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Matt Williamson Stays Hot, Grabs Merrittville Checkers

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5 drivers visited Victory Lane May 4th kicking off the 2013 Championship Chase in B&C Truck Centre Blast Entertainment Event at Merrittville Speedway.

Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series action saw Rob Murray, Mat Williamson, Brad Rouse, Josh Sliter and Kyle Pelrine take home wins in the Hoosier Stock, Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modifieds, Rick’s Delivery Sportsman, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite and Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Features respectively.

For the second time in as many starts for the 2013 Season – one Feature went right down to the wire with multi-time champion Rob Murray overtaking up and coming driver James Thompson by a mere 37/1000th’s of a second at the finish line in the 20 lap Hoosier Stock Feature.

“James is a good kid … he has a lot of knowledge,” shared Murray in Victory Lane after the two drivers congratulated each other, “I have helped him out a lot … so it won’t be long before it’s me in the runner up spot.”

Murray was first to lead the event after beating fellow front row starter Jim Lampman to the green flag. With plenty of two and three wide action behind them, the first caution came early on for then top 5 runner Kevin Knapp who needed to be pushed into the pits for a boost from crew members after a battery failure in his car.

Prior to the yellow, Thompson had taken over the runner-up spot and on the restart took over the lead. A three wide battle for second developed with Murray facing challenges from Lampman and Cory Turner with the two taking over second and third.

As the laps wound down, Murray resurfaced and with 5 laps to go was back in the lead before a late caution slowed the field.

On the restart it was again Murray with Thompson now the aggressor and with the white flag waving the two were side by side. Thompson edged ahead the final time down the backstretch but racing out of Turn 4 Murray found an advantage and a bumper-width margin of victory.

“I didn’t see him … he must of came out of nowhere,” revealed the 17 year old Thompson, “he made his move and he made it work.”

Murray and Thompson were followed by Pete Reid who made a late race charge to take third while Cory Turner and Brad Sheehan rounded out the top 5.

Mat Williamson has to be one of the hottest drivers in the young season – specially after switching up his racing schedule with the addition of a 9 hour round trip to Sarver PA’s Lernerville Speedway and the launch of his Big Block Modified Career Friday Nights were he’s won two straight events as a rookie.

“It’s great to win at my home track,” said Williamson after winning his first Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modified Feature, “it’s definitely a confidence booster … to go somewhere new and run good too though – it definitely makes the travel part of it easier.”

By virtue of their heat wins, Williamson and Chad Chevalier would make up the front row and it was Williamson who was first to lead the 35 lap Feature. Chevalier kept pace with the leader around the outside trying to make a move until the first caution on lap 5. With Williamson out front on the restart, Chevalier now faced a challenge from Larry Lampman with Pete Bicknell and Rob Krull quickly joining the top 3. With Scott Wood also rising to the top – Williamson was able to drive away to a comfortable lead by lap 10.

Two cautions right before the half-way point found Williamson in control with Bicknell moving into third and tracking down Lampman. Back and forth Lampman and Bicknell would challenge each other until caution again on lap 27 relaxed the field.

Bicknell was able to get by Lampman on the restart and just as he was about to mount a challenge on the leader – a late race caution would stall that.

Williamson would get the jump on the restart and through to the finish drove to a lead of some 5 car lengths over Bicknell. Lampman, Wood and Krull closed out the top 5.

Brad Rouse outraced Greg Panunte to the green flag at the start of the Rick’s Delivery 25 lap Sportsman Feature with the two driving away from the field by lap 5. 5 laps later the race to watch was the one for third between Spring Sizzler Winner BJ Willard, Scott George and defending champion Cody McPherson.

Just as Panunte was closing in on Rouse, the leader was not slowed by increasing lap traffic. What would slow Rouse was a caution on lap 17.

With Rouse back in control, racing through the field was three and four wide until another caution on lap 19. Rouse would set the pace again with second generation driver Gary Lindberg in second trying to hold off Scott George.

Rouse would run to a lead of a couple car lengths at the finish with the battle for second ending with George and Lindberg as the top 3. Panunte and McPherson rounded out the top 5.

“This car keeps getting better every time out,” relayed Josh Sliter in Victory Lane after the 15 lap J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lite Feature, “ the older the better – you could run anywhere on this track tonight.”

Paul Klager was first to lead the event before caution right away slowing the pace after 4th generation rookie Dylan Davidson spun his car. The restart saw a three wide battle for top spot break out with Klager challenged by Randy Hollingshead and Jason Corless.

While the top 3 were fighting for position – almost out of nowhere Josh Sliter would join the frontrunners – eventually pulling alongside Klager. Just before a second caution Sliter would take over top spot and on the restart would run away to a lead of almost a straightaway by the checkered flag.

Sliter and Klager were followed by Corless, Rick Koabel and Jeff May.

“It’s definitely a good way to start the year after our tech issue after winning last season – we needed this,” admitted a relieved Kyle Pelrine in Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Victory Lane, “this year there’s more mustangs and more imports and it’s just amazing to have had a consi!”

27 cars had attempted to qualify for the initial 15 lap Feature which saw Rob Overholt lead the field to the first green flag of 2013. The first time down the backstretch saw Tony Kelly as the new leader. Overholt battled back to regain the lead with Pelrine on the move and taking the runner up spot and then the lead just 4 ½ laps in.

Caution would soon slow the field with Pelrine out to a 5 car lead on the restart. By halfway, Another caution would slow Pelrine on lap 10 and in the final 5 laps – pulled away to a lead of 5 car lengths.

Rob Overholt settled for second with defending champion Rocco Conte in third.  Evan Curtis and Dillan Sliter closed out the top 5.

UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY Lococo Wholesale  will a 5 Division Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Program featuring the Registration Night for the 2013 Grantham Lions Merrittville Speedway Kids Club Saturday May 11th. Racing will feature the Bobcat of Hamilton 358 Modifieds and Rick’s Delivery Sportsman, Hoosier Stocks, J&S Heating and Air Conditioning Modified Lites and Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinder Divisions. Grandstands will open at 5:30 with Show Time at 7:00 PM. PIT NOTES Darrell Farraway was announced as the first B&C Truck Centre Mack Canada Driver of the Week just prior to race time.

HOOSIER STOCK FEATURE (20 laps) Rob Murray, James Thompson, Pete Reid, Cory Turner, Brad Sheehan, Ryan Turner, Jason Fontaine, Mark Fawcett, Marcel Michaud, Mike Green, Jim Lampman, Paul Reichel, Kevin Knapp, Bryce Richardson.

BOBCAT OF HAMILTON DIRTcar 358 MODIFIED FEATURE (35 laps) Mat Williamson, Pete Bicknell, Larry Lampman, Scott Wood, Robbie Krull, Chris Steele, Chad Chevalier, Erick Rudolph, Tommy Flannigan, Fred Carleton, Shayne Pierce, Bill Bleich, Mike Bowman, Brandon Easey, Danny O’Brien, Mark D’Ilario, Tyler McPherson, Billy Bleich, Jr., Ken Winfield, Rick Hoctor, Todd Gordon.

RICK’S DELIVERY DIRTcar SPORTSMAN FEATURE – (25 laps) Brad Rouse, Scott George, Gary Lindberg, Greg Panunte,  Cody McPherson, BJ Willard, Justin Sharp, Jason Farraway, Boyd MacTavish, Adam Leslie, Austin Wood, Shawn Sliter, Jason Moore, Paul Gaboury, Dan Miller, George Bosse, Rob Knapp, Joey Mastroianni, Robbie Rounce, Travis Miller, Ron MacAulay, Paul Williamson, Jordan Cosco, Robert Baker. DNS – Charlie Lynch, Rob Clark, Derick Hodge, Gord McIntosh, Chris Bellamy.

J&S HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING MODIFIED LITE FEATURE (15 laps) Josh Sliter, Paul Klager, Jason Corless, Rick Koabel, Jeff May, Randy Hollingshead, Kory Howe, Dylan Davidson, Ray Sliter, Jr., Evan Leonard.

TURN 4 COLLISION 4 CYLINDER  FEATURE (15 laps) Kyle Pelrine, Rob Overholt, Rocco Conte, Evan Curtis, Dillan Sliter, Tyler Lafantaisie, Tony Kelly, Kyle Rothwell, Mike Sadusek, Chris Laskey, Sam Iftody, Kourtney Kocarik, Nathan Monahan, John Janssens, Garnet Wilson, Bob Gill, Kyle Haynes, Kevin Conley, Greg Wilson, Mike Giberson, Jason Coutu, Terry Larmet, Jeff Larmet, Chris Sheppard. DNS – Gabriel Attallah, Leroy Buscumb, Andriy Levin.