Jim Dale Jr. put the number 39 on his 00 car on a night he became Mr. Eight Time.
The Shrewsbury driver led all 25 laps to win the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modified season championship race on Friday night.
It was his eighth career championship race victory, the most in South Buxton Raceway track history.
And he also clinched his eighth career points title, tying him with Merlin’s Brad McLeod for the most in the 41-year history of South Buxton.
Brandon Thirlby, the UMP Regional points leader from Traverse City, Mich., won the Glencoe Auto Recyclers UMP Late Model championship race by passing Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford coming out of turn four on the final lap to pull off the dramatic win.
Cottam’s Rob Quick won his second career Tirecraft Comp 4s championship race, taking the lead from Denis DeSerrano, also from Cottam, with three laps to go.
Blenheim’s Shawn Jones, who won his third straight points title, also got by DeSerrano to finish second.
Photos By James MacDonald Photo (click on photos for larger views)
Dale makes track history while paying tribute to iconic driver
Jim Dale Jr. made track history on a night when he honoured one of the most successful drivers in South Buxton Raceway history.
The Shrewsbury native shrugged off the effects of the flu to lead all 25 laps to win his track record eighth career championship race and also equalled Merlin Brad McLeod’s record of eighth season points titles.
And, he had to hold off the son of another legendary driver over the final 24 laps to add another chapter to his historic career.
“Darryl did an awesome job, he was right there the whole race and I don’t think he ever touched me,” Dale Jr. said of Darryl Hoekstra, son of six-time track champion Eugene Hoekstra.
Dale Jr. chose the outside pole for the original green while Hoekstra, who started in the second row, passed teammate Jim Fletcher, of Louisville, and Leamington’s Joel Dick coming out of turn two and held to the second spot for the remainder of the race.
Hoekstra was able to get the nose of his No. 36 under Dale Jr. through the corners, especially on restarts, but Dale Jr. had more power coming out of turns two and four on the high side to maintain the lead.
“He had a really good run going into one and if had a little more drive out of two, he would have beat me,” Dale Jr. admitted.
Hoekstra said he had too much respect for Dale Jr. to even consider trying to force the issue.
“There were a couple times I thought I should pull a slide job on Jimmy to force to him change his line, but I like Jimmy and didn’t want to wreck both of us,” said Hoekstra, who was completing his first full season in the Modified class.
Hoekstra, who won his first career feature race on July 14, agreed his second-place championship finish was his best race of the season.
“I would like to think so,” he said. “I really wanted to win, but I’m happy with second.”
Fletcher finished third, with Dick, the defending championship race winner fourth and Windsor’s Dan McIntyre fifth.
With the Shootout on Saturday night, several American and other non-registered drivers took advantage of the back-to-back race nights to compete for the championship.
Nick Katterhenry, of St. Marys Ohio, finished sixth, the highest of the eight total non-registered drivers.
Dale Jr. honoured his long-time crew chief and car owner Brent Gibbons with a tribute paint scheme of his No. 39 Hallmark Flyer and a picture of the six-time champion on the front panel.
“I thought about doing this for the Shootout at the start of the year,” Dale Jr. said of the tribute.
“But with the (championship) rainout last week, we get to run the car both nights.”
He said Dean Outhouse, of Outhouse Image & Design, started working on the wrap over a month ago, “but he was sworn to secrecy,” Dale Jr. laughed.
Gibbons, a six-time champion in the 1970s and early 80s at South Buxton, has been on board with Dale Jr. since 1995.
“Of all the championship race wins, this is definitely the top one because I did with the 39 and Bunky on the car,” he said, referring to Gibbon’s by his familiar nickname.
“I don’t how many (more) years he’s going to be with me, it’s just something I wanted to do to honour him.”
And as usual, Gibbons gave Dale Jr. a winning race car.
His championship race victory was his eighth feature win and 20th checkered flag in 2012. He won the points title by 85 points over Fletcher.
It was also the sixth time he has swept the points title and championship race in a season, the first time since 2004.
Dale Jr. has seven points titles in the Modified class after winning his first in 1993 in the former IMCA/Pro Stocks when Modifieds and Late Models ran as one class. He also has one Late Model championship race win.
McLeod has five Modified and three Sport Stock/Econo points championships.
“Now I got to do it once more, I don’t want to be tied with Brad all the time,” Dale. Jr. said with a laugh about his friendly rival.
Chatham’s Louis Clements won his heat and the dash while Merlin’s Joe Brosseau and Fletcher won the other heats.
Thirlby takes fans on thrill-ride to an exciting Late Model finish
When Brandon Thirlby raced at South Buxton for the first time on Sept. 1, he lost the lead on the final lap of the feature to Ridgetown’s Dale Glassford.
On Saturday night, he got his revenge.
Thirlby roared around the top of the track through turns three and four to get around Glassford for one of most exciting championship race finishes in recent track history.
“I was either going to be a hero or a zero,” said Thirlby, the UMP champion for the Michigan-Wisconsin-Canada region. “I just stayed on the throttle through three and four to the checkered.”
Glassford tipped his hat to the winner.
“It’s always disappointing to finish second but that was one of the most fun races I’ve been in the last few years,” said Glassford, who wore the smile of a winner in defeat.
“I’ve won a couple on the last lap like that this year and it’s a great feeling when you win by a half-car length,” he said.
“When you get beat like that, you have to suck it up and say that’s racing … but that sure was exciting.”
As the laps wound down, the battle between Thirlby and Glassford appeared to be for second place as they were trying to chase down Charing Cross’s Chris Ross, who took the lead on lap 10.
But in the waning laps, slower traffic came into play as Ross got trapped behind the final car on the lead lap and two other cars several laps down.
As Ross made his move, the slower cars in front blocked his path, allowing both Thirlby and Glassford to both get by.
“Chris was probably in the toughest spot,” Glassford said.
“When you’re the leader, the guy behind is going to go wherever you don’t go …. and that’s what hurt Chris.”
Thirlby took the lead briefly but Glassford was in front when they hit the line to complete lap 23 and was still in front a lap later when they took the white flag.
“I thought as long as I’d hit my corners the way I had been doing, I’d win it when we got back around,” Glassford described his thought process on the white flag lap.
“I hit the first corner normal and went into (turn) three wide open, but I could sense him (Thirlby) coming around the outside.”
And when Thirlby motored into the lead just a few yards from the finish line, all Glassford could think was, “whoa …
that was some power move!”
Thirlby admitted his second-place finish to Glassford earlier in the month was extra motivation on the final lap.
“That was definitely in the back of my mind,” he admitted.
“He got the last one, I got the one tonight,” added Thirlby, who is the 2012 track champion at Cherry and I-96 race tracks in Michigan as well as the UMP champion for the Michigan-Wisconsin-Canada region.
It was also his 14th feature win of the season.
Thirlby said the track conditions “were awesome, we were three or four wide at times, you could go high or low.
“I tried to see what Chris and Dale were doing and then try to the opposite.
“It was hammer down towards the end of the feature and that definitely suits my driver’s style,” he declared.
Chatham’s Jim Jones and Adam Thursh, of Mt. Pleasant Mich., rounded out the top five.
Chatham’s Gregg Haskell wrapped up his first career points championship with a sixth-place finish.
Brad Authier, the defending championship race winner, led the first 10 laps before something broke on his car in turn two, knocking the Chatham driver out of the race.
Thirlby and Ross won the heats while Glassford took the dash.
Comp 4 champion ‘Quick’ to raise the stakes for 2013
Rob Quick has a message for the Tirecraft Comp 4 class in 2013.
“Watch out for us next year … we’re going full tilt and we’ll have something for you,” the Cottam driver proclaimed after winning the season championship race at South Buxton Raceway on Friday night.
Quick saved his best performance for last, starting in the fourth row of the 20-lap season finale and winning his second career championship race, the first since 2008.
“We got a good run and when there was a hole, we were lucky to get right through it,” said Quick, who moved into the top four on the first lap and pulled into second place behind fellow Cottam driver Denis DeSerrano on lap four.
After a caution on lap eight, Quick took the lead on the restart.
“We timed that (restart) perfect,” he said. “We were pretty good getting out of the hole all night.”
Four laps later, DeSerrano regained the lead in turn three.
“He tagged me in the back end and got me a little loose,” Quick said about losing the lead.
Quick returned the favour with three laps to go.
“We were drag racing down the backstretch and I was on the inside … and when you’re on the bottom, you tend to push up the track through the corner,” Quick said of the pass for the lead.
“We touched a little bit,” he said with a laugh, as DeSerrano lost his momentum and dropped back to third.
Quick was unchallenged over the final three laps to take the checkered.
Blenheim’s Shawn Jones finished second, as he passed DeSerrano when he lost his momentum on Quick’s pass.
Blenheim’s Trevor Jones capped his brilliant rookie year with a fourth-place finish while Tilbury’s Gerry Rivait was fifth as he enjoyed a strong second half of the season.
Friday’s win was Quick’s second of the season as he got off to a slow start and was as low as 14th in the points standings in early June.
He rebounded to as high as a fourth in the second half, boosted by his first feature win in two years on Aug. 4.
Quick missed a second race night later in the month and wound up eighth in the final standings.
“We had some bad luck and blew a motor early … and we didn’t have a back-up,” Quick said of his early woes.
“But P.J. (Wolters) got the car figured out the second half and we found a lot of speed,” Quick said of his crew chief.
“I thought we really had a good chance tonight because I knew we had a fast car,” he added.
One of the race nights Quick missed was concern for his father Bob’s health.
“He was here tonight and came over the congratulate me … he’ll be smiling for quite awhile,” Quick said.
The Comp 4s ran a 10-lap non-points feature later in the night with 11 of the night’s 16 competitors taking part. Quick and DeSerrano were among the drivers who sat out the second feature.
It was a photo finish at the end between the Jones’ brothers.
The call went to Shawn, but many observers felt it was too close to call.
Short and sweet - Young wins first feature in Sport Stocks
Kingsville’s Rob Young won his first feature since returning to South Buxton five years ago.
Young started in the third row of the Windride Transportation feature but shot to the lead before the cars completed a lap.
Young led all 10 laps to take the non-points feature, as the class ran its championship night on Sept. 8.
“I guess that’s the secret, just run 10-lap features,” Young said with a laugh.
“I might have won a bunch more,” he said, as he finished fourth in the final standings.
Young, who owns Sun Parlour Trailers in Amherstburg, will be one of the inductees into the Checker Flag Raceway Hall of Fame this Sunday.
Championship race winner Tyler Lozon finished second, with two-point points champion Eren Vanderiviere third, Wallaceburg’s Willy Vyse fourth, Chatham’s Randy McKinlay fifth and Kingsville’s Tiffany Ellis - driving Lozon’s championship winning car, was sixth.
- Dale Jr. and Jones finished tied with 20 official checkered flags for the season. Jones added two more with his heat and feature wins in the non-points races.
- Authier finished third with 19, DeSerrano had 17, Vanderiviere 16, Glassford 15, Steve Shaw 13, Lozon and Dick with 10 each for double-digit checkered winners.
- There were 27 Modifieds on hand as three non-registered drivers - Justin Mills of Wheatley, Mike Demars of LaSalle and Thirlby - failed to qualify for the championship race. There were only five spots available for non-registered drivers since 19 registered South Buxton drivers made the show.
- The Late Model class had six non-registered drivers but with only seven registered drivers on the track for the championship race, Thirlby started in the fourth row beside Ross, a registered driver who only raced twice all season but was 11th in points.
- Details of the annual Awards Banquet will be announced in the near future.