Even when relegated to start from the fifth row together, there was no stopping Luke Oldfield and Andrew Scheuerle as they continued their fight for the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Championship in a thrilling round 11 at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on Saturday night (February 23). At the completion of the twin 20-lap feature events it was Oldfield who emerged the overall winner over Scheuerle in what proved a terrific spectacle as the duo carved their way to the front of the field. Allan Woods finished third overall ahead of Kevin Titman and Randy Morgan, with Brent Kratzmann, Mark Pholi and a luckless Kristy Bonsey next best in what was a terrific race in less than ideal conditions.
Steve Swingler (Compact Speedcars), Kurt Wilson (Lightning Sprints) and Nathan Politch (Modlites) were also feature race winners, but it was the Sprintcars who delivered a dazzling display despite being bucketed by strong winds and the swirling dust that they whipped up.
Hitting the track early in the qualifying session, Morgan stopped the clock at 12.267 to emerge with KRE Quick Time, the first such result of his fledgling career. Kratzmann (12.278), Scheuerle (12.345), Titman (12.415) and Ryan McNamara (12.566) completed the top five ahead of Andrew Corbet, Peter Lack, Oldfield, Ben Hilder and Woods.
The opening heat of the night resulted in an all-the-way win for Anthony Lambert over Lack and Mark Pholi, who was hampered by an engine misfire in time trials.
A spin from David Kenway with four laps to run in heat two proved timely for Oldfield as he pounced from the ensuing restart to sweep past Phil Foster and clinch the win, with Paul Rooks home third.
Bonsey led the first half of heat three before succumbing to Woods on lap six, with Scheuerle advancing from sixth to finish third.
Mitch Gowland romped home to win heat four, finishing more than four seconds clear of David Whell and third-placed Pholi.
Having failed to take advantage of a front row start in his previous heat, Kevin Britten made no such mistake in heat five, leading all the way to down Paul Rooks and Hilder.
Despite the close attentions of Scheuerle for the duration, Bonsey held firm at the front to take out the final heat, leading Scheuerle and Oldfield to the line.
The B Main was, at the front of the field at least, a somewhat straightforward affair as Lambert, Britten, Gowland and Foster finished in that order to secure the four transfer spots into the twin features. There was plenty of action at the back of the pack though as Trent Vardy, Steve Greer and Brett Minett, who had earlier spun on the opening lap, engaged in great scrap that unfortunately ended with Greer getting upside down in turn one.
The first of the 20-lap feature races saw Scheuerle and Morgan from the front row, with Kratzmann and Oldfield occupying row two ahead of Titman, Woods and the rest. The first start only made it to turn one before McNamara spun himself into a rear-of-field positioning for the restart. Scheuerle shot to the front ahead of Kratzmann and Oldfield as Morgan found himself backsliding, dropping as far as sixth at one stage. Running the ragged edge on the cushion that formed very high on the track, Oldfield relegated Kratzmann on lap five and then chased down Scheuerle to take over the lead on lap 12. Oldfield greeted the chequer more than two seconds clear of Scheuerle, with Kratzmann seven seconds further back in third. Woods was next as Morgan regained one spot to finish fifth ahead of Titman, Hilder and Lack. However, when Oldfield subsequently inverted the top ten for the second 20-lap encounter, it was Whell and Bonsey who found themselves on the front row.
Bonsey outgunned Whell to lead the field away as Scheuerle and Oldfield set forth on their mission, having moved ahead of both Woods and Kratzmann within two laps. With Bonsey continuing to lead, Whell found himself under pressure from Lack and Titman, a fight that saw the latter emerge with the advantage. After 10 laps, Oldfield had climbed to fifth despite some heavy contact with the back straight wall, with Scheuerle chasing him through traffic. Lap 11 produced a lead change when Titman rounded up Bonsey, who would soon find herself under attack from Oldfield and Scheuerle. On lap 14, Scheuerle moved ahead of Oldfield and Bonsey to grab second, with Oldfield pushing Bonsey back another spot. When Lack stopped in turn four on lap 18, the ensuing restart changed the complexion of the race considerably. A kamikaze move from Whell into turn one upon resumption resulted in him crashing out heavily but also left Bonsey with a flat left front tyre, cruelling her hopes of a top five finish. When racing did resume, Titman was caught napping and both Scheuerle and Oldfield pounced to move ahead and, although Scheuerle remained in front to the flag, the fact that Oldfield had won the opening race and had come from further back in the field on both occasions was enough for him to secure victory overall. Titman finished third ahead of Woods, although the order would be switched in the overall standings. Bonsey soldiered on with the deflated donut but could offer little resistance and ultimately fell to eighth behind Morgan (who also finished fifth overall) Pholi and McNamara, with Britten and Gowland rounding out the top ten.
Having secured a front row start for the feature, Australian champ Klinton Hancey, who also holds four state titles, was expected to run away from the field in the Modlite feature event, but Nathan Politch refused to follow the script and kept Hancey at bay to take the race. Chris Were, Dylan Hunter and Dan Lewis were the best of the rest.
Compact Speedcars fronted with their biggest field for the season thus far, but their feature race descended into high farce as Nick Gannon, Mark Maczek, Darren Vine and Trent Usher all exited the event while leading, the most spectacular of which was Gannons flip in the main straight after climbing the wall. As his rivals congregated on the infield, Steve Swingler emerged from the chaos to score his first feature win for quite a while. In his debut appearance, Nick Hodges snared second spot ahead of Mitchell Rooke, with Connor McCullough and Dave Swan the only others to survive. Following two heat wins, Matt ONeill made an unceremonious exit from the feature when he crashed heavily on lap two.
After an early scrap with Sean Iacono, there was no catching Kurt Wilson once he charged into the lead on lap six of the Lightning Sprint feature race. Iacono remained second at the chequer ahead of Keith Blatch, Andrew Sparks and Ben Wright, who bounced back from an early tangle with Jim Kennedy and David Van Vegchel.
The next meeting at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway is on Saturday, March 9 featuring round 12 of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and round nine of the Polar Ice Midget Track Championship, plus Formula 500s, AMCA Nationals, Compact Speedcars and Open Sedans.