By Tommy Goudge (July 30, 2008) - After a week off, Ohsweken Speedway's Friday Night Thunder kicks back into high gear this Friday night, August 1, when the Sportsman Modifieds return to do battle in the 4th round of the Lucas Oil Shootout series, along with the annual Art Hill Memorial race for the ESSO Mini-Stock division. Also on the card on Friday are the popular ESSO Thunder Stocks, and the Friday Night Fun Stocks, with all the action on Friday night being brought to you by Outhouse Designs.
The Sportsman cars last competed at Ohsweken on June 27 when 32 of the best Sportsman drivers in the region signed in to do battle for a $1,000 winner's cheque. At the end of the night, it was surprise winner Brandon Easey of St. Catharines visiting victory lane for the first time in his career, followed by local driver Robbie Rounce, Jim Johnstone, Mat Williamson, and Brad Rouse rounding out the top 5.
In a unique twist, the Lucas Oil series points are tallied using feature finishes, and the driver with the lowest total will win the championship. The series standings are very tight heading into Ohsweken, with Tyler McPherson leading Chad Chevalier by just 1 marker, as McPherson has yet to finish outside the top 5 in the first 3 series races. McPherson finished 5th in round 1 at Genesee on June 14, 2nd at Merrittville on June 21, and 4th at Humberstone on July 6.
Chevalier, meanwhile, took 3rd place finishes in each of the first 2 rounds, but finished 6th at Humberstone, putting him 1 spot behind McPherson. When the 2 drivers last visited Ohsweken on June 27, it was McPherson with the upper hand over Chevalier when the checkered flag fell, as Tyler came from 12th on the grid to finish 6th, while Chevalier started 24th and finished 9th.
Both drivers will be looking to improve on those finishes on Friday, but BJ Willard, Mat Williamson, and James Michael Friesen round out the top 5 in series points and figure to give the 2 front runners a run for their money. Friesen is the only driver in the top 5 who has collected a win in the first 3 events, a feat which he accomplished at Humberstone. Williamson, meanwhile, had all eyes on his #6 the last time he visited Ohsweken as he started 25th on a promoter's option and charged all the way to 4th when the green flag fell.
New York driver Rob Pratt will also be one to watch this Friday, as the former Ohsweken track champ is always fast on the 3/8's mile, and would likely have been in contention for the win on June 27th if damage in his heat race had not ended his night prematurely.
Always a fan favourite at Ohsweken, the ESSO Mini-Stocks will be in the limelight on Friday night when they contest the annual 42-lap Art Hill Memorial race. This year's event will see 26 starters battling for the coveted Art Hill victory and the $1,000 that goes along with it, in what is sure to be a hotly contested event. Dave Bailey won last year's edition of the event, but has since moved up to the Thunder Stock division, although he did compete in the Mini-Stocks at the start of this season as well, and could return to defend his crown this week.
Heading into the week, 2007 track champ Abel Castelein enjoys a 66 point lead over Mitchell Brown in the standings, and is riding a 2-race win streak. The fight for 2nd is heating up however, as the 2nd through 5th place drivers are seperated by just 7 points, with Brown's 2 feature wins being the main difference. After his 2 recent race wins are counted in the handicapping system, Castelein will need to come from the middle of the pack if he hopes to extend his winning streak and take home the Art Hill victory.
Following Brown in the points are Rick Emberson, Kevin Hilborn, and Mark Thorne, all of whom have yet to take a checkered flag this season, and would like nothing more than to take the Art Hill win.
In the ESSO Thunder Stock division, points leader Cody McPherson got back on track with a feature win the last time out, after a flat tire derailed his season-long streak of top-3 finishes the week before. Ryan Dinning, Terry Osmond, Glen Leinen, and Brian Pescetti round out the top 5 in Thunder Stock points, while defending track champ Brad Bacher has not had the season he intended, slipping to 10th in the standings after he finished 17th in the most recent event.
The Thunder Stocks have been a very exciting and competitive division all season at Ohsweken and entertained the fans with spectacular racing in their last event, with more of the same expected this Friday.
The Friday Night Fun Stocks division continues to grow and become more competitive with each passing week, and the racing action has been especially good in each of the last two events as the drivers have become more comfortable on the smaller oval located in Ohsweken's infield. In the last event, Lee Hils extended his points lead by taking his 4th feature win of the season, but Chris Hils finished 4th that night to keep Lee in sight, and sits just 12 points behind, while Karl Sault has won 2 features this season and is still within striking distance in 3rd, 38 points back of the lead.
Exchange/refund information for for ticket holders from the rained-out World of Outlaws events last week is now posted on the Ohsweken Speedway website at www.OhswekenSpeedway.com.
Please visit the website to view the different options available. Dawn Pelkie will be at Ohsweken Speedway this Friday, August 1 from 5:30p.m. - 8:00p.m. to handle ticket exchanges for anyone who paid cash for their tickets at the speedway.
One of the options available to ticket holders is an exchange for tickets to the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals, an event which is fast approaching, scheduled for September 12 and 13. Plenty of reserved seats remain available for each night of this huge event, which will see more than 70 of the best 360 sprint car drivers from Ontario, Quebec, New York, Pennsylania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and beyond all competing for the $8,000 winner's cheque and the right to be called the winner of the 4th annual Canadian Sprint Car Nationals. Visit www.OhswekenSpeedway.com and then call 1-888-720-RACE to get your tickets.
Ohsweken Speedway's Friday Night Thunder resumes this Friday, August 1 when Outhouse Designs presents the Lucas Oil Sportsman Shootout, and ESSO Mini-Stock Art Hill Memorial Race, plus ESSO Thunder Stocks and Friday Night Fun Stocks. Friday Night Thunder at Ohsweken offers affordable family entertainment just a short drive away from most Mid-Western Ontario locations. Friday Night Thunder Adult General Admission is $10, while Seniors and Students are $8, and Kids age 12 and under are FREE! Please visit www.OhswekenSpeedway.com for more information. Spectator gates open @ 6:00p.m., with the first race taking the green flag at 7:45p.m. this Friday, August 1!