Despite a skeptical weather forcast for much of Simcoe County, not a drop of rain would adorn the 8th line of Oro/Medonte as Barrie Speedway commenced racing festivities on June 22 with defending track champion #10 Rick Walt of Hawkestone taking the 30 lap win in the Canestoga Property Maintenance Thunder Car division on Fox's Bakery & Deli Night. With the win, Walt closed in to within 4 points of divisional co point leaders #00 Darryl St. Onge of Barrie and #39 Travis "The Enforcer" Hallyburton of Hillsdale, who were involved in a tangle up of their own just past the 20 lap mark, while 2007 track champ #44 Dave "The Deuce" Doucette sits just 6 points behind the leaders, after encountering some misfortune of his own in the feature race. Expect these 4 drivers to battle tooth and nail over the 2nd half of the 2013 season, in what is one of the tightest points races anywhere in the province. Of the quartet, only Hallyburton has yet to visit victory lane in a feature race, with St. Onge leading the way with 3 wins, while Walt has two victories to his credit, with Doucette having gone to victory lane in the June 8 feature event.
The race would begin with rookie contender #16 Bryan Penny gaining the advantage on #20 Luke Gignac from the drop of the green. Gignac, would quickly fall back into the clutches of #21 Bill Walt, with Walt executing a inside pass to take over 2nd in the running order, as further in back #12 Jim "Polish Prince" Belesky and #40 Donny Brandon were locked in a door to door battle of their own for 4th place, in a duel eventually won by Belesky. The #12 Malibu of Belesky, would continue to make a hard charge towards the front, taking to the high side to pass Gignac for third, as Bill Walt would dispose of Penny for the race lead with a cunning low move in turn three. Also fast on the move was the duo of St. Onge and Doucette, as those two checked into 4th and 5thth respectively after working around the 20 of Gignac. The race's first caution would appear on lap nine, as speedway newcomer #55 Jay Cutting spun in turn two, setting the stage for a battle between Bill Walt and Belesky on the restart. When the green flew once again, it was Belesky who took over the point after again using the high line to work past the 21 of Walt, completing the pass midway down the backstretch.
Belesky, continued to set a torrid pace at the front of the field, completing laps in the 15.8 second range, opening up a five car length advantage over St.Onge, who was now under heavy fire from the 10 of Rick Walt, who was making his first appearance near the front of the field after being mired mid pack throughout the initial stages. Walt, would continue his impressive drive towards the race lead, getting to the inside of St. Onge on the exit of turn two to complete the pass and inheirit runner up positioning. Just beyond the midway mark, the best battle on track was the race for 5th, as Doucette would make a clean inside pass of Bill Walt between turns 1&2 to take over that spot. Just a short while later, Doucette and Walt would make contact in turn 3, with both drivers sent spinning and hitting the outside retaining wall, eventually ending the night for both due to damage incurred in the collision. This set the stage for former track champs Belesky and Walt to battle from the front row on the restart, as the drivers went to war in an effort to capture the race lead. Belesky and Walt would battle for 4 solid laps door to door, not even laying so much as a tire rub on the other in what was a great clean display of tough short track racing. Unfortunately the duel would temporarily come to an end, when Hallyburton and St. Onge would make contact while racing out of turn 2 on lap 21, with St. Onge taking a hard lick on the inside wall, eventually ending his evening, as Hallyburton would take his place as the rear of the field as an involved car.
Once again Belesky and Walt battled from the front row on the restart, this time Walt would move out to a single car length advantage on the outside, when the caution again flew on lap 23, as #52 Greg Callow and Brandon collected in turn 4, after Callow cut down his right front tire. With the fans on the edge of their seats for the ensuing Walt/Belesky dice to follow, Walt would again move out to a slender lead on his fellow competitor, with Cutting, Penny, and fellow rookie #37 Robbie Sikes rounding out the top 5 inside of five laps remaining, as a hard charging Hallyburton was now sitting right behind Sikes and looking to enter the top 5. Over the duration, Walt would hold 2 two car length lead on Belesky, with Hallyburton picking off positions one by one to land in 4th approaching the checkered. This race would belong to Walt's Abstract Hair Salon/Shellswell Racing Monte Carlo however, as the talented driver would edge out close friend Belesky by 2 car lengths at the stripe. Hallyburton, would battle back to finish 3rd, Just nipping promising upstart Cutting at the line, while Sikes would complete the top five.
Heat wins went to Hallyburton with a pair, St. Onge, and Belesky.
In the track's premier Wahta Springs Late Model division a familiar trend would play out, as #02 Shawn Murray of Alliston went to victory lane for the third time this season in the initial 30 lap feature, while current point leader #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station went to the winner's circle for the 5th time in 2013 in the 30 lap finale to the evening. With the win, Shepherd would increase his point lead from 20 to 24 over 2nd place #57 Ron "The Dominator" Quesnelle of Penetang, who finished up in 4th in both feature races. #14 "Hurricane" Thayne Hallyburton currently sits in 3rd, just 39 points back of Shepherd on the strength of two 3rd place finishes on this evening, with 2010 track champ #69 Al "Red Rocket" Inglis just another 4 markers in back of Hallyburton. Murray, meanwhile continues to gain steam in 2013, having 3 feature wins to his credit to land 5th in the season long point standings, just 10 points in back of Inglis and 51 behind leader Shepherd.
In the opening 30 lap race, it was #44x Rick Meyer of Orillia who claimed the initial lead, after getting the jump on #5 Mike "The Hulkamaniac" Langley of Orr Lake from the drop of the green. Langley, would continue to get filed further back in the running order, when he was passed to the inside by the duo of #74 Roy Manary of Gravenhurst and Murray. By lap 5, Murray's charge towards the point was progressing nicely, as the driver would pass Manary for 2nd on the inside of turn 1. Also on the move early was the duo of #91 Andre Pepin and Hallyburton, as those two drivers would land inside the top 5 after working past the 5 of Langley. On lap 9, the first and only lead change would occur, as Murray slipped down inside Meyer entering turn 1, eventually completing the pass on the exit of turn two. The race's only caution would appear one lap later as rookie stalwart #24 Leonard Johnston hit the frontstretch wall just shy of the flagstand, knocking out the right front tow of the car and ending his race early.
On the restart, Murray would find the race lead once again, with the car to watch being the 91 of Pepin as the division sophomore was cranking up the heat on Meyer for 2nd, digging hard to take over runner up positioning on the low side of turns 3&4, but only to have the door slammed shut by the veteran Meyer. The game Pepin was now fighting off a staunch challenge from Hallyburton for 3rd, with Hallyburton momentarily taking the spot before getting trapped to the low side in behind Meyer, as Pepin battled back along the high line to reclaim that position, while further in back Quesnelle had now entered the top 5, after disposing of the 74 of Manary. At the front of the field, Murray was running laps right at 15 seconds flat, opening up a full straightaway lead over Pepin, who took over 2nd place with a daring pass along the high side of Meyer between turns 3&4. Hallyburton, was quick to follow the Pepin move to land himself in third, as Quesnelle and Shepherd began to duke it out for 4th, after that pair also worked past the 44x of Meyer. With a large lead at the front it was clear that nobody was catching Murray's Lake Simcoe Heating & Air/Flight Path International Impala SS however, as the former 2 time Pure Stock division champ cruised to the win by a wide margin at the finish. Pepin, would record a career best 2nd place Late Model showing, while Hallyburton, Quesnelle, and Shepherd rounded out the fast five.
In the 30 lap nightcap to the evening, it was Langley and Manary battling door handle to door handle for the race lead, as #83 Ian Bourque of Newmarket filed into 3rd place throughout the early going. Manary, would eventually take the point along the outside of Langley, with a hard charging 57 of Quesnelle jumping to third, getting inside of Bourque entering turn one on lap 4. Also putting on a solid charge towards the front was the 69 of the venerable veteran Inglis, as the talented wheelman would work past the 5 of Langley along the inside line in turn three, with the 10 of Shepherd following that move one lap later, at the same point on the racetrack. On lap 11, the first of two lead changes would occur as 2011 track champ Quesnelle passed Manary to the inside of turn two to take control of the point, while Inglis and Shepherd were now locked in an impressive dice for 3rd, a duel eventually won by Shepherd. As the battles were shaping up behind him Quesnelle was able to open up a 3 car length lead at the front of the field, as Shepherd would slip down inside Manary for second, leading the way for Inglis and sophomore driver Hallyburton to follow a short while later, as Manary was now trapped to the high side after a strong race put in while leading.
Just beyond the midway mark, Shepherd has closed the lead Quesnelle had built up at the front of the field, as the latter got crossways out of turn two on lap 16, with a true show of sportsmanship and class being exhibited by Shepherd, who backed off in allowing Quesnelle to gather it up. Quesnelle, would continue to lead for the next nine circuits, when Shepherd would finally make the winning move, diving down to the inside of his fellow competitor in turn 2 to take over the race lead on lap 25, with an alert Inglis following that move one lap later, leaving Quesnelle to fend off a further challenge from the oncoming 14 of Hallyburton. At the front of the field, Shepherd widened his lead to 3 car lengths over Inglis over the durtation, bringing his Progressive Waste Solutions/Montana's Cookhouse Ford Fusion to victory lane for the 5th time this season. Inglis, would match a seasonal best with the second place showing, while Hallyburton would just nip Quesnelle at the line for 3rd, as #2 "Hometown" Mike Brown comprised the remainder of the top 5. In keeping with the theme of career best results, it was the 5 of Langley who turned the trick this time in finishing 6th, in what was easily his most impressive Late Model showing to date.
In the St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock division, it was defending track champ #9 Charlie Smith of Orillia who brought his Brand Do Construction/Multi Menu Pet Foods Dodge Neon to victory lane for the third time this season and 2nd week in sucession after the division was off on the June 15 weekend. The race would kick off with 2012 division runner up #11 Adam Misner grabbing the lead from pole position, as #63 Jamie Cairns and #57 Ryan Toon duked it out early for 2nd, with Cairns coming out on top of that duel. Toon, would get shuffled further back, when the hard charging Smith took over third with an impressive high side move past Toon's sleek looking VW Golf in turn 1. Also fast on the move throughout the early stages was the duo of #15 Will Davies of Barrie and #10 Doug Butler of New Lowell, as the talented pair had landed themselves inside of the top 5 after both drivers worked past the 57 of Toon.
The race's first and only caution came about on lap 8, when promising upstart #06 Ryan Hardy would brush the wall between turns 3&4. ending the night early for last season's Rookie of the Year, and wiping out the near 5 car length lead Misner had built up over #400 Justin Holmes who was running a strong second. On the restart, Misner would move out to a single car length advantage over Holmes, who would make contact with the outside retaining wall just short of the flagstand. In an incredible display of driving, the poised Holmes was able to soldier on without losing his spot in the running order. That would all change on lap 11 however, when Smith powered around Holmes on the inside of turn 3, with the current point leader heading into the event Butler, following one lap later, dropping Holmes back to 4th. Smith, would eventually run down race leader Misner on lap 14, passing him low in turn 3, with Butler again following, to take over runner up positioning, leaving Misner trapped to the high side and having to fend off the challenge of the impressive Holmes and his #400 Mustang. On lap 16, Holmes' car would find some late race life, as the 3rd year driver was able to work to the inside of Misner in turn 1 to take control of third place. At the front of the field Butler would marginally close in on leader Smith, but it was not to be however, as Smith continued his impressive drive, closing out the race with laps in the 16.4 second range, taking the win by a single car length over Butler at the checkered. Holmes would cap off a solid point night with a 3rd place showing, while Misner and Davies would round out the fast five. Unfortunately Butler would get caught up in the post race technical inspection, wiping out his strong 2nd place feature result and transferring over the point lead to Smith.
Heat wins went to Butler with a pair, Holmes, and #57 Ryan Toon..
PIT NOTES ------------------------ Former 2 time track Late Model track champ #22 Glenn Watson would make his first start amongst the Barrie Late Model regulars in nearly 10 years. Watson, would come home in 10th place in the initial feature, with an 11th place showing in feature #2 in the brilliantly prepared Peter Schotanus chassis. Watson, is hopeful of also making the start in the third annual Garry Reynolds Memorial which takes place Sept 21st and 22nd.. The hard luck award of the evening went to Wahta Springs Late Model driver #4 Glenn Lloyd who had hid throttle stick, careening off the wall between turns 1&2 in practice.. The likeable Lloyd was set to do battle on his sponsors night entertaining the good folks at Fox's Bakery and Deli who came out in strong numbers to align the sponsor deck.. Be sure to join us this coming Sat June 29 for Parry's Automotive Night, as its Fan Appreciation which commences with a giant on track autograph session at 5:45pm.. Be sure to bring the young ones out for a fill of hero cards and candy as all drivers will be on track with giveaways.. Pit gate opens at 2pm, with spectator gates open at 5pm and green flag slated to drop at 6:30 pm sharp.