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Blenheim's Jeff Schives completed his Autotech Bombers' sweep with his championship race victory. He also won the division points title and mid-season championship race.

Blenheim's Jeff Schives completed his Autotech Bombers' sweep with his championship race victory. He also won the division points title and mid-season championship race.

His car was overheating, he was mired in traffic and the white flag was on the speedway.

The last place Jeff Schives thought he would wind up was in Victory Lane.

The 19-year-old Blenheim driver pulled off a stunning win in Saturday’s Autotech Bombers season championship race, with the help of a last-lap crash between the leaders.

Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck and Blenheim’s Shawn Hope traded paint on the last lap before finally crashing just a few yards from the start finish line.

Schives, who had just moved into third place, drove past the leaders but was met with a yellow caution flag instead of the checkered as he crossed the line.

“I thought Hopey was going to go by him on the outside because he’s been running strong up there all year,” Schives said, describing the frantic final lap.

“Then I saw them both spin out and I thought if I got passed them both that would be it … but it wasn’t.”

Schives, however, was now the leader for the green-white-checkered finish and despite steam pouring from under his hood, he held off Blenheim’s Austin Pickering and Ridgetown’s Nick Glassford for the final two-lap shootout to win his second straight Bomber championship race.

Jeff Schives (98) and Austin Pickering (91) battle door-to-door on the green-white-checkered finish.

Jeff Schives (98) and Austin Pickering (91) battle door-to-door on the green-white-checkered finish.

“I was going to be lucky to finish third,” Schives said of his improbable victory.

“I didn’t think I had any chance, my temp gauge was red line as soon as I came out of the chute, and it was losing power.”

He said he could feel his car losing speed coming out of the final corner, “but I never let off, I figured it was my best shot … and then it blew up,” he said, as he couldn’t have gone another lap had another caution come out.

Ellerbeck, who was penalized for the crash with Hope, restarted at the back and rebounded to finish fifth. Hope, who would have been the leader at the restart, was able to continue because of front-end damage.

Ellerbeck and Schives, who started on the front row, battled for the lead in the early laps before the Blenheim driver lost some positions after getting pinched on a restart following a lap-four caution.

Nick Glassford, like his father Dale, was a natural in his first on-track interview for the fans after his third-place finish.

Nick Glassford, like his father Dale, was a natural in his first on-track interview for the fans after his third-place finish.

Hope, meanwhile, was moving up from his fourth-row starting spot and climbed into second on lap eight.

Ellerbeck was doing a great job keeping Hope at bay until the waning laps when the battle heated up.

Hope was trying to make a pass on the high side on the final lap and Ellerbeck moved up to block when they made contact, ending both of their title hopes.

Pickering and Glassford were also beneficiaries of the incident, moving up to top three finishes.

“I was hoping for a top three, so second’s pretty good,” said Pickering, 14, who won his first feature two weeks ago.

“I thought I had a chance, but he (Schives) was tough to pass,” he said of the final two laps.

Glassford, who started in the seventh row, was elated for a third-place finish.

“I thinking as long as I got a top five, I’d be happy,” the 14-year-old Ridgetown native said.

“Once they took themselves out, I thought a top three was even better.”

Glassford noticed the steam coming from under Schives’ hood under the final caution.

“I didn’t think it was anything serious but things could change awful fast, so I had to be ready just in case,” he said.

“The three of us were all pretty even those last two laps,” he added.

Glassford won his sixth heat race of the season earlier in the night but said he would gladly trade all six for his friend Pickering’s feature win.

“I must have hand nine, 10 flat tires in features this year,” he laughed.

Wheatley’s Dwayne Malcolm finished fourth while Ellerbeck made three passed in the final two laps to finish fifth.

The win was likely Schives’ last race in the Bombers as he is contemplating moving up to the Mini-Mods or Sport Stocks next year.

Schives, who also won the mid-season championship to sweep the Bombers’ three trophies, finished with seven feature wins and 15 checkereds.

Saturday was the last night of the Bombers’ season.

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