Watson wins Controversial M.R.E Pro Series PLM Feature; Walters wins Championship
In probably the most controversial race at Sunset Speedway in a long time, it’d be OSCAAR Super Late Model driver Brandon Watson taking the victory in the final round of the McColl Racing Enterprises (M.R.E) Pro Series. Watson would drive his No. 9 Royal Distributing/Shear Metal Products/Barrie Frame & Alignment/Knightworks Design from the sixth position to the front, taking the lead on lap 50.
“Our car was good all night,” Watson said. “At the start there, they were side-by-side in front of me and we were trying to save my tires, passing guys when we could. The long green flag run there the car was good, got the lead there and was able to hang on.”
When it comes to the M.R.E Pro Series Championship, Sunset Speedway regular Tom Walters would be crowned the champion after finishing second in the feature, following a controversial call at lap 71 of 75. An incident between the driver of the No. 47 Mustang and Sunset’s Mike Bentley would bring forth a call by track officials that is still being talked about by everybody.
Though before we get into that, the night would begin with time trials and it’d be Walters running the quickest lap of the session. Watson had the second quickest time, followed by Barrie Speedway’s Dwayne Baker, Sunset’s Chris Morrow and Flamboro’s Steve Laking.
Coming into the night, Bentley was leading the points by 12 over Walters. Bentley would post the 15th quickest time in time trials, however it’d be disallowed due to fuel spilling out of the back of Bentley’s late model. Joe, Bentley’s spotter, stated on Race Time Radio’s broadcast that with thrashing to get the car put back together from damage on Saturday night, they missed tightening the fuel cap.
Walters would get 13 points for the pole, resulting in him leading the points by one point going into the 75 lap feature.
With the invert, it’d be Jamie Cox starting on pole in his No. 22 Stubbs Communications / APC / Total Lubricants / London City Chrysler – Dodge Charger, followed by Jason Shaw, Gary Elliott, Steve Laking, Chris Morrow, Dwayne Baker, Brandon Watson, Tom Walters, Taylor Holdaway, Mat Box, Kent Nuhn, Gord Shepherd, Dale Shaw, Jason Parker, Gord Bennett, Marc Jacobs, Jaxson Jacobs, Nick Goetz, Bruce Rankin, Billy Zardo, Bru8ce Wheeler, Marvin Freiburger, Thane Woodside and Mike Bentley.
On lap 1, Shaw would quickly grab the lead in his No. 82 Roof Trusses & Components, Waverdale Fleet Service, Lucas Oil, Plasti-kote, Gunk and Wix Filters Late Model while Cox and Laking battled for second. Laking would get into the back of Shaw on lap two, getting him sideways. Shaw would save it, though would be side-by-side now with Cox for the lead.
The caution would then come out for Freiburger stopping in his No. 37 Mustang. He would then pull off the track and be done for the evening.
So on lap two it was Cox leading over Jason Shaw, Laking, Elliott, Baker, Morrow, Walters, Watson, Shepherd, Box, Parker, Holdaway, Nuhn, Marc Jacobs, Dale Shaw, Goetz, Bennett, Bentley, Jaxson Jacobs, Zardo, Rankin, Wheler and Woodside.
On the restart, it’d be Cox and Jason Shaw side-by-side for the lead as Bennett would get sideways on lap four, though managed to save it and keep going.
Jason Shaw would jump ahead of Cox on lap six while Laking and Elliott battled for third. As Laking and Elliott continued to battle on lap 10, Cox would get alongside Shaw for the lead. Shaw would hold Cox off though, clearing him at lap 11 with Elliott clearing Laking on lap 12. Laking would try to pass Elliott back on lap 13, though would not succeed. Instead, Laking would get challenged for fourth on lap 15 by Baker. He would hold Baker off and try to pass Elliott again on lap 17.
While everyone continued to battle for position, Bentley would begin to sparking on lap 18.
On lap 21, it’d be Jason Shaw continuing to lead ahead of Cox with Elliott third while Laking and Baker battled for fourth. Laking would hold Baker off, going back after Elliott for third on lap 22. Though the caution would then come out for Bennett stopping on the race track in turns one and two. He’d make his way down pit road, along with Bentley. So on the restart, Bentley would once again have to start at the tail end of the field.
On the restart, it’d be Jason Shaw and Jamie Cox side-by-side for the lead, with Cox clearing Shaw on lap 24 as the caution came out for Parker spinning Morrow around.
On the restart, Cox and Jason Shaw would side-by-side again, with Shaw clearing Cox on lap 28. Cox would then get side-by-side with Walters for second, with Walters making the pass on lap 29. Walters would then begin to look for a way by Shaw on lap 30, completing the pass on lap 31. So just past the ¼ mark, it’d be Walters leading Shaw and Baker while Cox and Laking battled for fourth. Laking would pass Cox on lap 32.
On lap 36, Baker would pass Jason Shaw for second, though would then stop the car in turn two the next lap to bring out the caution. He’d be done for the rest of the night.
On the restart, it’d be Walters leading Shaw while Laking and Cox battled side-by-side for third. Cox would hold off Laking on lap 42 as Laking would fall back to fifth due to a pass by Watson. Watson would then get alongside Cox for third on lap 43, completing the pass on lap 46 while Laking now battled Cox for fourth.
There’d then be a caution at lap 48 when Laking spun after contact with Cox. Both driver would go to the back of the field so it’d be Walters leading Jason Shaw, Watson, Shepherd, Holdaway, Dale Shaw, Bentley, Elliott, Nuhn, Rankin, Parker, Bennett, Morrow, Box, Goetz, Wheler, Marc Jacobs, Jaxson Jacobs, Woodside, Zardo, Laking and Cox.
On the restart, Shepherd would get Shaw sideways, but Shaw would manage to save the car and keep going. Meanwhile mid-pack, Bentley would get three-wide with Nuhn and Holdaway. Contact between Bentley and Holdaway would cause a flat tire on the No. 41 Downing Roofing Ltd., ImageFactor.ca, OntarioOval.com, Vortex Brake Pads and Holdaway Automotive Late Model, resulting in another caution on lap 47.
As they ran under caution just before halfway, it was Walters leading Watson, Jason Shaw, Shepherd, Bentley, Nuhn, Dale Shaw, Parker, Elliott, Bennett, Rankin, Box, Morrow, Goetz, Laking, Jaxson Jacobs, Cox, Wheler, Woodside, Marc Jacobs, Zardo and Holdaway.
Walters would grab the lead off the restart, though Watson would get alongside him on lap 50. The next lap there’d be a caution, though, as Shepherd ran into problems. Under caution, Elliott would make his way down pit road.
Right at halfway under caution it would be Watson leading Walters, Jason Shaw, Bentley, Nuhn, Parker, Dale Shaw, Bennett, Box, Rankin, Goetz, Morrow, Laking, Cox, Jaxson Jacobs, Marc Jacobs, Wheler, Holdaway, Shepherd, Woodside, Zardo and Elliott.
On the restart, it’d be Watson leading as Bentley would make contact with Walters, putting Walters sideways as he made the pass for second spot. Meanwhile, behind them, Jason Shaw would be side-by-side with Parker for fourth.
On lap 55, Walters would get back by Bentley for the second position while Parker got by Shaw for fourth as Watson led.
There’d be a caution on lap 57 when Chris Morrow would stop his No. 11 Morrow Electric and CRS Rentals Late Model in turn two.
On the restart, it’d be Watson jumping out ahead of Walters, Bentley and Parker while Jason Shaw battled Nuhn for fifth. Shaw would hold Nuhn off on lap 59.
At lap 60, the top eight ran single file with Watson leading over Walters, Bentley, Parker, Jason Shaw, Nuhn, Box and Bennett while Dale Shaw and Laking battled for ninth. Laking would pass Dale Shaw for ninth on lap 61.
For the next string of laps, it’d be the top 10 continuing to run single file as Walters kept in close contact with Watson for the lead. Then on lap 67, Laking would get side-by-side with Bennett for seventh. Laking would complete the pass on lap 69, leaving Bennett to battle with Holdaway for eighth. There’d then be a caution on lap 72 as Wheler spun in front of the leaders in turn two. Nobody gets damage as everyone is able to continue.
Going back a lap in scoring (lap 71), it’d be Watson leading over Walters, Bentley, Parker, Jason Shaw, Nuhn, Box, Bennett, Laking, Holdaway, Dale Shaw, Cox, Jaxson Jacobs, Morrow, Rankin, Marc Jacobs, Goetz, Zardo and Woodside.
On the restart is where the controversy would start as Bentley would make contact with the rear bumper of Walters in turn four, turning him around and collecting Bennett and Cox in the wreck, too.
“I have no idea what happened,” Walters told Race Time Radio. “I guess someone got into the back of me and spun me around.”
Walters would then add later in the same interview, “I passed him clean after he moved me out of the way. Never touched him. The kid has a problem. I don’t know what it is, but he has a problem.”
Bentley would be blackflagged for rough driving and sent off of the track. Bentley stated that the contact was not intentional and was due to his throttle sticking.
Race Time Radio had also recorded the radio audio between Bentley and his team and played it, with Bentley speaking of his throttle sticking at the time of the caution for Wheler.
“We started at the back, came up through there up to Walters,” Bentley said. The last 15 laps, my throttle was sticking, had to pull it back in the corners. We got the restart and it stuck and I came up into him. I didn’t mean to get into him there. That wasn’t intentional.”
When Walters was told after the race of Bentley’s throttle sticking, his simple response to Smokin’ Joe, who hosts Race Time Radio, was, “Lights out Bentley. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Meanwhile, Walters would retain his position in second as it was argued that the contact was made before the race went green as they had yet to cross the start-finish line. Cox and Bennett would also get their spots back, too.
However, as drivers argued post-race, the restart line is in turn three so therefore the track was green.
“Going into turn three, there was a big old green light on there,” Shaw told Race Time Radio. “I don’t race here so can’t comment on that. I’m a little upset though.”
“Got to lean towards disagree as the green was out and he was an involved car,” Watson said of the call. “But I’m not the person that would want to decide that. That’s a tough call to make.”
“As the saying goes, he takes guys out and gets his spot back,” Bentley said. “Here, I do it and he gets his spot back and I get thrown out of the race….Also, the rule here is green flag in three. If he gets his spot back, I get my spot back as it’s a false start.”
Many fans and drivers disagreed with the decision, as they argued that it wasn’t right.
When Walters was questioned about receiving his spot back after the race by Race Time Radio, he responded saying, “The rule here is that if someone gets the black flag, you get your spot back.”
The incident in question was caught on video by Susan Shaw and has been attached to the bottom of this article for each person to view themselves.
With four laps to go in the event, there’d be another restart and it’d result in another caution as Shepherd would go to the bottom, taking a pair of cars three-wide, bottling up the field, resulting in Zardo getting into Goetz. Goetz would offer some payback under caution and as a result, would also receive the black flag for rough driving.
On the restart, Watson would jump ahead of Walters as Jason Shaw ran third, followed by Box and Laking.
Brandon Watson would lead the final three laps to take the victory. Tom Walters would finish second, followed by Jason Shaw, Mat Box and Steve Laking.
“We’re just missing a little bit of something,” Shaw said. “I just can’t get bite off at the end of these races at this track. I had a feeling it was going to get interesting with the going ons under caution. Some of these guys tighten their helmets too much around here.”
Kent Nuhn would finish sixth, followed by Gord Bennett, Taylor Holdaway, Gord Shepherd and Chris Morrow.
Dale Shaw finished 11th, followed by Marc Jacobs, Rankin, Parker, Cox, Zardo, Jaxson Jacobs, Woodside, Bentley, Wheler, Elliott, Baker and Freiburger.
As a result, Walters gets credited with the M.R.E Pro Series Championship, 42 points over Bentley and 58 points over Laking.
With Walters finishing second, he was credited with 79 points in the feature. If he had been scored at the back of the field where many say he should have restarted, he would have scored 44 points, therefore a loss of 35 points. Therefore, that would still have given him the championship, seven points ahead of Bentley, 23 points ahead of Laking.
Credit for all the quotes goes to Race Time Radio. Check out their website at http://www.racetimeradio.com and view the full broadcast from August 27, 2012 that contained the quotes at http://www.racetimeradio.com/index_htm_files/RTR--Aug27th2012.mp3 .