OHSWEKEN, ON – Chris Steele won his second career Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprint Car feature on Friday night at Ohsweken Speedway, and took over as the championship leader in the process. Doug Fralick won the first 2012 event for the Vintage Cars at Ohsweken, while Wyatt Van Wart extended his lead in the Lighthouse Tattoos Thunder Stock standings with his third win of the year, Steve Hess took an exciting win the HRW Automotive Mini Stock feature, and Brady Longboat got his first career win in the Pierced Parts Bomber event.
CORR/PAK MERCHANDISING SPRINT CARS
Chris Steele and Scott Kreutter started on the front row of the 25-lap Mid-Season Championship feature for the Sprint Cars, and Steele quickly took command. The caution flag flew on lap 4 when Glenn Styres and Dave Dykstra collided in turn 1. The incident was disastrous for both drivers, as Styres entered the night as the points leader, and Dykstra was 5th in the standings. The Styres crew made repairs, and eventually salvaged a 13th place finish, but a new leader is atop the championship standings.
The race got back underway with Steele at the front, while Keith Dempster and Dain Naida were two drivers making their way through the pack from 11th and 8th on the grid, respectively. Trouble struck another championship competitor on lap 10 when Tom Huppunen got a piece of the wall and pulled into the infield, while the race stayed green.
Steele was still the leader when the race reached the halfway mark, with Kreutter, Naida, Jim Huppunen, and Jamie Collard giving chase. Two more caution flags and a red flag for a flip by Mike Stelter gave the field chances to catch Steele, but he was strong on the restarts and took his second career Sprint Car win.
“The car’s been so fast,” Steele said after the race. “We’ve been hitting the setup pretty good. We’ve been in the top four I think every night except for one, so I knew we had another (win) to come.”
Dain Naida, Scott Kreutter, Jim Huppunen, and Keith Dempster chased Steele to the finish line. Jamie Collard, Dain Naida, and Travis Cunningham won heat races for the 28 car field, while Tom Huppunen won the B-Main.
The Vintage Cars made their first appearance of 2012 at Ohsweken, with Gord Edwards and Chic Voit on the front row for the feature race. Doug Fralick, Rick St. Pierre, and Steve Arbuthnot quickly made their way to the front, and raced hard for the win.
St. Pierre took the lead late in the race, but then slowed on the backstretch, allowing Fralick to get back out front, where he stayed until the checkered flag flew. St. Pierre settled for the runner-up spot, followed by Arbuthnot, Al Harju, and Mark Saul.
“It’s getting tougher every week,” Fralick said of the increased competition. “The #20 was definitely better than I was. I don’t know what happened over there, but it’s the only reason I won.”
Arbuthnot and St. Pierre won heat races for the 13 car field.
LIGHTHOUSE TATTOOS THUNDER STOCKS
Kevin Dawson and Rob Disher made up the front row for the Thunder Stock feature, and both remained near the front for much of the event, while other drivers made their way up from deep in the field. Dawson led much of the first half of the race, while points leader Wyatt Van Wart spun early before making a big comeback.
Dawson lost the lead when teammate Brett Rodwell slowed with a flat tire, but remained near the front until spinning out of a top 5 spot on the last lap. Van Wart drove through the field and took a convincing win, followed by Jack Myers, Mike Thorne, Jim Lampman, and Dave Bailey.
Heat races for the 30 car field went to Terry Martin, Ryan Turner, Cory Turner, and Lee Winger, while Murray Nicholls won the B-Main.
HRW AUTOMOTIVE MINI STOCKS
The Mini Stock feature began with Rob Twitchett and Brian Crosgrove on the front row, but they didn’t stay there long as wild action ensued.
Eventually Steve Hess and Karl Sault separated themselves from the pack, and put on one of the best races of the season as they traded slide jobs back and forth. Fluid was laid down in turns one and two from a crash late in the race, which Hess used to his advantage to take his first win of the season.
“It was fun. I knew I could get him over here (in turn 4), but over there I wasn’t sure, especially after the fluid was down,” Hess said of his duel with Sault. “I tried to keep him up there into the fluid. I guess it worked. I’d like to dedicate this win to my sister-in-law who passed away in March, and to Abel Castelein.”
Sault settled for second, followed by Mark Czuba, Jeremy Hughes, and Dan Erskine. Championship leader Mike Evers recovered from a spin early in the race to claim 6th in the race his Evers Financial group supported. Heat races for the 28 car field were claimed by Brian Crosgrove, Dale Gyokery, Steve Hess, and Mike Evers, while Mark Da Silva won the B-Main.
PIERCED PARTS BOMBERS
Danny Shantz and Mark Bazuin were on the front row for the Bomber feature, and Bazuin led until Brady Longboat took over, looking for his first career win. Longboat had been close several times before, and almost saw the race slip away when he made contact with a lapped machine on the last lap. The young driver held on to take his first win, followed by Bazuin, Davey Boughton, Max Chechalk, and Kathi Dickie.
“I was pretty nervous,” Longboat said of the last few laps. “I’d like to thank my Dad, my Grandpa, and my mechanic Gary Johnson.”
Heat races for the 18 car field went to Bazuin and Dickie.
NEXT WEEK AT OHSWEKEN: Outhouse Image & Design and McDonald’s (Brantford and Paris locations) present “Christmas in July” next Friday, July 20. The Corr/Pak Merchandising Sprints, Lighthouse Tattoos Thunder Stocks, HRW Automotive Mini Stocks, and Pierced Parts Bombers are all part of round of Friday Night Thunder, plus a visit from Santa Claus, the annual Toy Drive, and another Autograph Night. Gates open at 6:00 with racing starting at 7:45.
By Tommy Goudge