Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Mario Toniolo would win a feature race.
That time came on Saturday night.
Toniolo posted his first victory in his 10 years driving in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds class at South Buxton Raceway.
It was his first feature win since 2004 in his final year in the Sport Stocks class.
“Wow, 10 years in the Mods … it’s been a long time coming,” the Belle River native said after climbing out of his winning car in Victory Lane.
“This car is awesome … it just keeps getting better and better and better.”
Toniolo took the lead from Essex’s Gerald Martin on the second lap and held off eight-time track champion Jim Dale Jr. of Shrewsbury over the final 19 laps.
The two battled door-to-door for several laps, with Dale Jr. twice taking the lead after restarts through turns one and two but Toniolo battled back both times to regain the lead on the bottom of three and four.
“When I fell back to third and got the lead right back, I knew it was mine, there was no doubt in my mind,” Toniolo said, as he was also passed at one point by Merlin’s Jeff Daniels on a lap 17 restart.
“The bottom line had some pretty good stick, it was the place to race tonight,” Toniolo said.
“Jimmy was good on the restarts but I learned his game and the last couple of restarts we were good.”
Photos by James MacDonald, ApexOne Photo (click on photos for larger views)
He waited seven years to win his father’s memorial race.
But the five minutes that followed the end of Saturday’s Rick Haskell memorial race probably seemed longer than seven years.
Gregg Haskell went from third place on the final lap to a dramatic victory when Brad Authier and Jim Jones collided coming out of turn four of the eighth annual Haskell memorial for the Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Models.
Haskell, with his fist pumping out the driver’s window, pulled onto the infield in anticipation of an emotional celebration.
Instead, a track worker told Haskell that the race wasn’t over because the caution came out and a second green-white-checkered finish would be needed to determine the winner.
“I didn’t see a yellow flag, I saw the checkered,” said Haskell, who admitted he was livid inside the race car.
Race officials reviewed the finish and determined the yellow flag never came out and Haskell was declared the winner.
The Rick Haskell memorial race has always been a special night for the family and the Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Models.
This year will be even more special as all three Haskell brothers will compete together in their father’s memorial for the first time.
Gregg and Pat will be their father’s tribute cars - the RH21 and RH22 respectively - while Jason has been running the No. 78 for Paul Trepanier on a part-time basis this season.
Gregg has three feature wins this season and seven in his career.
Jason won the July 5 feature in his first time behind the wheel this year. It was his second career feature win.
Pat is still looking for his first career feature win.
The boys’ mother Deb, sister Kristen and other family members will be in Victory Lane to make the trophy presentation to the race winner - and who knows, maybe keep it in the family for the first time.