The black clouds that hovered over Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon and Chatham’s Louis Clements all season finally disappeared on Saturday night.
Both drivers started deep in the field and managed to avoid mayhem en route to their first feature wins of the year.
Lozon was running third coming out of the final turn but drove away with the win when Eren Vanderiviere and Steve Shaw, who had been running one-two since lap six, tangled less than 100 feet from the finish line in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks.
Clements’ pivotal moment came earlier in the Schinkels Gourmet Meat UMP Modifieds feature as he went from 10th to third on lap four by steering through a multi-car pile-up. He took the lead eight laps later and led the rest of the way.
Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford led all 20 laps of the Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change UMP Late Models feature, his second straight and eighth win of the season.
Cottam’s Rob Quick swept all three races in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods, including his fourth feature win of the season.
Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck won his second Bomber feature in three weeks.
Saturday was South Buxton’s first Autism Awareness Night, part of the Canadian National Autism Foundation and its Kid’s Race program, which held similar promotions at seven other tracks in Ontario and Nova Scotia this summer.
Jeff Daniels’ No. 20 Modified race team donated over $600 to the foundation from proceeds raised in selling team T-shirts.
During the intermission, Daniels’ race team was joined by fellow Modified drivers Brad Simpson and Drew Smith and Sport Stocks driver Rob Young for an impromptu pass-the-helmet collection, as South Buxton fans filled the helmets with over $1,000 in loose bills and coins.
Photos by James MacDonald ApexOne Photo (click on photos for larger views).
Lozon’s season turns around when feature leaders get turned around
If anything could go wrong for a race driver in one season, it has gone wrong for Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon.
But in the span of about 100 feet and three seconds in time, Lozon’s entire season turned around on Saturday night.
Lozon pulled off one of the most dramatic wins of the season when he went from third place coming to the line to the Winner’s Circle in the Windride Transportation Sport Stocks feature.
“I’ve had nothing but bad luck all year and I was starting to get a little frustrated, thinking I wasn’t going to get a feature win (this year), but tonight changed everything,” said Lozon, who still couldn’t believe his good fortune in his Winner’s Circle interview.
Lozon was running third coming out of the final turn, close enough to the leaders - but far enough back - in case anything happened in front of him.
“I seen a lot of bumping and rubbing going on, so I just sat back and gave myself some room in case they messed up, and that’s exactly what happened,” Lozon said, as Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere and Steve Shaw hooked together and slid into the infield just yards away from the finish line.
“I had a little panic for a second,” added Lozon, who was worried the tangled cars might cut down the track in front of him.
“But the car worked great, I knew where to shoot it and got across the line before they could (cut down),” he said.
Lozon started 10th and moved up to third on lap 10. But he was more concerned about holding off Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse than chasing down Vanderiviere and Shaw, who had been running one-two since lap seven.
Vanderiviere, who took the lead from Windsor’s West Bertozzi on lap five, appeared to be headed for a fourth straight and ninth feature win of the season until the late laps when Shaw was able to pressure the leader on the bottom of the track.
After a single file restart with four to go, the Merlin rivals ran door-to-door around the ‘D’ until the fateful final lap when they leaned on each other coming out of turn four.
“I didn’t see the white flag because were racing so hard, then he just got me sideways, we tangled and that was it,” Vanderiviere said of the incident.
“We were hooked, I tried to steer out but he had his tire turned into my tire and it got caught on my door bar.
“I didn’t know the race was over, that’s why I mashed the gas to get going,” said Vanderiviere, who got back on the track in time to finish fourth.
“We were racing for the checkered flag, neither of us lifted… it was just good hard racing,” Shaw countered.
“That’s what happens when you get two cars running like that, you get the white flag and you’re coming out of four for the checkered … and sometimes stuff happens,” said Shaw, who couldn’t get his car re-fired and finished 11th.
While neither driver was happy with the outcome, they are both putting the incident behind.
“I hold no grudges with him,” Shaw said.
“It is what it is, we’ll take it and move on and keep working on our third championship in a row,” Vanderiviere replied.
Lajeunesse finished second while Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse was third and Kingsville’s Rob Young was fifth.
Lozon became only the third driver to win a Sport Stocks feature this season as Vanderiviere has eight wins and Shaw the other four.
Ironically, Lozon’s last feature win came in the 2012 championship race when he took the lead after an incident between Vanderiviere and Shaw with two laps to go.
“I hope it’s the same this year,” Lozon said with a smile, looking ahead to the Sept. 7 championship night.
“But it feels good to be up there running with the faster cars,” he said.
Lozon went into the night third in points with just one checkered flag and seven top-five feature finishes in what he admitted was a disappointing season. He had 10 checkereds and one feature in 2012, finishing second in points.
“Pretty much every issue you can have with a car, we’ve had,” Lozon described his year.
“It seems like it’s something small every week. Last week the rear end broke and we had fan problems, making the car overheat.
“Now, it’s about finishing races and being consistent.
“And I want to finish second in points,” Lozon added, as he moved to within 19 points of Shaw.
Vanderiviere, meanwhile, extended his lead to 114 points and can clinch his third straight points title if he leaves this coming Saturday night’s action with a minimum 98-point lead.
Earlier in the night, Shaw won the heat and crack-the-whip while Lajeunesse won the other heat, his first flag of the season.
Clements turns page with first Modified feature win of season
Louis Clements had pretty well written off the 2013 season.
Good thing for the Chatham driver, he didn’t close the book.
Clements turned the page on a miserable season by winning Saturday’s Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature, his first of the season and fourth since moving up to the class in 2011.
“It’s been my worst year in my 14 years of racing,” Clements said in his Winner’s Circle interview.
“It’s been stupid stuff all year … between mechanical issues and stuff happening on the track, or if I’m running good I get a flat tire…” he said.
“So to finally get going in the right direction, I’m pretty happy about that,” said Clements.
Clements started 13th in the 20-car feature and his pivotal moment came on lap four when he managed to steer through a multi-car pile-up unscathed.
Wallaceburg’s Drew Smith spun in turn four while running second, collecting several top-running cars.
Clements, who had moved up to the 10th position, came out of the melee in third.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I got through it,” said Clements.
“I was coming through the corner and they were hollering ‘caution’ on the radio and there had to be five cars piled up,” he said.
“There was one opening, I tried to aim the car but it was sliding, so I let up off the brakes and lucked out.”
Eight laps later, there was contact after a restart between Clements and the leader Darryl Hoekstra, who cut a tire and had to pit under caution.
“He picked the high side, which I was happy about because my car was working really good on the bottom,” Clements said of the restart on lap 11.
“We got a good restart and stayed on the inside, but he (Hoekstra) tried to take the line and I was already there,” Clements said of the contact.
Clements went on to lead the final eight laps of the caution-plagued race, holding off Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich., in the waning laps.
Ironically, Clements went to the high side on restarts after the incident with Hoekstra.
“There was a nice cushion up in (turns) one and two, and I knew if I started on the high side and got a good run on the green, I could use the cushion to my advantage,” he said, as he had three more restarts to test his theory before the final four laps ran green.
“I went high in one and two and then went to the bottom in three and four, and it worked,” he said.
Smith held off Chatham’s Jeff Daniels for second while Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. was fourth and Chatham’s Eugene Hoekstra was fifth.
Darryl Hoekstra rebounded for a ninth-place finish and padded his lead to 120 points over two-time defending division Dale Jr., who moved up to second in the standings.
The feature was slowed by nine cautions, as several cars were involved in multiple incidents, forcing race officials to reduce the scheduled 25-lapper to 20 laps.
Eugene Hoekstra, Darryl’s father, won his heat and dash, his first checkered flags in his return to racing after a 15-year absence.
Chatham’s Brian Speelman won the other heat.
Glassford credits last summer’s ‘trade-in’ for his 2013 dominance
Dale Glassford traces his success in 2013 to mid-season in 2012 when he bought his old car back from Sarnia’s Don Douglas.
“We’ve never ever had anything like this before,” Glassford said after his second straight and seventh feature win in the last eight race nights in the Lube Tech/Great Canadian Oil Change Late Models.
He had sold his current car to Douglas before the 2012 season but purchased it back when he couldn’t get the handle on his new car.
“Somehow, it’s personality and my personality just seems to work,” said Glassford of his car, as Saturday’s win was his 11th in the machine since getting it back in late July last year.
“I think I’d have a mutiny on my hands if I ever tried to sell it again, everyone on the crew would just about shoot me!” he laughed.
The analogy was perfect, since Glassford’s car was like a bullet in Saturday’s feature.
He started on the outside of Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis, took the lead through turns one and two and took off, leading all 20 laps of the caution-free race.
“It’s a good feeling when things are going your way,” he said of his recent dominance.
His only blemish in recent weeks was a DNF and 12th-place finish in the Gord DeWael memorial race on Aug. 10 when a broken distributor cap ended his night early.
Glassford dodged a bullet on Saturday as steam was rising from under the hood as he pulled into the Winner’s Circle.
“A blown water pump gasket, nothing major and not a big deal to fix,” he said.
Glassford noticed a problem with less than five laps to go but said he wasn’t worried.
“I could smell it but I was hoping it was coming from another car,” he said. “The gauges all looked good, so I didn’t think it was anything too serious.”
Glassford admitted if the problem happened earlier in the race, the car would have likely run out of water and overheated.
“It’s the way things go, we had a problem in the DeWael race that took us out early, this time we were lucky and it didn’t slow us down.”
There was no passing among the top five as Lewis ran second, followed by Chatham drivers Brad Authier, Gregg Haskell and Jim Jones the full 20 laps.
Lewis, who won his heat and the dash, posted his eighth top-five in the nine features he’s run.
“Mike was kicking tail,” Glassford said of Lewis’ preliminary race wins.
“I was driving over my head in the dash, trying everything just to stay with him, but he kept pulling away.
“I was thinking tonight was going to be the night for Mike, but he had a harder time it the lapped traffic.”
Glassford also won his heat earlier in the night, giving him a division-leading 15 checkereds on the season. Lewis is second with eight.
Glassford, who missed two race nights earlier in the season, reduced the deficit to 48 points behind division-leading Haskell with three race nights remaining.
This Saturday, Glassford will be looking for his second straight Rick Haskell memorial win, a race held in honour of Gregg Haskell’s father, a long time track worker who died in 2007.
Quick makes statement with impressive three-for-three night
Rob Quick’s night did not get off to a good start when he spun out in the first turn on the first lap of his heat race.
But the Cottam driver set the tone for the night as he recovered to win the heat and went on to post a perfect three-for three night, including his fourth feature win of the season in the Tirecraft Mini-Mods.
“The track was still greasy and I hopped it going in the corner and it turned me around,” Quick said of the early spin.
He worked his way through the field and took the checkered on the final lap, taking advantage of lapped traffic to pass Blenheim’s Elliot Wilton in the final turn.
Quick didn’t need any magic in the feature as he took the lead on lap seven and ran away from the field.
“There’s a lot of fast cars out here, and I think I have the fastest,” Quick said.
“As long as the car holds together, I hit my marks and I don’t have anyone holding me up, that car will walk away,” said Quick, whose winning margin was a full corner ahead of Kingsville’s Larry Hart.
After winning the crack-the-whip, Quick started the feature in the seventh position after the invert.
He moved up to third on lap six when the caution came out on the next lap.
Quick restarted behind the leader Hart and got a great run on the outside, taking the lead coming out of turn two and was gone.
The rest of the race ran caution free as Quick had no trouble working through the lapped traffic to extend his lead, leaving Hart to concentrate on holding off Dresden’s Matt Sorrell for second. Blenheim drivers Elliot Wilton and Trevor Jones rounded out the top five.
Quick has had a streaky season, as his three previous feature wins came in a four-race span in late June, early July.
But as the season winds down, Quick says he has a car that will be tough to beat when he defends his 2012 season championship race victory on Sept. 7.
“We’ve done our homework and we’ve got it handling a lot better,” Quick said.
“P.J. (Wolters) puts in 30 to 40 hours a week, he’s doing a great job with the car,” Quick said of his crew chief and engine man.
“I like to win what I can because you never know when it’s gong to end,” he said. “I had a drought in 2010 and ‘11 with no feature wins, so they can stop as fast as you can get them.”
Quick’s sweep allowed him to vault from eighth to fourth in the standings, just one point behind third-place Rick Balasin of Chatham.
“I wasn’t worried about the points but we’ve been running pretty good lately and our points started to add up and we’re right just a few points out of third, which is amazing considering all the bad luck we’ve had,” he said.
His second three-for-three night of the season gives Quick 20 checkered flags on the season, two less than Cottam’s Denis DeSerrano.
DeSerrano, who went into the night with a comfortable 64-point lead over Merlin’s Steve Shaw Jr. atop the division standings, dodged a bullet when he was knocked out of the race on lap seventh with motor issues and finished 18th.
But Shaw couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity as he was stranded on the infield after getting spun while running third with seven laps to go. Shaw Jr. finished 16th and sits 57 points behind DeSerrano.
Shaw Jr. and Hart won their heat races earlier in the night.
The Bomber class gets more entertaining every week as Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck won his second feature in his five weeks since making his South Buxton debut. He lapped everyone but Blenheim’s Dylan Bonner, who won four features in a five-week span. Dave Johnston finished third in his second night behind the wheel. Cory Russelo of Blenheim was fourth, also in his second night, while Blenheim’s Jeff Schives was fifth.
- Blenheim’s Kyle Hope just missed a top-five finish in his last race of the season as he was sixth in the Mini-Mod feature and was second in his heat. Hope is in Owen Sound for the OHL Attack’s training camp and heads to Vancouver for the NHL Canucks’ prospects camp next week.
- Clements became the seventh different driver to win a Modified feature this season, tied with the Bombers. There have been six different winners in the Mini-Mods and five in the Late Models.
- Quick became the third driver with 20 checkered flags, two behind DeSerrano and tied with Vanderiviere. Shaw Sr. is knocking on the door with 17 while Glassford has 15 in the Late Models. The Modifieds, meanwhile, don’t have any drivers in double figures as Darryl Hoekstra and Dale Jr. lead with nine each.
- Carrier Centres was the night’s sponsor, with several employees and customers watching their sponsored car of Dale Jr., who works at the Richmond St. service centre.
- The attendance was swelled by several hundred fans who received tickets from businesses that participated in the Canadian National Autism Foundation sponsorship.
- The CNAF not only received over $1,600 from the pass-the-helmet collection and Daniels’ race team’s donation, they received over $400 in donations at their booth, including $50 from Gary’s Custom Frames and another anonymous $50 donor. They also had tremendous night selling merchandise.
- Tina Curno Fougere, president of the CNAF, posted a thank-you on the South Buxton Facebook page. “What an awesome night of racing that was topped off by all the fantastic people at South Buxton Raceway who welcomed us with such big open arms. I was in tears a few times saying my speech and also my second speech at the winner’s circle. To hear such applause was astounding and overwhelming. Can’t tell you the warmth that was felt by all the beautiful people at South Buxton Raceway. They all took to my son (Nathan) so fast and lovingly. We so would like to truly thank the Daniels family for their warmth and their wonderful donation from t-shirt sales of $600. The Daniels family presented Nathan with one of their race shirts and he loved it and wore it out to the winners circle.”
- South Buxton was the last of eight tracks the CNAF and their Kid’s Race program visited this summer and track officials, drivers and fans are already looking forward to a return visit in 2014.
- The fans not only showed their true colours in their support of Autism Awareness Night, but in their honesty as well. A wallet, containing a large sum of money and a young fan’s camera were found and turned in. Both parties were grateful in their fellow fans’ honesty.
- And it was a perfect night to be honest, with the Chatham-Kent Crime Stoppers conducting the 50-50 draw. Rodney Caza, of Merlin, won the $931 prize.
- Prior to the race night, South Buxton management announced that due to logistics in hosting the event, the Canadian Fall Shootout, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 28, will not be held. The track hopes to revive the Shootout in 2014.
- Management announced the year-end awards banquet will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23 at the former CAW Hall on Merritt St. in Chatham. More details will be announced.