Sunset Speedway Late Model July Review: Championship Picture
The month of July was all about the championship picture at Sunset Speedway as there’d be events each week that would affect the championship picture between the top four drivers – Tom Walters, Kevin Cornelius, Mike Bentley and Sean Cronan.
The first feature of the month belonged to seven-time champion Chris Morrow, who would bounce back from his bad luck to score his first feature victory of the season. Morrow has suffered the worst luck of any driver this season as he had a mechanical problem on opening night, got wrecked while racing for the lead on the second night and got wrecked during Kawartha Speedway’s Summer Sizzler. The feature win on July 7th wouldn’t mark the end of the bad luck spell as he would suffer another wreck during the McColl Racing Enterprises (M.R.E) Pro Series event on July 11th. Looking at the championship picture, Bentley finished second with Walters fourth and Cornelius fifth.
Bentley would pick up his third feature victory of the season at Sunset Speedway on July 14th after a pass on Gary Elliott on a lap 14 restart. His championship competitors Cornelius and Walters would finish second and third, respectively.
Following the July 14th feature, Cornelius had a 14 point lead on Walters, followed by a 46 point lead on Bentley. Things were looking in favor for the defending series champion. However, as they say in racing, anything can happen and on July 21st, the championship points were thrown a curve ball.
On the opening lap of the July 21st feature, a caution would come out for Keith Maiato going for a spin. Under that caution, Cornelius would bring his car to pit road, missing the next 20 laps of the event due to a mechanical problem. He would return to the track on lap 21 to make one lap, though would be handed a 19th place finish.
Meanwhile, Walters would go on to win the feature after passing Ernie Fumerton for the lead on lap 17. It’d mark Walters’ first regular points night feature of the season, though his fourth overall win after winning the first two rounds of the M.R.E Pro Series and the Chase for the Colors event at Autumn Colors. Bentley would come home with a second place finish. As a result, Walters is now leading the points, 27 points over Cornelius, 30 points over Bentley.
The final feature of the month would see a bunch of twists and turns as there’d be lots that would happen, changing the championship picture once again heading into August. For starters, Mike Bentley would score his fourth career feature win of the season after passing Taylor Holdaway on a lap 14 restart. Tom Walters would finish second to continue his string of solid finishes on the season. He had to work for it after being sent to the back on lap 10 after pushing Sean Cronan up the track. The month wouldn’t end the way Kevin Cornelius and his team hoped for as he’d suffer a 14th place finish following an incident with Sean Grosman on lap 12. So heading into August, Walters leads the points, 28 points ahead of Bentley, 51 points ahead of Cornelius.
Through both the months of May and June, Sean Cronan had gained the nickname “Mr. Consistancy” after finishing in the top five each night. However, July 7th brought forth his first finish outside the top five as he finished eight. He then would finish ninth on July 14th, though earned that one after fixing the car following a wreck in the M.R.E Pro Series event.
However, July 21st would be the trying night for the No. 84 Cronan Motorsports as they’d blow a motor in the beginning of practice. However, with the help of some other teams, Cronan was able to get another motor in the car and have it ready for the first qualifying heat of the night. He would finish the feature in fifth.
Cronan would finish the month off with a 10th place feature finish on July 28th following an incident on lap 10 with Tom Walters.
Best of the Month
Mike Bentley would score the best feature average finish (1.5) for the month of July as he won a pair of features, while finishing second in the other two. Tom Walters would have the second best average finish (2.5), followed by Taylor Holdaway (5.75), Gary Elliott (6.25) and Dario Capirchio (6.75).
Despite his pair of bad feature finishes, Kevin Cornelius would score the best average finish (2.125) for the month of the July in the qualifying heats. He won three heats, two seconds, two thirds, and one fourth. Walters had the second best average finish (2.75), followed by Scott Beatty (3), Bentley (3.125) and Sean Cronan (4.375).
The Struggles Over For Taylor Holdaway???
July could mark the end of the struggles of Taylor Holdaway as he did struggle through the first two months and only got a 10th place finish on July 7th, however he would score a fifth place finish on July 14th. He then was able to come home with a fourth place finish on July 21st and another fourth place finish on July 28th.
Bad Luck, Good Luck: Scott Beatty
Scott Beatty’s luck has been up and down this year as he has scored some heat wins, while also having some bad nights. It all started on the second night of racing in May when he would suffer a. The result was Beatty missing the rest of the month, before returning to finish 10th in the June 23rd feature.
The beginning of July started out ugly as he would wreck on July 7th after Ernie Fumerton had a mechanical failure. Beatty would make his way back to Sunset on July 14th, finishing sixth that night and 12th on July 21st. He would finish the month off with a third place feature finish.
Sophomore Streak Broken……
Billy Zardo’s streak of top 10 feature finishes dating back to the first night of the year would be broken on July 7th when he was involved in not one, but two incidents. However, he would rebound on July 14th, finishing seventh in the feature. He backed that up with a 10th place finish on July 21st.
Zardo would miss racing on July 28th due to having his wisdom teeth pulled. His younger brother 16-year-old Lane Zardo drove the Late Model, having a solid night in his late model debut – finishing third in both heats, followed by a ninth in the feature.
KUDOS to Jason Witty on scoring his first heat victory of 2012 on July 14th.
KUDOS to Bruce Rankin on scoring his first top five heat finish on July 14th with a fifth.
KUDOS to Gary Elliott on scoring his first top five feature finish on July 14th with a fourth.
Kudos to Scott Beatty on his first feature top five of 2012 with a third on July 28th.