James McFadden held off a fast finishing Kerry Madsen in an all Australian grandstand finish to take opening night honours at Warrnambool’s Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.
Premier Speedway’s backstretch big screen played a part in the nail biting final laps, with McFadden admitting it prompted him to change his driving line on the final corner, to ensure Madsen couldn’t pass him.
“I had a look at the big screen down the back and saw the 29 (Madsen) there,” McFadden said after the win which delivered a $10,000 cheque.
“To beat Kerry in such a big event in such a big race, I’m absolutely pumped.”
World of Outlaws star Madsen was convinced he was going to win on the final lap that was played out before a bumper crowd.
“Coming to the white (flag) I thought I had enough to catch him,” Madsen said.
“I thought he wouldn’t see me, thought he wouldn’t hear me and then I hear he looked at the big screen. He hit the bottom of the track and I was like ‘how did he know I was there’?”
McFadden started sixth while Madsen was directly behind in eighth in the 30 lap final on a lightning fast circuit.
McFadden took the lead from the Northern Territory’s Ben Atkinson with 16 laps to go to set up the epic finish.
Atkinson would hang on for third to complete the podium, ahead of hard charging American Brad Sweet and pole sitter Ryan Jones.
Rounding out the top ten was Brooke Tatnell, Terry McCarl, Darren Mollenoyux, Tim Rankin and John Vogels.
“My confidence is always up, it’s been a good month but this is the big one. I’d love to win the Classic,” McFadden said.
The biggest loser of the night was Sydney’s Daniel Sayre who endured a scary car destroying shunt after riding a rival’s wheel in the C-main.
He emerged unscathed but repairs to the turn 1 fence took almost half an hour.
The second half of the bumper 124 car field goes into battle tonight headlined by defending champion Kyle Hirst, plus former Classic winners Garry Brazier, Max Dumesny and Steven Lines as well as David Murcott, Jason Sides, Randy Hannagan and Jamie Veal.
The 44th running of the $30,000 to win, 24 car, 40 lap Classic final is tomorrow night.