Schuchart Delivers Again, Klarich Clinches Memorial
Author : Archerfield Speedway
On another night of incredible racing at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway, Logan Schuchart raced to his second feature race victory in less than a week when he took out round ten of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship on Monday night (January 1). Starting from pole position in the 35-lap feature event, Schuchart had opened up a considerable buffer until 9th-starting Donny Schatz moved into second spot and chased down his WoO rival. With 10 laps to run, Schatz looked to slice underneath through turn one, only to find himself squeezed for room and pinched into a spin. With Schatz banished to the back, Schuchart was untroubled in leading the field through the final laps. West Australian young gun Kaiden Manders finished in second spot with a third American in Lucas Wolfe storming home to grab the final place on the podium, leaving Mark Pholi as the best of the locals in fourth spot ahead of Allan Woods and a barnstorming Mitchell Gee, who advanced from 19th to sixth with a mighty drive. Andrew Scheuerle snared seventh and Schatz surged back to eighth, with Bryan Mann and Lynton Jeffrey rounding out the top ten.
In the Dirt Modified feature race, five drivers accepted the invitation to start the Paul Britten 44 Memorial from the rear of the field and, of those, it was Jai Stephenson and Mark Robinson who came oh-so-close to pulling off a miraculous win. In the end it was Ray Klarich who stood firm in the face of immense pressure to emerge victorious, with Stephenson snatching second from Robinson on the final lap. Mitchell Randall finished fourth after leading early, with Kevin Britten climbing to fifth ahead of Chris Corbett, Scott Cannon, Ray Eggins, Terry Leerentveld and Zac McDonald. As is the case with this event each season, the race proved a thrilling spectacle as the backmarkers surged their way through the field to chase down the leaders.
In a remarkable form reversal, Steve Greer went from last in the C Main two nights earlier to KRE Quick Time in Sprintcar qualifying, making good use of the best track conditions to stop the clock at 12.650. Occasional racer Steven White was second quickest (12.712) ahead of Andrew Corbet (12.767), Manders (12.896) and Pholi (12.916), with Woods, Cody Maroske, Stewart Craig, Mitch Gowland and Bryan Mann completing the first ten. The best of the Americans was Schuchart with12th overall, just one spot ahead of Schatz and while Wolfe could do no better than 26th, he was in good company with the likes of Scheuerle, Gee, Luke Oldfield, Peter Lack, Brent Kratzmann and fast qualifier from the previous round in Callum Walker all languishing outside the top twenty.
Rain hit the complex prior to the opening round of heats getting underway and after a lengthy delay to get the track back into shape, the decision was made to amend the format to replicate the WoO qualifying system, with each driver to contest one of four heat races from which the first four placegetters would secure a berth in the feature race.
The first of the heats saw Pholi lock himself into the main event when he led home Greer, Schatz and Scheuerle.
Heat two saw Woods prevail in advance of Mann, Wolfe and White, while Peter Lack suffered a setback when he was forced infield on lap two.
Corbet scored his first ever Sprintcar heat win in heat three, outpacing Darren Jensen and Jeffrey, with Brodie Tulloch relegating Maroske on the final lap to secure the all-important fourth spot.
The final heat went to Schuchart ahead of Manders and Oldfield, leaving Stewart Craig to clinch the last direct transfer into the feature race field.
Schuchart followed up to also take out the Dash and secure pole position for the feature race, with Mann, Woods and Manders next in line. Greer finished fifth to secure his best ever feature race starting position, with Pholi, Corbet and Jensen at the back of the pack.
The B main was a humdinger as Lack chased down and relieved Maroske of the lead on lap 11. Having advanced from position 10, Gee looked on track to usurp Maroske from the final transfer spot, only to bring all his hard work undone with a spin in the final turn.
With Gee afforded a discretionary start at the rear, 19 cars hit the track for the feature event and, unfortunately for Jensen, his race would end on the opening lap when a kerfuffle in turn three left him stricken and sent Lack on an end-for-end ride from which he would recover to make the restart, leaving the luckless Jensen as the only non-finisher. Schuchart shot to the front and wasted little time in distancing himself from the field, with Manders slotting into second spot as Mann started a backward trajectory, falling behind Woods, Pholi and Schatz. Woods moved ahead of Manders on lap 15 but both were soon rounded up by Schatz, who was closing in on Schuchart when Oldfield spun in turn four with 11 laps to run. Just one lap into the resumption, Schatz charged underneath Schuchart through turn one but simply ran out of room. With Schatz now at the back, Manders reclaimed the runner-up spot from Woods, who would subsequently lose two more spots courtesy of Pholi and Wolfe. Pholi had no answer to Wolfes late-race pace and had to settle for fourth, while Gee culminated his barnstorming run with a sixth-place finish ahead of Scheuerle and Schatz, who rounded up 10 cars in as many laps to salvage eighth. Mann and Jeffrey were next in line, followed by Tulloch, White, Maroske, Corbet and Oldfield, with Greer, Craig and Lack at the back of the queue.
Scott Cannon cruised home by more than eight seconds in the opening Dirt Modified heat, downing Jai Stephenson and Scott Quirk. Heat two was a much closer affair as Ray Eggins chased down Kev Stow, with Mitchell Randall third.
McDonald seemingly had heat three in is keeping, only to spin on the final lap to give Paul Booker the win ahead of Victorian Steve Milthorpe and Robinson, with Leerentveld leading throughout heat four to defeat Stephenson and Cannon.
Enjoying a strong return to racing after an extended absence, Robinson took out heat five from Sam Bruggy and Milthorpe, while the final heat went to Britten over Randall and Dale Corbett.
The Top Six Shootout featured no less than four national championship winners and it was Cannon who proved the best of the bunch in this instance, leading Milthorpe, Stephenson, Robinson, Britten and Eggins to the chequer. After the race, each driver was invited to take the challenge of foregoing their qualifying position to start the feature from the back of the 20-car field and it was only Milthorpe who declined the offer and thereby secured himself pole position.
Not surprisingly, Milthorpe led the feature race field away as the backmarkers set forth on the challenge of carving their way to the front. Randall moved to the front on lap 10, only for Milthorpe to regain the ascendancy after another 10 laps. With 15 laps to go, Milthorpes reluctance to move from the pole line proved very costly when he tagged the back of a slower car and spun himself out of contention, handing the lead to Klarich, who had advanced from 11th to dispose of Randall a few laps earlier. Robinson had climbed to second at this point and was menacing Klarich with serious intent, but the category stalwart was able to fend off each challenge. Stephenson joined the battle in the closing stages and, quite remarkably, the lead trio exited turn four side-by-side to take the white flag. Klarich held on though to score a memorable win from Stephenson and Robinson. Randall faded as the laps wound down but remained fourth at the chequer ahead of defending race winner Britten. Chris Corbett, Cannon, Eggins, Leerentveld and McDonald rounded out the top ten ahead of Anthony Ashen and Booker, while Milthorpe made little ground from the back to finish 13th ahead of the remaining finishers in Stow, Trevor Wiley and Mark Connolly.
Kristin Brown proved an emphatic winner of the 15-lap Formula 500 feature race, leading every circulation to take out round two of the Ian Boettcher Race Parts Stampede. A whirlwind finish from Tristan Johnson was not enough to deny Brown, who responded to the challenge with her fastest lap of the race on lap 14, leaving Johnson to settle for second. Last round winner Kurt Wilson clinched third ahead of Marshall Lewis and Tomas Partington.
Junior graduates Brady Argles and Nick Hodges won the two heat races and Argles was running strongly in second in the feature race before heading infield on lap 11, while Hodges finished sixth in the main event ahead of Phil Roberts, Adrian Farrell, Paul Chaffey and Mitchell Whittaker.
The Junior Formula 500 heats resulted in three wins to Bodie Smith, with Tarhlea Apelt taking the other.
In the worst of the track conditions immediately after the rain, Ben Robertson slithered his way to yet another win in the Open Sedans B feature race. Scott Taylor snared second ahead of Robert Gorman, Mark Lowe and Ben Taylor.
The Open Sedan A feature went to Wayne Kirkman over Bob Ware, Michael Taylor and Daniel Taylor.
The next event at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway in round six of World Series Sprintcars on Wednesday night (January 3), also featuring the Polar Ice Midget Track Championship plus Compact Speedcars and Modlites.