Schatz seeking three in a row
Sprintcar action returns to Ausdeck Archerfield Speedway on Wednesday night (January 1) with round nine of the East Coast Logistics Track Championship to welcome in the New Year. Having won the previous two rounds in contrasting fashion, 10-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz will be chasing his third feature race win within seven days. On Saturday night, Schatz delivered a dazzling display to win round eight of the championship from position 14 as the first driver so far this season to accept the BK Trading Challenge and invert the feature race field after qualifying on pole position. On Wednesday night, more than 20 other drivers will again take on the challenge of subduing Schatz, with Luke Oldfield thus far emerging as the man most likely to upstage the American star. Californian Dominic Scelzi was also scheduled to appear on Wednesday night, but a family illness has unfortunately prevented him making the trip to Australia.
Also on the program will be the Paul Britten 44 Memorial for Dirt Modifieds, with a strong entry list secured for what is the most prestigious non-championship race on the annual Dirt Modified calendar, while AMCA Nationals will contest round five of the Shock Absorber Therapy Track Championship. RSA Sedans and Ford vs Holden vs Sigma sedans and Fireworks will also feature on another variety-packed program.
Whilst Schatz has been unstoppable in the last two rounds of Sprintcar Track Championship racing, Oldfield has been the shining light amongst the locals, emerging as Schatz’s biggest threat in both events. Last Thursday, Oldfield out-qualified Schatz to start the feature race from pole position before ultimately finishing in second spot, while Saturday night saw Oldfield again chasing Schatz, although this time they had to fight their way through the field. Whilst others who found their qualifying position upended as a result of the inversion struggled to make forward progress, Oldfield was able to advance to third spot to join Schatz on the podium once again. Will it be a Schatz versus Oldfield battle once more on Wednesday night, or is there somebody else ready to step up and prevent Schatz from again marching into victory lane?
As the reigning national titleholder and track champion, Andrew Scheuerle is obviously a threat and, having finished third in round seven behind Schatz and Oldfield, he will be far from satisfied with his 10th-place finish on Saturday night and determined to show that the Australia #1 can match it with the best in the world. Of the rest, Callum Walker, Kevin Titman and Cody Maroske have been the standouts, although both Bryan Mann and Brent Kratzmann have produced plenty of pace but have been without much luck, while the addition of Mitchell Gee is a boost to the local chances given the fact that he is the only driver other than Schatz to have scored two feature race wins at Archerfield this season.
With no less than five Australian Championship winners in the field, the Paul Britten 44 is shaping as an epic showdown once again. With a unique format that, more often than not, sees the big names racing from the rear of the field, the event serves as the ultimate showcase for Dirt Modified racing. Now racing professionally in America, Peter Britten has returned home to contest the event that commemorates the contribution of his father as an administrator and passionate advocate of the category. A three-time national champion, Peter will face off against his younger brother Kevin, a familiar face at Archerfield competing in Sprintcars and Dirt Modifieds, who is the current Australian titleholder and the only person to have won the Australian Dirt Modified Championship four years in a row.
Add three more former national champs in Mark Robinson, David Clark and Andrew Pezzutti into the mix and you have the five top drivers in the country ready to do battle. If they negotiate their way through the qualifying heats and secure a place in the Dash, they will be afforded an invitation to start from the rear of the field in the 44-lap feature. Past years have seen most drivers accept the offer and it has rarely proved an obstacle in ultimately emerging victorious. Others who should fancy their chances include Mitchell Randall and Marley Weller, both of whom are fresh from feature race wins at Lismore and Grafton respectively, along with Sam Bruggy, Trent Scofield, Chris Corbett, Dale Corbett and a couple of prolific feature race winners from the Modlite ranks in Klinton Hancey and Terry Leerentveld.
With Matt Hardy, Tony Blanch, Steve Potts, Steve Price, Lee McKinnell and Thomas Vickery in the field, it seems inevitable that the AMCA National racing is going to be spectacular. The control-spec class has served up some sensational action so far this season and this sextet of speedsters will find themselves under plenty of pressure from the likes of Paul Reeves, Tim Gamble, Nathan Tomkins and former Sprintcar and Super Sedan competitor Bruce Marshall, who was impressive at the previous round until his challenge was curtailed by a flat tyre.
Backing up just four nights after a wild night of racing, RSA Sedan numbers are down somewhat, with the Taylor family expected to dominate the results, while the lone Mitsubishi of Daniel Wright will be outnumbered but undaunted in the Ford vs Holden vs Sigma racing.
Gates open at 4.00pm (3.30pm for online ticketholders), with early racing from 5.00pm. Sprintcar time trial qualifying is scheduled for 5.30pm and the main program, which will get underway from 6.00pm.
East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship round eight nominations: Adam Butler, Allan Woods, Andrew Baumber, Andrew Corbet, Andrew Scheuerle, Anthony Vanderreyden, Brent Kratzmann, Brock Dean, Brodie Tulloch, Bryan Mann, Callum Walker, Cody Maroske, David Kenway, Donny Schatz, Jai Stephenson, Karl Hoffmans, Kevin Titman, Kristy Bonsey, Libby Ellis, Luke Oldfield, Mark Pholi, Mitchell Gee, Nicholas Whell, Ryan McNamara, Tim Farrell
Dirt Modified Paul Britten 44 Memorial nominations: Andrew Firth, Andrew Pezzutti, Ash Hall, Brayd Stephenson, Chris Corbett, Dale Corbett, David Blanch, David Clark, Kaleb Webb, Kevin Britten, Klinton Hancey, Mark Connelly, Mark Robinson, Marley Weir, Mitchell Randall, Peter Britten, Phil McNamara, Phil Roberts, Sam Bruggy, Terry Leerentveld, Trent Schofield, Trevor Wiley, Zac McDonald
Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Nationals Track Championship round five nominations: Ben Anderson, Brett Robotham, Bruce Marshall, Chris Wilson, Dallas Czerwinski, Graeme Holland, Kevin Stow, Lee McKinnell, Matt Hardy, Nathan Tomkins, Paul Reeves, Russ Hardy, Scott Hitchcock, Steve Potts, Steve Price, Thomas Vickery, Tim Gamble, Tony Blanch
RSA Sedan Nominations: Adrian Browne, Brad White, Chris Van Der Ryken, Daniel Taylor, Michael Laver, Michael Taylor, Peter Van Lissum, Russell Davis, Scott Taylor, Shannon Knight
Ford vs Holden vs Sigma nominations: Dallas Dack, Daniel Hillhouse, Daniel Wright, Jake Besgrove, Kevin Maher, Kim Dack, Maverick Dack, Terry Russell, Will Kelly
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