Merlin, ON- South Buxton Raceway fans were treated to three last-lap passes for feature wins and a fourth just before the white-flag lap on Saturday night. Merlin drivers Joe Brosseau and Eren Vanderiviere both pulled off dramatic comebacks to win their features on the final lap.
Brosseau was running third when the white flag waved on the last lap of the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature, a race that Chatham’s Brian Speelman appeared to have covered. Brosseau passed Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich. for second coming out of turn two and all but conceded that was where he would finish.
“I thought for sure once we got by Clayton, we’d be a solid second. I really didn’t think we’d have enough time to get back up to Speelman, he had a nice, clean solid run,” Brosseau said.
But Speelman, who led 23 of the first 24 laps, had to check up to avoid Wheatley’s Justin Mills, the last car on the lead lap, who hit the wall between turns three and four and came down the track in front of the leader.
“When Millsy got loose and held up Speelman, that was a bonus. I just hugged the bottom of (turns) three and four and carried that momentum around the ‘D’,” said Brosseau, who won the sprint to the finish line by the length of the front bar to win his second straight feature.
And for the second straight week, Brosseau had to come from the back as he was penalized for spinning the lapped car of Windsor’s Dan McIntyre while he was running second on lap eight.
“I was concentrating on Speelman on the high side of me and I was hoping he (McIntyre) was going to move up a little bit so I could go on the low side, but it didn’t quite go that way and by the time I got on the binders, it was too late,” said Brosseau, who needed only two laps to get into the top five after restarting at the rear of the field.
Smith hung on for a third-place finish followed by Leamington’s Joel Dick and Merlin’s Jeff Daniels.
Vanderiviere was also third but in a tighter pack on the final lap of the Windride Transportation Sport Stock feature. He dove to the bottom to get by both second-place Steve Shaw of Merlin and the leader Tyler Lozon of Grande Pointe between turns one and two.
“Steve and Tyler were running the high side and I think Tyler washed up, so I drove in a little harder and got on the gas as soon as I could and she took off,” he said of passing both cars on the bottom to take the lead heading on to the straightaway.
The scheduled 20-lap race was cut in half because of five cautions in the first three laps, as the trio raced hard and clean for the final seven laps.
“It was good clean racing and fun, we should race like that all the time,” Vanderiviere said, who won for the second time in the last three race nights and cut Shaw’s lead atop the standings to four points. “I wish we could have gone 20 laps because I think it would have been great for the fans.”
Shaw, a three-time feature winner this season, hung on for second with Lozon third, followed by Kingsville’s Rob Young and Windsor’s West Bertozzi.
Ryan Bonner was the first driver of the night to make a last-lap pass for the win, getting by fellow Blenheim driver Jeff Schives in the rookie Bomber class feature.
Rob Quick also took advantage of lapped traffic to pass fellow Cottam driver Denis DeSerrano in turn four of the 18th lap to win his first Tirecraft Comp 4 feature of the season. DeSerrano led 17 of the first 18 laps but had to get on the brakes to avoid the lapped car of Chatham’s Rick Balasin between turns three and four.
“I could see Denis was going to go low, so I was going to go high, then I saw the lapped car come down and pinch him, I got him on the outside,” Quick described his winning pass, as he took the white flag and led the final lap for his first Tirecraft feature win of the season.
“I don’t give up, I just keep going no matter how far back I am,” Quick said of his comeback victory, which he said was especially sweet coming against his rival DeSerrano. “I’m always trying to get up as far as I can, tonight I didn’t give up and we got to the front.”
Dresden’s Matt Sorrell, who won last week’s feature in just his fifth night of racing, finished third after winning the heat and crack-the-whip preliminary races. Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. and Blenheim’s Trevor Jones rounded out the top five.
Chatham’s Greg Haskell was the only driver to protect a late lead as he led all 15 laps for his first UMP Late Model feature win of the season. His win, coupled with Brad Authier blowing an engine in the heat race, gives the defending series champion Haskell a 116-point lead atop the standings.
“It’s not really a points race right now, the only reason I’m in the points lead is everyone has had motor problems, and I’ve been able to at least start every feature,” said Haskell, who overcame a bad vibration to hold off Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford for the win.
“Anytime you can beat Dale Glassford, it’s a good win, but I’d rather see 15-16 cars instead of the way it’s going,” said Haskell, as only six late models took the green in the feature.
Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis, Chatham’s Brent Colby and Erick Walker rounded out the top five.
John Watson, of St. Thomas, took the lead on lap five and led the final 20 laps of the Can-Am Topless Sprint feature.
“This is probably one of the toughest tracks I’ve been on,” Watson said. “The shape of it, the condition of it – it’s so tacky – it took me three years with the wing to get one solid lap here, tonight I think I had maybe three of them. These guys pushed me right to the limit, I ran my guys out.”
Watson passed Lefroy’s Warren Mahoney for the lead on lap five with Rodney’s Justin Martin moving into second two laps later. The brakes on Martin’s car, however, began sparking heavily as the laps wore down, forcing Can-Am officials to throw the black flag. Martin, however, kept running until losing the brakes and still finished second.
He was naturally incensed as he pulled into the Winner’s Circle, thinking he was the runner-up only to find out he was being penalized to fifth, the last car on the lead lap.
“You just have to out- brake the next guy,” Watson said as his key to victory. “And Justin is as good as they come and he’s the most underrated driver in Ontario today. It’s a shame that he got DQ’d because of the brakes, he was working hard because I made him work hard.”
Tilbury’s Kyle Patrick was awarded second, followed by Mahoney, his father Dick Mahoney and Martin.
Ten topless sprints took the green flag but only six finished.
Warren Mahoney and Patrick won the heat races.
The Can-Am series continued at Humberstone Speedway on Sunday before going to Tri-City Speedway in Auburn, Mich. this Friday and again on Aug. 16 to crown the 2013 champion.
The Patriots Sprint Tour comes to South Buxton this coming Saturday for its Canadian Mid-Season championship along with racing in all five regular classes.
The gates open at 5 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m. Admission is $20 adults (ages17-59); $15 seniors (60-over) and teens (13-16), $10 kids (6-12) with children 5-under free.
From: Mike Bennett