After coming close to winning multiple times last year and falling just short, the pieces finally came together as Chris Morrow picked up the victory in the Spring Derby 100 presented by Great Lakes Concrete at Sunset Speedway.
“We’re back,” Morrow said in his victory lane post-race interview with track announcer Spencer Lewis. “The car was awesome, I was just trying to ride for as long as we could, and here we are back in victory lane”.
Morrow kicked off the day, topping the charts in time trials behind the wheel of his No. 11 Morrow Electric, Advanced Landscapes, Contractor Rental Supply and Duraflo Late Model with a lap of 14.811 seconds. Dwayne Baker (14.851) qualified second, followed by Sean Cronan (14.885), Mike Bentley (14.913) and Nick Goetz (14.981). Scott Beatty (14.985) was sixth, followed by Tom Walters (14.995), Jason Hathaway (15.019), Taylor Holdaway (15.021) and rookie Steven Wilson (15.026).
Joshua Stade was 11th, followed by Dario Capirchio, Paul Maltese, Jason Witty, Tyler Liscum, Gary Elliott, Ron Quesnelle and Billy Zardo (15.244). Those drivers would lock themselves in the main event with the rest of the drivers sent to the b-main.
When it came time for the b-main, it’d be Sauble Speedway regular Jason Parker scoring the win ahead of Ryan Kimball, Mat Box, Frank Davey, Bruce Rankin, Thayne Hallyburton, Ernie Fumerton and Brittney Gresel. Failing to qualify for the show was Kyle Passer, Travis Hallyburton, Jarrod Ranson and Mike Wilkenson. Fumerton would give up his spot in the show, though, which allowed Passer to make the cut.
With Morrow being top qualifier in time trials, he’d get dice roll for the event to set the invert, rolling an 11. As a result, Dario Capirchio would start pole in his No. 03 Groundwork Drilling and Signs of Innovation Late Model. Joshua Stade would start second, followed by Steven Wilson, Taylor Holdaway, Jason Hathaway, Tom Walters, Scott Beatty, Nick Goetz, Mike Bentley, Sean Cronan, Dwayne Baker, Chris Morrow, Paul Maltese, Jason Witty, Tyler Liscum, Ron Quesnelle, Gary Elliott, Billy Zardo, Jason Parker, Ryan Kimball, Mat Box, Frank Davey, Thayne Hallyburton, Bruce Rankin, Kyle Passer and Brittney Gresel.
Capirchio would get out ahead of the field early in the race while Holdaway and Walters quickly moved themselves up the running order, bumping Stade back to fourth by lap four ahead of Hathaway. Caprichio would lead all the way till the lap nine caution when Kimball would stall on the track with heavy front end damage. Kimball would use the caution to come down pit road and remove the hood, among other repairs.
On the restart, Capirchio once again got out infront of Holdaway while Bentley began searching for third on Walters. Bentley would make his way by and move into third by lap 25, while Beatty moved up to fifth ahead of Witty, Baker, Cronan, Hathaway and Goetz.
Capirchio held down the lead solidly till at lap 31, when Taylor Holdaway would drive his No. 41 Downing Roofing, ImageFactor.ca, Ontario Oval, Castrol Edge, Holdaway Automotive, Kleen-Flo, Thor Motors Orillia LTD and Sunshine Super Wash in Orillia Late Model to the lead. Bentley would then get by Capirchio for second by lap 39 while Beatty moved into fourth, followed by Witty, Baker, Cronan and Morrow as Walters began to fade.
Unfortunately, Billy Zardo wouldn’t have the feature that he was looking for after his break-out season last year as he pitted under green at lap 42. Three laps later, trouble would also strike for Bruce Rankin as he went for a spin to bring out the caution, collecting Elliott in the process.
On the restart, Holdaway and Bentley held serve at the front of the field while Baker, Cronan, Morrow and Witty all got by Beatty for position before the second caution at lap 50 for Quesnelle spinning in turn two.
At the halfway mark with 50 laps to go, Holdaway led Bentley, Baker, Cronan, Morrow, Witty, Beatty, Capirchio, Goetz, Wilson and Hathaway.
On the restart, Mike Bentley would get the advantage in his No. 51 Streamline Race Products Mustang as he grabbed the lead with Cronan sliding through to second before the third caution at lap 54 for Passer spinning in turn three. Witty, who was running inside the top seven at the time, made his way down pit road under the yellow due to officials believing that he was leaking fuel on to the track. Witty would receive some adjustments and rejoin the field. With 46 laps to go, Bentley now led Cronan, Holdaway, Morrow, Baker, Capirchio, Beatty, Goetz, Wilson, Parker and Holdaway.
On the restart, Cronan would slide high through turn four, climb the frontstretch wall, before coming back down on all four wheels and keep going. In the aftermath behind them, Gresel, Zardo and Witty would get together to bring out the caution once again.
The second attempt at a restart brought forth the fifth caution as Walters and Davey got together. with the shuffling of the pair of restarts, Bentley continued to lead with Holdaway now second ahead of Cronan, Morrow, Baker, Capirchio, Beatty, Goetz, Parker, Wilson and Box.
The third attempt at a restart went cleanly as Bentley pulled ahead of Holdaway while Morrow got by Cronan for third. Baker was the next driver set to attempt to get by Cronan when he had a flat tire on lap 60, sliding up the track and making contact with Capirchio, resulting in Capirchio spinning for the sixth caution. Baker would get the tire replaced while Capirchio would be done for the afternoon.
With 40 laps to go, Bentley led Holdaway, Morrow, Cronan, Beatty, Goetz, Wilson, Parker, Liscum, Hathaway, Witty and Walters.
On the restart, Parker would get by Wilson for seventh while Liscum slipped back some spots as Hathaway, Walters and Witty went on by. Witty continued his charge after pitting earlier, making his way up to eighth by lap 71 ahead of Walters, Hathaway and Wilson. Liscum’s afternoon came to an end at lap 74 as he pitted with problems. Three laps later, Walters ran into problems as well as he made heavy contact with the frontstretch wall, resulting in broken right front suspension parts and his day ending early. With 23 laps to go, Bentley led Holdaway, Morrow, Cronan, Beatty, Goetz, Parker, Witty, Wilson, Baker, Hathaway, Kimball, Davey, Box, Maltese and Stade.
On the restart, Witty’s charge to the front continued as he moved into fifth by lap 80 ahead of Goetz, Beatty, Baker, Parker and Wilson.
At lap 81, there’d be another change for the lead as Holdaway was able to slip by Bentley to move back into first. The top five then stayed the same till lap 85 with Baker passing Goetz and Beatty to move into sixth. The race wouldn’t go green to the end as a caution flew at lap 90 for Maltese spinning in turn two. With 10 to go, Holdaway led Bentley, Morrow, Cronan, Witty, Goetz, Beatty, Wilson, Kimball, Parker and Hathaway.
On the restart, Holdaway would slide up into turn two, opening up the bottom lane which allowed Morrow to make it three-wide and pass the pair of them down the backstretch for the lead. Morrow would lead till the final caution of the race at lap 93 for Goetz going around virtue of contact from Beatty. Baker caught some damage with the caution flew as he ripped the right front of his bumper significantly, resulting in him having to head down pit road for repairs.
On the final restart with seven laps to go, Chris Morrow was able to hold off Bentley’s charge to pick up the victory. Mike Bentley got second while Jason Witty slipped by Taylor Holdaway for third in the late laps. Rookie Steven Wilson rounded out the top five in his first Late Model start.
Sean Cronan finished sixth, followed by Ryan Kimball, Jason Parker, Jason Hathaway, Mat Box, Frank Davey, Paul Maltese, Nick Goetz, Scott Beatty, Dwayne Baker, Josh Stade, Gary Elliott, Brittney Gresel, Bruce Rankin, Kyle Passer, Thayne Hallyburton, Tom Walters, Tyler Liscum, Dario Capirchio, Billy Zardo and Ron Quesnelle.