Oldfield stumbles and Schatz wins again
American Sprintcar superstar Donny Schatz started his New Year in the best possible fashion with his third consecutive feature race win in round nine of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Wednesday night (January 1). In what proved to be his toughest test yet on this current tour, Schatz inherited the race lead when Luke Oldfield, who has been the only driver to seriously challenge Schatz so far this season and had taken over the lead on lap 13, climbed the wall in turn four and was forced out with a flat tyre with only 10 laps left to run. After leading early and being shuffled back to fourth at one stage, Kevin Titman rebounded to secure a runner-up result ahead of Andrew Scheuerle, with Allan Woods advancing from position 10 to finish fourth ahead of Cody Maroske, Karl Hoffmans, Adam Butler and Brock Dean.
In the Paul Britten 44 Memorial Dirt Modified feature race, Andrew Pezzutti put in a stellar drive from position 15 to score a popular win in a race that never fails to deliver as drivers surge from the rear of the field. Mitchell Randall and Brayd Stephenson filled the minor placings ahead of Mark Robinson, with David Clark next best of the backmarkers, climbing from 16th to finish fifth.
The Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship round five feature race saw Lee McKinnell emerge victorious over dual state titleholder Tony Blanch, with Australian champ Matt Hardy falling to third after leading early.
A 24-car field signed in for Sprintcar time trials and it was Oldfield who topped the timesheets to secure KRE Quick Time, clocking a best lap of 11.813 to outpace Scheuerle (11.916), Schatz (11.956) and Brent Kratzmann (11.995), who again found himself out of luck come feature race time. Mark Pholi and Karl Hoffmans were next quickest ahead of Titman and Mitchell Gee, with Callum Walker and Tim Farrell rounding out the top ten.
The opening heat of the night went to Woods as Oldfield surged from position six to finish second ahead of Andrew Corbet.
Toowoomba youngster Nicholas Whell held firm in the face of pressure from Gee to take out the second heat, with Gee finishing second but then never to be seen again for the rest of the night. Pholi finished third, but Bryan Mann enjoyed a far less successful start to the night, rolling over in turn four after contact with Scheuerle, who would also fail to finish as a result of another incident on the final lap.
Maroske made the most of a front row start in heat three, leading throughout to defeat Schatz, who emulated Oldfield in advancing from sixth to second, leaving Ryan McNamara third at the flag.
Oldfield was in a class of his own in heat four, again surging from position six to lead after just four laps and then clearing away to finish more than five seconds clear of Tim Farrell, with Andrew Baumber keeping Titman at bay to secure third.
Andrew Corbet led the opening lap of heat five before Dean took over momentarily, only to find himself unable to respond when Schatz, who had also started from the outside of row three, swept to the front on lap five despite a damaged top wing. Dean would fall to third by races end as Maroske moved to second on lap seven.
The final heat of the night fell in favour of McNamara in advance of Scheuerle and Kristy Bonsey.
Bonsey was back on track to contest the B Main and she never really faced any real competition on her run to victory, leading Corbet, Adam Butler and Mann in making the transfer into the feature race.
Having been gifted a front row start in the Trax Tyres and Auto Dash during the pre-race grid draw, Titman took full advantage of his good fortune to secure pole position for the main event. Pholi filled second spot ahead of Oldfield and Schatz, with Scheuerle, Kratzmann, Farrell and Maroske completing the field.
Titman got the best of the feature race start while his front row partner in Pholi was quickly shuffled back as Oldfield, Schatz, Scheuerle and Farrell moved ahead, with Woods also advancing after starting 10th. Mann was the first casualty, heading infield with a flat tyre on lap two and the first interruption came on lap six when Farrell hit the wall and was collected by the luckless Kratzmann, putting both cars on the infield. Titman continued to lead from the restart until Oldfield pounced on lap 13 to take over the front running and set about distancing himself from the field. Two laps later, Schatz also moved ahead of Titman, who would drop another spot to Scheuerle before regaining lost ground with a strong finish. Whilst Oldfield continued to hold sway at the front of the field, Schatz was closing in and a thrilling finish was looming until, on lap 25, Oldfield jumped the cushion in turn three, climbed the wall in turn four and ground to a halt with a flat left rear tyre. In front for the restart with clear track, Schatz led the field away and would have to survive one more interruption with just a lap remaining following a spin from McNamara in turn two. The green-white-chequer sprint to the line proved costly for Scheuerle as Titman was able to make a pass to secure the runner-up spot, while Woods also made a late surge to snatch fourth from Maroske, who had dropped back early and was able to regain some lost spots as others exited, only to follow up with some bizarre post-race histrionics that left onlookers somewhat bemused. Karl Hoffmans impressed in finishing sixth ahead of the best of the B Main transferees in Butler, who was followed home by Dean, Walker, Pholi, Bonsey, Whell and McNamara.
Fresh from a feature race win in Lismore, Mitchell Randall proved too pacey in the opening Dirt Modfied heat, leading home Andrew Firth and Marley Weller.
With Australian champ Kevin Britten launching from pole position, heat two was a forgone conclusion from the outset and most interest lay in the action further back as Pezzutti and Clark worked their way into the minor placings. Klinton Hancey saw his night end before it really started, spinning in turn four before being hit by Roydon Alcorn and turned upside down.
After a lengthy absence from competition, Darren Latimer launched from the front row to lead heat three, only to spin in turn four on lap two. Zac McDonald took over the lead but headed infield on lap five, handing the win to Stephenson ahead of Chris Corbett and the USA-domiciled Peter Britten, making his first appearance at home in five years.
Clark downed Sam Bruggy and Randall to win heat four, with Pezzutti upstaging Robinson and Peter Britten in heat five.
The final heat saw Terry Leerentveld bounce back from misfortunes in hot laps and his opening heat to salvage a win, downing McDonald and Phil Roberts.
The B Main become somewhat unnecessary once Kaleb Webb spun in turn four on the opening lap while leading, resulting in both he and Ash Hall being eliminated and leaving just fours to complete the remaining laps. Alcorn would emerge as the victor, followed home by Trevor Wiley and Latimer.
The 6-lap Dash is always important at the Paul Britten 44 as it provides those taking part with an opportunity to accept an invitation to start from the rear in the 44-lap feature race. Whilst the Britten brothers were always going to start at the back of the race that commemorates their father, race winner David Clark and Andrew Pezzutti also took on the challenge, while Randall and Stephenson proved party poopers by electing to start from the front row.
The feature race only made it to turn four at the first attempted start because of a spin from Weller in turn four. Randall led the field away at the restart, leading Stephenson and Leerentveld through the opening laps. There was to be no fairytale homecoming for Peter Britten, a radiator leak ending his race on lap eight. By lap 10, Pezzutti had climbed to fifth from 15th, with Kevin Britten occupying eighth after starting from position 17. Stephenson swept into the lead on lap 16, only for Ranall to regain the ascendancy two laps later. By lap 20, Pezzutti had moved into second spot, with Britten now fourth and looking ominous. On lap 36, the lapped car of Trevor Wiley literally latched itself onto the rear bumper of Britten, who had just moved into second spot. Unable to dislodge his passenger, Britten found himself flung into the path of the pursuing pack in the back straight, with Clark and Robinson involved in the ensuing melee. His car a crumpled mess, Britten was out of the restart, while Robinson, Clark and Wiley were able to continue. In exactly the type of result that Paul Britten himself would have liked, Pezzutti became the latest to execute a back-to-front victory, leaving Randall to finish second ahead of Stephenson, Robinson and Clark, who started 16th. Bruggy and Roberts were next in line, with Wiley, David Blanch and Mark Connolly rounding out the top ten.
AMCA National heat race wins were shared between McKinnell, Bruce Marshall, Steve Price and Thomas Vickery, however it was a pair of runner-up results that landed Hardy on pole position for the feature race. Starting from the outside front row, presumably by choice after finishing as top qualifier, McKinnell pressured Hardy through the opening stages before assuming the lead and taking control of the race on lap six. Having failed to finish his second heat race, Blanch found himself starting from position nine but was able to make his way through the field with little resistance before rounding up Hardy to take over second spot on lap 15. Hardy fought back to reclaim the position before Blanch moved ahead again with three laps remaining to secure the runner-up result behind McKinnell. Hardy remained third at the flag, with Steve Potts fourth in advance of Marshall, Vickery, Paul Reeves and Nathan Tomkins.
Small fields in the sedan categories saw the two RSA Sedan classes combined with the Ford versus Holden versus Sigma contingent and the respective feature winners were Daniel Wright (FvHvS), Adrian Browne (Limited Sedans) and Michael Taylor (Outlaw Sedans).
Racing continues at Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (January 4) with round six of QSS World Series Sprintcars presented by Performance Wholesale and the return of Modified Sedans for the opening round of the Twin City Challenge, plus Compact Speedcars and Formula 500 Juniors.
Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway is proudly supported by:
East Coast Logistics
Queensland Speedway Spares