A lot of people patted Denis DeSerrano on the back for his exciting victory.
DeSerrano wishes he could have seen it himself.
The Cottam driver used the high side of the track to beat Chatham’s Randy McKinlay by inches to line to win second straight Tirecraft Mini-Mod feature race on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.
“I couldn’t see nothing,” DeSerrano said, as rain was falling and mud was flying in the waning laps.
“I used up all my tear offs and ended up having to race with my visor open … and my glasses were covered with mud.”
DeSerrano took the lead on lap four and stayed up front until the caution waved for rain with two laps to go.
After a few laps under caution, the rain subsided to set up the first of two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
On the second restart, McKinlay rode the high side through turns one and two to take the lead going onto the straightaway.
“I started on the inside and didn’t know how greasy it was going to be and he (McKinlay) stayed on the throttle a little longer and got by me on the outside,” DeSerrano described the final restart.
But on the last lap, DeSerrano decided to go to the top of the track entering turn three,
“I thought I’d try the high side and found a little bit off grip up there and it was pretty close crossing across the line,” said DeSerrano, who barely nosed past McKinlay for his second win in as many weeks.
“I wasn’t quite sure,” DeSerrano answered when asked if he was confident he could reel McKinlay back in once he lost the lead.
“I knew I was going to give it everything I had … you never know under track conditions like that what’s going to happen.”
The veteran duo started side-by-side in the third row of the 20-lap feature but DeSerrano wasted no time moving into second on lap two and passed Blenheim’s Brett Hope for the lead on lap four.
McKinlay, meanwhile, was tied up in a six-car battle behind the leaders before moving into second on lap 12 when Cottam’s Rob Quick tangled with a lapped car while he was running second.
DeSerrano seemed to have the field covered until three late cautions, including one as rain started falling, tightening the field and setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
“I didn’t hear anybody right behind me, but you can never tell what’s going on behind you,” he said of his lead as the laps wound down.
“I just kept trying to hit my marks and keep it going straight.”
It was the second week in a row that McKinlay led in the final laps but was denied a victory.
In last Saturday’s season opening feature, McKinlay passed DeSerrano for the lead with four laps to go and led the rest of the way. But after the checkered waved, race officials penalized McKinlay two positions for jumping a restart with five laps to go.
McKinlay’s hot start has certainly caught the attention of DeSerrano.
“I can guarantee the 26 is going to win one soon … he’s running strong,” DeSerrano said of McKinlay.
Hope, Chatham’s Jamie St. Pierre and Blenheim’s Trevor Jones rounded out the top five.
The feature win capped a second straight three-for-three night as DeSerrano has swept the heats, dashes and features in the first two weeks of the season.
“I don’t know what to say … I guess just luck so far,” he said of his six-for-six start.
“It’s still early in the game and I’m sure everybody’s going to get up to speed.”
Rain began falling a little harder after the completion of the Tirecraft Mini-Mod feature.
The Windride Transportation Sport Stocks were on the parade laps for their feature but the racing surface quickly worsened, forcing race officials to cancel its feature, along with the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds and UMP Late Models ‘A’ Mains.
Chatham’s Gregg Haskell and Port Lambton’s Drew Smith won the heat and dash races in the Late Models and Modifieds, respectively - the first flags of the year for both drivers.
For Smith, it was the first two checkered flags in the career of the sophomore driver.
Four other drivers also won their first races of the season - Chatham’s Rick Balasin in a Mini-Mod Heat, Merlin’s Joe Brosseau in a Modified heat, Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse and Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse in the Sport Stocks heats.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw, who won the feature and heat race a week earlier, won the Sport Stocks dash.
Ryan Bonner outran Jeff Schives for a second straight night in a three-car all-Blenheim Bomber feature. Dylan Bonner was third.