As the late, great Curly Howard would say … “Hmmm, that’s a coincidence!”
It was late August last year when Merlin’s Joe Brosseau drove for Wheatley’s Justin Mills and parked the 6M car in Victory Lane after the Schinkels Gourmet UMP Modified feature.
On Saturday, Brosseau again had the No. 6M on his panels and won another feature for Mills.
Looking back to that Aug. 31, 2013 race night when Brosseau won as a ‘hired gun,’ Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere and Cottam’s Rob Quick also won feature races.
By coincidence, Vanderiviere and Quick won again this Saturday night.
Brad Authier was the other feature winner on that Week 16 night last August, winning the Rick Haskell memorial race for the Late Models.
Authier didn’t win this Saturday night - but Gregg Haskell did, one week before this year’s memorial race for his father.
If Austin Pickering was at the track that Aug. 31, 2013 night, he would have been in Dale Glassford’s pit, watching Ryan O’Hearn win the Bomber feature.
The 14-year-old Blenheim rookie earned his first career feature victory - and checkered flag - winning Saturday’s feature.
The best we can do as far as a ‘flashback coincidence’ for the Bombers to Week 16 of last year - Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck and Brandon Ardis along with Blenheim’s Shawn Hope repeated top-five finishes, with Hope fourth in the ‘4′ car both nights.
Photos by James MacDonald ApexOne Photo (Click on Multimedia icon for James’ web site).
‘Hired gun’ Brosseau drives a bullet to second straight Mod win
Joe Brosseau said after his Aug. 9 feature win that he was just out to have fun, and if anyone wanted him to run ‘their number,’ he’d be happy to oblige.
He got the call before Week 16 to run Justin Mills’ No. 6M, after the Wheatley driver’s car was seriously damaged late in the Aug. 9 feature.
By coincidence, the ‘red flag’ for Mills’ accident brought out the checkered flag for Brosseau.
Brosseau had the 6M on his door on Aug. 16, finishing sixth in the heat race before the night was called by rain.
“He texted me at three o’clock today asking if I’d mind running the number again … I don’t mind helping out the kid,” Brosseau said, since the Mills’ machine still wasn’t ready on Saturday.
Brosseau finished third in his heat but with the invert of six, he started on the front for the second straight feature - and by coincidence, beside Chatham’s Brian Speelman again.
This time, however, Brosseau had to race to earn his win - unlike the Aug. 9 feature that was reduced to 15 laps because of nine cautions and the red flag, and only had one green-flag run as long as four laps.
Brosseau and Speelman restarted side-by-side six times that night.
This time, the race was slowed by only four cautions including the final yellow with three laps to go, setting up a single-file restart.
Brosseau had Belle River’s Mario Toniolo to contend with on restarts on laps five, 10 and 17.
“Those restarts with Mario were fun,” Brosseau said. “I was running the high side but took the bottom on the restarts because I thought Mario was going to try to pass me low if I didn’t get to the bottom, so I figured if I started on the bottom and pinch off the inside, he’d have to try the high side.”
Brosseau led all 25 laps in what he called, “the funnest race of the season.
“It makes it looks it easy when you start up front, but it was nice to just be able to get out and run some laps, you had to be focused and clean air played a big part,” he said.
Brosseau credits his late-season turnaround to hard work by his crew.
“We’ve got the car where it needs to be, we’re not chewing tires off anymore, the car’s driving out of the corners… it’s all up to me, now,” he said.
Toniolo posted his second runner-up finish and 11th top-five in 16 features.
Clayton Smith, of Taylor. Mich., had another strong run to finish third, with points leader Joel Dick of Leamington and Merlin’s Jeff Daniels rounding out the top five.
By coincidence, Merlin’s Brad McLeod and Chatham’s Darryl Hoekstra won heat races for the second week in a row.
Vanderiviere enhances title hopes with fifth feature win
The way Eren Vanderiviere reeled off checkered flags and feature wins in 2013, it was hard to believe his feature win on Saturday was his first since his Tirecraft Sport Stocks mid-season championship victory on July 12.
“We’ve been fighting the set up all year, we just can’t find the set up we had last year,” Vanderiviere said, as he won nine features and 21 checkereds in total on route to a third straight points title.
A fourth consecutive division crown is within his grasp - he leads Merlin’s Steve Shaw by 62 points with four race nights remaining - as Saturday’s feature win was his fifth but only his eighth checkered.
The change in format to the Sport Stocks preliminary and feature line-ups is one factor in Vanderiviere’s drop-off in the checkered flag column.
“With the track changing so much week to week, it’s a little tougher to get that good set-up every night,” he said of another factor.
“The car didn’t seem that good in the heat race tonight,” he admitted.
“We didn’t change very much, I just got a good run along the bottom and started picking them off,” he said, as it took him eight laps to move up from his fourth row starting position into the top three.
“It seemed liked I’d get up beside someone and have to race them for a lap before I could clear them,” he said of his march to the front.
He chased down the Lajeunesse brothers - Patrick who led from the drop of the green, and Doris who had been running second from lap two.
Vanderiviere dove to the bottom and got by both coming out of turn two on lap 12 to take the lead, but it still took four or five laps to completely clear Doris.
“It’s fun racing with them guys, it’s always clean,” he said of battling the Lajeunesses.
He also enjoyed an early side-by-side battle with his brother Eric.
“We seem to have a side-by-side battle every night … we’re smiling ear to ear inside our helmets,” he said.
By coincidence, Eric Vanderiviere was penalized for contact with Patrick Lajeunesse late in the race after the Harrow native’s battery started sparking as he faded back through the field.
Doris Lajeunesse held on for a second-place finish as Kingsville’s Rob Young, who had to restart at the back for bringing out the first caution, rebounded for a third-place finish. Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon and Shaw rounded out the top five.
Doris Lajeunesse and Lozon won the heats.
Quick goes from wrecker to feature checker, thanks to all-night repair sessions
A week’s worth of work into the wee hours of the morning paid off for Rob Quick.
After suffering one of the hardest hits of his career, the Cottam driver rebounded with his fifth feature win of the season in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods.
A week earlier, Quick slammed head-first into the turn four cement wall in his heat race. It was the same spot on the track he hit the wall in the Aug. 9 feature, both times after incidental contact with Chatham’s John Pinsonneault.
But Quick absolved Pinsonneault of any blame in last week’s crash, as two tow trucks were needed to remove his demolished No. 18 from the track.
“We were racing hard, our video showed I broke loose, I just touched Johnny and went right into the wall,” Quick said. “My foot was stuck on the throttle so I went in there wide open, it was a pretty hard hit … but it wasn’t Johnny’s fault at all,” Quick said.
He escaped serious injury, “but I was stiff all week … I don’t want to do that too many times, this body can’t take that,” he said, with a laugh.
Quick’s race team worked until three in the morning four consecutive nights and right to 4 p.m. on Saturday to get the car ready for the night’s action.
He quickly showed the car was back to form by winning his heat race before leading all 20 laps of the feature.
Quick built a good-size lead over Blenheim’s Trevor Jones as the front-row starters ran one-two the entire race.
“I don’t know how big of a lead I had, but I thought it was pretty good,” Quick said.
He threaded the needle between two lapped cars at one point then shot to the bottom to clear two more slow vehicles just before the first of two cautions came out on lap 11.
“I got into lapped traffic and thought I wasn’t going to fit, we kind of bounced off each other but made it through,” he said.
Quick went into the night 26 points behind Jones in the division standings but was only able to trim five points off the deficit as the 16-year-old Blenheim driver held on for a second-place feature finish and also won his heat.
Blenheim’s Kyle Hope, Chatham’s Tim Mackenzie - driving for Pinsonneault - and Kingsville’s Larry Hart rounded out the top five.
Mackenzie was the other heat race winner, his third flag driving the ‘0′ car.
Haskell continues hot streak with two cool wins in the Late Models
Maybe Gregg Haskell should consider taking the ice bucket challenge again this Saturday - the way he’s been driving the last couple of weeks, it may be the only thing that can cool him down.
The Chatham driver, one of four people who took part in the pre-race charity ritual, continued his hot streak by winning the Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Model feature after posting his fourth straight heat race win earlier in the night.
Haskell and his brother Patrick, along with Modified driver Jim Dale Jr. and his wife Amy, took the ALS challenge, with members of the track’s junior fan club pouring the ice water above from the VIP patio deck.
“Maybe I’ll jump in there and take a little ice water again next week with my guys,” Haskell said, as he passed the challenge along to his pit crew.
Haskell will have a little extra incentive this week as he will try to win his father Rick’s memorial race for a first time.
His brothers Patrick and Jason will start up front, based on their fifth and sixth place feature finishes on Saturday.
Gregg will start in the third row, as the line-up is set by inverted order of the previous feature finish.
It will be the first time all three brothers have raced in their father’s memorial since the inaugural race in 2007, the year Rick died at the age of 51 of a heart attack. He was a long-time track worker at South Buxton.
It was an all-Haskell checkered night on Saturday as Jason won the first heat race, again driving Paul Trepanier’s No. 78, before Gregg extended his heat win-streak to four in the second group.
Gregg made a successful run from his second-row starting position in the feature, passing Chatham’s Jim Jones for the lead after a lap seven restart and led the rest of the way for his third win of the season, the first since back-to-backs on May 24 and 31.
“Jonesy is almost impossible to pass down low, so I knew the only way I was going to get by was up high,” Haskell said, as he made his winning pass of Jones at the top of turns one and two.
“I watched the Modifieds and Sprints, that’s where it (the track) seemed fast.”
Haskell said his turnaround is a matter of getting used to the new car after getting the bugs out the first three months.
“We might have got lucky on set up the first couple of times, it was more of a dry track and braking motor that got us the first two wins,” he said of his May feature victories, his only checkereds until his five in August.
“But right now, we have this car figured out, we hope next week it will be just as fast,” he said.
Jones regained the division lead by eight points over Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford with this second-place finish.
Glassford broke on the first lap but still managed an eighth-place finish with two cars scratching.
Chatham’s Brad Authier and Erick Walker finished ahead of the other two Haskell brothers.
Haskell, in a bid for a third straight division, is 73 points back in fourth place with three points nights remaining before the Sept. 13 championship night for the Late Models.
“I don’t wish broken cars on anyone, but if he was going to break for the night, I wish it was in the heat race,” Haskell said of Glassford’s misfortune.
“But it’s kind of nice there is no points race,” he admitted. “I’m just going out trying to win races instead of worrying about where I’m going to finish.”
Pickering continues late-season surge with first career Bomber win
Austin Pickering was racing go-carts in Tilbury with his friend Nick Glassford at this time last year.
Both decided to try the Autotech Bomber class this year.
Glassford got the bragging rights by winning the first checkered - he has four including a heat race victory earlier Saturday.
But Pickering one-upped his friend by winning the first feature.
Pickering moved into second on lap five, passing Glassford who exited with a flat tire.
Chatham’s Brandon Ardis had a good-size lead until a caution with six laps to go wiped out his advantage.
Pickering restarted on the inside and got a great jump as the green came out.
“I just wanted to get under him and get ahead coming out of the corner,” Pickering described his winning pass.
Pickering had his hands full trying to hold off Ardis and Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck in the remaining laps but the rookie was able to hold off the second-year drivers to take the checkered.
“It felt pretty good,” he said of his first win. “I thought I could win one this year.”
Pickering has shown steady improvement all year, moving into the top five in points in early July and two weeks ago moved into third.
“Just getting used to the car and learning the track,” the 14-year-old said of his progress.
“It’s a lot of fun.”
Blenheim’s Shawn Hope, who had four feature wins and four heat race wins over the previous five weeks, settled for a fourth-place finish while Windsor’s James Beaulieu was fifth.
Points leader Jeff Schives of Blenheim, who had Blenheim’s Brad Maynard behind the wheel Saturday, will see his big advantage over Ellerbeck reduced almost in half as the sub-driver received a black flag. Schives, who had a 117-point lead going into the night, is now unofficially just 52 points ahead.
Brosseau becomes the fifth ’sub driver’ to win a feature race this season, joining Andrew Reaume, with three, and Jason Haskell in the Late Models, Justin Coulter in the Modifieds and Tim Mackenzie in the Mini-Mods.
- Several drivers ran ‘topless’ in conjunction with the Ontario Topless Sprints’ visit. Darryl Lucio offered a $100 gift certificate from his Chatham Pro Shop business to his fellow Mini-Mod class, if the feature winner ran topless. Mackenzie was the highest topless finisher in fourth.
- Saturday marked the first time since June 28 that all five classes ran their full feature distances.
- Rookie driver Jake Hooker donated two bikes, courtesy of his Country View Golf Course race team, to the Junior Fan Club. The draw was held before Saturday’s races after last week’s rainout.
- Track promoter Sherry Lemesurier said on the track’s Facebook page that $300 was raised for Outreach For Hunger with the sales of the Kevin Ward Jr. tribute shirts.
- Ontario Topless Sprints promoter Ken Bayliss wrote a nice thank-you to South Buxton’s fans and staff for supporting the touring wingless class. His comments can be found on the SBR Facebook page.
- Fans are still talking about the classy gesture by OTS driver Joe Bares, of Grand Rapids, Mich., who finished second to Tilbury’s Kyle Patrick in the feature. As the post-race ceremony ended, Bares spotted a young fan standing by the fence, walked through the gate and gave the youngster his second-place trophy. Ian Slager is probably still smiling today.
- Brent Cheetham, of Ridgetown, was the winner of the 50-50 draw, worth $1,092.50 from the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village.