Tom Walters would solidify his championship season with another feature victory to cap off the year. The Mayor of Innisfil would be on hand to present the trophy to Walters.
“I wasn’t going to touch him,” Walters said of the battle with Chris Morrow for the lead in the late going. “We ran clean all year with him – everybody actually. This is fantastic. What a way to go out.”
It would also hand him his 30th career championship in a career that many believe is hall of fame worthy.
“I know everybody is out here and is running for a championship and that’s what it’s all about,” Walters said. “But you know, at the beginning of the year, we run every race to win them and the points will fall where they do and this is just fantastic.”
Bentley would finish the year second in points after starting the year with three bad nights in the first four weeks.
“Started off on a bad note, had a few bad nights and to be in contention for a championship is pretty amazing,” Bentley said. “Finished second to Tom. He’s an amazing driver and as much as people love to hate him, he’s one helluva driver. He was just a better driver this year. He was just consistent and we’ll come back next year and see if we can win it.”
Through the tough times this season, the 24-year-old says there were lessons learned to carry forward.
“It’s tough running these races and keeping your head on straight and getting solid finishes,” he said.
Kevin Cornelius would finish the year third in points.
“These guys worked their butts week-in-and-week-out and sacrificed some of their summer vacations and just time away from family,” Cornelius said. “It’s just phenomenal and you can’t ask for a better place to do it than Sunset Speedway. Got to thank the ownership group and Mark Dilley and Steve Slaughter for all the hard work they did giving this place a rebirth. What they’ve done here is just phenomenal. Fortunately, this is our last race here. We will not be back at Sunset Speedway.”
Cornelius confirmed that if he is able to sell his Late Model, he will be moving up to the OSCAAR ranks for 2013.
The night would start off with Mike Bentley winning the first heat behind the wheel of his No. 51 Bentley Motorsports Late Model, followed by Taylor Holdaway, Kevin Cornelius, Chris Morrow and Gary Elliott. Witty would finish sixth, followed by Capirchio, Rankin, Fumerton and the No. 37x.
Walters would win the second heat behind the wheel of his No. 47 Late Model, ahead of Billy Zardo, Scott Beatty, Frank Davey and Sean Grosman. Maiato finished sixth, followed by Cronan, Woodside, Freiburger and the No. 35.
The third heat of the night would see some action as Ernie Fumerton would spin while Gary Elliott would run into problems. In the end, Morrow would take his No. 11 CRS Rental and Morrow Electric Late Model to victory lane, ahead of Bentley, Holdaway, Jason Witty and Cornelius. Rankin would finish sixth, followed by Capirchio and Fumerton.
The final heat would belong to Walters as he’d go for the daily double, ahead of Beatty, Grosman, Sean Cronan and Davey. Rankin would finish sixth, followed by the No. 37, Zardo, Maiato and Woodside.
When it came time for the feature, it’d be Frank Davey starting on pole, followed by Billy Zardo, Jason Witty, Sean Grosman, Chris Morrow, Sean Cronan, Taylor Holdaway, Scott Beatty, Kevin Cornelius, Mike Bentley, Tom Walters, Dario Capirchio, Bruce Rankin, Keith Maiato, the No. 35, Ernie Fumerton, Thane Woodside and the No. 37x.
Coming into the feature, Walters led Bentley by 33 points. If Bentley was to win the race, Walters would need to finish 13th or better to win the championship.
On lap one, it’d be Davey and Zardo side-by-side for the lead, with Davey clearing Zardo on lap four. That’d be Zardo to battle for second with Witty, with Witty completing the pass for second on lap seven while championship contenders Bentley and Walters ran eighth and ninth.
Davey would continue to lead in his No. 49 Fleetbrake Ontario Late Model while Morrow would get by Zardo and then begin to look for a way around Witty for second on lap nine. However, Morrow wouldn’t be able to get by Witty as it’d be Davey leading Witty, Morrow, Holdaway, Bentley and Walters on lap 13.
On lap 14, Morrow would once again get alongside Witty for second and they’d run side-by-side all the way till a caution at lap 17 for Scott Beatty spinning virtue of Sean Cronan.
So with 13 laps to go, it’d be Davey leading Witty, Morrow, Bentley, Walters, Holdaway, Zardo, Cornelius, Grosman, Capirchio, the No. 35, Maiato, Fumerton, Rankin, Woodside, Beatty and Cronan.
On the restart, Witty would get by Davey for the lead to put his No. 19 Carrot Express, LaRue’s Haulage and Matco Tools Late Model out front. Morrow would then get by Davey for second, allowing Bentley to get alongside Davey for third. The caution would then come out for Fumerton having two flat tires. Under that caution, trouble would strike for Bentley as Davey would slide up into him, cutting Bentley’s tire.
“I don’t know what Frank was thinking here when he got into him,” Walters said after the race. “The caution was out, Mike was on the outside of him and he just seemed to turn right on the guy. I don’t know what happened, but Mike got a flat tire out of the deal, which is too bad. I really wanted to race him for it.”
“I was on the outside of Frank Davey and I don’t know if he knew I was there and he crowed me up into the wall and it cut my right front down,” Bentley said. “It’s disappointing. We may have had a win, but Tom would’ve finished behind me, or passed me, and still won the championship.”
Bentley said it was a blow to the stomach for him.
“Even to get a win and end the season a high note would have felt good,” he said. “To have something like that happen, even just eliminating us out of championship contention, is just disheartening.”
With 11 laps to go, it’d be Witty leading Morrow, Davey, Walters, Cornelius, Holdaway, Zardo, Grosman, the No. 35, Capirchio, Maiato, Beatty, Rankin, Woodside, Cronan, Fumerton and Bentley.
On the restart, Davey would slip back to fifth while it’d be a three-wide battle between Witty, Morrow and Walters for the lead. Morrow would come out on top on lap 20, leaving Witty and Walters to battle for second. Walters would clear Witty for second on lap 21 while Davey slipped back to sixth.
On lap 22 with eight laps to go, it was Morrow leading Walters, Witty, Holdaway, Grosman, Davey, Cornelius and Beatty.
On lap 23, Walters would get alongside Morrow for the lead, completing the pass on lap 27 with three laps to go while Holdaway and Witty battled for third.
Tom Walters would lead the final seven laps to put an exclamation point on his season and take the feature victory ahead of Chris Morrow. Taylor Holdaway would pass Jason Witty on the last lap to get third while Sean Grosman rounded out the top five.
Frank Davey finished sixth, followed by Scott Beatty, Kevin Cornelius, Mike Bentley and the No. 35.
Billy Zardo finished 11th, followed by Dario Capirchio, Keith Maiato, Sean Cronan, Bruce Rankin, Ernie Fumerton and Thane Woodside.
Now comes time for the what is known as “playoff” season where drivers travel to an array of tracks, running against the best drivers in the province to see who can get bragging rights. The fun begins with the Velocity 250 weekend at Sunset Speedway this weekend, followed by Ocktoberfest at Flamboro Speedway and then Autumn Colors at Peterborough Speedway.
Through winning the Chase for the Colors event, Tom Walters is already qualified on the pole for the Autumn Colors Limited Late Model Feature.
Bentley, meanwhile, hinted that he may be running his late model as a Pro Late Model for Ocktoberfest and Autumn Colors.