Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis and Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon prevented a complete repeat of Opening Night, with feature wins on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.
Lewis led all 20 laps to win the Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Model feature while Lozon took the lead on lap eight and lead the final 12 circuits to take the checkered in the Tirecraft Sport Stocks.
The other three feature winners were repeats from Opening night - Leamington’s Joel Dick in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds and Blenheim drivers Trevor Jones in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods and Jeff Schives in the Autotech Bombers.
Prior to the race night, South Buxton inducted 11 members to the new Alumni Hall of Fame - Joe Atkinson and Dennis Pook, who built and operated the speedway (then know as Raleigh Raceway in 1971), and former drivers Larry Atkinson, Fred Chambers, Gord DeWael, Brent Gibbons, Gord Gotelaer, Don Hendricks, Al McCully, Jim Morlog and John Reynolds.
Photos by James MacDonald Apex One Photo (click on Multimedia icon for link to James’ site and hundreds of photos from Saturday’s action)
Lewis speeds way to first feature win since 2010
His fellow racers thought Mike Lewis had the fastest car on Opening Night.
The Wallaceburg driver did have the fastest car - for three-quarters of a lap in the feature before he hit a rut in turn four and turned the left rear tire inside out.
Lewis had the fastest car again in the Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Models this Saturday night.
This time, he proved it for 20 laps.
Lewis took the lead at the drop of the green and led the entire race for his third career feature win and first since the 2010 season.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said after taking a victory lap to celebrate his drought-ending victory.
The 40-year-old Lewis said he learned a lesson by watching Leamington’s Joel Dick win his second straight Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature earlier in the night.
“I saw Joel run around up there (at the top of the track) in the mods and that seemed to be the place to be,” Lewis said.
“The car was fast, it hugged the high side and that seemed the way to go.”
Chatham’s Jim Jones, who won the heat and pursuit races earlier in the night, ran second from lap four to the end but couldn’t mount a serious run on Lewis.
“I just tried to run my line and get through (traffic) as fast as possible and hopefully hold up the second place car,” Lewis said.
“My guys told me after that Jimmy was right on my back end through the traffic.”
Lewis was disappointed he didn’t receive the courtesy time to fix his tire in the Opening Night feature, but he put that disappointment behind him when he got to the track on Saturday - even when he was spun out by last week’s feature winner Dale Glassford in the heat race.
“He came over right away and apologized,” Lewis said, as the good friends park beside each other on race nights.
Lewis admitted his team never touched the car all week until Saturday afternoon.
“We washed all the mud off from last week, worked on it for about an hour around 3 o’clock and brought it out here as is,” Lewis said.
“And that was a gamble, considering how rough the track was last week, we could have easily had something broken.
“But Dan (his older brother) put a good set-up on it and we were fast,” Lewis said.
The driver was Saturday’s win was a good 44th birthday present to his brother.
Chatham’s Gregg Haskell, Erick Walker and Matt Wauthier rounded out the top five.
Glassford finished eighth after colliding with Haskell early in the race.
Chatham’s Brad Authier, the runner-up to Glassford in the Opening Night feature, hit the wall a lap earlier when his brakes failed and finished ninth.
J.D. wins battle of restarts for second straight feature win
Leamington’s Joel Dick turned a rash of yellow flags into a checkered for his second straight Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature win Saturday night.
Dick and Merlin’s Joe Brosseau, the two dominant drivers in the 20-car field, went toe-to-toe on five restarts between laps 15 and 17 as cautions slowed the race to a crawl.
Dick won four of the five restarts, including the third attempt to go green on lap 17, and led the final eight circuits to collect the checkered flag.
“That was fun racing with Joe,” Dick said of their 21-lap duel.
“We both had really fast cars. I ran the high line, Joey was good on the bottom, so we both had the lines we wanted.
“It came down to whoever got a good restart and got through (turns) one and two,” he said.
Dick said he concentrated on avoiding spinning his tires and finding his line to win the drag race into the first turn on each restart.
It worked on all but one restart.
“I roasted them (tires), he was on it and he was gone,” Dick said of Brosseau getting the jump on the second attempt to restart lap 17.
“I was thankful another caution came out there,” he added, as the yellow waved again before the lap was complete, forcing yet another restart,
Dick got a good launch from his outside position on the next restart and maintained a steady lead for five laps until the caution waved again with four to go, creating a single-file restart.
“Definitely, I very happy to see that, it takes a little bit of the pressure off,” he said of the restart rule with under five laps to go.
“But there’s still four laps to go and anything can happen,” he continued.
“He was strong on the bottom, and if I bobbled just a little bit, I knew he’d be there, so I had to hit my marks and be consistent,” said Dick of his thought process as he held off Brosseau to take his second straight feature.
Dick credited his father Tom’s work on the car all week as a big reason for his win.
“He did a lot of work, he found a lot of stuff that was wrong on the car, so I have to thank him a lot,” he said.
“All in all, it’s a great start to the season … I’m looking forward to next weekend,” Dick looked ahead.
Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. rebounded from an early race incident to finish third.
Belle River’s Mario Toniolo finished a strong fourth for the second week in a row while Chatham’s Brian Speelman was fifth.
Brosseau won the heat and dash while Dale Jr. and Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich., won the other heats
Jones waves checkered in another yellow-shortened Mini-Mod feature
Trevor Jones has been the beneficiary of two straight shortened features in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods.
But the 16-year-old Blenheim driver is not taking any satisfaction in winning in this manner.
“I wish we could have completed all of the laps and actually won the whole race,” Jones said.
“Even if I would have lost at the end, it’d be better if we got to finish.”
Saturday night’s feature was called after 10 laps by race officials due to a rash of cautions for a second straight week.
On Opening Night, Jones took the checkered after 14 of the scheduled 20 laps were completed.
Jones, who started on the pole, was running third when the leaders Brett Hope, of Blenheim, and Chatham’s John Pinsonneault Jr. collided between turns three and four on lap four.
“I had a feeling something was going to happen, the way they were running,” he said of the leaders.
“It looked like Brett slid up a little bit and Pinnsy came down some and they connected,” said Jones.
The leaders wound up on the infield as Jones sped past into the lead.
Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. managed to take the lead after a restart on lap six but spun a lap later, allowing Jones to resume the lead.
However, four more cautions over the next three laps led race officials to throw the checkered flag after just half of the scheduled distance was completed.
Jones, who matched his career feature win total in the first two weeks of the 2014 season, said he wasn’t sure if his car would have lasted a full 20-lap race.
“It was handling as well this week,” he admitted.
“The motor wasn’t really turning too good, there’s oil all over it, we’ll have to check that out,” he said.
Blenheim’s Kyle Hope was elevated to a second-place finish when Dresden’s Matt Sorrell was disqualified in post-race tech inspection.
Chatham’s Rick Balasin, Merlin’s Jody Mason and Kingsville’s Larry Hart rounded out the top five.
Brett Hope finished ninth, a disappointing ending to a promising night as he won the heat and pursuit.
Balasin won the other heat in his first race of the season after missing opening night.
Schives beats the traffic for second Bomber victory
Jeff Schives said it is a lot harder to race this season because the Autotech Bomber class has tripled in size from this point last year.
You wouldn’t know it was more difficult by Schives’ early checkered flag collection.
The Blenheim driver won his second straight Bomber feature, giving him three checkereds in four races to start the 2014 season.
“That’s a pretty cool way to start the year,” said Schives, whose only non-win was a second-place finish to Blenheim’s Dylan Bonner in Saturday’s heat.
Schives started the 15-car feature in the 10th position but gained five laps on the first lap and moved into second on lap four.
The leader, Cale Johns of Merlin, got caught behind a pack of slow traffic on lap five, allowing Schives the opening to take the lead.
“I went into (turns) one and two and there was a huge pile up, so I went to the bottom and got real lucky,” Schives said of his pass for the win
“After that, I just held my line on the bottom.”
Blenheim’s Brandon Ardis and Ryan O’Hearn finished second and third while Johns was fourth and Blenheim’s Evan Bonner fifth.
The fact 15 cars started the feature is good news for the second-year class, which sometimes raced with as few as four and five cars last season.
“It’s definitely a lot tougher,” Schives said about running in the crowded field.
“You really have to be more aware. You have fast guys you’re following and then all of a sudden you come up on a lapped car, so you have to choose a line and go for the opening and hope it works,” he said.
Schives, who won the 2013 championship race, has a good start on his goal of winning the points title this season.
“I just want to win as much as I can, keep the car clean and do better than last year,” he said, as he finished second to Dylan Bonner in the final points standings.
“The points would definitely be cool to win,” he said.
Shawn Hope won the other heat.
Lozon rolls to Sport Stocks’ feature win
Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon took the lead on lap seven and was never seriously challenged en route to the Tirecraft Sport Stocks feature win.
Lozon started fourth, passed Windsor’s West Bertozzi for second on lap seven and took the lead after a restart when Kingsville’s Rob Young, who led from lap three, spun in turn two.
Harrow’s Patrick Lajeunesse walked away uninjured from a rollover accident as an innocent victim when LaSalle’s Bob Visnjic and Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere hooked together coming out of turn four on lap six.
As they slid towards the infield, they collected the Lajeunesse machine, which rolled and landed on its roof on the apron near the start-finish line.
The track safety crew quickly arrived and pulled Lajeunesse to safety as the roof was crushed.
Lajeunesse, who was visibly upset on the track, said he was not injured when approached after the race and politely declined to talk about the incident.
Vanderiviere’s crew was able to make quick repairs as he rebounded to finish fourth behind runner-up Steve Shaw of Merlin and third-place Bertozzi, who led the first two laps.
Cottam’s Tiffany Ellis had a strong fifth-place finish.
Visnjic’s crew got the No. 95 car back on the track as he finished 10th, two laps down.
Lozon won his heat race earlier in the night and finished third in the pursuit, which was won by Shaw.
Wallaceburg’s Gary Vyse took the other heat checkered.
Lozon won two feature races in 2013, including a second straight season championship race.
- The race program was delayed almost 40 minutes when the track crew had to bring out the water truck following the opening Modified heat races. Both corners dried out and visibility was dangerous for the drivers. Track promoter Sherry Lemesurier apologized to the fans over the p.a. system for the delay.
- The Lemesuriers - Sherry and Gary - also expressed their gratitude to everyone who stayed for as long as they could, as the early delay plus the rash of cautions that led to lengthy features, made for a long night for fans on a cool night.
- Prior to the race night, South Buxton inducted 11 members to its new Alumni Hall of Fame, including track founders Joe Atkinson and Dennis Pook, along with former drivers Larry Atkinson, Fred Chambers, Brent Gibbons, Al McCully, Jim Morlog and John Reynolds, and posthumously Gord DeWael, Gord Gotelaer and Don Hendricks.
- The Best Appearing Car Awards were presented to Goderich’s Mark Glassford in the Modifieds, Cottam’s Tiffany Ellis in the Sport Stocks, Port Lambton’s Caleb O’Leary in the Bombers, Chatham’s Gregg Haskell in the Late Models and Dresden’s Matt Sorrell in the Mini-Mods. Fans voted for the award on opening night a week earlier.
- After Trevor Jones went three-for-three on opening night, three drivers had the same opportunity on Saturday. Jim Jones and Joe Brosseau came the closest, finishing second in their features, while Brett Hope was ninth in the Mini-Mods after leading in the early laps.
- Hope, Brosseau and Jim Jones were three of 11 drivers to win their first flags of the season on Saturday. Lozon had two while Lewis, Dale. Jr., Clayton Smith, Vyse, Balasin, Dylan Bonner and Shawn Hope had one each.
- Ed Ryall, of Ruthven, won $868 in the St. Frances 50-50 draw.
- This coming Saturday will be Cheap Night, with half-price grandstand admission, free popcorn and $1 hotdogs. Gates open at 5 p.m.