprint Car Series based in Ontario, Canada. The cars on the Action Sprint Tour are powered by GMC 602 Crate Motors modified specifically to fit a Sprint Car chassis. The Series ran its inaugural season in 2018 and in 2019 will run 10 races at five different Ontario tracks. Drivers will compete for a point fund and bonuses totaling $10,000. For additional information, including rules, event purse and series point fund, visit the Action Sprint Tour official website at www.ActionSprintTour.com.
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