Saturday was a night for fantastic features at South Buxton Raceway as race fans were treated to three last-lap passes for feature wins and another winning pass as the white flag was coming out.
Add to those thrilling finishes, a green-to-checkered feature run and hot wheels - and an even hotter driver - in a touring series feature.
Merlin drivers Joe Brosseau, in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds, and Eren Vanderiviere, in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks, both went from third place to the Winner’s Circle with exciting last lap drama.
Cottam’s Rob Quick made his winning pass coming to the white flag in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods.
Even the rookie Bomber class got in on the late race excitement as Blenheim’s Ryan Bonner also took the lead in the final corner for his third feature win of the year.
Chatham’s Gregg Haskell survived a bad vibration to lead all 15 laps of the UMP Late Model feature.
And while St. Thomas’ John Watson dominated the Can-Am Topless Sprint feature, sparks flew when Rodney’s Justin Martin had his second-place finish taken away as he ignored a black flag for sparks flying from under his car in the waning laps.
However, Ontario Topless Sprint promoter Ken Baylis confirmed Monday morning that Martin has been reinstated as the second-place finisher. (Check earlier post for Can-Am coverage).
The exciting finishes sets the stage for another six-feature show this Saturday as the Patriots Sprint Tour comes to South Buxton for its Canadian Mid-Season championship, along with racing in all five regular divisions.
(Photos by James MacDonald ApexOne Photo; Click on photos for larger views).
‘Back-to-the-front Joe’ pulls out last-lap magic to win Mod feature
Joe Brosseau doesn’t look at being sent to the back of the field as a penalty.
He looks at it as a challenge.
For the second consecutive Saturday night, Brosseau met that challenge with another trip to the Winner’s Circle.
“It’s starting to be a common occurrence anymore,” said the Merlin native with a grin after winning his second straight Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature.
Brosseau made two passes on the final lap to pull off his amazing victory.
He was running third when the white flag waved on the 25-lap feature, a race that Chatham’s Brian Speelman appeared to have covered.
Brosseau passed Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich. for second coming out of turn two.
“I thought for sure once we got by Clayton, we’d be a solid second,” Brosseau admitted.
“I really didn’t think we’d have enough time to get back up to Speelman, he had a nice, clean solid run,” he said.
But Speelman, who led 23 of the first 24 laps, had to check up to avoid Wheatley’s Justin Mills, the last car on the lead lap, who hit the wall between turns three and four right in front of the leader.
“When Millsy got loose and held up Speelman, that was a bonus,” Brosseau said.
“I just hugged the bottom of (turns) three and four and carried that momentum around the ‘D’,” said Brosseau, who won the sprint to the finish line by the length of the front bar to win his second straight feature.
And for the second straight week, Brosseau had to come from the back as he was penalized for spinning the lapped car of Windsor’s Dan McIntyre while running second on lap eight.
“I was concentrating on Speelman on the high side and I was hoping he (McIntyre) was going to move up a little bit so I could go by on the low side, but it didn’t quite go that way and by the time I got on the binders, it was too late,” said Brosseau, who needed only two laps after the restart to get back into the top five.
The previous Saturday night, Brosseau had to come from the back twice as a result of an early spin and a mid-race collision with Wallaceburg’s Drew Smith.
He avoided a third trip to the back in a late race incident with Speelman while battling for the lead. Brosseau inherited the lead and went on to the win while Speelman had to go to the back and recovered to finish fourth.
That incident weighed heavy on Brosseau’s mind Saturday as the two drivers ran one-two for the first eight laps.
“It was fun when we battled door to door those early laps.” Brosseau said.
“I should have given him (McIntyre) more room but I didn’t want to have any more problems with Speelman,” he referred back to the lap-eight incident.
“It was an adrenalin rush being able to run from the back to the front again,” he continued.
“I thought maybe we used up the tires a little bit but I found a good bite down low and the car seemed to come out of (turn) two real well and that’s what allowed me to get by Clayton.”
Smith hung on to finish third while Leamington’s Joel Dick and Merlin’s Jeff Daniels rounded out the top five.
Speelman won the heat and dash races earlier in the night as he led a total of 32 out of a possible 39 laps for the night.
He will pad his lead atop the standings to 21 points over Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra, who was eighth in the feature and won his heat.
Brosseau, who missed the second night of the season, was 10th in the standings going into the night and will move up to seventh.
He is also planning on putting his “good motor” in the car this week.
“We’ve had some issues with this motor, it got hot tonight and lost oil pressure last week, so we’re going to do a motor swap this week to see if we can be that much faster with the good engine.”
Vanderiviere’s bold move puts him in the Winner’s Circle
Eren Vanderiviere has had a couple of feature wins slip through his hands late in races this season, both times with Steve Shaw the beneficiary.
Saturday’s feature, which was the last race of the night, was shortened to 10 laps after five caution flags waved before three laps were complete.
The decision set the stage for an exciting seven-lap showdown between Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon and the Merlin rivals Vanderiviere and Shaw.
Cottam’s Tiffany Ellis led the first three laps but fell back to fourth on the final restart as the trio zoomed by.
Lozon led at the line the next six laps and took the white flag as the leader.
But when they came out of turn two onto the straightaway, it was Vanderiviere going from third to the lead and he drove off to collect his second feature checkered of the season.
“Steve and Tyler were running the high side and I think Tyler washed up, so I drove in a little harder and got on the gas as soon as I could and she took off,” he described his winning pass of both cars on the bottom.
Shaw, a three-time feature winner this season, hung on for second with Lozon third, followed by Kingsville’s Rob Young and Windsor’s West Bertozzi.
“It was good clean racing and it was fun … we should race like that all the time,” Vanderiviere said, who also won his heat.
“I wish we could have gone 20 laps because I think it would have been great for the fans.”
Vanderiviere said he didn’t agree with the decision to reduce the race.
“I was kind of disappointed because we’re out here to race and have fun. We work on the cars all week and we look forward to getting out here every Saturday, so when it gets shortened, it’s a little disappointing.
“But,” he said, “it’s another win in the books, so I’ll take it.”
Vanderiviere dedicated the race to his step-father Harlow Haskell, a long time fixture at South Buxton who is having health issues.
“He’s been around racing for a long time, he’s always helped me out,” Vanderiviere said.
Wheatley’s Steve Clements won his heat and the crack-the-whip but was involved in a strange three-car collision under caution that ended his night.
Rob’s bad luck takes a Quick turn to the good side
Rob Quick has had a fast car all season, but outside of four preliminary race wins, he had nothing to show for his speed.
But that black cloud hovering over the Cottam driver finally lifted in one quick instant on Saturday night.
Quick was running second with two laps to go when fellow Cottam driver Denis DeSerrano - who led 17 of the first 18 laps - got caught behind a lapped car between turns three and four as the leaders approached the white flag.
“I could see Denis was going to go low, so I was going to go high, then I saw the lapped car come down and pinch him, and I got him on the outside,” Quick described his winning pass, as he led the final lap for his first Tirecraft feature win of the season.
“Finally, it’s been awhile since we’ve won one,” said Quick, whose last feature win came in the season championship race last September.
It appeared Quick would settle for a season-high second-place finish as DeSerrano dominated the race from the drop off the green, before checking up for the lapped car of Chatham’s Rick Balasin.
“I don’t give up, I just keep going no matter how far back I am,” Quick said of his comeback victory, which he said was especially sweet coming against his rival DeSerrano.
“I’m always trying to get up as far as I can, tonight I didn’t give up and we got to the front,” said Quick, whose own momentum was interrupted by a lapped car on lap 17.
Quick finished fourth in the opening night feature on May 4 but has since scratched from one feature and posted two DNFs. He did not race on May 11.
He won the heat and crack-the-whip preliminary races on both nights when he broke in the features.
“We’ve had some bad luck, we broke second gear in the transmission one night and then last week we broke a bolt off a flywheel. We should have switched the rods, but we didn’t, and we blew up,” he explained.
“It’s a fast car, it’s all new stuff, and if it holds together, we’ve good a good chance every night.”
Dresden’s Matt Sorrell, who won his first career feature last Saturday, had another strong run to finish third. He won the heat and crack-the-whip earlier in the night.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr., who also won a heat, finished fourth and Blenheim’s Trevor Jones fifth.
Haskell takes no pleasure in padding points lead with feature win
Greg Haskell was happy to win his first feature of the year, but he’d be even happier if he had another dozen or so cars to race against.
Haskell led all 15 laps to win the UMP Late Model feature, a race that had just six starters.
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford, who won the heat and dash, finished second. Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis, Chatham’s Brent Colby and Erick Walker rounded out the top five.
Haskell’s win, coupled with second-place Brad Authier losing an engine in the heat race, gives the defending series champion a 116-point lead atop the standings.
Haskell, however, shrugged off the importance of running for points.
“It’s not really a points race right now,” he declared.
“The only reason I’m in the points lead is everyone else has had motor problems and I’ve been able to at least start every feature.”
Haskell has had a pair of DNF’s, but because of the small car count was still able to post top-fives while in the pits.
“Jimmy (Jones) broke a motor and missed tonight, Brad’s missed a couple features now…” Haskell paused.
“I don’t want to win a points championship this way.”
He felt the same way about winning a six-car feature.
“Yeah, I won the feature but at the same time we’re only racing against five cars. It would be different if you got to race Chris (Ross) and Brad and Dale and Jim and all these guys … at least it feels like you’re racing somebody.”
But Haskell was quick to point out the win wasn’t easy
“Anytime you can beat Dale Glassford, it’s a good win,” he said. “I seen him on the inside of me a couple times.
“But again, I’d rather see 15-16 cars and race that way instead of the way we’re doing.”
The biggest Late Model field was 10 cars on opening night, although three never made it out of the heat. The biggest feature field so far has been seven cars.
“It seems like we get two new guys out and two others break for a couple of weeks,” Haskell said. “Hopefully it will change around here soon.”
Haskell also battled a bad vibration for the second straight week. Last Saturday, it caused him to rip the steering wheel out of his hands and he went over the end in turn one, allowing Ross to make the winning pass.
“It feels like it’s my teeth are falling out, that’s how bad it is,” Haskell said.
“I don’t think it’s the motor, I think it’s something in the rear end. We changed it this week but found there was a problem with the spare rear end, so we put the old one back in, changed a couple of things … but it’s (vibration) still there.”
Ryan Bonner won his third Bomber feature in five tries on Saturday. Fellow Blenheim driver Jeff Schives was the leader as they headed onto the infield for the last lap but he hit a wet spot re-entering the front-stretch, allowing Bonner to slip by and take the feature. He also won the heat race as he has six flags for the season.
- Four drivers went into their features looking for a three-race sweep but all three were foiled - Speelman finished second in the Modifieds, Glassford finished second in the Late Models, Sorrell was third in the Mini-Mods and Clements 11th in the Sport Stocks.
- Brosseau said it was the first time he’s won back-to-back features in seven years. He is the first two-time feature winner in the Modifieds this season.
- Jim Dale Jr.’s power-woes struck for a fourth straight race night. The two-time defending Modified champion worked right up to race-time on the motor, but left both the heat and feature after running just a few laps.
- Vanderiviere unofficially moved to within four points of Shaw in the closest points race.
- Shaw had a heat win taken away as he was penalized for rough driving in passing Rob Young. The win went to Clements.
- Schives was stripped of his heat win in the Bombers for going off the track and taking out an infield tire.
- DeSerrano went flagless for the first race night this season, as he won 10 of his 15 races through the first five weeks, including the first three features.
- Chatham’s Randy McKinlay’s tough luck continued as he was ordered to go to the pits while running in the top five late in the race because of damage to his race car. He was second in Mini-Mod points going into Week 4 but a crash while leading the heat race forced a DNS for that night’s feature and a fire under the hood knocked him out of last weeks feature, again spoiling a top-5 run.
- South Buxton rookie driver Andrew Pfahler had a ‘where did he come from’ moment early in the Mini-Mod feature as he quietly moved into second place and got a run on the inside of the leader DeSerrano on a restart, only to see his good run go up in smoke as he entered turn one.
- Kingsville’s Larry Hart earned his first career checkered as he won the Mini-Mod ‘B’ Main.
- Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra and Windsor’s Dan McIntyre again borrowed their father’s cars (Eugene Hoekstra and Emerson McIntyre) to run for points while their own cars are being repaired.
- Roger Barrette, of Belle River, won the 50-50 draw worth $696.50 from the Merlin St. Patrick’s Parish.
- Special prices will be in effect this Saturday - $20 adults (ages 17-59), $15 seniors (60-over) and teens (13-16), $10 kids (ages 6-12) and 5-under free. The pits are $25.