Mount Gambier’s Steven Lines has won his second Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway, with the best drive of his career.
Lines was simply flawless in the punishing 40 lap final to add the 2013 Classic title to his upset victory in the event in 2011.
The win was also sweet revenge after Lines was left shattered after he was passed on the final lap of Saturday night’s feature – the Australia America Challenge by US driver Tim Kaeding.
“I’m just relieved it’s all over,” Lines said after emerging from his machine and climbing aboard the top wing in triumph.
“After last night l was just determined to get it right tonight.
“It’s an unbelievably satisfying moment to have a second Classic trophy in my collection.”
Lines led home leading American Terry McCarl, with former three time Classic winner Brooke Tatnell rounding out the podium.
Night one victor Kaeding started from pole but drifted to finish fourth, ahead of leading local driver Jamie Veal.
Rounding out the top ten were Tim Shaffer in 6th, Rico Abreu 7th, Cameron Gessner 8th, Ian Madsen 9th and James McFadden who brilliantly finished in the top ten after rolling over mid feature.
Despite two red flag stoppages in the final – the first 9 laps in after Darren Mollonenoyux and the newly crowned Australia champ had separate roll overs, the second with 12 to go when David Murcott and Matt Egel came together heavily on the man straight – Lines was always able to drive away from the field.
His love affair with Warrnambool’s high banked speedway capped off with the $30,000 winner’s cheque, he’s now become the eighth man to win multiple Classic titles
The 41st edition of Australian speedway racing’s greatest prize was perhaps the finest in the Classic’s history.
A record field of cars, and a record number of visiting American drivers was backed up by record crowds at the popular venue, with close to 12,000 packing the venue on Sunday night alone, and the two night crowd just under 20,000.
It vindicates the Premier Speedway Club’s decision to expand the event to a three night show in 2014.
Such was the calibre of the field that some of the biggest stars were forced to fight their way just to try and make the main show. Former winner Garry Brazier advanced via the E main, but was eliminated in the C. Leading American hope Jason Johnson had to win through the D main, but was out after the B.
Even local legend Max Dumesny had to start in the C main, which he won, but he couldn’t make the main show.
One of the night’s hard luck stories belonged to young US sensation Kevin Swindell on his first visit to Warrnambool. The son of Sammy was streeting the field in the C main until he blew a left rear tyre and spun out.
“I think l used up all my good luck for the year two weeks ago to win the Chili Bowl,” Swindell lamented afterwards.
Tatnell’s third place came after a brilliant Sunday night, which saw him win both of his heat races. Other night two heat winners were Tim Kaeding, Danny Reidy, Grant Anderson, Robbie Farr, Darren Mollenoyux, Matt Egel, Ian Madsen, Ben Atkinson, Garry Brazier, Bill Rose, Domain Ramsay, Cameron Gessner, Nick Lacey and Shane Stewart.
The biggest casualty of the night’s racing was Victorian Ash Scott, who was transported via ambulance to Warrnambool’s Base Hospital with back soreness after riding out a nasty rollover in the second heat of the night. Thankfully it was only precautionary.
There was plenty of V8 Supercar flavour in the capacity crowd, with James Moffat, Nick Percat, Owen Kelly and Garry Rogers mixing among the fans.
It’s hard to see the Classic getting bigger, but next year’s three night show will cement the event as the biggest Sprintcar race outside of the USA.