Fraserville, ON – Shane Stickel made his first ever trip to Kawartha Speedway on Sunday afternoon and earned a top-ten, ninth-place finish with the OSCAAR Modified tour.
Stickel had never competed on the 3/8-mile oval 10 minutes south of Peterborough, Ont. prior to Sunday’s race, but the rookie driver made the most of his trip. After starting 10th in the 25-lap main event, Stickel was consistent all race long and knows he can only improve on his first experience.
“The biggest concern was myself as a driver. I’ve never been on a big track with this style of car and it had been over a year since I was on a big track,” explained Stickel. “I think it was just getting comfortable with the higher speeds again. Throughout the feature I was working on my pedal control and getting on the gas sooner and sooner. I wasn’t personally where I needed to be as a driver.”
Stickel also earned third- and fourth-place finishes in his pair of Klotz Canada qualifying heat races.
The only caution of the feature race came on lap eight for an innocent spin involving Brad Pearsall (No.1B) and Ryan Dick (No.88). With a competitive field of 17 modifieds on hand, Stickel was happy with his top-ten finish at the high-banked oval.
“Going in, I didn’t have high expectations because I had already been told with the small crate (motor) you’re lucky to be a top-five car,” said Stickel “I was hoping to maybe make the top-five, but I could definitely feel I was out-powered a bit on the straightaways.”
Following the lap nine restart, the field sorted itself out single file quite quickly, leaving few opportunities to pass. The outside line proved to be the passing lane as few drivers would relinquish their stranglehold on the bottom groove.
“Once everything got sorted out with Lane (Zardo) in front of me, it was a single-file race. There wasn’t too much action going on,” explained Stickel. “When you’ve got to go to the outside lane to make a pass, I know I was struggling whenever I went out there, it gives people an opportunity to get under you. Some nights it’s just better to stick to your lane and get out of there in one piece.”
Despite the learning curve, Stickel enjoyed his inaugural pilgrimage to Kawartha, which featured a ‘Show and Shine’ in association with the Syracuse Nationals and Right Coast Cars, as well as an exhibition race for the Brighton Speedway DIRTcar Pro Late Models.
“I loved it. I wish I was better there. It’s a beautiful facility,” explained Stickel. “It’s nice to drive on, a smooth track. I had a lot of fun. The whole night was a neat night with the car show and the dirt late models there too. Those guys are nuts.”
Stickel’s finish marks his second-consecutive race among the top-ten following a second-place finish last week at Peterborough Speedway. The strong result at Peterborough has guaranteed him a starting spot outside the front row for the 21st annual Autumn Colours Classic on Thanksgiving Weekend.
“With the year we’ve had, I was happy to load it on the trailer for another week. With only four nights before racing at Delaware, I was happy.”
Stickel was able to knock-off a couple more markers from the rookie points lead held by Branden Bullen (No.67jr), and now sits just six points back.
“I’m slowly chipping away at these guys,” said Stickel. “If I can keep chipping away a couple points every race, it would be an honour to get that award. I’m definitely running for it.”
The series shifts to Delaware Speedway for the first of three 50-lap events on the 2013 tour. The two-day show will see drivers time trial and compete in Klotz Canada qualifying heats on Friday, followed by the 50-lap feature Sunday, divided in to two 25-lap segments.
“I’m extremely nervous for this 50-lapper,” said Stickel. “The most I’ve ever done is a 30-lap feature. So 20 more laps, it’s going to be a different experience as far as setting the car up. I’m not used to the long runs for sure. I’m going to have to keep my cool and keep my composure.”
Racing is schedule to begin at 8:00pm on Friday night for the OSCAAR Modifieds, who will be joined by the ISMA Super Modifieds and Delaware’s Coca-Cola Super Stocks. The OSCAAR Modified feature will get underway at 2:00pm on Saturday afternoon.
Shane Stickel’s OSCAAR season is supported by MSD Machine Tool, Shelane Properties, Huron Fasteners, Creative Edge Signs & Graphics, Metal Supermarkets, Paragon Collision Centre, MAC Contracting, Bizign Design Company, and SpeedwayPhoto.ca.
Follow Shane Stickel’s rookie campaign with OSCAAR all season long online at www.shanestickel.com and on Twitter via @ShaneStickel.
By Clayton Johns (@cjohnsmedia)
Photo Credit: Dan Little Jr.