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Joel Dick receives his championship race trophy from Modified division sponsor John Schinkels of Schinkels Gourmet Meats.

Joel Dick receives his championship race trophy from Modified division sponsor John Schinkels of Schinkels Gourmet Meats.

Since winning the heat and feature on opening night on May 3 - and winning eight of the first 10 features this season - Joel Dick insisted points didn’t mean anything, just wins.

Dick put an exclamation mark Saturday night on a dominating season by winning both the season championship race and points title in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.

It was the Leamington driver’s second straight and third championship race victory in the last four years. He had already clinched his first career division points championship a week earlier.

“It’s a fantastic feeling,” Dick said about sweeping the Modified crowns.

“I’m not a points guy, but it’s cool being a champion.

“And it means a lot to win this championship race, we overcame a lot in the second half of the season,” he said.

Despite running away with the points title, Dick said the car was never the same after a hard crash with Chatham’s Eugene Hoekstra in the second feature on July 19.

“We really struggled with the car after it got put in the wall, we still can’t get the balance quite right,” said Dick.

Joel Dick (09D) and Mario Toniolo (14) battle for the lead in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds championship race. Dick won the race and season points title, with Toniolo second in both.

Joel Dick (09D) and Mario Toniolo (14) battle for the lead in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds championship race. Dick won the race and season points title, with Toniolo second in both.

He won two more features the rest of the way and was able to maintain a steady lead in the standings over Belle River’s Mario Toniolo.

But for the first half of Saturday’s championship race, it looked like Toniolo might pull off the upset as he took the lead on the initial green and held point for 15 laps.

But on lap 16, Dick got a run on the high side going into turn three and exited turn four with the lead.

“Mario had the bottom working good and the only way around him was to not follow him, so I had to change my line and go to the top side,” said Dick.

“Once the tires came in, I got the high groove working.”

Toniolo couldn’t take advantage of two late cautions to regain the lead.

“The bottom had gone away so I had to change my groove to the high side,” Toniolo said.

“Once Joel passed me, I could stay with him, but all I could do was sit second.

“But this feels like a win,” Toniolo said, capping his breakout season by finishing second in both the championship race and points standings.

Mario and Kristy Toniolo hoist the second-place trophy after an outstanding season for the Belle River driver.

Mario and Kristy Toniolo hoist the second-place trophy after an outstanding season for the Belle River driver.

“Good help behind me with the crew, a good engine program with Len Couvillon,” Toniolo said, passing along credit for his turnaround season which included his first feature win on Aug. 30 in his 10 years in the Modifieds.

“We really learned this car … what it wants, what it needs … we’ve come a long way this year,” he said.

Toniolo’s biggest fan was behind the wheel of the 09D car.

“It’s always good racing Mario, you know it’s going to be clean,” Dick said.

“We had a great battle, I can’t say enough about racing with that guy.”

Dick finishes the season with 11 feature wins and 22 checkered flags. He now has 30 feature wins since moving up to the Modifieds in 2010.

“I can’t say thanks enough to my Dad (Tom), Ted and Steve in the pits,” Dick said.

Don Raes earned his first career checkered flag, winning the second heat race in the Schinkels Gorumet Meats UMP Modifieds.

Don Raes earned his first career checkered flag, winning the second heat race in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.

“This year has been fantastic,” he continued. “We had our ups and down, we struggled the second half but we stuck to our game plan, we take each night as it comes.

“As a team we all get along well, and that shows up on the race track.’
Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra and Brian Speelman finished third while Cottam’s Denis DeSerrano ended his fine rookie season with a strong fifth-place finish.

Chatham’s Don Raes picked up his first career checkered flag, winning the second heat race. Port Lambton’s Drew Smith and Chatham’s Louis Clements won the other heats.

The Modifieds will run a non-points race night this Saturday to tune up for the Canadian Fall Shootout on Sept. 26-27.

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