Sunset Speedway Late Model August Month in Review: Competition Intensifies
In five feature points races ran for the month of August, Sunset Speedway had five different Late Model feature winners. In other news, business seriously picked up this month.
So what happened? Let’s begin…..
For the third time this season, Tom Walters drove his No. 47 Pro Floors/McColl Racing Mustang to victory lane. Walters drove his way from mid-pack to third and inherited the lead when contact was made between the leaders. On lap 13, Mike Bentley spun Jason Witty for the lead. Nick Goetz then had no place to go and heavy contact with Witty, ending both of their nights. Dwayne Baker finished second followed by Andy Kamrath, Sean Grosman and Anthony Simone.
Walters would complete the sweep that weekend also, winning the August 4th Late Model Invitational – the Dilley Dog 75 – after taking the lead from Grosman on lap 30.
On August 11th, Mike Bentley (No. 51 Lattitude Land Effects) scored his second feature win of the season as he drove his way through the field and passed Jason Witty on the last lap off of turn two to take the victory. Billy Zardo got third followed by Baker and Chris Morrow.
Dwayne Baker (No. 48 Centennial Chrysler/Baker Performance Parts/Zancor Homes/Canadian Towing Equipment/Clearview Heating & Cooling/Air Liquide) would then score his first feature victory of the season after passing Zardo with 15 laps to go on a mid-race restart. Zardo finished second, barely beating Walters to the line. Kamrath and Bentley rounded out the top five.
The fresh faces in victory lane would continue with Sean Grosman (No. 29 SMG Motorsports/Flagship Properties/Rydex Glass & Mirror/Landing Strip/Four Your Eyes Only) scoring his first feature victory of the season after passing Gary Elliott on lap eight. Taylor Holdaway finished second followed by Walters, Zardo and Kamrath.
The final feature of the season would see a solid duel between Jason Witty (No. 19 Queensville SOD Farms, Larue’s Haulage, Carrot Express, Matco Tools and Speedy Auto Machine) and Chris Morrow (No. 11 Morrow Electric and CRS Rental) with Witty coming out on top. Witty had taken the lead on the opening lap of the feature and led all the way till a late caution with three laps to go. On the restart, Witty and Morrow ran side-by-side all the way till the caution flew on lap 28 for a piece of debris in turn four. Morrow had the edge on Witty so he would restart on the inside as the leader with Witty to his outside. On the restart, Morrow and Witty battled side-by-side for the lead once again with Witty getting a run off of turn two on the outside on the last lap to take the lead.
Witty led the rest of the way to grab his fifth victory of the season. Witty had missed the week before due to a wreck mid-month in one of the heats, where he got turned into the front stretch wall by Scott Beatty. You could say that the turn of events across the three weeks right there in August sum on Witty’s season.
In the final feature, of the month, Bentley finished third followed by Walters and Holdaway.
Action Picks Up In the Heats
Last month, we saw three-wide racing in one of the heat for the lead between Taylor Holdaway, Chris Morrow and Jason witty. This month, we saw some great action between Andy Kamrath and Dwayne Baker. In the third heat run on August 31st, Kamrath edged out Baker in his No. 35 AM Roofing, All-Star Wings & Ribs, Bailey Metal Products Limited, ImageWraps.ca and Streamline Race Products Mustang to take the win. But we’ve had lots of close finishes – this is on the list for another reason. About halfway through the heat, contact was made between the two, resulting in them both sliding completely sideways through turns one and two. Both drivers managed to get their cars back straight and keep their top two positions. Now that’s what I call driving.
History was made!
On August 31st, history was made at Sunset Speedway when Gary Elliott made his 2500th career start. Imagine running 2500 heats and features across your career. Amazing, eh?
If you haven’t already, make sure to pick up Gary Elliott’s book commemorating his 40th season with Quaker State. The book includes stories of Elliott’s career, and also stories of other families that are involved in racing.
Best Heat Average for August: Mike Bentley – 2
Mike Bentley displayed this past month why he is the points leader as he had the best average across the 10 heats run this month – 2nd. Bentley had six wins, a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth.
Though he didn’t get the top award by much as Tom Walters had a pretty solid average – 2.2. The 30-time champion had four wins, three seconds, a third, a fourth and a fifth.
The third best heat average went to Andy Kamrath as he had an average finish of 3.4 with four heat wins this month.
Chris Morrow had the fourth best heat average at 3.8 with one heat win on the month.
The fifth best average went to Dwayne Baker with a fourth with a pair of heat wins on the month.
Best Feature Average for August: Tom Walters – 3.8
As he tries to catch Bentley in the point standings, Walters topped the list with the best feature average finish at 3.8. He started off the month well with a feature victory, though suffered an eighth place finish the second night due to a pair of incidents with Holdaway. Walters finished off the month with a pair of thirds and a fourth.
Dwayne Baker had the second best feature average finish at 4.6 after starting off the month with three finishes inside of the top four. Though after getting stuck in traffic and battling back and forth with Kamrath, Baker suffered a seventh place feature finish two weeks ago, followed by a ninth last week.
Mike Bentley had the third best average at a 4.8 after starting off the month on a bad note with a ninth place feature finish following the mid-race contact with Witty. He then turned things around with a win, a fifth, a sixth and a third.
Andy Kamrath had the fourth best average at a 5.4 after starting off the month with a third place feature finish. Kamrath has yet to win a feature this year at Sunset so look for Kamrath to be looking for that win this final month of racing.
Billy Zardo (No. 46 Holmes on Homes, National Exhaust and Smart Screen) played the constancy card this month, scoring the fifth best average finish at 6.4.
The Championship - Bentley vs Walters
As we head into the final month of racing with two points nights left, the focus is on the championship. Going into this weekend, Bentley leads Walters by 13 points. Each position in the feature is worth four points so anything can happen. Both drivers have been involved in a championship battle before, involved in one together last year, with Walters coming out on top. However, with how strong Bentley has ran this year and the fact he has led the points most of the year, he’ll be tough to beat.
Though well you’re at it, watch positions third through ninth as they’re only separated by 56 points.
- 3rd - Andy Kamrath - 1332
- 4th - Dwayne Baker - 1331
- 5th - Taylor Holdaway - 1299
- 6th - Chris Morrow - 1299
- 7th - Sean Grosman - 1289
- 8th - Scott Beatty - 1287
- 9th - Billy Zardo - 1276
Two More Features Left
With only two more features left on the schedule, we have some drivers who have yet to win a feature yet this season. Chris Morrow, Taylor Holdaway and Andy Kamrath are amongst the list of drivers that haven’t found victory lane that you’d expect to see based on past success. Will one of them be able to crack the door open and join our winner’s list consisting of seven different winners? Each of them has run strong so far this year so it wouldn’t be a surprise.
With everything said, I dare you to come out to Sunset Speedway this weekend on September 7th. It’s going to be yet another top notch show with this spectacular Late Model division.
If for some reason you already have plans for this weekend, then don’t fret. Make sure you join us on September 14th as that is the final points night and the champion will be crowned. Plus, with drivers signing autographs and handing out candy, why would you miss it?