(Bowmanville, ON – May 22, 2013) Packed grandstands greeted the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Speedway competitors as the 24th season of Saturday night stock car racing kicked off on May 18 at the Bowmanville-area half-mile oval. Presented by Coca-Cola, the evening’s program consisted of a full card of racing action for the Lucas Oil Pure Stocks, the Bob’s Towing Thunder Cars, the Late Models and the Techtonix Open Wheel Modifieds.
Lucas Oil Pure Stock
The Lucas Oil Pure Stocks presented an entertaining start to the night’s feature race card.
Defending series champion Willy Howells (#19 Sanford Racing Engines Prelude) would snatch the point away from pole sitter Henk Mulders on Lap 2, and would ultimately never be bested, holding on to claim the opening night victory.
With two earlier heat race wins, Jeff VandeBelt, aboard his #33 Attention to Detail Integra, went into full pursuit and when Mulders bobbled on the eighth lap, the Bowmanville resident squirted through and into second place.
At the checkered flag, the top three crossed the stripe in a nose-to-tail pack, with Mulder’s #45 Link Greenhouses Acura rounding out the Pure Stock Podium.
Bob’s Towing Thunder Car
All ears in the Bob’s Towing Thunder Car division perked up when defending series champion John Baker Jr. lost the engine in the #63 Chevy in the evening’s opening heat race. With the dominant driver in the 2012 campaign sidelined for the night, the race became a wide-open affair for the championship challengers.
Unfortunately, the feature contest got off to a frightening start, as, when powering to the green flag, division newcomer Kevin Hinds was nudged from behind, his #57 Monte Carlo crashing into the infield tire barriers and coming to rest straddling the wall.
With the stricken #57 removed and the tires replaced, the race was once again flagged away with pole sitter Bill Northam (#85 Shackleton Remax) sprinting into the race lead. Coming under immediate pressure from a swarm of pursuers, Northam eventually relinquished the point on the third lap to Bob Kish (#78 Pro Sharpening, Rapid Rod), who was then bumped back to second place by the hard-charging #03 Steelcase Tires & Mags Chevy of Ken Donaldson Jr.
Edging away from the pack, Donaldson was able to stretch his advantage to the checkered flag in the 20-lap feature.
Behind him in a frantic three-way scramble for the runner-up position, track newcomer Howie Crowe (#28) snatched the spot away from Bob Kish with two-to-go, crossing the stripe six car lengths behind winner Donaldson. Kish maintained his third place position, with Northam edging Steve Mayhew for fourth in the final results.
Former multi-time track champion Mark Gordon went flag-to-flag to claim the opening night Late Model feature victory, in a race that had every spectator perched on the edge of their seats.
Grabbing the point from his outside, front row starting position, Gordon in his #52 Boston Pizza Late Model led defending series champion Kyle Donaldson (#53) and newcomer Linc Brown (#99) in a three-car breakaway until the yellow waved on Lap 8 to retrieve the stricken #01 of pole sitter Dan Kimmerly.
But on the restart, the chase was renewed.
Running out the remaining 17 laps under the green flag, Gordon fended off repeated challenges from Donaldson, with Brown, Scott Harrison (#12) and Darren Kearnan (#55) all lurking within striking distance.
Leading a bumper-to-bumper train, Gordon scored the win, the top five in the finishing order covered by the proverbial blanket.
Techtonix Open Wheel Modifieds
Evenly matched in both talent and equipment, defending OMRS champion Dwight Brown and perennial challenger Darren Kearnan set the tone for the upcoming season, the two long-time, friendly rivals sharing the spotlight in the evening’s trio of open-wheeled contests.
Wrestling the feature race lead away from the pole sitting #90 of Rick Warnes on Lap 4, Kearnan, with Brown in close pursuit, broke away from the field, the two frontrunners locked together in a high-speed tandem, chasing the checkered flag.
Never separated by more than a car’s length, Kearnan in his new #46 TTR Transport Ford was able to maintain his advantage over Brown throughout the incident-free 25-lap race, the duo crossing the line in a bumper-to-bumper finish.
“I’m glad I don’t have a mirror in this car, I didn’t want to see how close Dwight was to me,” laughed Kearnan.
Responded Brown, the winner of the night’s twin qualifying rounds, “Our cars are so equal, I knew if Darren didn’t make a mistake, I was going to be stuck in second place.”
Series newcomer Nick Lees (#09) took the checkers in a well-deserved third place, with Chad Strawn (#77) and veteran Bill Pickford (#61) rounding out the top five.
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For further information:
Ryan Chalmers, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
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Photo credit: Derek Smith – racepulse.com
Photo 1 – Lucas Oil Pure Stock feature race winner Willy Howells.
Photo 2 – Bob’s Towing Thunder Car feature race winner Ken Donaldson Jr.
Photo 3 – Late Model feature race winner Mark Gordon.
Photo 4 – Techtonix Open Wheel Modifieds feature race winner Darren Kearnan.