“The guys put in an awesome effort as they always do. It’s obviously not the way we anticipated. We were hoping to defend, but that’s racing – it is what it is…..”
The season for Kevin Cornelius and his KDR Motorsports team started out well with six top five finishes in the first features ran during the season. Defending the championship looked like to be a likely scenario as Cornelius held the point lead heading into the halfway point of the season.
However, as the driver put it in the latest Inside Track TV interview - the wheels fell off at this point.
“We were just cruising and really enjoying the year, were doing exactly what we thought we needed to defend,” he told Inside Track TV host Spencer Lewis. “Then it seems like the wheels just fell off and it’s been down hill since then.”
The July 21st feature would see a finish of 18th following a mechanical problem, followed by a 14th place feature finish a week later due to an incident during the feature. A turn-around looked like it’d happen in the month of August as there was finishes of first, fourth and third – however the season finished off with a seventh and an eighth. As a result, Cornelius finished third in points.
Well the disappointment is there in not being able to defend last year’s championship, it was still a solid season on record for the team considering how Sunset Speedway is known for having one of the most talented Late Model field of drivers in Ontario.
“They’re all tough really,” he says when asked who his toughest competitor is. “Last year was toughand this year it seems to have gotten even tougher. The 47 is always fast, the 51, the 41, the 84, all of them are tough. There’s no easy car out there.”
It was also a season that showcased the determination of the team behind the No. 17 Halton Crushed Stone, Lee Sand and Gravel, Hanson Concrete Products, Sandbox Tech Child Care, Alliston Transmission, Ed's Automotive and Fierce Wraps Late Model, even when they have their down points.
One of the highlights of the season is the August 4th feature that came after the 18th and 14th feature finishes. Following those finishes, Cornelius and team were thinking about taking a week off. However, come the end of the week, the racing bug bit and they knew they wanted to be there.
As a result, it was the Friday mad rush to get the car ready, considering that there was an engine teardown done the week before for the top three in points. Come feature, Cornelius started mid-pack and worked his way through to take the win, inches ahead of Mike Bentley.
The win was dedicated to the crew for their hard work, something Cornelius emphasized following the
final feature of the season.
“These guys worked their butts week-in-and-week-out and sacrificed some of their summer vacations and just time away from family,” he said.
The win was significant for not only showcasing the strength of the team, but also showing that they could bounce back from frustrations.
“You just got to put it behind you,” Cornelius said a couple weeks ago. “Come out every week and hope you can bounce back and make a run at the points.”
The Orangeville, Ontario driver got started in racing after going to Sauble Speedway to help out Ed Almand while doing his apprenticeship. Shortly after, Almand bought Cornelius his first car.
In just his second night of racing, a memorable moment popped up……
“I had invited my parents up they thought to see Ed race, but I was in the car, and I ended up putting it on the roof that night so mom’s never been a fan of racing since then,” he says.
With the end of the year now here, the questions have begun – what are drivers doing for the 2013 season? Cornelius announced in the final weeks of the season that he is going to sell his late model.
“If we sell the car, we’re definitely going to do some OSCAAR Super Late racing,” he said. “Really looking forward to doing and hope that comes to fruition.”
In an earlier interview that same night, some of the reasons he wants to go OSCAAR include the limited schedule, the speed and as a result of speaking with current competitor Rob Poole.
“And it’s a new challenge,” he added. “I’m someone – I don’t need a whole bunch of these championships. I have the one and I’m happy with that. We just want to improve and get better and run with different competition and continue to expand.”
If the car doesn’t sell, the plan is to either run just invitationals or a part-time schedule at Barrie Speedway.
Going into the 2011 season, Cornelius says that he never really liked the invitationals.
“Never really been a fan of the longer races, never really had much luck in them – break or wreck or something go bad,” he said.
However, his most memorable race came last year in the form of an invitational with the first McColl Shootout Series 75 lapper in June as he would lead a majority of the laps, taking the win.
“It was good to kind of get that win and it was sort of the beginning of the momentum of that season too and the bid for the championship,” he says.
Stay tuned to the KDR Motorsports website at http://www.kdrmotorsports.ca for updates on Cornelius’ plans for 2013 and beyond.