Night of Firsts at High Line
By Dave Vokey
For the second week in succession absolutely ideal race conditions would adorn the 8th line of Oro/Medonte as the on track action hit a fevered pitch on KICX 106 night at Barrie Speedway on August 10. In the track's featured Wahta Springs Late Model division it would be #91 Andre Pepin of Midland who captured the first of twin 30 lap features, while #24 Leonard Johnston of Bracebridge paraded to victory lane in the 30 lap finale to the evening. In an ironic twist, the wins would be the first of any sort in a Late Model for both hard chargers, with Pepin now in his second season of Late Model competition, while Johnston is just wrapping up his rookie season that has included several top 5 results prior to this win. Pepin, who came into the evening in 7th place in the season long points standings, should gain further ground on 6th place #83 Ian Bourque of Newmarket, as the driver looks to perhaps catch Johnston who currently holds down 5th place positioning approaching the season's final 5 week stretch.
In the initial 30 lap affair it was Bourque who captured the point early, after the 24 of Johnston would run into the back of pole sitter #74 Roy Manary of Gravenhurst on the opening lap, getting Manary crossways approaching the flagstand and causing his fellow competitor to lose several spots in the process. The first of the cars to take advantage of the Manary misfortune was the 91 of Pepin, as the talented sophomore pilot quickly claimed 2nd in the running order, as 2010 track champ #69 Al "Red Rocket" Inglis of Orillia checked into 3rd in the early stages. On lap 4, Pepin would dive down inside race leader Bourque between turns 3&4, powering past the 3 time track champ two laps later after a hard fought duel. Bourque, would then fall back into the clutches of venerable veteran Inglis just shy of the ten lap mark, with Inglis executing a clean inside pass in turn three to assume runner up positioning.
Approaching the midway point of the race, Pepin was still maintaining the race lead, holding a very game Inglis at bay by a single car length, while just behind that duo #02x John Gaunt of Barrie and #14 "Hurricane" Thayne Hallyburton of Hillsdale waged a multi lap side by side war for third place positioning, with Gaunt holding firm on the low side, while Hallyburton tried to work around his fellow competitor on the outer groove. Gaunt, would eventually clear Hallyburton on lap 18, while further in back the action was just as intense in the battle for 5th, as the current point leader #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station and #57 Ron "The Dominator" Quesnelle of Penetang locked themselves in a brief dice for that position, with Shepherd eventually coming out on top. On lap 21, Inglis would have a look to the inside of leader Pepin on the exit of turn two, getting a nose to the inside but having the door slammed shut by the promising upstart Pepin entering turn 3, as wily veteran Inglis displayed a true show of sportsmanship and class as to not force the issue and spin the race leader. Inside of five laps remaining, Hallyburton, would again challenge Gaunt for 3rd place, looking to the inside of turn 2 but unable to find the necessary traction to make the pass stick. Inglis, was still welded to the back bumper of Pepin in search of the race lead approaching the checkered flag, but Pepin would remain poised and collected, hitting all his marks along the way, to take the win by a slender margin over Inglis at the checkered in the caution free affair. Gaunt, was able to hold off Hallyburton to finish 3rd, while Shepherd would round out the fast five.
In the evening's 30 lap nightcap it was Johnston who found the front early, after gaining the advantage on the 74 of Manary from the drop of the green. Manary, would alertly slot himself into 2nd in the running order, as #43 Darin Malcolm of North Bay would claim 3rd from Bourque between turns 3&4 with a cunning move on the low side. On lap 4, the second place car of Manary would wash slightly up the racetrack in turn 2, allowing the fast duo of Malcolm and Inglis to advance to 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Just beyond the ten lap mark, Johnston was firmly in control by 5 car lengths at the front of the field, with Malcolm now under heavy fire from the 69 of Inglis, as the latter would make an impressive pass of Malcolm between turns 3&4 to take over the runner up slot. Malcolm, would then find 2011 track champ Quesnelle knocking at his back door, as Quesnelle would pull off a daring inside pass entering turn one on the low side to advance to third in the running order.
At the front of the field, Johnston was seemingly on cruise control, opening up a half straightaway lead on the battle for 2nd involving Inglis and Quesnelle, as Quesnelle would eventually claim the spot with a clean inside pass between turns 1&2. The Quesnelle move would open up the necessary race room for Malcolm to take third from Inglis momentarily, as the 4 time track champ would battle back to eventually challenge Malcolm once again, retaking the position in what was a great display of tough and clean short track racing between the two veteran drivers. Malcolm, would perhaps see the hard fought duels at the front of the pack take its toll on his tires, as the former Autumn Colors Classic champ was in turn shuffled by the duo of Hallyburton and Shepherd with just a handful of laps remaining. It was clear nobody was touching the stout 24 of Johnston on this evening however, as the former Thunder Car pilot would notch the win by a wide margin oven an oncoming Quesnelle at the stripe. Inglis would cap off a solid point night in finishing third in the caution free affair, while Hallyburton and Shepherd comprised the remainder of the top five.
In Canestoga Property Maintenance Thunder Car action, it was #39 Travis "The Enforcer" Hallyburton of Hillsdale who checked into victory lane for the second week in a row in the 30 lap main. With the win, division sophmore Hallyburton would retake the point lead by a slender 2 markers over Darryl St. Onge of Barrie approaching this weekend's race action, as the always tough St. Onge could only manage a third place effort on this evening. The race would begin with rookie drivers #16 Bryan Penny and #37 Robbie Sikes making up the front row, as Penny would move out to a single car length advantage from outside pole position, leaving Sikes to fend off a challenge from #12 Jim "Polish Prince" Belesky for 2nd. Belesky, would execute a bonzai like inside pass of Sikes entering turn 3, forcing Sikes to the high side on the exit of turn four, as Sikes would run into the left rear quarter panel of race leader Penny, causing Penny to hit the outside retaining wall just shy of the flagstand to bring out the first caution, in what was simply a racing incident. Penny, was forced to retire with a broken tie rod, ending what looked like was shaping up to be a strong run for the rookie stalwart after his first top 5 finish just one week prior.
On the restart, the caution was quick to fly once again as Sikes would spin from the front row, as the field was forced to scramble to avoid the prone Sikes ride, in what was a very alert display of driving by all those involved. This time on the restart, it was the 12 of Belesky who found the front, after getting the jump on #21 "Flying" Bill Walt when the race went green, as hard charging Hallyburton would follow Belesky through on the outside line to take over 2nd place. This turn of events would leave the 21 of Walt directly in the sights of nephew and defending track champ #10 Rick Walt of Hawkestone, as the younger Walt was able to take over third place positioning. On lap 4, Hallyburton would move into the race lead, executing a nifty pass low in turn 3, dropping Belesky back to 2nd, with a fast Rick Walt approaching. On lap 6, Walt would work his way past Belesky with a low side pass midway down the backstretch, as the 2011 Autumn Colors Classic winner began to search for the back bumper of race leader Hallyburton. On lap 11, Walt would really close the distance on his fellow competitor, but was unable to stick his nose to the inside or get Hallyburton loose enough on exit to make a pass work.
Approaching the midway point, the best battle forming on track was the race for 4th, as a hard charging St. Onge would make a clever inside pass of Bill Walt midway down the backstretch to take over that spot. St. Onge's charge to the front would not end there however, as the talented wheelman was able to quickly run down the third place car of Belesky and make a clean inside pass entering turn three on lap 18. Also making his presence felt at the front of the field was #44 Dave "The Deuce" Doucette of Angus, as the 2007 track champ began to pressure Belesky for 4th in the running order, eventually getting past on the exit of turn 2 after a hard fought dice between the pair for several laps. The lead duo of Hallyburton and Walt had begun to check out on the field by this point, as Hallyburton was holding a three car length lead with laps in the 15.7 second range, as Walt looked to make one last ditch attempt at the race leader as the laps clicked off. It was not to be on this evening for the silky smooth Walt however, as Hallyburton was able to maintain his advantage en route to taking the checkered. Walt, would earn a workmanlike 2nd place showing, as St. Onge, Doucette, and Belesky rounded out the top 5.
Heat wins went to St. Onge with a pair, Hallyburton, and Walt.
In the St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock division, the drivers would again treat the near capacity crowd on hand to a whale of a show, as #400 Justin Holmes of Innisfil would check into victory lane to notch his second feature win of the season in his brilliantly prepared Hwy 400 Transmission/Simcoe Auto Recyclers Mustang. Holmes, who is quickly becoming a rising star on the provincial level, took the lead after last lap pass on the inside of turn 3, working past early race leader and 2010 track champ #15 Will Davies of Barrie, as the two drivers raced to the stripe separated by no more than a couple inches at the finish. The race would begin with #83 Sean Sikes gaining the advantage on fellow rookie #31 Gil Brooks from the drop of the green, as #88 Jeremy McLean was quick to find 2nd place positioning ahead of Brooks. McLean, would briefly move out front after getting to the inside of Sikes entering turn 1, as Sikes was in turn shuffled by the duo of #06 Ryan Hardy and Davies who checked into 2nd and 3rd respectively. Approaching lap 5, it was Hardy's turn to take over at the front of the field, as the Markdale resident would work past the 88 of McLean on the low side of turn 1, leading the way for Davies to quickly claim second place in the running order.
At the midway mark, it was Davies turn to stake his claim at the front of the field, as the 5th year pilot was able to power past Hardy on the outside of turns 1&2, leaving Hardy directly in the crosshairs of Holmes, who took over the runner up slot on the outside of turns 3&4 on lap 11. Hardy, would continue to sit solidly in 3rd, as an impressive dice was shaping up behind him involving point leader #77 Mike Gettliffe and defending track champ #9 Charlie Smith, as the ever ominus #10 Nissan of Doug Butler sat comfortably in the pocket behind that duo. The race's only caution would appear on lap 13, when #57 Ryan Toon would run up on #09 Dean Curry and turn him in turn 1, with both drivers summoned arrears as involved cars for the restart. On the restart, Davies would move out to a slender lead over Holmes, as the duo of Gettliffe and Butler would fly past the 06 of Hardy on the outside to advance to 2nd and 3rd respectively. On the final lap, Holmes would make the winning move, diving to the inside of Davies entering turn 3, with Holmes even getting partially crossways on exit of turn 4, as the crowd sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the thrilling finish to come. Davies, would attempt one last ditch run at Holmes on the high side while racing towards the finish line, as Holmes drove like a grizzled veteran with ice water in his veins to take the win by the narrowest of margins over Davies at the checkered. Point leader Gettliffe would have a solid 3rd place showing , while Butler and Smith rounded out the top 5.
Four different heat race winners came in the form of Holmes, Butler, Smith, and #09 Dean Curry.
PIT NOTES ---------- Current Wahta Springs Late Model point leader #10 Gord Shepherd would be forced to a back up ride on this evening, after encountering motor issues in pre race practice. Shepherd, would campaign the Peter Schotanus house #22 car that was driven to victory lane the last two race nights by #2 "Hometown" Mike Brown. Shepherd, would turn in a pair of 5th place feature results, but would see his point lead over #57 Ron Quesnelle narrowed from 31 to 29 approaching the Aug 17 race card, despite the impressive showing in an unfamiliar car. In keeping with the theme of firsts, a new face would enter the Canestoga Property Maintenance Thunder Car ranks, as karting standout #41 Jordan Latimer would make his first Barrie Speedway start. Just 14 years of age, Latimer comes to the track with impressive credentials, and is the grandson of legendary Barrie Speedway competitor Garry "The Gambler" Reynolds. The young Latimer was very impressive in his debut, turning in two 6th place heat race results, while running right on the heels of several of the division's top shoes. Latimer, would turn it up a notch come feature time, finishing inside the top 10, while only going a single lap down to the lead duo of Travis Hallyburton and Rick Walt who worked past the future star on lap 28 of the 30 lap feature. Be sure to join us this coming Saturday August 17th as all three divisions are back in action, as well as the only Barrie stop for the AMS OIL Hurricane Midgets.. Pit gate opens one hour earlier than normal at 1pm, while spectator gates open at 5pm, with green flag slated to fly at 6:30pm sharp!! THIS WILL BE ONE YOU JUST CAN'T AFFORD TO MISS!!!