Saturday, September 25, 2021

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Red Rocket Returns to Victory Lane at Barrie

By Dave Vokey

 After a two week hiatus, racing would return to Barrie Speedway on August 2 for Simcoe County Children’s Aid Night, as the return of on track action brought about a return to victory lane for longtime Wahta Springs Late Model division veteran #69 Al “Red Rocket” Inglis of Orillia. Inglis, would capture his first 30 lap feature win in nearly two calendar years, after pulling alongside point leader #10 Gord Shepherd of Oro Station with 8 laps remaining in the initial feature, just edging Shepherd out by a slender margin at the finish, in what was an epic display of tough and clean short track racing. In the second 30 lap feature, it was #31 Rick Walt of Hawkestone who captured his division leading 8th feature win of the season, holding onto a half straightaway lead over Shepherd, as both features would be run caution free, in with what was a night with numerous hotly contested on track duels. Heading into the final 10 features of the season, defending track champ Shepherd holds a 18 point advantage over #12 Dwight Brown of Beeton, while Walt sits third just 28 in back of the leader, as Inglis on the strength of his win and a hard fought 3rd place effort, faults to 4th in the tight standings just 41 points behind the division lead.
 In the first 30 lap affair it was #44 Rob Bromley who powered to the lead early, after working around pole sitter #5 Mike “The Hulkamaniac” Langley from the drop of the green. Quick to follow the Bromley progression along the outside line was the duo of #24 Leonard “The Bandit” Johnston and Shepherd, with Inglis also now in the mix after charging from 8th place on the grid to land in fourth just a handful of laps in. Bromley, would set a steady pace with laps in the 15.2 second range, keeping Johnston at bay in second, while the duo of Inglis and Shepherd were looking for racing room in behind. It was on lap ten the first lead change would occur, as Johnston would work around the outside of Bromley entering turn one, eventually leading the way for both Shepherd and Inglis to follow one lap later ,thus dropping Bromley back to fourth in the running order. On lap 14, it was Shepherd who took over the race lead, with a clean inside move on Johnston while racing out of turn two, as Inglis would follow that pass two laps later when Johnston would get slightly loose out of the same corner.
 With the race now in the it’s final half, perhaps the best battle on track was the race for 5th, as Brown and #00 Darryl St. Onge waged an impressive dice for that spot, as the duo also now raced right on the back bumper of Bromley for fourth. Brown, would eventually slip past Bromley on the inside line, as St. Onge was ever alert in following that progression to enter the top 5. At the front of the field, the race was beginning to hit a fevered pitch, as Inglis would pull along the top side of leader Shepherd entering turn one looking to wrestle away the race lead, with Shepherd battling back hard along the low side out of turn two on lap 25, as the fans sat on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the thrilling finish to come. Over the final five laps, Inglis and Shepherd would battle wheel to wheel with neither appearing to gain a clear cut advantage, while Johnston sat just a couple car lengths back in third, perhaps anticipating how the race would shake out before him.  With just two laps to go the wily Inglis would set sail on the outer groove, as his car seemed to stick like glue on the top side, with Shepherd again battling back hard along the inside, and Johnston sitting patiently in the pocket. Inglis and Shepherd would come to the line separated be mere inches, with 2010 track champion Inglis taking home one of the most memorable and emotional wins of his stellar career by a half car length over a very game Shepherd at the checkered. Johnston, would get his night off on solid footing with a workmanlike 3rd place effort, while St. Onge and Brown would round out the top five.
 In the 30 lap finale to the evening, it was again Bromley who snatched the point from the onset, this time with the duo of #49 “Flyin” Frank Davey and Walt following through along the outside of the 5 of Langley to land in 2nd and 3rd respectively. On lap 3, Walt would take over runner up positioning from Davey with an inside move entering turn 3, quickly setting his sights on leader Bromley who was free and clear by 2 car lengths at the front of the pack. Walt, would quickly reel in Bromley by lap six, executing a clean inside pass between turns 1&2. A short while later, Walt, would suddenly build up a half straightaway lead at the front of the field while clicking laps off in the 14.8 second range, with Shepherd now having fought his way to 2nd with an inside move on Bromley on exit of turn 4. Once again the man on the move nearing the 10 lap mark was the 69 of Inglis, as he too would slip past the 44 of Bromley to take over third in the running order. On lap 11, a familiar sight would occur, as the 12 of Brown and 00 of St. Onge were racing fast and furious for 5th, with Brown momentarily taking the spot with an inside pass in turn two.
 Nearing the midway point, it was again Brown who was beginning to make noise, relieving Bromley of fourth along the outside line in turn one, as St. Onge would once again follow that move to enter the top 5. Over the duration, Walt would appear to ease back on the throttle ever so slightly, perhaps saving his equipment for any potential late race dash to the finish, while Inglis was beginning to stalk Shepherd for 2nd a little further in behind. On lap 24, the action was again beginning to heat up between Brown and St. Onge for 4th, with the latter completing an impressive inside pass of Brown between turns 3&4 to assume control of that position. It was clear once out front nobody was catching the staunch #31 Chevy of Walt however, as the talented driver would parade to the win by a half straightway over his nearest competition at the finish. Shepherd, cap off a solid point night with his 2nd runner up finish of the evening, while Inglis, St. Onge, and Brown would comprise the remainder of the fast five.
 In St. Onge Recreation Pure Stock action, it was #68 Brandon Crumbie of Beeton who captured his 2nd feature victory of the season, as the talented driver is on a incredible run over the last few weeks, with a runner up finish having sandwiched his feature race wins. The race would begin with #64 “California” Dave Crumbie taking the lead from the outside pole position, after gaining the advantage on #31 Gil Brooks from the drop of the green. Also following through along the high side of the track was #24 Rick Butler, as he would dispose of Brooks for 2nd, with #09 Dean Curry quickly advancing to third with a daring three wide move under Brooks entering turn 3. On lap six, the younger Crumbie was beginning to make his presence felt, challenging Curry to the outside of turn two to eventually land in third, with current point leader #10 Doug Butler following that pass to take over 4th place positioning. Just one lap later, Crumbie would continue his charge towards the point, working around Rick Butler for 2nd, when the race’s first caution would fly on lap 8, as #6 Josh Inglis spun out of turn four while approaching the flagstand.
 This turn of events would set the stage for the the battle of the Crumbie’s for the restart, with father Dave manning the preferred pole position, and son Brandon having to take to the outer groove. When the race went green, Brandon Crumbie would take over the lead after a hard fought 2 lap wheel to wheel dice with his father, clearing his counterpart entering turn one on lap 10. The father/son duels would now end there however, as Rick and Doug Butler would make contact while racing for 3rd midway down the backstretch, causing both drivers to lose positioning along the way. Crumbie, was beginning to set a torrid pace at the front of the field, completing circuits in the 16.9 second range, while pulling out to a near half straightaway lead over father Dave, with defending track champ #77 Mike Gettliffe and Curry now locked in a side by side battle for 3rd, in a dice eventually won by Gettliffe, as Curry would encounter a flat right front tire bringing about the caution on lap 18. On the ensuing restart, Brandon Crumbie would again break away from his father by a single car length, with the elder Crumbie now receiving pressure for 2nd from the 77 of Gettliffe, as the latter would complete an inside pass to advance further in the running order, with the trio of #3 Charlie Smith, #57 Ryan Toon, and #400 Justin Holmes quick to file through, as Dave Crumbie now found himself trapped to the high side, eventually being able to find the inner groove to land in just outside the top 5 when all was said and done. On the last lap, the third place car of Smith would attempt a late race low side pass on Gettliffe for 2nd the exit of turn four, as the two drivers set themselves for a drag race to the finish. With this turn of events developing in behind him, it was clear this race would belong to Brandon Crumbie, as the former Open Wheel Modified driver would capture the win by 3 car lengths at the checkered. Gettliffe, would just nip Smith at the line in the race for 2nd, as impressive youngsters Toon and Holmes would comprise the remainder of the top 5.
Six different heat race winners would come in the form of Gettliffe, Toon, Holmes, Rick Butler, Curry, and #88 Jeremy McLean.
 In the Triple Sick Skin Tattoo Thunder Car division the feature win would go to #64 Ryan Semple of Loretto, who would hold off current point leader #00 Luke Gignac over a series of mid race restarts in a caution filled affair. Unfortunately Semple would see a damper put on his first career Barrie feature win, as the driver would fail the post race technical inspection for a ball joint infraction. #22 Jason Elliott would have a solid 3rd place effort in the 30 lap main, as #21 Desi Walt, and #55 Shawn Goggins would complete the top 5.
 Earlier heat wins went to Semple, Walt, #10 Jordan “Lil Gambler” Latimer, and #37 Robbie Sikes. The wins were particularily rewarding for both the 21 of Walt 37 of Sikes, after a hard crash out of turn two in the previous event two week ago, left both drivers with badly damaged racecars.
PIT NOTES —————- As has been the case much of the season, new drivers continue to stroll through the pit gates each week as the season wears on, with #55 Bruce Rankin and #66 Jared Ranson, both of Mississauga making their first career Barrie starts in the Wahta Springs Late Models. Rankin, would turn in twin 10th place feature race results, keeping a clean car under him the entire evening, while Ranson would also impress in his Barrie debut, amassing 11th and 12th place results, only falling a lap down in the late stages of the second 30 lap feature. 2012 Barre Pure Stock champ #1 Charlie Smith would sport a renumbered #3 Neon as a substitute driver for Randi Seguin, who encountered mechanical failure pre race. Smith, would turn tidy results on the evening, coming in 3rd in both heat races, as well as a strong third place effort in the 25 lap main. Be sure to join us this coming Saturday August 9th as all three divisions are back in action, and with the 2014 season nearing it’s completion expect the action to be as highly intense and competitive as ever!! Pit gates open at 2pm, with spectator gates open for business at 5pm, and green flag slated to drop at 6:35 pm sharp!!!

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