McHugh does it again, Kendall clinches Midget main
A late-race pass carried Lachlan McHugh to victory in round six of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (December 11), his second consecutive success in ECL competition at the Brisbane venue. Such has been the domination of McHugh and Luke Oldfield thus far in the 2021/2022 championship, former national champ Robbie Farr was drafted in to try and stop the rot, but he was only partially successful in his mission, unable to keep McHugh at bay but finishing second ahead of Oldfield by the merest of margins. Oldfield had swept into second with a lap to run, only for Farr to surge out of the final corner and snatch the runner-up result by just 0.003. Aaron Kelly again emerged as the next best of the series regulars, finishing in fourth spot more than four seconds adrift of the lead trio, with Ryan McNamara finding himself fifth at the flag, followed by Randy Morgan, Nicholas Whell, Tim Farrell, Adam Butler and Karl Hoffmans.
A superb TFH Midget feature saw Michael Kendall call upon all of his experience and skill to prevail in what proved a remarkable race, albeit one that was the cut shot in the wake of several restarts. Charlie Brown was at his spectacular best in securing second spot, while another thrilling finish saw Casey O’Connell squeezing between Brock Dean and the wall to snatch third as they swept under the chequer. Jayden Peacock, Rob Stewart and Scott Farmer were next best, with Brad Dawson and Darren Dillon the only other finishers.
With a couple of nominated drivers not fronting, 23 cars hit the track for Sprintcar time trial qualifying and, quite remarkably, it was Farr and Butler who set the early benchmark with identical times, having both stopped the clock at 12.166. However, they would ultimately find themselves shuffled down the order as McHugh would outpace the field with a best lap of 11.794 to secure KRE Quick Time, with Kelly (11.893) the only other to go under 12 seconds. Third quickest was Cody Maroske (12.026) ahead of Brent Kratzmann (12.075), Oldfield (12.129), Butler and Farr, with Morgan, Farrell and McNamara rounding out the top ten.
Substituting for Jy Corbet in the NQ10 MJ Smith Group Cool, Farr fell afoul of race officials in the opening heat when he sent Ryan Newton hard into the turn one wall and out of action for the rest of the night. Despite starting sixth, McHugh had assumed the lead after two laps and would finish more than eight seconds clear of Hoffmans. Despite being relegated to the rear for his earlier infraction, Farr certainly didn’t temper his aggression, climbing over the top of Dan Murray through turn four to secure third.
Heat two saw Whell lead throughout from the outside front row, followed home by Darren Jensen and Morgan.
Maroske somehow found himself facing the wrong way before reaching turn one in heat three, the SRV Road Freight Cool tipping over to bring about a restart. Farrell would chase down Jayden Peacock to grab a win, with Kratzmann finishing third.
McNamara prevailed in heat four over McHugh and Farr, with Oldfield advancing from the third row to take heat five in advance of Peacock and Butler.
Ayers led throughout the final heat except when it mattered most, rounded up by Morgan on the final lap, with Maroske bouncing back to finish third.
It was again Ayers leading the way in the B Main and this time he held the spot through to the finish, with Andrew Baumber, Mitch Gowland and Allan Woods securing the remaining transfers into the feature race, although fifth-placed Tarhlia Apelt would also secure a start in the main event.
As top qualifier from the heats, McHugh drew a 8-car inversion for the Spanloc Dash, putting himself and Oldfield on the back row. Gifted a front row start, Farr would lead throughout to finish ahead of Butler, with McHugh and Oldfield advancing in unison to finish third and fourth. Kratzmann, Maroske, Kelly and Morgan completed the field.
The feature race was over for Maroske before it even began when he again found trouble in turn one. A spin from Baumber in turn one on lap two halted proceedings again and, when he repeated the performance just a lap later in the same spot, he found himself directed to the infield. Farr set the pace at the front of the field, with McHugh and Oldfield quickly moving ahead of Butler. With Farr and McHugh running high on the track, Oldfield opted for the bottom, which was an unusual scenario that would see him under pressure from Kratzmann, who actually slipped ahead momentarily at one stage, only to find himself in a tangle with the lapped car of Apelt in turn three on lap 17 that put both cars on the grass. When Peacock climbed the turn four wall with 11 laps remaining to halt proceeding s for the final time, Farr continued to lead McHugh and Oldfield, with Kelly now fourth ahead of Morgan, McNamara and the backsliding Butler, who started alongside Farr on the front row. A few laps from home, McHugh made his move and, whilst his initial slide-job failed to stick, he would prove successful on the next attempt, nudging the main straight wall before diving under Farr through turn one to emerge with the lead as they hit the back straight. Oldfield also moved ahead of Farr and whilst it certainly looked as though he finished second, the timing proved otherwise and Farr clinched the runner-up spot by just .003 in a frantic finish. As was the case at the previous round, Kelly was the best of the rest, in fourth spot on this occasion, with McNamara advancing to fifth after starting on the outside of row five. Morgan, Whell and Farrell were next in line, leaving Butler, Hoffmans, Gowland and Jensen as the remaining finishers.
The opening heat of Petzyo Development Sprintcars saw Jason Bottin establish what looked a winning lead, only for him to be chased down and relegated by Dan Moes and Harry Stewart, the latter having advanced from the outside of row four.
It was subsequently no surprise to see Stewart clear away to win the second heat, downing Moes and Erin Vanderreyden.
Moes proved too quick in the feature (C Main), leading all the way to down Stewart and Vanderreyden who, having finally cast aside the bad luck that has plagued her, delivered on the potential she has teased so many times before. Libby Ellis and Brad Keiler rounded out the first five ahead of Leigh Holman, Tyson Lochwood and Craig Hyde
Round three of the TFH Midget Series promised plenty with a strong entry list and it more than delivered with some outstanding action. Brock Dean made an early statement in time trials, finishing more than half a second quicker than anybody else as the only driver to drop under 14 seconds. With Scott Farmer and Michael Kendall next quickest ahead of Charlie Brown, Jayden Peacock, Casey O’Connell and Lachlan Paulger, it was hardly a surprise that all of these drivers would be in the thick of the action come feature race time.
In the opening heat it was Brown who bested the field, chasing down Darren Dillon to assume the lead on lap seven, with Darren Vine home third.
Brendan Palmer prevailed in heat two over Dean and Kendall, with Farmer proving too fast in heat three with a win in advance of Kendall and Palmer.
The final heat of the night went to Peacock over Brown and Dean who, as top qualifier for the feature race would subsequently draw an eight car inversion for the 25-lapper.
Dylan Menz inherited pole position for the TFH feature race, with Paulger alongside. Palmer and Peacock would launch from row two, followed by Kendall, Farmer, Brown, Dean and the rest. At the green, Menz edged ahead momentarily before Paulger charged around the outside to assume the lead. With Paulger running strongly up against the fence, Menz found himself under enormous pressure with positions constantly changing amongst those battling behind him. The first interruption came on lap five when Peacock threw away his chances of scoring back-to-back TFH feature race wins with a spin in turn four. Only one more lap was in the books before Jesse Harris looped in the same spot to slow the field again. Immediately upon resumption, Kendall rounded up Menz to grab second, with Palmer, Farmer, Dean and Brown now joined by 11th-starting Casey O’Connell in an expanded battle pack. Farmer spun himself out of contention in turn one on lap eight and was collected by Darren Vine, with both men resuming at the back of the pack. Green again and Kendall pounced to snatch the lead from Paulger, who refused to entertain the idea of abandoning the cushion. At this stage, both Palmer and Dean had moved ahead of Menz, with Brown and O’Connell poised to pounce. Once again only a solitary lap was completed before the next interruption as a result of another spin from Harris, who retreated to the infield. Underway once more and the fight was really heating up as both Palmer and Dean moved ahead of Paulger, while O’Connell relegated Brown, who had switched to the bottom and was paying the price. Another interruption came on lap 14 when Brad Dawson flipped out on the infield in turn two, only to be righted and restarted. Menz and Vine exited at this stage and, just two laps into the resumption, Palmer threw in the towel to join them on the infield. Bored with life on the pole line, Brown shifted back up-track and promptly rounded up O’Connell and Paulger to move into third. Unfortunately for Paulger, his great run ended with a spectacular wipe-out through turn four that triggered a final restart and left officials with little choice but to reduce the race distance with a green-white-chequer restart. Whilst Kendall remained in control to the end, Brown wasn’t done yet and rounded up Dean to secure second spot. A frantic final flurry from O’Connell saw him edge Dean for third by just 0.32 in a photo finish, while the myriad restarts enabled Peacock to climb back to fifth and, with Glenn Prowse and Northern Territorian John Murdie also failing to go the distance, Rob Stewart, Farmer, Dawson and Dillon were the only other survivors.
The big three were back in form for round four of the Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship with Bruce Marshall, Steve Potts and Steve Price fighting it out to determine the podium order in the feature race. With two heat wins, Potts started from pole position, but it was Price who led the opening six circulations before being rounded up by Potts and Marshall on consecutive laps. Potts held sway out front for another 10 laps before Marshall, who also clocked a heat win, took over on lap 16, only for Potts to fight back and lead laps 17 and 18. Through turn four with two laps to run, Marshall slipped underneath Potts to execute what would prove to be the winning pass. Price was untroubled in third, with Kevin Stow more than three seconds back in fourth spot. Brett Robotham filled fifth ahead of Troy Price, who was the only other heat winner, with Maverick Dack, Scott Hitchcock, Shane Stacey and Robert Warne the best of the rest.
It was a much tougher task than his win in the previous round two weekends ago, but Robert Mazzer again outgunned his rivals to win the QSS / Performance Wholesale Wingless Sprint feature race. Starting sixth, Mazzer steadily worked his way forward and by lap 10 he had advanced to second spot behind Ian Milnes, who had wrested the lead from Dave Sansby five laps earlier. On lap 13, Mazzer moved to the front and a restart with two laps remaining when Josh Thompson tipped over in turn three proved inconsequential as Mazzer made easy work of the dash to the flag to win two on the trot. Milnes remained second, with Steve Pilkington home third ahead of Ben Manson, Sansby, Chris Catchpole, James Grady, Stuart Jefferies and Lance Dawson.
Heat winners were Catchpole, Manson, Milnes and Sansby, whose third-place result in his other heat was enough to see him start the feature from pole position.
With a much smaller field than expected, round four of the Boss Hogg Steakhouse/SCA Racewear Compact Speedcar Club Championship proved an easy night out for Matt O’Neill. After completely dominating the heats with three emphatic wins, it came as no surprise that O’Neill would also go on to win the 15-lap feature race. Dave Collins actually led the first 10 laps before O’Neill pounced, with Trent Usher, Andy Kimm and Richard Treanor rounding out the top five. Tim Devine, Dion Wilson, Luke Williams and Brock Byrne were the only other finishers.
The next meeting at Archerfield Speedway is the annual Boxing Night Spectacular on December 26 featuring round seven of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and round four of the TFH Midget Series, plus Monster Trucks, Fireworks, Wingless Sprints, Modlites and Lightning Sprints.