Points Standings Update (click on Track Stats icon)
Five cars were feature race winners for a second straight Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.
But two were under different circumstances.
The number ‘0′ was the winner again in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods, but this time with car owner John Pinsonneault Jr. behind the wheel after substitute driver Tim Mackenzie won last Saturday night.
Steve Shaw won a Tirecraft Sport Stocks feature race for a second week in a row, this time by default. The Merlin veteran finished second to Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon, who was disqualified in post-race tech inspection for an illegal transmission.
Chatham’s Gregg Haskell started at the back but stormed through the field to win a Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Models feature for a second straight week.
Chris Ellerbeck also won his second straight feature in the Autotech Bombers class.
And Leamington’s Joel Dick capped off an incredible month of May with three more checkered flags, including his fifth straight feature win in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.
Photos by James MacDonald ApexOne Photo (click on Multimedia icon for link to more photos)
‘High fives’ for Mr. May’s Modified feature sweep
You can’t blame Joel Dick if he didn’t change the calendar in his race shop when the new month started on Sunday.
‘Mr. May’ capped a perfect start to the 2014 season with a three-for-three night on Saturday, including his fifth straight Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds feature victory.
“No, I’ve never had a run like this,” Dick said about his five-for-five May feature streak and nine checkered flags total in 14 races.
“We know it’s not going to last,” the Leamington native said. “I’m just really fortunate to have a good car out here and a great crew.
“We just take it one race at a time, and hopefully we can keep this going,” Dick said.
Dick, who has won six straight features dating back to last September’s season championship race victory, credits his crew’s dedication for this hot start.
“Again, my guys are doing a great job here in the pits and at the shop, we’re unloading fast every week.”
Dick, who won the heat and dash preliminary races earlier in the night, started in the second row and took the lead from Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. on lap three.
Belle River’s Mario Toniolo took over the second spot on lap 12 but couldn’t mount a challenge for the lead.
Leamington’s Justin Coulter, who started in the sixth row, passed Toniolo for second on the final lap.
It was Toniolo’s third straight third-place feature finish.
Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. and Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich., rounded out the top five.
Dick had nine checkered flags in 14 total races for the month and padded his points lead to 66 points over Toniolo, who also enjoyed a strong month with five straight top-four feature finishes.
But Dick reiterated his comments from a week ago that the driver standings don’t mean anything.
“Checkered flags do, but I’m not concerned about the points, just winning as many races as we can,” said Dick, who won nine of a total 15 races in May.
Dale Jr. won the second heat.
Fired-up Haskell lights burning path to Late Model victory
It was appropriate that Gregg Haskell has the flaming logo from his Blazin’ BBQ sponsor on the hood of his car.
The Chatham driver was so fired up on Saturday night, you could have cooked about a dozen slabs of ribs on his forehead - in about 10 minutes.
Smoke was pouring out of Haskell’s ears as he addressed the crowd following his Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Models feature win.
The two-time reigning points champion was livid that he had to start the 20-lap feature from the back and was even hotter when discussing an incident during the race with a fellow competitor.
The more Haskell steamed, the louder the crowd roared its approval.
“I’ve never been that fired up before and never been that fired up to win a race, that’s for sure,” said Haskell, a little cooler about an hour after his impassioned on-track interview.
Haskell, who was supposed to start in the second row, instead started 10th because he was late getting his RH21 car to the chute for the line-up after the intermission autograph session.
“That’s why we’re out here, for the kids and the fans,” Haskell said.
“I figured we’d have enough time to go out and sign autographs, come in and put the car back together, but of course the one time the Mini-Mods go caution free…” said Haskell, as the preceding feature went a rare 20 green-flag laps.
“I was there (at the chute) 10 minutes before we went out, but for some reason they made me start at the back.
“That’s what put the anger in me and that’s what made me go to the front,” Haskell said.
The first half of the race was a close battle between Chatham drivers Brad Authier and Jim Jones before Haskell, Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis and Chatham’s Erick Walker caught the pair to make it a five-car battle.
After a caution on lap 11, the yellow flag flew again on the restart as Haskell and Authier got together briefly.
On the restart, Haskell followed Authier on the outside as both got around Jones.
Two laps later, Haskell went to the bottom to get by Authier between turns three and four, setting the stage for a tremendous seven-lap shootout between four cars.
When the dust settled, Haskell took the checkered with Jones second, Lewis third and Authier fourth as a split-second separated the four. Walker, who picked up his first career checkered in the heat race earlier in the night, was fifth.
“People told me it was the best race they’re ever seen at South Buxton, I’m pretty happy to hear that from the fans,” Haskell said.
He said the contact with Authier simply added more fuel to the fire.
“I don’t know if he came down or I went up a little, but he came down on me and I wasn’t letting off,” Haskell said.
“My car was beat up from the first two races and I’m tired of getting pushed around.
“My guys said they’re going to get me (ticked) off before I go out there every night,” Haskell said, with a smile.
Haskell, who also won in last Saturday’s double feature night, has six career wins.
Pinsonneault runs away with checkered in all-green Mini-Mod feature
You don’t often hear a driver who just about lapped the entire field admit he was hoping for a caution flag.
But that was the case for Chatham’s John Pinsonneault Jr., who led all 20 laps of a rare caution-free Tirecraft Mini-Mods feature Saturday.
Pinsonneault started on the pole and put seven cars a lap down before three laps were complete.
As the laps ticked off, he built a three-quarters of a track lead on second-place Steve Shaw Jr. of Merlin and was just about to catch the fourth and fifth place cars of brothers Brett and Kyle Hope of Blenheim.
“When I saw the Hopes right in front of me, I knew I had a big lead, so I backed down,” Pinsonneault Jr. said.
But there was an underlying reason why he let off the gas.
“It was starting to overheat,” he said. “I didn’t see the cross flags (halfway), so I had no idea how far we were into it.
“I was praying for the white flag, even a caution flag, to cool it down.”
The two-time track championship race winner pulled back the reigns enough for Shaw and Trevor Jones get to within a corner on the final laps before Pinsonneault capped his green-to-checkered run.
“Usually it’s pretty close racing, I think we just hit the setup tonight and no one else did,” Pinsonneault said of his dominating performance.
“We thought it was going to be super dry, so we set it up for that,” he continued, but everyone’s setup plans were thrown a curve when the track crew put water on the racing surface during the intermission.
Pinsonneault said it was too late to change the setup, “so I knew I had to put the metal to the floor to keep it free, and it was fast.”
Jones passed Shaw on the final lap to finish second, with Brett and Kyle Hope fourth and fifth. Blenheim’s Elliott Wilton passed Pinsonneault late to get his lap back and finished sixth.
It was the second straight win for the No. 0 race team as Tim Mackenzie drove it to the Winner’s Circle in the second half of last Saturday’s double-feature night.
“We’re a team, that’s two for Tim and me,” said Pinsonneault, nixing any thought that he was under pressure to equal his teammate’s efforts.
“That was my birthday present for me,” he said of Mackenzie’s win.
“He brought home the cheque and he got the checkered flag … that’s all that matters,” Pinsonneault said.
“Now,” he continued with a big smile, “if he keeps talking, I will just have to bring up the fact that I won by a lot bigger margin.”
“Yeah, but I started at the back and won!” Mackenzie countered.
Pinsonneault also won a heat race to give the ‘0′ team a division leading five checkered on the season.
Pinsonneault won a heat race earlier in the night as the ‘0′ team has a division-leading five checkers.
Cottam’s Rob Quick and Shaw Jr. won the other heats and Brett Hope won the dash.
Shaw’s 112th career feature win a ‘first’
Steve Shaw has won over 100 features in his career - and had a few more potential checkereds turn into black flags.
But Saturday night was a first as won the Tirecraft Sport Stocks feature - about an hour after the race ended.
Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon led the final 10 of the time-limit shortened 15-lap feature but was disqualified after post-race tech inspection revealed an illegal transmission.
“No, I’ve never won one by default,” Shaw said about his previous 111 feature wins.
Shaw started fourth but was put to the back after causing a four-car pileup on lap three that turned Gary Vyse and collected the Vanderiviere brothers Eren and Eric.
“That was my bad, I just got into the corner a little too fast, he was a little loose coming off, I touched him and turned him around,” Shaw said, taking responsibility for the incident with Vyse that ended the Wallaceburg driver’s night.
Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse led the first three laps but was passed by Windsor’s West Bertozzi after the restart from the four-car incident.
One lap later, Lozon passed Bertozzi for the lead, which he never lost until tech lane.
Shaw, meanwhile, ran mid-pack until lap eight when he passed three cars to move into the top five and two laps later passed Kingsville’s Rob Young for second.
“I was at about three-quarters throttle because the track was dry-slick, so I just kept running the bottom and went underneath everyone else,” Shaw described his march from the back to second place.
At that point, he still had 10 laps to go for the win, but four more cautions put the curfew into effect, as a caution on lap 13 set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish.
Shaw believes he could have passed Lozon had the race gone its regular 20-lap distance and won for a second straight Saturday night.
“The car was really good on the top of one and two, I found earlier in the race there was a lot of good bite up there and he (Lozon) was trying to keep it down low.
“With nobody running up there, it was going to stay tacky, it was just a matter of getting my rhythm back and we would have got around him,” said Shaw, adding he would have much rather won that way instead of by default.
Kingsville’s Rob Young was promoted to a second-place finish with Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere third, Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse fourth and Chatham’s Eric Vanderiviere fifth in his return to the Sport Stocks.
Patrick Lajeunesse won the first heat, his first checkered of the season, while Vyse won the second heat for a fourth straight Saturday night. Doris Lajeunesse won the pursuit.
Ellerbeck clears traffic for second straight Bomber victory
Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck won his second straight Autotech Bombers feature in a race that started with 12 cars but finished with just six and three on the lead lap.
Caleb O’Leary, a 13-year-old from Port Lambton, led the first four laps before Ellerbeck, who started fifth, made the pass for the lead on the front stretch.
Blenheim’s Jeff Schives, who won the first three Bomber features, was black-flagged for rough driving in the early laps while another strong contender Shawn Hope, also from Blenheim, pitted with mechanical issues while running second.
Ellerbeck, meanwhile, coasted to the win through clear traffic as four more cars pitted.
O’Leary and Blenheim’s Austin Pickering finished second and third, the only other lead-lap cars, with Merlin’s Cale Johns and Maidstone’s Murray Morrison rounding out the top five.
Nick Glassford won the first heat, the first career checkered flag for the 14-yaer-old Ridgetown native, while Schives won the second heat.
While Erick Walker (Late Model heat) and Nick Glassford (Bomber heat) earned their first career checkered flags, there were two other first-time winners in 2014 - Patrick Lajeunesse (Sport Stocks heat) and Shaw Jr. (Mini-Mod heat).
- Dick leads all drivers with nine checkered flags while Schives has seven, Pinsonneault Jr. and Dale Jr. five each.
- Two more sons of former track champions made their South Buxton debuts on Saturday. Jake Hooker, son of three-time Late Model champion Kirk Hooker, finished ninth in his first Sport Stocks feature. Matthew Hereygers, son of two-time Sport Stock championship race winner Jim Hereygers, finished third in his Bomber heat but had mechanical issues in the feature and finished 11th.
- Saturday’s caution-free feature was a 180°-turnaround for the Mini-Mods, which saw their first two features in May cur to 14 and 10 laps because of yellow-flag plague. The Late Models and Modifieds had relatively clean features with just three cautions each while the Sport Stocks had five.
- Race fans can tune into Country 92.9 FM/630 AM CFCO and CKSY 94.3FM all week for chances to qualify for a ride with National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Jack Hewitt’s two-seater at South Buxton on June 14. A total of 16 qualifiers will converge at the Downtown Chatham Centre on June 8 to race against each in a bracket-style computer race tournament. When you hear Brad Paisley’s ‘Mud On The Tires’ on either of the two stations, that is your signal to call in and try to become one of the 16 qualifiers.
- The Late Models will run the first Gord Gotelaer memorial feature this Saturday, in honour of the former track champion and Hall of Fame inductee earlier in May who passed away at the age of 76 in May, 2013.
- Former South Buxton driver Ken Ouimet won $827 in the Tilbury Knights of Columbus 50-50-draw.