• On a wild incident-packed night at Archerfield Speedway on Saturday (February 18), Ryan Newton outgunned the field to win round six of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship. Just a week after scoring a top-ten finish in the Australian Championship on the other side of the country, Newton set a cracking pace through the early laps of the race, riding the ragged edge and bouncing off the wall on several occasions before landing in victory lane for the first time this season. In finishing second and third respectively, both Tim Farrell and Adam Butler also scored their best results of the season, with Aaron Kelly and Randy Morgan completing the first five finishers.

    A 28-car field hit the track for Sprintcar time trial qualifying and it was Brent Kratzmann who upstaged all others, clocking a best lap of 11.856 to emerge with KRE Fast Time. Newton (11.942) was second quickest and the only other runner to drop under 12 seconds, with Kelly (12.019), Farrell (12.038) and Jy Corbet (12.060) next best. Taylor Prosser, Andrew Baumber, Titman, Morgan and Harry Stewart rounded out the top ten, with Dan Murray the best of the rest.

    The opening heat proved very costly for Tarhlea Apelt who, having pounced from pole position to lead the field away, was whacked by Tyler Stralow in turn one, sending both cars into a spin. Stralow would take no further part in the night and, whilst Apelt would restart from the rear, direct qualification into the feature race would now be out of reach. It would be Butler first home ahead of Newton, who advanced from row three, with Titman third.

    Whilst Trent Vardy downed Brad Ayers and Morgan to win heat two, Mark Pholi and Andrew Baumber made a concerted effort to steal the spotlight when they both upended in turn one after the chequer.

    Heat three went the way of Jack Bell over Stewart and Kelly, with Newton downing Butler and Titman in heat four

    Farrell proved too fast in heat five, downing Morgan and Vardy before Kelly wrapped up qualifying with a win in the final heat in advance of Kratzmann and Bell.

    The value of Formula 500 racing as a breeding ground for Sprintcar talent was on display in the opening heats of the Petrzyo Development Sprintcars, from which Noah Ball and Nathan Pronger emerged with wins. More F500 alumni in Kayden Iverson and Kinser Claridge filled the runner-up spots ahead of Libby Ellis and Anthony Vanderreyden respectively.

    Ellis looked to have heat three safely in her keeping, only to throw away the lead with a spin on the main straight with just four laps to run. Dan Moes would inherit the lead and the win, leading home Ron Hendrickson and Iverson.

    The final heat saw Claridge advance from the third row to take the race, leading home Vanderreyden and Todd Gaudry.

    Claridge seemed on track to prevail in the Development Series feature race (C Main), leading the 14-car field through the opening 10 laps as the only driver to complete any laps under 14 seconds. However, when a spin from Robert Munro on lap 12 triggered a restart, Iverson pounced to snatch the lead soon after the resumption and held firm at the front to win on debut. Moes moved ahead of Claridge for second spot with only a lap or so to run, with Jared Desmares and Nathan Pronger rounding out the first five to also secure a transfer into the B Main. Hendrickson, Carlo Moiola, Munro, Ball and Gaudry completed the top ten.

    The Boss Hogg’s Steakhouse Sprintcar Dash draw would see Newton, as the top qualifier, relegated to the outside of row two, but it was of little consequence as he would take control of the race on lap four and ultimately finish more than two seconds clear of Butler, with Farrell, Kelly, Morgan, Kratzmann, Titman and Vardy following in that order.

    The first attempt to get the B Main underway was halted when another newcomer in Nash Morris spun in turn four. Once underway, Jy Corbet had little trouble in distancing himself from the field and he would remain in control when the race was ended six laps early after a series of stoppages, two of which came courtesy of spins from Claridge at opposite ends of the track on consecutive laps, with another restart coming soon after when Bell looped in turn four with eight laps still to run. Dave Fanning finished second ahead of Apelt and a fortunate Pholi. In a performance that belies his lack of Sprintcar experience, Iverson fell agonisingly short of a feature race start when, having stormed into the top five after just nine laps, he slipped underneath Pholi through turn three to move into the final transfer position, only for Peter Campbell to crunch the concrete in turn four and trigger a restart for which Pholi would be reinstated to fourth. When Tony Bridge crashed heavily along the back straight a lap later, officials called an end to proceedings, with Corbet, Fanning, Apelt and Pholi advancing to the feature race. Mitch Gowland snared sixth ahead of Pronger, James Matthews, Kye Jensen, Morris and the rest.

    The 30-lap East Coast Logistics feature race was, by comparison, considerably more sedate but plenty entertaining. Sharing the front row with Butler, Newton rocketed off the line from pole position and had opened a considerable lead by the end of the opening lap. Having produced some remarkable speed on the low line throughout the heats, Butler found himself trapped wide through the first few laps and would fall as far as sixth behind Farrell, Morgan, Kelly, Vardy and Titman before he could again entrench himself on the bottom. The only interruption came on lap eight when Ayers spun in turn three. After 10 laps, Butler had gained just one spot but had closed in on the fight for third between Kelly and Morgan. The order remained static at the front with Newton leading Farrell, with Butler on a charge that would see him relegate both Morgan and Kelly. Further back, Kratzmann would drop spots to Vardy and Titman while, even deeper in the field, Corbet was a far cry from his usual hard charging self and made little progress to ultimately finish a lap in arrears. With the cushion very high on the track, Newton banged the wall on several occasions and was perhaps a little lucky to hold on given his right rear tyre deflated on the podium. Farrell was largely untroubled in finishing second ahead of Butler, Kelly and Morgan, with Vardy, Titman, Kratzmann, Stewart and Murray rounding out the top ten. Bell and Gowland were next best ahead of Corbet, Prosser, Pholi, Fanning, Apelt, Baumber and Ayers, with all 19 starters making it to the finish.

    Despite clocking the quickest lap in hot laps, Scott Doyle couldn’t keep pace with race winner Casey O’Connell in the first of the Midget heats, with Boyd Chaffey collecting third.

    A slow start from the outside front row saw Charlie Brown shuffled back to fifth in the early bustle of heat two but, soon after a restart following a spin from race leader Darren Dillon in turn two, Brown zoomed to the front and would lead Brock Dean and Dylan Menz to the chequer.

    The final heat saw yet another F500 graduate outpace the field, with Chaffey leading home O’Connell and Dean.

    From pole position, O’Connell would lead the opening three laps of the feature race before Brown took control. Running very high to grab the cushion through turns three and four, Brown would drop to the bottom in turns one and two, a strategy that paid dividends as he skipped clear of the field before a series of interruptions brought him back to the pack. The first stoppage came on lap 10 when Tim Devine spun in turn one, with second-placed O’Connell sliding to a halt to avoid contact and subsequently required to restart from the rear. Two laps later, a spin from Daniel Griffith halted proceedings again and then, when Doyle, Tom Clauss, Ty Horne and Glen Prowse piled up in turn two with seven laps still to be completed, officials cut five laps to set up a green-white-chequer sprint finish. Brown was untroubled to maintain his lead, with Chaffey clinching second spot as Brad Dawson finished strongly to grab third ahead of DJ Raw, Dean, Darren Dillon, Devine and O’Connell, with Griffith and Clauss the only other finishers.

    Nicholas Whell outpaced Brody Thomsen and Scott Thomsen in the first heat for round nine of the Wildink Wingless Sprint Club Championship.

    An early incident in lap two saw both Robert Mazzer and Bailey Goodwin on the infield after just two laps as Lismore’s Jacob Jolley prevailed over Andrew Sayre and Dave Sansby.

    Heat three incurred a delay when an opening lap skirmish resulted in Lachlan Robertson landing atop his front row partner Corey O’Toole in turn three. Once separated, Robertson was able to continue, while O’Toole and Jamie Usher (flat tyre) were rendered spectators. Once underway, Ian Milnes assumed the lead and looked on track for a win until a spin in turn four with just two laps to run kyboshed his chances and enabled Liam Atkinson to emerge victorious over Tim Harris and Chris Catchpole.

    Matt Gamble downed Jeremy Burt and Well in heat four while Usher, who has featured on the podium several times this season, again failed to go the distance.

    With Jolley content to plod along on the bottom behind Ben Manson in heat five, the Thomsen brothers roared around the outside to assume the top two spots, with Scott leading the way. Having been awakened by the challenge, Jolley quickly disposed of Manson to secure second spot as Brody Thomsen slipped back to fifth behind Manson and Stuart Jefferies.

    An opening lap moment in the final heat saw Sansby finish upside down when unable to avoid a spinning Milnes in turn four. With further incidents also eliminating the likes of Andrew Robinson and Andrew Sayre, only half of the starters would make it to the finish as Atkinson led every lap to score his second win of the night, with Ian O’Toole and Jacob Waller in the minor placings.

    Whilst Sayre was a comfortable winner in the B Main, the battle for the remaining transfer spots intensified over the closing moments before Robertson, Manson and O’Toole ultimately held firm in the face of a late charge from Neil Howard.

    A slow start from pole qualifier Atkinson allowed Jolley to lead the opening laps of the feature until he again found himself with no answer when Scott Thomsen came calling. It was lap seven that produced the lead change and Thomsen wasted no time in expanding his advantage to eventually cross the strike almost five seconds clear of Jolley, with Atkinson fighting back to finagle third when Brody Thomsen fell out of contention late in proceedings. Whell wheeled into fourth, with Harris also moving ahead of Brody Thomsen to foist himself into fifth. With all 20 starters still circulating at the finish, Brayden Shute, Blake Darcy, Gamble and Waller rounded out the top ten.

    A lack of cars prevented the Open Sedan events from reaching any great heights, with Wayne Kirkman winning all three heats and the feature in the A ranks, leading home Colin Morris and Robin Bains in the final. In the B division, Tim Swart won the first heat before Ronnie Young prevailed in the next two outings and then followed up to take out the feature race. In his first feature race defeat for quite a while, Swart finished second ahead of Shaun Donnelly, Scott Aitkens and Robert Gorman.

    The next event at Archerfield Speedway is on Saturday, March 25 featuring round seven of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship, along with Midgets, AMCA Nationals and Formula 500s.
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