Bicknell wins 6th John Spencer Memorial and 24th Championship – Lafantaisie and Bailey win first Titles
THOROLD, ONT – Even though Pete Bicknell’s tenure as co-owner of Merrittville Speedway may be winding down, his career as a driver will always have the St. Catharines native ‘owning’ a huge part of Merrittville Speedway’s storied history.
Bicknell, who won his first Modified Points Title in 1984 won his 6th career John Spencer Memorial earning his 24th Pinty’s Delicious Foods Modified Title.
Going into Semenuk’s Esso 65th Championship Chase Finale September 3rd – two divisional point races could have went right down to the final lap and that they did. Four Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Events featured last lap lead changes.
Two Welland Drivers – Kyle Rothwell and Tyler Lafantaisie would share the spotlight as Rothwell would win the Feature but Lafantaisie would win his first career Title in the Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Division.
Hagersville’s Dave Bailey not only won the Hoosier Stock Feature – the recently crowned Ohsweken Speedway Champion would also win Merrittville’s title.
Welland’s Paul Gaboury won his first Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Feature of 2016 with Cody McPherson of St. Catharines taking home his 4th career Championship.
Josh Sliter’s 6th win of 2016 earned the Ridgeway Driver his 6th career Rev’s Full Throttle Power Sports Modified Lite Championship.
For the second straight week, Second generation driver Dave DiPietro of North Tonawanda, NY won the Yager Bros Trucking Novice Sportsman Feature with Trevor Wright of Smithville earned the Title.
John Spencer who was an up and coming racer who passed away as a result of a racing accident in 1953 at the former Stamford Park in his home town of Niagara Falls.
Later that year and to coincide with the final points event of the season for the Modifieds, his crew created an Annual Memorial Award that was presented annually until the 1965 season when the award was lost. In 1999 former Merrittville owner Ken Kavanagh and his son – Reunion Committee Chairman Rick recovered it and restored it and it made it’s return in 2000 … it’s winner – Pete Bicknell.
“That was the best car I’ve had here in a couple years,” said Pete Bicknell at the conclusion of the 50 lap Jerry Winger Memorial, “thanks to the crew … it was perfect! I can’t thank the guys that maintain the track and all our staff for all their efforts over the last 14 years. To our fans and sponsors –thanks for all your support. I can’t thank Semenuk’s Esso and all those that supported tonight … speaking for all the racers … we really appreciate it.”
Speedway Reunion Committee Member and former racer Terry Huffman of Port Colborne paced the starting field in his own restored 1979 Limited Sportsman Race Car with front row starters Tim Jones and Wayne Conn side by side at the drop of Starter Steve DeVos’ green flag.
Conn would find an advantage taking the lead the first time down the backstretch. Jones would keep pace with the leader and quickly Pete Bicknell made it three wide for top spot.
Between Turns 1 and 2 on lap 4, Bicknell was the new leader and by lap 10 had a 2 second advantage over Chris Steele who had taken second from Jones.
Lap 13 would find Jones retaking the runner-up spot and by lap 15 was closing in on his father-in-law. Also on the move was Gary Lindberg in third on lap 18.
Unfortunately Jones’ race would end on lap 21 after slowing off the pace and heading into the pits. Lindberg, second in points in his rookie season was now in the runner up spot about a straightaway behind Bicknell.
By lap 30, Lindberg had closed the gap some but by lap 35, Bicknell had stretched his lead once again.
With several Niagara IceDog players in the crowd, the race they had to be watching was the one for fifth between Fred Carleton’s Bones Mobile and Mike Bowman – both former Spencer Winners.
Consistency has won Bicknell many of his titles and 2016 was no exception. In just his 2nd win of the season, Bicknell was followed by Lindberg, Erick Rudolph, Chris Steele and Mike Bowman.
Going into the 2016 John Spencer Memorial, Bicknell and Stoney Creek’s Bruce VanDyke had each won the event 5 times. VanDyke’s wins came in the first era from 1953 to 1965 while Bicknell’s have come since 2000.
“That was just crazy … we were just trying to keep everyone straight,” said Kyle Rothwell of the final lap after winning his second straight 4 Cylinder Feature and 7th of 2016.
The final lap has got to go down as one of the most thrilling in Merrittville’s 65 year history.
Rookie second generation driver Kyle Miller was first to lead the 15 lap event which saw Sam Iftody the first to challenge by lap 3. The two would run side by side until Iftody lost the runner up spot to Tony Kelly on lap 6.
Just before a lap 8 caution Tyler Lafantaisie took control of third spot and on the restart – Miller, Kelly and Lafantaisie went three wide with Miller holding the advantage.
By lap 10, Rothwell was closing in on the leaders taking over 4th spot. Quickly the race for second went three almost four wide.
Taking the white flag at the start finish line … the battle for top spot went 4 wide with no one having an edge right around and down the backstretch.
Still 4 wide coming out of Turn 4 for the final time … Kyle Rothwell and Tony Kelly would gain an advantage on Miller who had to settle for third.
“It sure was a great season … what a wicked finish … I don’t know where I ended up,” said Tyler Lafantaisie whose Championship winning car is owned by Rothwell and his wife Lisa, “Thanks to Kyle and Lisa for all they have done.”
Lafantaisie’s would finish 4th to take the title by 9 points over Rothwell. Mike Sadusek would round out the top 5.
Lafantaisie’s #96 went right from Victory Lane to it’s new owner – fellow 4 Cylinder competitor and Twisted Metal Racing team-mate Alex Riley.
“I had to do what I had to do … my apologies to Chris (Crawford), said Dave Bailey in Hoosier Stock Victory Lane, “when I saw where Mark (Fawcett) was … I knew I needed to win to take the title. My Aunt and Uncle from North Carolina are here tonight … so it’s cool that they got to see me win.”
The Semenuk’s Esso 47x of Kyle Pelrine was first to lead the Hoosier Stock Feature but by lap 2 – the new leader was Chris Crawford.
By lap 5, Crawford opened up a lead of a couple car lengths with the race for second the one to watch between Dave Bailey and Peter Reid.
By lap 9, Bailey had taken the runner up spot. By lap 15, Bailey had begun to close in on Crawford.
Taking the white flag on lap 19 – the two were side by side. Coming out of Turn 4 the final time … the two front runners would come together.
Bailey would go on to his third straight win and 4th of the season – edging defending Champion Mark Fawcett by just three points for the 2016 title.
Crawford, Reid, Fawcett and Pelrine would round out the top 5.
“I didn’t think I had anything for Charlie (Lynch),” said first time 2016 Sportsman Feature Winner Paul Gaboury, “on the last restart … I just held it to the floor.”
2016 Rookie Tom Richau led the 25 car starting field to the green flag for the 25 lap Sportsman Feature until Joey Mastroianni took over top spot in Turn 1.
On the move in the early stages was Charlie Lynch who was quickly into the runner up spot and in top spot by lap 6. By lap 8, Brad Rouse was in third spot.
By lap 10 the top three cars were separated by about 10 car lengths.
Racing to the halfway point Rouse had closed in on Mastroianni for third and by lap 15 … the race for second was three wide. A caution on lap 20 had Gaboury challenging the leader.
Into Turn 2 for the last time, Gaboury edged ahead of Lynch holding the advantage to the checkered flag with Rouse, Rob Knapp and Justin Sharp closing out the top 5.
“I had a really good season although I would have liked to finish it on a better note,” said Cody McPherson who held on for a 6th place finish – earning his 4th career Sportsman Championship, “my brakes locked up.”
“I didn’t think the car was going to stick on the top,” said Josh Sliter whose 6th win earned him his 6th Modified Lite Point Championship, “I was on the bottom the whole race.”
Sliter’s JSR tearm-mate Rob Misener out-raced the Semenuk’s Esso #08 of Steven Beckett to the initial green flag.
With a few laps complete … Misener had driven away from former champion Jeffrey May who had taken over the runner up spot. By lap 4 – Beckett, Josh Sliter and Chris Watson were battling for third spot.
By lap 8, Sliter was in control of the runner up spot and closing in on the leader.
Through the final laps, Sliter had closed in on Misener’s rear bumper until the final time out of Turn 4.
Sliter made his outside move stick with Misener settling for second. May, Watson and Archer Truck Services Driver of the Week Tyler Winger rounded out the top 5.
Sean Dominey was first to lead the 10 lap Yager Bros Trucking Novice Sportsman Feature until Dave DiPietro took control with one lap complete.
Dominey and DiPietro would make contact early with Dominey losing control of his car while DiPietro didn’t miss a beat. DiPietro would resume control on the restart and through to the checkered flag for his second straight win.
“It was a great season … the motor wasn’t quite right tonight though,” said 14 year old Trevor Wright after winning the 2016 Championship after finishing in 6th spot.
On behalf of Merrittville Speedway’s Race Teams – we would like to thank all the businesses and individuals that have come together to add almost $3800 in extra purse money for all divisions: Paul Davis Systems of Fonthill …Bill Avakian Computers Inc. …Quality Pools of Fonthill … Free Gas Company Ltd of Fonthill … Niagara Auto Sales of Welland … Tim Hortons Turner’s Corners & Fonthill Locations … Dr. Craig Zavitz Chiropractic Clinic of Welland .. Welland Animal Hospital … Bill Tripp (Personal Donation) … Davey Moore – the Canadian Blast (Personal Donation) … Country Corner Market – Welland … Adam Semenuk RE/MAX Garden City Realty … Sullivan Mahoney Lawyers … Gallagher’s Farm Market in Fonthill … Baron Roofing and Siding in Fonthill … Young’s Canadian Water Systems of Fonthill … TD Canada Trust – Fonthill and Welland Branches … Can-View Drive-In Thorold … Sobeys Fonthill … John Quast of Bobcat of Hamilton … Pleasantview Funeral and Reception Centre – Turner’s Corners … Young’s Insurance Brokers of Welland … Semenuk’s Esso and John Beckett, VP of RBC Wealth Management in Ancaster.
With training camp underway for the 2016/2017 Season and their Bobby Orr Trophy Title Defence – Merrittville Speedway would like to thank the Niagara IceDog Players that joined in on Autograph Night and for the prizes given away by Fred Carleton.
UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY
Merrittville Speedway’s 65th Anniversary Season comes to an end with it’s annual Triple Header that begins Friday September 9th with Cotton Inc. presenting the TUSA Canadian National Modified Lite Championship Weekend Opener in addition to the Southern Ontario Sprint Cars Season Finale, 4 Cylinders, the Eataly Foods Pro 4 Triple Truck Challenge Series Finale and Heats for competitors in the Ballhockey.com Enduro accelerated by Niagara College.
Saturday September 10th Lucas Oil and VP Race Fuels will host he TUSA Canadian National Modified Lite Championship Weekend Finale plus the 50 lap Sportsman Super DIRTcar Series and 50 lap Duel on the Dirt Series Combined Event.
Gates will open Friday and Saturday at 5:30 with Show Time both nights at 7:00.
Sunday September 11th – it’s the Ballhockey.com 100 lap Enduro accelerated by Niagara College plus a Monster Truck Performance with Anger Management, Temperature Rising and Firestarter.
Grandstands will open at 11 AM and Show Time is 12:30.
To reach Merrittville Speedway call 905-892-8266 or via e mail – email@example.com. 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 John Spencer Memorial (50 laps) Pete Bicknell, Gary Lindberg, Erick Rudolph, Chris Steele, Mike Bowman, Fred Carleton, Chad Brachmann, Ryan Susice, Scott Wood, Mark D’Ilario, Shayne Pierce, Todd Gordon, Wayne Conn, Don Spiece, Tim Jones, Tommy Flannigan, Rick Hoctor, Ken Winfield
Van Raine Construction 4 Cylinder Feature (15 laps) Kyle Rothwell, Tony Kelly, Kyle Miller, Tyler Lafantaisie, Mike Sadusek, Jay Moulton, Mark Baziun, Sam Iftody, Jay Moulton, Tom Neale, Garnet Wilson, Jeremy Smith Alex Riley, Rob Sauder, Brian Teeple, Austyn Werstroh, Chris Laskey, Cole Hardy, Mike Giberson, Kourtney Kocarik, Vincent Pagnotta, Ken Lovegrove, Trevor Want. DQ – Jason Coutu.
Hoosier Stock Feature (20 laps) Dave Bailey, Chris Crawford, Pete Reid, Mark Fawcett, Kyle Pelrine, Dave Small, Jack Myers, Jim Lampman, Tanner Podwinski, Luke Skywalker, Chris Schneider, Robin Mortensen.
Yager Bros Trucking Sportsman Feature (25 laps) Paul Gaboury, Charlie Lynch, Brad Rouse, Rob Knapp, Justin Sharp, Cody McPherson, Brent Begolo, Jay Mallory, Joey Mastroianni, Tom Richau, Jesse Penner, Chris Storm, Darrell Farraway, Joey Herremans, AJ Custodi, Adam Leslie, Dave DiPietro, Paul Williamson, Robbie Johnston, Rob Goulding, John Babion, Noah Walker, Seaon Dominey, Chris Watters, Chris Bellamy.
Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports Modified Lite Feature (20 laps) Josh Sliter. Rob Misener, Jeff May, Chris Watson, Tyler Winger, Steven Beckett, RJ Pietz, Chris Perry, Craig Martin, Ray Sliter Jr., Ryleigh Sliter, Marty deMoel.
Yager Bros Trucking Novice Sportsman Feature (10 laps) Dave DiPietro, Joey Herremans, Billy Bleich, Jr., Chris Storm, John Babion, Trevor Wright, Noah Walker, Sean Dominey.
MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY SPONSORS The 2016 65th Anniversary Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series for Merrittville Speedway’s 5 Divisions is brought to race fans and racers by division sponsors – Pinty’s Delicious Foods, Yager Bros Trucking, Rev’s Full Throttle Powersports, Hoosier Tire Canada and Van Raine Construction in addition to many marketing partners Visit them at . http://www.merrittvillespeedway.com/sponsors.htm and visit them when you require their products and/or services.
Lucas Oil Products, Inc., is the world leader in the production high performance oils, fuel treatments and problem solving additives with the largest variety of shelf products of any oil company in North America. Lucas Oil’s premium formulas are marketed worldwide and retail at more than 40,000 auto parts stores across the continent and at virtually every truck stop across Canada.
Race fans can look for Lucas Oil Products at their favourite automotive retailer or maintenance center including Kala’s Home Hardware, St. Catharines Discount Auto Parts and RCM Racing Equipment.