By Dave Vokey
Extremely warm temperatures were the order of the day on July 6 at Barrie Speedway, as the track played host to its Mid Season Championship Night sponsored by Lake Simcoe Heating & Air Conditioning. With extended features on tap for all three divisions, the action was bound to be fast and furious, and the drivers would not disappoint once again. The evening's big winner was #14 "Hurricane" Thayne Hallyburton of Hillsdale, who captured both 50 lap features in the track's premier Wahta Springs Late Model division. With the wins, Hallyburton further cemented his 3rd place stature in the season long point standings, just 36 points in back of division leader #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station, who struggled in the initial 50, but rebounded nicely with a strong second place effort in the evening's nightcap. #57 Ron "The Dominator" Quesnelle sits second in the standings, just 29 points behind Shepherd, and 7 ahead of Hallyburton, despite a solid point night of his own, coming home with 3rd and 5th place efforts in the Twin 50 lap races.
The first 30 would begin with #83 Ian Bourque of Newmarket and #43 Darin Malcolm locked in a door to door battle from the front row, as #2 "Hometown" Mike Brown would alertly edge from his 4th place starting position, to dive down to the inside line in front of #74 Roy Manary of Gravenhurst to claim 3rd in the early stages. On lap 3, Brown would continue his charge towards the front, getting to the inside of Malcolm between turns 3&4 to complete the pass for runner up positioning, with leader Bourque just a car length ahead at the front of the field. On the very next lap, Brown would take control of the point, ironically enough again using turns 3&4 to complete the inside pass, dropping 3 time track champ Bourque back to second. By lap 6, the best battle on track was the race for third, as Malcolm was under heavy fire from the 14 of Hallyburton, who completed an inside pass of his fellow competitor racing into turn 1, with Malcolm now left to fend off the hard charging rookie #24 Leonard Johnston of Bracebridge, who was tucked in the pocket in 5th in the running order.
The race's first caution would fly just shy of the ten lap mark, when the 74 of Manary slowed in turn 2, resulting in the field tightening up once again, as leader Brown would see his 4 car length lead over Bourque disappear. On the restart, Brown was quick to find the front once again, powering out to a 2 car length lead, as Bourque now had his hands full with Hallyburton to his inside, with sophomore sensation Hallyburton claiming the position after a great dice with the veteran Bourque. At the front of the pack, Brown was looking steady, running laps right at 15 seconds flat, holding Hallyburton at bay while a dogfight was shaping up for 3rd, involving #02 Shawn Murray of Alliston, Johnston, and 2010 track champ #69 Al "Red Rocket" Inglis of Orillia, after that trio all slipped past the 83 of Bourque, who was now trapped to the high side. Approaching the midway point, perhaps the biggest surprise was the fact that both Quesnelle and Shepherd were lodged outside the top 5, running 6th and 7th respectively, searching for that all important racing room to open up in front of them. On lap 26, the wily veteran Inglis began to make his presence felt, getting to the inside of Johnston in turn 3 to take over 4th in the running order, after a hard fought duel for several laps with the impressive rookie.
Just beyond the 30 lap mark, Hallyburton was closing the distance on leader Brown with each passing lap, while further in back Quesnelle would finally crack the top 5, getting to the inside of Johnston to complete a pass, as Shepherd was quick to follow dropping Johnston back to seventh. The race would turn quite interesting when leader Brown got trapped behind #5 Mike "The Hulkamaniac" Langley while trying to put him a lap down, as Hallyburton powered past along the outer groove to momentarily take over the race lead. The Hallyburton pass would momentarily be negated however, for a single car spin on the same lap in turn 2 for the point leader Shepherd. With just 13 laps remaining, Hallyburton was now set to challenge Brown on the outside for the restart, as the two drivers waged a solid 5 lap door handle to door handle battle for the race lead brining the crowd to the edge of their seats. The duel would come to its conclusion when Brown got partially crossways out of turn 2, allowing Hallyburton to slip away and control the point. This turn of events would force the third place car of Murray to get on the binders to avoid Brown, as an alert Quesnelle would take advantage and relieve Murray of podium positioning entering turn 3, with Inglis quick to follow through to claim 4th in the running order. Once out front it was clear this race was going to belong to Hallyburton however, as the talented driver would take the win by 3 car lengths over Brown at the finish. Quesnelle, would bring it to the stripe in 3rd place, while Inglis and Murray rounded out the fast five.
In the 50 lap finale to the evening, it was once again the 43 of Malcolm and 83 of Bourque set to do battle from the front row, this time with Malcolm manning the coveted pole position. The race would get off to a rough and tumultuous start, when on the opening lap the 2 of Brown would run up over the left rear wheel of #91 Andre Pepin of Midland, as Brown veered straight right and into the wall upon landing back on the track, with the incident also collecting the 24 of Johnston. With a complete restart called and the 2 of Brown and 24 of Johnston done for the night, it was Malcolm who found the lead early, with a cunning Bourque quick to find the inside line in 2nd, in front of an ongoing battle with Manary and Pepin for 3rd. Just behind the lead four cars, there was an intense side by side battle for 5th, involving Quesnelle and Hallyburton, with Hallyburton even brushing the backstretch wall while racing along the outside, as the fast machines of Shepherd and Murray were racing nip and tuck behind that action. By lap 12, the lead duo of Malcolm and Bourque had broke away from the pack by half a straightaway, as Pepin finally cleared Manary for 3rd along the outside line, with the trio of Hallyburton, Shepherd, and Inglis quick to follow along the inside as it was Manary's turn to be trapped on the outer groove.
Approaching the 20 lap mark, Hallyburton was intensifying the pressure on Pepin for 3rd, completing a clean inside pass in turn one, with the duo of Shepherd and Inglis again quick to follow, dropping Pepin outside the top 5. With the race nearing the midway point, Shepherd looked to the inside of Hallyburton in turn 3, but was unable to make a pass stick, as Malcolm was steadily pacing the field with laps in the 15.3 second range to maintain the race lead. Bourque, would soon find upstart Hallyburton on his bumper in the battle for 2nd, as Hallyburton took the spot with an inside pass between turns 1&2. Bourque, would make a slight slip up and drift high after the Hallyburton pass, allowing both Shepherd and Inglis to advance to 3rd and 4th respectively. On lap 27, Hallyburton's charge to the front would come to its peak, when the driver found the back bumper of leader Malcolm to relieve him of the race lead, with the duo of Shepherd and Inglis again quick to take advantage, dropping the stout Malcolm ride back to 4th. On lap 38, Shepherd began digging hard on Hallyburton for the race lead, looking to the low side in turn 3, but unable to find the necessary opening and traction to make a pass work.
Over the closing laps, the best battle shaping up on track was the race for 4th, as the fast pair of Murray and Quesnelle had caught Malcolm for that position, with Murray leading the way for Quesnelle to enter the top 5, with Malcolm eventually getting crossways between turns 1&2, as the duo of Bourque and Pepin also filed past Malcolm's Clover Auto Camaro SS. At the front of the field, Shepherd was still hounding Hallyburton for the race lead, searching both high and low in an attempt to work his way past. Hallyburton, would remain calm and collected however, hitting all his marks along the way, as Shepherd again closed in with one lap remaining. Out of the final corner, Shepherd would try one last ditch attempt to shake Hallyburton loose, giving Hallyburton's Hillsdale Service Center Chevy a knock between turns 3&4. Hallyburton, would slide sideways but was able to keep control, as a classy Shepherd would back off in not forcing the issue, as Hallyburton claimed his 4th feature win of the season by a slender margin over the oncoming Shepherd at the checkered. Inglis, would cap off a solid point night with a workmanlike 3rd place, while Murray, and Quesnelle comprised the remainder of the top five.
In Canestoga Property Maintenance Thunder Car action, it was defending track champion #10 Rick Walt of Hawkestone who brought his Abstract Hair Salon Monte Carlo to victory lane for his division leading 4th feature win of the season. The race would begin with rookie stalwart #16 Bryan Penny taking the early race lead, as wily veterans #52 Greg Callow and #40 Donny Brandon battled side by side for 2nd, in a exchange won by Brandon. Race leader Penny would continue at the front of the field for the first 3 laps, when Brandon found his back bumper and executed a nifty inside pass midway down the backstretch. The Brandon lead would be short lived however, as another hard charging rookie, #37 Robbie Sikes was now at the front of the field from his 7th place starting spot, completing a pass of Brandon inside of turn one on lap 5. Also making his presence felt at the front of the field was the co point leader coming into the night #00 Darryl St. Onge, as his sleek Pontiac Grand Prix was now running in second, after having followed promising upstart Sikes through along the inside line past Brandon. By lap 8, St. Onge was beginning to challenge Sikes for the race lead, looking to the inside between turns 3&4 with slight contact made between the pair cutting down St. Onge's right front tire and bringing about the first caution as St. Onge slowed approaching the flagstand and was forced pitside.
With the green flag set to fly once again, the top 5 consisted of leader Sikes, Brandon, Rick Walt, Penny, and #21 Bill Walt, as Sikes again found the front of the field by a single car length, with Rick Walt disposing of Brandon for 2nd, and looking to move further ahead in search of his his third feature win in succession. On lap 10, Walt would make the winning move, getting to the inside of Sikes entering turn 1 to take over the race lead, with a hard charging #39 Travis Hallyburton also now in the mix in 3rd, after charging from his ninth place starting position in the 13 car field. At this point in the race, another impressive dice was forming for 4th, as Brandon and #12 Jim "Polish Prince" Belesky went to war for that position, with Belesky coming out the victor. By lap 16, division sophomore Hallyburton welded himself to Sikes bumper for 2nd, completing an inside pass when Sikes drifted high out of turn 2, leaving him in the clutches of 2 time division champ Belesky for 3rd, with Belesky taking the spot with an inside pass in turn one on lap 23. With the race remaining green, Walt was able to open up a near full straightaway advantage at the front of the field, with the 00 of St. Onge also able to negotiate his way back inside the top 5 after executing an inside pass of Bill Walt midway down the backstretch.
The 2nd and final caution would appear on lap 37, as rookie Penny spun in turn 2, with an alert #55 Shawn Goggins stopping to avoid what could of been a disasterous situation. This set the stage for provincial heavyweights Walt and Hallyburton to battle from the front row over a 3 lap shootout, with Walt clearing Hallyburton by a single car length after a solid lap door handle to door handle. Hallyburton, was left to fend off a stern challenge from venerable veteran Belesky to the inside for 2nd, as those two drag raced to the line on the final lap. Out front it was clear sailing for the 10 of Walt however, as the former Autumn Colors Classic champ would take the win by 2 car lengths at the checkered. Hallyburton, would win the race for 2nd, just nipping Belesky at the stripe, while St. Onge and #44 Dave "The Deuce" Doucette would complete the top 5.
Heat wins went to Walt, Hallyburton, Doucette, and #37 Robbie Sikes.
In the 30 lap St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock main, it was #10 Doug Butler of New Lowell who rolled his Nissan 240 to victory lane to claim his 2nd feature victory of the season in a caution free affair. The race would begin with #71 Pete Gettliffe taking the lead on the outside of #83 Sean Sikes, with 2010 track champ #15 Will Davies moving to the inside of #06 Ryan Hardy to claim 3rd in the running order. Gettliffe, would manage to open up a 3 car length over Davies, who was now under heavy fire from #77 Mike Gettliffe for runner up positioning. Mike Gettliffe, was quick to dispose of Davies along the high side in turn one on lap 6, soon setting his sights on father Pete at the front of the pack. Also on the move towards the front was talented youngster #400 Justin Holmes and Butler, as that pair would work around the 15 of Davies, and then waged a tooth and nail battle for 3rd place positioning, with Bulter coming out ahead after working the outside for 3 tough laps.
Just shy of the midway point, the younger Gettliffe would assume the race lead, passing his father Pete in turn one, with Butler and Holmes quick to follow to enter top 3 positioning. Butler, was soon to challenge the front running Gettliffe, getting alongside of his fellow competitor right at the midway point and completing a pass along the outside of turn 1 on lap 18, after 3 solid laps door handle to door handle. Butler, would begin to set a torrid pace at the front of the pack, completing laps of the one third mile tri oval in a brisk 16.4 seconds, opening up a 3 car length advantage over Mike Gettliffe, who now had the hard charging Holmes nipping at his heels. It was clear the victory on this evening would belong to the stout Butler ride however, as the driver would parade to the checkered to cap off his "Hat Trick" for the evening. #77 Mike Gettliffe would narrowly win the battle for 2nd, just edging Holmes at the line, while current point leader #9 Charlie Smith and #71 Pete Gettliffe would complete the top 5.
Heat wins went to Butler with a pair, #77 Mike Gettliffe, and #400 Justin Holmes.
PIT NOTES ----------------- A small Barrie contingent represented themselves well at the recent Chase for the Colors invitational at Peterborough Speedway on June 30, with #39 Travis Hallyburton in Thunders and #10 Doug Butler in Pure Stocks finishing 2nd in their respective features, to earn outside pole positioning for Autumn Colors in October. Current Wahta Springs Late Model pilot #14 Thayne Hallyburton would earn a workmanlike 5th place in the Late Models, after encountering a trailing arm failure midway through the 75 lap feature. Current point leader #9 Charlie Smith also turned in 2nd and 4th place heat results, setting the Orillia based up driver up for a tidy 6th place result in a deep and talent laden 21 car field in the feature.. Be sure to join us this coming weekend as all three divisions are back in action for Canestoga Property Maintenance Night!!! Pit gate opens at 2pm, with spectator gates opening at 5pm and green flag slated to drop at 6:30 pm sharp!! As the second half to the 2013 points chase begins this will surely prove to be a cant miss event!!!