PETERBOROUGH, ON – Charlie Gallant (#40P South Shore Services/East Point Marina/Pefferlaw Lawn Care Chevrolet) won his first ever OSCAAR Super Late Model feature on Saturday night at Peterborough Speedway after starting on the pole in the first ever live radio broadcast of an OSCAAR race.
With the race broadcast live across North America on SiriusXM Channel 157 by Race Time Radio, a number of drivers were eager to get the win, but it was Gallant who proved to be finest on the evening. The Pefferlaw, ON driver withstood tough challenges by second place finisher Jeff Hanley (#70 Raylene Racing/Carmen Auto Sales Toyota) and George Wilson (#77 Port City Racecars/Morollo Racing Engines/Union Cab Ford), who ran second for much of the feature but would settle for third. For Gallant, the win came as a big surprise, but the 2009 Rookie-of-the-year was still ecstatic to earn the win at one of his favourite tracks.
“It was a lot of fun. I think I burnt the tires right off it at the very beginning, but I think everybody else did (too) so I was able to hold on to the lead. It was awesome. The first one ever, this is good. More to come,” said Gallant.
When asked if he knew he had a rear-view mirror full of Hanley and Wilson, Gallant explained he was well aware.
Said Gallant, “Oh yeah, they were there, I know. Those guys are tough to beat. If they get in front, they can run away fast. It was good to hold them off.”
The win for Gallant betters his previous career best, a second place finish at Flamboro Speedway, and comes one week ahead of the 75-lap Don Biederman Memorial.
Gallant jumped out to a quick lead on the initial start, but the caution would be thrown on lap three for Gary Passer (#13 Jenco Equipment/Passer Racing Chevrolet) who’s car lost power on the backstretch with an electrical issue.
The first restart of the night would prove to be more of the same for Gallant, who opened a lead of six car lengths over a dueling Jesse Kennedy (#10 Cameron Crane/GRE/Bev’s Auto Body Chevrolet) and Glenn Watson (#22 Rival Office Solutions/Race2way.ca/Williamson Uxbridge/Shane Michaels RV Chevrolet) with Wilson and Hanley sitting in the top-five as well.
Gallant was able to extend his lead further through the half-way point of the race as Wilson and Hanley battled their way to the second and third spots respectively.
With 15 laps remaining in the 50-lap affair, Wilson and Hanley began to work to reel in Gallant. By lap 40, Wilson caught the rear of the #40P machine and moved to the outside to make a pass. Contact between the top-three drivers had each car sideways in the apex of the corner, but all were able to regroup without a spin or further incident. The contact would, however, produce the second caution of the night as the hood of Wilson’s car came off as a result and came to rest in turn two.
Said Wilson,”I’m not sure what happened. I got in to him. I thought I was going to get to him and make a pass, but lapped traffic was there. Just one of those incidents, it was nobody’s fault. I was trying to hold Charlie down, I’m sure he was trying to keep me up. Jeff (Hanley) wanted the spot that both of us had. I was sideways looking in Charlie’s side window. It’s cool that we all didn’t wreck in front of the field.”
On the ensuing restart, yellow would strike again when Paul Law (#72 Midas Of Orangeville/Ron Little Trucking Chevrolet) and Derrick Tiemersma (#7 Wayfreight/Spira Fire Protection Chevrolet) touched and were sent sprawling to the infield grass, with Tiemersma getting the worst of the inicident.
“People don’t know how to lift when they’re loose. We had a good car, we weren’t going to win the race, but we had a good car,” said the 2007 champion Tiemersma. “He came off of four, got a little loose, never lifted and came down on my right front. Everything in the right front is twisted.”
The final yellow of the night would come one lap after the restart as Shawn Chenoweth (#29 KR Communications/Transaxle Parts/ Boyder Systems Chevrolet) spun in to the backstretch grass off of turn two, setting up a nine lap dash to the finish.
It looked as though Gallant would have his hands full with Hanley to his outside and Wilson at his rear, but the Pefferlaw, ON driver got the best start of the three drivers and pulled ahead of Hanley by three lengths over the final five laps. Gallant would lead all 50 laps en route to his first Knightworks Deisgn OSCAAR feature victory lane appearance.
Following the race, Hanley spoke of the dying laps and explained he did not have the car to get by Gallant clean.
“To get by Charlie (Gallant) I would have had to rough him up and he’s been waiting a long time for a win. We didn’t even want to touch him. It’s good to see him win a race, he’s been at it a long time. Our car got a bit loose, he got a little loose and so did George. It was a good night, a good race I think,” said Hanley. “If every race was like that, I think (OSCAAR President) Dave (Gainforth) would be pretty happy.”
The second biggest story line of the night was that of Brandon Watson (#9 Shear Metal Products/Royal Distributing/Barrie Frame and Alignment/Knightworks Design Chevrolet) who suffered a broken rear axle just one lap in to his first Klotz Synthetics qualifying heat of the night.
Faced with the possibility of earning just one point on the night and having his 38-point lead in the championship standings completely erased, Watson prepared his backup Pro Late Model for competition. At that time, Watson received assistance as Jim Bowman (#63 Remax/TMG Mortgages/Cash Inn Loans Chevrolet) offered to loan his Outlaw to the points leader for the remainder of the night. Watson would accept the offer, and drive the #63 car to an eighth place finish while finishing on the lead lap.
“First of all I have to thank Jim Bowman for letting me use his car. The crew did a great job getting the car ready. We did some work after the heat and we got it going a bit better. We came out with a top-ten finish tonight, and I think that’s really a good night for us. Unfortunately, we did lose some points, but we’ll just have to try and make them up next week at the Biederman (Memorial Race),” said the points leader Watson, who saw his lead shrink to an unofficial 22 markers with three races remaining.
The OSCAAR Super Late Models are next in action on Friday, September 7, 2012 for the 75-lap Don Biederman Memorial in their only stop at Kawartha Speedway. The Super Late Models will be joined by the OSCAAR Modifieds, Ontario Legends and Kawartha’s local Pro Late Model, Thunder Car, and Mini stock divisions. Racing will start one hour earlier than usual at 6:00pm to accommodate the extended schedule. Competitor gates open at 3:00pm.
By Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)