Gee grabs last gasp win in ECL round six
With five different winners from as many rounds of racing in the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship, it took a last corner pass to deliver the first repeat feature winner for the season when Mitchell Gee slipped underneath Randy Morgan to snatch victory in round six at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (December 14). Morgan led from the outset and looked on track to become the sixth different winner for the season until the slightest moment of hesitation approaching lapped traffic enabled Gee to surge underneath to snatch victory. Brock Dean finished in third spot ahead of Aaron Kelly, with Chad Ely rounding out the first five in what was another fabulous night of racing.
The AMCA Nationals feature race also featured plenty of action at the front of the field as Nathan Durston surged to the lead to defeat Lee McKinnell, Steve Potts, Nathan Tomkins and Darren Miller.
Other feature race winners on the night were Robbie Stewart (Compact Speedcars), Wayne Kirkman (RSA Sedans) and Bernie Wright (Ford vs Holden vs Sigma).
In what would prove to be the only highlight of his night, Bryan Mann topped the timesheets in Sprintcar qualifying, a best lap of 12.169 proving out of reach for the rest of the field. Callum Walker (12.180) and Dean (12.290) were next best ahead of Cody Maroske (12.407) and Brent Kratzmann (12.456), neither of whom would go the distance in the feature race.
Kelly cleared away to win the opening heat, leading all the way to defeat Tim Farrell and Gee, while Mann’s night ended after just three laps when he was pitched into the turn two wall.
Kristy Bonsey outgunned her front row partner Ryan McNamara to win heat two, with Morgan moving forward from fifth to finish third.
Aboard a brand new car prepared in readiness for the hectic Christmas/New Year schedule, Mark Pholi proved too strong in heat three, downing Andrew Corbet and Ryan McNamara.
Gee almost saw his night take a decidedly different turn when he was squeezed into the main straight wall by Allan Woods as the pair argued over the lead in the final heat. Both cars emerged unscathed and Woods would go on to win the race from Gee and Bonsey.
The opening heat of the Petzyo Sprintcar Development Series went to Ron Hendrickson over Geoff Davey and David Kenway, while the second heat saw Libby Ellis score her first ever win when she led Davey and Hendrickson home.
From the field assembled for the B Main, the result went largely as expected with Mitch Gowland leading home Adam Butler, Andrew Baumber and Scott Genrich, all of whom would the transfer into the main event. Hendrickson was the best of the Development Series drivers in fifth spot.
When Gee, as top qualifier, drew a position four start for the Trax Tyre and Auto Dash, it was suddenly Dean who found himself on pole position. However, it was Morgan who proved unstoppable from the outside front row, leading Dean to the flag. Both Gee and Ely moved ahead of Maroske to secure their places on the second row for the feature, with Maroske, Kratzmann, McNamara and Walker completing the order.
Launching from pole position on this occasion, Morgan led the feature race field through the opening lap, only for the race to be halted on lap two when Maroske looped in turn two and sent the field scattering before being collected by Kratzmann, who took no further part. Maroske, meanwhile, rejoined at the rear for the restart but would ultimately exit the race on lap 20. Back underway and Kelly was the big mover, advancing from 10th to be fifth after five laps before moving into fourth on lap 11. Meanwhile, having moved ahead of Dean for second, Gee was closing in on Morgan and the margin dwindled as the two young guns headed into lapped traffic. Morgan repelled every Gee advance and was still in control when Woods spun to a halt in the main straight with eight laps to run. The restart ensured clear track for the leaders and it seemed as though Morgan had the race safely in his keeping. Gee, of course, had other ideas and was ultimately rewarded for his refusal to give up when the merest moment of hesitation from Morgan through turn three on the final lap proved an invitation that Gee could not refuse, surging underneath and emerging from turn four with the lead and leaving Morgan to rue what could have been. Dean completed his best night of the season with a third-place finish ahead of Kelly, with Ely delivering a strong result as a substitute for series leader Kevin Titman. The final restart proved a godsend for McNamara who, following a spin early in the race from which he was able to extract himself without causing a restart, he found himself towards the back of the field and in danger of going a lap in arrears. During the final segment, he started picking off his rivals and would eventually rebound to sixth ahead of Walker, Woods, Pholi and Bonsey. Next came Farrell, Corbett, Gowland and Butler, with Genrich the only other finisher.
Heat wins in round four of the Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship were shared between McKinnell, Bruce Marshall, Kevin Stow and Australian champion Matt Hardy. Such was McKinnell’s confidence heading into the feature race, he opted to start from the outside front row as top qualifier, handing pole position to Hardy. The decision proved a masterstroke in that McKinnell easily outpaced Hardy off the line and assumed the lead. McKinnell held the top spot until lap 10 when Durston, having rounded up Hardy two laps earlier, swept to the front. McKinnell survived a moment in turn two when he was squeezed for room and launched off a lapped car, dropping two spots as he bounced back to earth. McKinnell wasted no time in charging back to second spot as Potts, having spent 10 frustrating laps behind Miller, broke free and set off after the leaders, moving to third when Hardy headed infield on lap 15. Despite the best efforts of McKinnell and Potts, Durston remained in control of the lead through to the chequer as a final lap pass moved Tomkins to fourth ahead of Miller, with Lewis Gamble, Kev Stow, Michael Denning, Terry Pankhurst and Spano Gutierrez the best of the rest.
In a small field of Compact Speedcars, Robbie Stewart played a waiting game in the feature race as Connor McCullough led the early stages before retiring to the infield and handing the lead to Mark Maczek. Stewart pounced on the penultimate lap to usurp Maczek from the lead, with Trent Usher snaring third ahead of Dave Collins, Richard Rooke and the only other finisher in newcomer David Everitt.
On the back of two heat wins, Wayne Kirkman followed up to win the RSA Outlaw Sedans feature race, downing Glen Leslie and Michael Taylor. In the Limited Sedan ranks, it was Adrian Browne who prevailed over Aaron Buchanan and Brock Armstrong.
In the Ford vs Holden vs Sigma sedan feature race, Bernie Wright would emerge victorious in advance of Daniel Wright, Terry Russell and Kim Dack.
The Formula 500 Juniors served up some very spirited racing that resulted in heat wins for Boyd Chaffey (2), Ryan Newton and Jy Corbet, with Taylor Morgan and Kacy-Lee Black very much in the thick of the action.
The next event at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is on Boxing Night (December 26) and will feature USA star Donny Schatz in round seven of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship, along with Monster Trucks, Midgets, Modlites and Formula 500 Juniors.
Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is proudly supported by:
East Coast Logistics
Queensland Speedway Spares