McHugh gets it done
Gold Coast gun Lachlan McHugh joined the ever growing list of Sprintcar feature race winners at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway this season when he survived a series of late-race restarts to win round 12 of the East Coast Logistics Track Championship on Saturday night (February 29). Following his win in the previous round, Kevin Titman maintained his fine form to finish second ahead of Mitchell Gee Ryan McNamara and Callum Walker.
A big field fronted for round seven of the Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship and it was Lee McKinnell who prevailed in the feature, leading home Tony Blanch and Matt Hardy.
Dave Fanning and Bodie Smith prevailed in the Lightning Sprint and Compact Speedcar feature races respectively, while a packed program that saw 41 events completed well before the track curfew also produced feature race wins for Ben Robertson (Open Sedans), Glen Leslie (RSA Sedans), Ryan Newton (Formula 500 Juniors) and Barrie Tasker (Nostalgia Sedans).
In a scenario that proved quite prophetic in that all three would lead the feature race at some stage, it was McHugh (11.863) who edged out Luke Oldfield (11.668) and Brent Kratzmann (11.755) in Sprintcar qualifying to secure KRE Quick Time. Bryan Mann (11.844), Gee (11.917) and Adam Butler (11.933) were the only others to go under 12 seconds, with Walker, Aaron Kelly, Kristy Bonsey and Karl Hoffmans completing the top ten.
Mitch Gowland launched perfectly from the outside row in the opening heat and was untroubled in leading throughout to down Andrew Corbet and Bonsey.
McNamara motored home from pole position to win heat two in advance of Titman and Rob Hamilton, while Oldfield advanced from eighth to finish fourth.
While Corbet was untroubled out front in winning heat three, it was Oldfield once again on the charge from the fourth row, this time making it into the runner-up position ahead of McNamara.
The final heat of the night produced the closest finish as Nicholas Whell held on to down Titman by a narrow margin, with Kelly clinching third.
The pre-race grid draw for the Trax Tyre and Auto Dash proved fruitful for Kratzman and Whell as they secured the front row berths ahead of top qualifier Oldfield, Titman, McHugh, Kelly, Gee and Corbet. In the 6-lap sprint, Kratzmann was untroubled in leading throughout as Oldfield, Titman and McHugh would all find their way past Whell and finish in that order, leaving Gee, Kelly and Corbet to complete the field.
After a wretched start to the night that saw him fail to record a time in qualifying and subsequently anchored at the rear of the heat race grids, Tim Farrell stormed from seventh to win the East Coast Logistics B Main. Early leader Mitch Gowland finished in second spot, leaving Anthony Lambert and Brock Dean to secure the final transfers into the main event.
Sharing the front row for the feature, both Kratzmann and Oldfield were seeking to secure their second feature race win for the season and they both had every opportunity to do exactly that as Kratzmann launched best to lead the opening lap, only to succumb to Oldfield on lap two. Having wasted no time in distancing himself from Kratzmann, Oldfield saw his victory hopes evaporate when he spun to a halt in turn four to trigger a restart that would see him resume from the rear. On a mission to avenge his previous round result when a late-race penalty relegated him to fourth, McHugh charged to the front, leaving Kratzmann to fend off a pursuing pack comprising Titman, Walker, Corbet and Kelly. When Kratzmann rode the wall and crashed out on lap 19, Oldfield had already climbed back to eighth and was poised to pounce from the ensuing restart. With McHugh continuing to lead, Titman was now second ahead of Corbet and Gee as Oldfield zoomed into fifth before Butler stopped in turn three to halt proceedings again. Once underway, Oldfield was immediately on the move and charged underneath both Gee and Corbet along the back straight to snatch third, only for contact between Oldfield and Corbet to send the latter upside down in turn three. Whilst Corbet would restart from the rear and soldier on with a damaged top wing, Oldfield headed to the infield to end what had been another crowd-pleasing charge. Gee now found himself third, but the race only made it through one more circulation before a Kelly spin in turn four brought about another restart, during which Bonsey somehow found herself facing the wrong way in turn four before the field had even taken the green. Back underway for the final time, McHugh held firm at the front to defeat Titman, Gee, McNamara, Walker and Mann. In a mighty drive through the field, Farrell continued his B Main heroics to advance from 13th to seventh. Anthony Lambert and a recovering Kelly were next in line, followed to the flag by Whell, Bonsey, Dean, Gowland, Butler, Hoffmans and Corbet, leaving Oldfield and Kratzmann as the non-finishers.
Ron Hendrickson took out the opening heat of the Petzyo Development Sprintcars in advance of Jason King and Daniel Helmore, with Libby Ellis taking heat two from Hendrickson and Jason King.
Whilst the first of the AMCA Nationals heats produced a remarkable result for Blanch as he destroyed the field to finish 14 seconds clear of the field, the remaining heats were much more closely contested events from which Lee McKinnell emerged with pole position for the feature as a result of two wins. Other heat winners were Hardy, Steve Potts and Troy Price and, with 22 cars hitting the track for the feature, lapped traffic was always going to be a factor. McKinnell immediately assumed the lead and it wasn’t long before he reached the backmarkers. Although his margin fluctuated at times as the pursuing trio of Blanch, Potts and Hardy took advantage of the congestion without being able to wrest the lead, McKinnell maintained his advantage to the chequer, eventually finishing less than a second ahead of second-placed Blanch. A final lap pass propelled Hardy into third ahead of Potts, with Bruce Marshall, Thomas Vickery, Tim Gamble, Michael Denning, Graeme Holland and Scott Hitchcock rounded out the top ten.
Following heat wins to Dave Fanning, Scott Jukes and Keith Blatch, it was Fanning who outgunned the field to win round 10 of the Stockmans Civil and Plant Lightning Sprint feature Club Championship. Having led the first eight laps of the feature, Blatch ultimately found himself unable to keep pace with Fanning and had to settle for second place ahead of Kirsty Kelly, Jason Rae, Darren Baldwin and Tyler Stralow, who looked on track for a podium finish before slowing in the final laps.
Bodie Smith won the opening two Compact Speedcar preliminaries and then Bernie Clarke won the remaining heat before Smith trounced the field in the Boss Hoggs Steakhouse feature race. Midget ace Michael Kendall filled second spot in the feature, while third-placed Dave Collins was the only other driver to finish on the lead lap. Richard Treanor and Richard Rooke were the best of the rest in a small field.
Ben Robertson completed a clean sweep in the Open Sedan A events, winning both heats before leading home Brad Trussell, Glenn Willmott, Keith Craft and Les Eisenmenger in the feature race.
In the Open Sedan B ranks, Ricky Price and Greg Town snared a heat win apiece and then filled the top two spots in the feature, with Price leading Town, Hayden Grantz, Greg Akers and John Woolf to the flag.
Having won both heat races, Aaron Buchanan dominated the RSA Limited Sedans feature race, finishing more than seven seconds clear of Adrian Browne and Greg Trezise.
Glen Leslie and Michael Taylor shared the spoils in the RSA Outlaw Sedan heats before Leslie would go on to take the feature, leading home Michael Taylor, Daniel Taylor and Brad White.
The debut outing for Nostalgia Sedans resulted in a feature race win for Barrie Tasker, who also won all three heats. Ross Oliver and Eric Tasker filled the minor placings in the feature ahead of Anthony Harrison and Steve Foster.
Formula 500 heat wins were shared around between Ryan Newton, Kacy Lee Black and Jy Corbet before Newton would go on to win the feature race. Black bested Corbet to finish in second spot, followed home by Taylor Morgan and Jared Boys.
The next event at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is on Saturday, March 14 featuring round 13 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and round eight of the American Tire and Racing Services Midget Series, plus Wingless Sprints, Open Sedans, RSA Sedans and Ford versus Holden versus Sigma sedans.