Bicknell, Mallory, Crawford, Sliter and Masi
2016 Feature Winners
Pen Centre and Premier Equipment opened the first Holiday Doubleheader of 2016 with 5 first time winners visit Victory Lane.
The Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Event had Pete Bicknell of St. Catharines won the 35 lap Main Event for the Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modifieds and Jay Mallory also of the Garden City taking home his first Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Feature. Chris Crawford of Welland and Josh Sliter of Ridgeway were also first time winners in the Hoosier Stock and Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Divisions. Nick Masi took home the first Ballhockey.com Enduro Qualifier accelerated by Niagara College.
“We made a few changes just before feature time,” said Bicknell the 23 time Merrittville Champion, “thanks to the fans for coming out each week … thanks to my crew and our track prep crew – there was lots of bite … I could flat foot it anywhere on the track. I didn’t want to make any mistakes or clip a guardrail … I could see Erick (Rudolph) coming.”
Todd Gordon was first to lead the 35 lap Feature with Scott Wood in control the first time down the backstretch. Almost as quickly as Ryan Susice took over the runner-up spot – Bicknell took control of third. The three leaders would drive away from the field. Susice would soon challenge Wood for top spot but by lap 10, Wood was still in control. Susice would lose second to Bicknell and by the front stretch of lap 12 was the new leader. By lap 15, Bicknell had opened up a lead of almost a ¼ lap ahead of quite a race between the 38’s of Susice and Wood with Erick Rudolph soon joining the battle. By lap 20, Rudolph had raced all the way to the runner up spot with quite a distance to make up to catch the leader Bicknell. Would lap traffic by lap 25 play a factor? Everyone surely had to watching the drive of rookie Gary Lindberg who was in the borrowed and newly lettered Niagara IceDogs OHL Eastern Conference Champs #96 of Fred Carleton. Lindberg broke into the top 5 after getting by Gordon and before the checkered flag would take 4th from Wood. Using lap traffic to his advantage, Rudolph was able to close to within a couple car lengths. Bicknell and Rudolph were followed by Susice with Lindberg and Wood as the top 5.
“We’ve been fighting handling and getting a hold of Merrittville’s surface … I think we’ve found something,” said second generation driver Jay Mallory, “I saw that one accident and it was like we were racing for the last time of the year.” The caution Mallory referred to came around lap 16 and came in bunches. 10 laps earlier both Cody McPherson and Jay Mallory split initial leader Tom Richau. Mallory took over top spot before McPherson led the field to the first caution on lap 9. After the restart was called off, McPherson regained the lead ahead of Paul Gaboury, Mallory, Justin Sharp and Brad Rouse trailing. By half-way the Top 5 and Brent Begolo had pulled away from the pack. McPherson was slowed on lap 16 for an incident in the first of three cautions delaying the return to racing. One caution set off a chain reaction with stranded cars left in Turns 2 and three while the final involved McPherson, Gaboury, Rob Knapp and others. When racing resumed – the new leader was Mallory with Sharp and Begolo as the Top 3. By lap 18, both McPherson and Rouse had rallied to challenge Begolo for third. By lap 20 McPherson overtook Begolo with one final caution of lap 23 setting up a two lap dash to the finish. With Mallory out front for his first win – Sharp, McPherson, Begolo and Rouse closed out the top 5.
“We went back to last year’s set-up,” said Josh Sliter after his first win of the season in the Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Division, “and it’s a bone stock engine … right out of a bike.” Marty deMoel was first to lead the 20 lap Feature with RJ Pietz challenging the leader the first time down the backstretch. Pietz would quickly become the new leader opening up a few car length advantage. DeMoel soon had Sliter and Steven Beckett to deal with in a three wide race for runner up spot. By lap 6, Sliter had caught his team-mate Pietz – eventually taking over the lead. By the half-way point Sliter had opened up a lead of a little more than a straightaway on the field, Lap 17 saw Chris Watson head to the pits dropping out of a top 5 finish. At the finish, Sliter was followed by Pietz and Derek Wagner who made a late race charge to take third. Beckett and Jeffrey May rounded out the top 5.
Kyle Pelrine and Steve Shaw led the 20 lap Hoosier Stock Feature to the green flag but from a 4th starting spot, Chris Crawford was quick to take over top spot. A lap 15 caution may have been something Crawford may have wanted as Mark Fawcett may have had something for the leader. Crawford and Fawcett were side by side for several laps in a see-saw battle. Fawcett edged ahead on laps 16 and 18 with Crawford maybe getting his biggest advantage taking the white flag. Jim Lampman was on the move and challenging Fawcett. At the checkered flag, Crawford was followed by Lampman with Fawcett settling for third. Pete Reid and Dave Bailey closed out the top 5.
“It was wild at the start for sure,” said Nick Masi after winning the first Ballhockey.com Enduro Qualifer accelerated by Niagara College, “I didn’t think I had anything for Max (Chechalk) but I new I had a chance when I saw him overheating.” James Mercer was the initial leader of the 41 car 25 lap event which went under the red flag after a car flipped in Turn 4 of lap 3. Mercer resumed control on the restart until Masi was the new leader to start lap 5. After another red – Masi lost the lead to Chechalk on lap 11. During another stoppage, Chechalk’s overheating issues stepped up but he was able to regain the lead on the restart until Masi regained top spot. At the finish, Masi was followed by Jeremy Cooper, Oliver Larocque, Bob William Smith and Rob Goulding.
UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY Zavitz Financial Strategies and ZFS Benefit Solutions presents the Brian Stevens Memorial Monday May 23rd.. Joining the 100 lap 358 Modified Super DIRTcar Series Main Event are the RUSH Late Model Tour, the first Triple Crown Series Event for the Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinders and the first Eataly Foods Triple Truck Challenge for the 4 Cylinder Trucks. Grandstands will open at 5:30 with Show Time at 7:00 PM.
To reach Merrittville Speedway call 905-892-8266 or via e mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merrittville Speedway is located at 2371 Merrittville Highway in Thorold Ontario.
Merrittville Speedway’s Office is open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and is located in the Grandstand Area on the ground floor of the Lucas Oil Tower.
For all the news on Merrittville Speedway’s 65th Consecutive Season in 2016 – visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com. Race fans and Race teams alike can follow Merrittville on Face Book (Facebook.com/Merrittville Speedway) and Twitter (Twitter.com/Merrittville
Pinty’s Delicious Foods 358 Modified Feature (35 laps) Pete Bicknell, Erick Rudolph, Ryan Susice, Gary Lindberg, Scott Wood, Todd Gordon, Chris Steele, Tim Jones, Mark D’Ilario, Chad Brachmann, Tyler McPherson, Tommy Flannigan, Mike Bowman, Wayne Conn.
Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Feature (25 laps) Jay Mallory, Justin Sharp, Cody McPherson, Brent Begolo, Brad Rouse, Paul Gaboury, Rob Knapp, Joey Mastroianni, Chris Watters, Chris Storm, John Babion, Trevor Wright, Robbie Johnston, Sean Dominey, Chris Bellamy, Gord McIntosh, Tom Richau, Jesse Penner, Darrell Farraway.
Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Feature (20 laps) Josh Sliter, RJ Pietz, Derek Wagner, Steven Beckett, Jeffrey May, Rob Misener, Marty deMoel, Tyler Winger, Ray Sliter Jr., Philip Wilson, Craig Martin, Ryleigh Sliter, Chris Watson.
Hoosier Stock Feature (20 laps) Chris Crawford, Jim Lampman, Mark Fawcett, Pete Reid, Dave Bailey, Billy Bleich Jr., Dale Gyokery, Kyle Pelrine, Jack Myers, Steve Shaw, Nick Dennis, Mike Miller, Tony Shintani, Robin Mortensen, Chris Schneider.
Ballhocley.com Enduro Qualifier accelerated by Niagara College (25 laps) Nick Masi, Jeremy Cooper, Oliver Larocque, Bob William Smith, Rob Goulding.
MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY SPONSORS