Upon review, McKinlay places second
Even when he fell back to third place with 10 laps to go, Tyler Lozon still had a feeling something good was going to happen.
It took a firestorm on the race track and a rainstorm from the skies for Lozon’s premonition to come true.
The Grande Pointe driver won the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks championship race on Saturday night when the leaders crashed with two laps to go putting him in the lead.
And Lozon didn’t have to run another lap as heavy rain hit the speedway just as the cars took the green flag for a second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
“I’m glad they called it … I almost went off the end of the track when they threw the green,” an ecstatic Lozon said after taking the checkered and yellow together.
James MacDonald ApexOne Photos (click on photos for larger views).
A few moments earlier, Lozon was running third behind Merlin drivers Eren Vanderiviere and Steve Shaw heading towards the white flag when the caution came out instead for Willy Vyse’s spin in turn four, setting the stage for a green-white-checkered finish.
On the single file restart, Vanderiviere dove to the bottom of turn one with Shaw right on his back bumper. Contact was made and the leaders hooked together and stopped on the apron in the middle of the turn.
Lozon, seeing Shaw follow Vanderiviere to the bottom, shot to the high side and got around the leaders as they tangled and was in front when the caution waved.
“I couldn’t believe it when that happened,” Lozon said of the contact between the leaders.
“I thought they would give Vanderiviere his spot back but they didn’t … and that was great for me!”
Vanderiviere also thought he would be reinstated as the race leader, since it was the same circumstance as the June 23 feature when he kept his spot as the race leader after contact from behind by Shaw at almost the same spot on the track.
Instead, race officials sent Shaw and Vanderiviere to the back for the restart.
“I’m really disappointed … disappointed at what Steve did and what the track didn’t do,” a much calmer Vanderiviere said on Sunday.
“I feel bad for everyone on my race team for all of the hard work that they put in … they’re taking this harder than I am.
“We had a good year … we’ll just move forward and go for it again next year,” said Vanderiviere, who clinched his second straight points championship a week earlier.
Lozon said he committed to the high side of the track, long before the championship changing moment.
“I found earlier in the race that’s where my car was running the best,” Lozon said.
“Those two liked the bottom so I just stayed up there and let them do their thing … and it all worked out the best for me,” said Lozon.
Chatham’s Randy McKinlay, who was also put to the back as he stopped to avoid contact with Vanderiviere and Shaw, has been reinstated as the second-place finisher, after officials reviewed the final finishing order.
Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse placed third, Wallaceburg rookie Willy Vyse fourth, Vanderiviere fifth and Shaw sixth - the only cars on the lead lap.
The field was set according to points, with Lozon starting on the outside of Vanderiviere on the front row while Shaw started 10th.
Shaw fell back to 11th when he pitted on lap four when Windsor’s West Bertozzi brought out a caution.
Two laps later, the caution came out again when the third-place car of Rob Young suddenly died on the track in turn two, stacking up the field and ending the night for four cars.
Shaw took advantage of the attrition to restart fifth and it took the six-time and defending championship race winner just two laps to move into third and passed Lozon for second with 10 to go.
“When Steve snuck under me, I just stayed back and let the two of them work it out,” Lozon said.
“And it turned out to be the same as last year when they got together battling for the lead,” he added, referring to the 2011 championship race when Shaw took the lead after Vanderiviere and Essex’s Gerald Martin got together seven laps from the finish.
“And it all worked out well for me,” the champion said, with a huge smile.
The feature win was Lozon’s first of the season, as the third-year driver won a pair in 2011.
“I was a little depressed, thinking I wasn’t going to get one (a feature) this year,” he said.
“What a way to get one!”
Lozon credited Jim Ellis and his race team for helping get his car prepared for the championship night.
“When I blew my motor two weeks ago, Jim gave me his brand new motor,” Lozon said of Ellis, who parked his car after the second week because of damage in incurred the first two race nights.
Lozon said he was fighting a cold all week and wasn’t able to work on the car.
“But Jim and his guys drove here (from Kingsville) every night and got the car ready.
“I can’t thank them enough because I wouldn’t have won this without them,” Lozon declared.
- The line-up for the championship race was set by the points standings after it had earlier been stated the line-up would follow the weekly format of qualifying through the heats and crack-the-whips. Had the weekly format been used, Doris Lajeunesse and Bertozzi would have started on the pole after their second-place heat finishes, while Shaw and Lozon would have been in the second row after winning their heats. Vanderiviere and McKinlay would have had third-row starts.
- Vanderiviere won the crack-the-whip for the seventh time, giving him 16 checkereds on the season, including eight features. He won the points title in 2011 with just two feature wins and four checkereds.
- Vanderiviere finished in the top five in 15 of the 17 features. Last year, he was 13-for-14, with sixth his lowest finish.
- Shaw won his heat for the eighth time in 12 race nights, as he missed five weeks due to a pair of suspensions. He finishes with 13 checkereds and five feature wins.
- Shaw finished in the top-five in 10 of his 12 features.
- Lozon won his seventh heat race earlier in the night and finishes with 10 total flags.
- Unofficially, Fox finished third in points with 1,433 - tops for rookies.
- Going into the night, only 22 points seperated fourth-place Young from eighth-place Patrick Lajeunesse. Again unofficially, Young and Doris Lajeunesse finished tied for fourth with 1,378 points while Vyse was sixth with 1,377, Clements seventh with 1,359 and Patrick Lajeunesse eighth with 1,350. Patrick Lajeunesse and Clements were caught up in Young’s misfortune on lap four.
- The Sport Stocks will run non-points races on Sept. 22.