BARRIE, ON – Jesse Kennedy (#10 Cameron Crane/Quality Collision/Bev’s Auto/ GRE Chevrolet Impala) sat patiently for 39 laps before pouncing on Brandon Watson (#9 Royal Distributing/Shear Metal Products/Barrie Frame and Alignment/Knightworks Design Chevrolet Impala) on a lap 39 restart to earn his first ever win in an OSCAAR Super Late Model, in a race that ended on a day different day than it started.
After starting on the outside of the front row, Kennedy never fell below the third position before setting himself up for the last lap pass, just before 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Brandon Watson led 37 laps prior to the pass in the 50-lap feature main event after starting on the pole, but could not hold off Kennedy who got the better run out of turn two on the restart. Kennedy lived up to his nickname ‘The Big Game Hunter’ as he took down Watson, who won the first feature of the year.
“We struggled all day with a tight car. We threw everything, but the kitchen sink at it to get it to turn. It was obviously better. I honestly didn’t think I had much for Brandon at the end,” said Kennedy. “I got a good start on the outside and… we just kind of pulled it off.”
The race started off slow with a pair of cautions on the first two laps. The first came after Derrick Tiemersma (#7 Wayfreight/Spira Chevrolet Impala) locked up the brakes heading in to turn one when he was touched by Shawn Chenoweth (#29 KR Communications/Border Systems/ London Recreational Chevrolet). The second came when Jim Bowman (#63 Remax Canada/Hanover Holidays/Cash Inn/ TMG Mortgages/ Canadian Tire-Fergus Chevrolet Camaro) spun on the front stretch.
The restart allowed Glenn Watson (#22 Rival Office Solutions/Race2Way.ca/ TSS Top Shops Chevrolet Impala) to pass his nephew Brandon on the high side, but it was short lived as caution flew again on lap four when Kyle Passer (#14 Jenco Equipment Chevrolet) got turned around exiting turn two.
The younger Watson re-claimed the race lead on the restart after Glenn Watson chose to start on the outside as the leader.
“I did get him on the outside on the (lap two) restart. Then on the next restart I thought I’d try that again. As the leader I took the outside and it didn’t work out quite as well. The car was really tight, so it was a tough night for us,” said Glenn Watson, who finished fourth.
Two laps later, Derrick Tiemersma went around on lap six to cause the fourth caution. On the following restart Jesse Kennedy slipped under Glenn Watson up to the second spot.
A five-lap green flag run saw George Wilson (#77 Port City Racecars/Marollo Racing Engines/Union Cab/ Let the Fur Fly Ford Fusion) move past Mike Beyore (#54 Stemac/ CNC Custom Machining/Millenium Crane/Metals Plus Cadillac) for the sixth position after missing the invert draw and starting 13th. On lap 11, Bowman was looped around again out of turn two and on the ensuing restart Beyore got tangled up with points leader Rob Clarke (#49 London Mechanical/FLF Racecars/Cars by Clarke Chevrolet Camaro) entering turn three, resulting in the #54 facing the wrong way.
The following restart saw leader Brandon Watson and Jesse Kennedy running side-by-side for a pair of laps before Kennedy eventually fell in line. The seventh caution came on lap 15 as Rob Clarke touched Charlie Gallant (#40P South Shore Services/East Point Marina/Pefferlaw Lawn Care) and the nose-less #49 car got hooked on to the #40P, causing both to get turned around. Clarke ended his night for mechanical difficulties, and Mike Beyore pulled his car behind the wall due to driver illness.
A 16-lap green flag run saw Glenn Watson jump back in to the top pairing as he slipped by Jesse Kennedy. However, Kennedy would retake the spot seven laps later on lap 25. George Wilson moved himself in to the top three on lap 28 past the #22 of Watson. During the run, both Rudy Oppersma and Kyle Passer pulled pit side to end their nights.
The caution came out on lap 31 as Jeff Dunford scraped the front stretch wall and suffered a flat right-front tire. Rob Poole (#45 Visser Farms/Alliston Auto Sales/RA Electrical Chevrolet Impala) cracked the top-five for the first time when he moved past Ian Bourque (#83 Bourque Transmission Services/RB Graffix Chevrolet Impala) on lap 37. Unfortunately for Poole, his night would end two laps later when the car lost power and began leaking fluid down the back straightaway, causing the ninth and final caution of the night.
It was on the restart that Kennedy made his move from the outside of the front row and he never looked back. As Wilson fought Brandon Watson for the second spot, Kennedy was able to pull away, saying he had tried to save his equipment for the closing laps.
“I knew we were probably going to get a bit tight during this run. Earlier with [Glenn] Watson, I kind of let him go. I said ‘maybe he can do something with Brandon’,” explained Kennedy. “He kept backing up to us so I said ‘guess we have to go’. So I was saving some tires for that last ten-lap heat there.”
Wilson tapped the rear bumper of Watson a number of times over the final five laps and got the #9 loose exiting turn four on lap 50, but not enough to make the pass.
Watson spoke after the race about the final restart. “After that last restart, our car kind of faded away. We must have had some marbles or some speedy-dry on our tires. It just got really loose,” said a disappointed Brandon Watson. “I couldn’t get that car to turn off the corner one bit.”
Rookie driver Quinn Misener earned his first OSCAAR top-ten, finishing in the ninth spot. Misener was the second-highest finishing rookie after the winner Kennedy.
Shawn Chenoweth won the first heat race of the night in just his first OSCAAR appearance of 2012. Glenn Watson won his third qualifying heat of the year while Jeff Dunford picked up his first. Derrick Tiemersma, Brandon Watson, and Jesse Kennedy also picked up heat wins. The series shifts back to Sunset Speedway on Canada Day weekend, June 30 for another 50-lap feature, before heading north to the beach and Sauble Speedway on July 7.
From Clayton Johns / OSCAAR