Four streaking drivers were back in the Winner’s Circle on Saturday night, but a fifth hot driver was denied entry.
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford extended his feature win streak to five straight in the Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Models. It was Glassford’s sixth feature win of the year.
Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere won his fifth Windride Transportation Sport Stocks feature in the last six weeks. It was also his sixth feature checkered of the season.
Leamington’s Joel Dick won his fourth Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature in the last five race nights.
And Blenheim’s Dylan Bonner won his third straight and fourth Bomber feature in the last five race nights.
Meanwhile, Cottam’s Rob Quick was looking for his fourth feature win in the last six weeks in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods and although he was the first across the line, he was relegated to a third-place finish.
Chatham’s Randy McKinlay was awarded the checkered flag after Quick was docked two positions for crowding the eventual winner on the final restart with eight laps to go.
Ironically, McKinlay was in the same position on opening night when he crossed the line first but was docked two positions for jumping a late restart, giving the win to Cottam’s Denis DeSerrano.
Photos by James MacDonald, ApexOne Photo (click on photos for larger views)
McKinlay’s Mini-Mod victory ‘payback’ for one that got away
Randy McKinlay couldn’t believe what he was hearing when he was told over his race-ceiver to go to the Winner’s Circle after what he thought was a second-place finish in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods feature.
As he was undoing his seat belts, he asked, “what happened?”
When told he was the winner because Rob Quick had been penalized two spots from the last restart, he smiled, “I’ll take it!”
On a restart with eight laps to go, race officials ruled that Quick would be penalized two positions on the next restart for aggressive driving by getting into McKinlay.
However, the race went green for the final eight laps so the penalty was enforced after the checkered flag waved, leaving Quick a disappointed third.
“I don’t agree with it, I don’t think I even touched him, but we’ll live with it and come back and try to win again next week,” said Quick, who was going for a three-for-three night after winning the heat and crack-the-whip earlier in the night.
McKinlay remembered slight contact but thought it came at the previous restart.
“He was roaring before he got to the line but I didn’t think anything of it,” McKinlay said.
“I think he was just trying to get to the outside,” he said of the contact.
McKinlay knows exactly how Quick feels because he had a feature win taken away from him on opening night under the same circumstances.
Back on May 4, McKinlay crossed the line first ahead of Cottam’s Denis DeSerrano.
“I was coming around to take the checkered and he (race director Doug Leonard) said ‘26 you’re third,’ ” McKinlay recalled, as he was penalized two spots for jumping the restart with four laps to go and finished third.
“I guess this makes it up,” McKinlay said about Saturday’s win, his first since Sept. 4, 2010. He won the 2012 mid-season championship in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks.
McKinlay posted back-to-back second-place finishes to DeSerrano the next two features as it appeared the two drivers would stage a season-long battle atop the standings.
But the veteran McKinlay ran into a rash of mechanical issues, as a pair of 10ths was his highest feature finishes since his hot start.
“We went from second in points to who-knows-what-in points,” McKinlay said with a laugh.
“I had a lot of engine problems, breaking pistons, but we finally got it together, thanks to Rick Hornick, because he did all the work,” McKinlay said of the car owner.
“This was my best run in a long time, I was happy with that … but I’ll take the win!” declared McKinlay, who won his heat race earlier in the night and had only one checkered flag all season before picking up two on Saturday.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. moved up to a second-place finish as he too has rebounded from early season breakdowns with three straight top-five finishes and is second in points.
Blenheim’s Trevor Jones and Dresden’s Matt Sorrell rounded out the top five.
Quick and DeSerrano both were credited with leading three laps through the first six laps.
However on lap seven, DeSerrano’s car died on the backstretch and was pushed to pits, posting a 16th-place DNF.
DeSerrano won his heat as is tied with Quick with 17 checkered flags, tops amongst all drivers.
Vanderiviere’s sixth win leaves him at a loss for words
Eren Vanderiviere has become a seasoned-veteran when it comes to Winner’s Circle interviews, but the six-time feature winner in 2013 was at a loss for words on Saturday.
“I think was my worst speech ever,” said Vanderiviere, who was able to smile - and talk - long after the race night ended.
“I was still trying to catch my breath from being so pumped up and excited,” he said about his Winner’s Circle interview.
“I was tired … but it makes you feel good when you start way back there and you get back to the front and win it like that.”
Vanderiviere was black-flagged in his heat race for contact with Windsor’s West Bertozzi and started the 20-lap feature in the 14th position.
He moved into the top five on lap seven and into the top three on lap 12.
But the whole field was chasing LaSalle’s Bob Visnjic, who started on the pole and was pulling away from the second-place battle between Wheatley’s Steve Clements and Merlin’s Steve Shaw on a long green-flag run.
Vanderiviere moved into the top three when Clements pitted on lap 11 under caution and battled Shaw for second place for three laps while Visnjic was still the dominant car.
Shaw got loose in turn two on lap 14 and dropped all the way to ninth, one lap before the caution fell.
Visnjic again chose the bottom for the restart but this time Vanderiviere kept up to the leader on the straightaway and into turn three.
The LaSalle driver bobbled just enough to give Vanderiviere the break he needed to take the lead.
Vanderiviere said he didn’t see what happened to Visnjic when he took the lead.
“I went high into three and when I came out of four, I didn’t see him below me any more,” he said.
Two laps later, Visnjic slid onto the backstretch apron and went down a lap as the caution failed to come out, ending his great run and shot at his first career feature win.
“He was fast, he ran a great race,” Vanderiviere said of Visnjic.
Vanderiviere led the final five laps to take his fifth checkered in the last six weeks and sixth overall for the season.
The Vyse family - son Willy and father Gary - finished second and third.
Kingsville’s Rob Young, who won his heat race, and Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon rounded out the top five.
Shaw, who won his heat and the crack-the-whip earlier in the night, rebounded to finish sixth.
The race had six cautions, far fewer than the previous two race nights when the Sport Stocks features were reduced in laps because of the mayhem.
“That’s the one thing I worried about before the race started,” Vanderiviere admitted.
“I was hoping the laps didn’t get shortened because I was going to need every one of them to get to the front.”
Vanderiviere gained nine more points on Shaw to pad his lead to 57.
‘High fives’ for Glassford as he extends his Late Model streak
If Dale Glassford wins the Rick Haskell memorial race at the end of the month, don’t be surprised if he campaigns to move the annual Shootout to the Thanksgiving weekend.
Glassford is already three-for-three on long weekends this season, as Saturday’s feature win on the Civic holiday weekend comes on the heels of his Victoria Day and Canada Day victories.
But the Ridgetown driver isn’t even thinking about defending his Haskell memorial race on Aug. 31 on the Labour Day holiday weekend - let alone hoping for two weekends of rain so we can race on Thanksgiving.
He is only thinking as far ahead as this Saturday’s fourth attempt at running in the first Gord DeWael memorial race for the Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Models.
“I better not be burning up all my luck because that’s the race I want to win,” Glassford said, after posting his fifth straight and sixth feature win of the season.
“It’s going to be a tough one to win, but something bad better not happen, or I’ll be pretty disappointed.”
Chatham’s Jim Jones led the first four laps of Saturday’s eight-car feature before the caution came out.
Jones chose the bottom for the restart, leaving the high side for Glassford.
As the cars were going through turns three and four, Jones lost his momentum for a split second, just enough for Glassford to get by on the high side as he went on to lead the final caution-free 11 laps to make his fifth straight trip to the Winner’s Circle.
“My car was okay, but he was really good tonight … I thought I was going to be following him for quite a while unless he messed up,” Glassford said of Jones.
“And Jim doesn’t mess up.
“We just happened to get that restart, the car was working pretty good on the high side, so I got on it because I thought it might be my only chance to get by him,” he said.
Jones was the runner-up for the second time this season - both times to Glassford.
Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis, the heat winner earlier in the night, finished third, followed by Chatham’s Erick Walker and points leader Gregg Haskell of Chatham.
Haskell dodged a bullet as his crew was able to fix his car after he left the heat race with smoke pouring out of the back end of his machine.
Had he not started the feature, his lead over Glassford would have been reduced to 30 points.
Glassford did manage to shave 19 points off the deficit but Haskell still holds an 85-point advantage.
Dick grateful to plenty of helpers who made victory possible
Joel Dick was very likely at a card shop in Leamington the first thing on Sunday morning, buying a box of thank-you cards for all the people who helped him to get to the Winner’s Circle on Saturday night.
A fellow race driver, a young fan, his own 09D race team and his father all received accolades from Dick after he won his fourth feature race in the last five race nights in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.
“I want to give a big thanks to Jeff (Daniels) and his race team,” he said about his fellow Modified competitor.
Dick’s race team found a problem with the water pump when they fired up the motor before the races.
Daniels’ father Wayne drove to Merlin to get a spare water pump as Dick’s team installed the equipment just moments before the heat race.
“We wouldn’t have been racing and had that win had it not been for them,” Dick credited the Daniels’ team.
The Leamington driver also had help from a young fan, who put him on the front row for the 20-car feature in the invert draw.
After finishing seventh in the dash, Dick was elevated to the outside pole starting position when the youngster pulled the ‘eight’ frisbee for the invert.
Dick hopes to find out the identity of the young fan, who has some ice cream coming his or her way.
“Absolutely, they’ll get some every week if they keep doing that,” he laughed about his ice cream promise.
“It definitely helped, it never hurts starting up front,” said Dick, who led all 25 laps running the top of the track.
“I watched a few races prior to ours and saw there was a lot of drive up there, so I knew I’d be running up top.”
Chatham’s Louis Clements enjoyed his best run of the season as he ran second for 17 laps and got under the leader on restarts.
“I seen Louis a couple of times, he was getting some decent drives on restarts but once I got the momentum on the high side, I was able to pull away,” Dick said.
The Chatham father-son team of Eugene and Darryl Hoekstra managed to pass Clements in the final two laps to take the second and third positions.
Belle River’s Mario Toniolo rounded out the top five.
Daniels ran into problems of his own during the feature as he was forced to the pits with a broken shock on lap 10 while running seventh and placed 18th with a DNF.
A pair of eight-time track champions were also in the fray for second through sixth before suffering mechanical breakdowns.
Merlin’s Brad McLeod was running sixth when he broke a drive shaft on lap 11 and finished 17th.
He was joined in the pits eight laps later by Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr., the two-time reigning champion, who went out with a hole in the oil pan while running fourth and finished 15th.
Dick saved his final thank you’s for his race team and his father.
“We made some changes before the feature and made the right ones,” he said of his crew.
“You’ll never know how it will play out but they gave me a really fast car.”
Dick said his hot streak is due to “a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication, these guys are working on the car all the time.
“And I have to thank my dad (Tom), he has really gotten involved this year and he’s a big help in and out of the shop.
“I know its rewarding to him when we go to the Winner’s Circle,” he said of his father.
Darryl Hoekstra, who won his heat race earlier in the night, padded his led to 77 points over Chatham’s Brian Speelman, while Dick moved to within five points of second place.
- In what long-time South Buxton race followers believe was a first, a race car driver proposed to his fiancée with a message on his race car. Windsor’s Dan McIntyre came on to the track for the Modified feature with a huge sign on the back panel that read, ‘Katie, Marry Me?’ And when the race ended, Katie Westfall was at the car and said ‘yes!’ Dan finished 11th on the track, but first in Katie’s heart.
Dylan Bonner won his third straight and fourth Bomber feature as a season-high 10 four-cylinder cars were on hand, although only seven started the feature.
- South Buxton’s infield crew did an amazing job, converting the infield area from a tractor pulling facility back into a race track operation in a short period of time. Friday night’s tractor pull, which started almost two hours late because the SWOPTA officials were not pleased with the pulling strip, ended a couple minutes past midnight, which meant for a long night and day tearing down the equipment and preparing the racing surface for Saturday night’s action.
- Wallaceburg’s Drew Smith finished fifth in the Modified heat, which meant his didn’t qualify for the dash for the first time since opening night.
- Doris Lajeunesse had an eventful night as the Essex driver, who went into the night third in Sport Stocks standings, will likely lose at least five spots in the standings after scratching from the feature because of damage incurred in the heat race. Lajeunesse, however, made his debut in the Modified class, driving his step-father Gerald Martin’s No. 5. He finished 14th in the feature, good enough to protect Martin’s top-10 standing.
- Saturday’s crowd was easily the biggest of the season, as the Sunshine Rotary Club’s 50-50 winning purse of $1,536.50 would indicate. It was won by George Jacques of Chatham.
- This Saturday will be the fourth attempt at running memorial night, with feature races honouring Gord DeWael (Late Models), Brian Outhouse (Modifieds), Cory Schives (Mini-Mods) and Len Bryden (Sport Stocks). The previous three dates were all rained out.
- Reduced admission prices are in effect for adults ($10), seniors and teens ($8) and the pits ($15). Racing starts at 7 p.m.
- Lube Tech, on Richmond St., will again host a pre-race car show from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.