From Premier Speedway
Oklahoman Shane Stewart completed an awesome evening of racing on night one of the 38th running of the Warrnambool Standard Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic tonight. Tonight’s superb final provides an exciting setting for tomorrow’s feature as chasing Stewart to the line was fellow American Jason Johnson with Brooke Tatnell in third. The 25 lap Australian/American Challenge was lead away with Stewart getting the jump on Danny Smith who was the highest qualifier and began from pole. Jason Johnson, Brooke Tatnell, young gun James McFadden and Kerry Madsen were in hot pursuit but the leader soon opened a handy advantage.
Lapped traffic was always going to produce a thrilling battle with Johnson managing to motor around fellow American Smith with Johnson setting his sights set on Stewart. Up high against the wall was the preferred line as the slick track made for plenty of slide jobs and wheel to wheel racing from some of the best drivers in the world. Tatnell took advantage of making his way around Danny Smith in the final laps to claim third following a brilliant side by side race.
Despite closing within a few car lengths of Stewart mid race the leader negotiated the traffic as he again sped away and opened an advantage over Johnson. Stewart was relieved to win the preliminary with some of the pressure off as he attempts to win his first Classic after three podium finishes from four attempts. Stewart had the Colin Bulmer owned USA #2 on rails as he made the most of a front row start to lead all the way.
“It makes heat races tomorrow a little easier although nothing’s easy here with this field,” said Stewart. “After watching the B-main I didn’t know what to expect and I stayed up top and had a go at the bottom in the middle part of the race. Leading I wasn’t sure where I should be because you try to gauge your speed off the lapped cars but at the end of the race we were still there at the front so that’s a good thing.”
“I think we’ve got as greater shot as any guy in the pit area,” confirmed winner Stewart. Racing from fourth on the starting grid, Jason Johnson made a lot of ground through the middle part of the race as he sped toward the front in his usual hard charging fashion. “My guys gave me a great race car tonight and I thought we had something for them. I stayed committed to running the top and maybe I stayed up there a little too long,” lamented the Louisiana ace. “To be in the top two tonight is definitely a great result and hopefully come tomorrow we can be one better.”
Tatnell was satisfied with third despite admitting he was still looking for further improvement for night two. Tatnell’s battle for third against Smith was one of the highlights of the non stop final. Following Smith into fifth was twelfth starting Terry McCarl, James McFadden, Kerry Madsen, Matthew Reed and sixteenth starting Jason Sides in ninth. Steve Lines was tenth ahead of Jonathon Allard, David Murcott, Danny Reidy, Nick Lacey, Darren Mollenoyux, Ryan Farrell, Craig Dollansky and Luke Dillon rounding out the finishers.
Craig Dollansky impressively won the B main from position eight ahead of Jason Sides, Luke Dillon and Dave Murcott as all four were able to transfer into the main event. Notables not to transfer included Jamie Veal, Ben Atkinson, Matt Egel, Stephen Bell, Garry Brazier, Andrew Scheuerle and Robbie Farr! Farr won the C-main while Matt Egel, Dylan Jenkin and Ricky Maiolo all advanced while Max Dumesny and Paul McMahan were unable to advance from the last chance qualifier.
Tennessee ace Jason Sides powered to the fastest time in Lucas Oil Products / Smiley’s Racing Products qualifying to also add his name to the Allan Pollard Memorial trophy. Sides’ time of 10.841 seconds was well shy of the one lap track record. Beautiful blue skies surrounded the venue while the 76 strong field began with qualifying and was followed by a massive two rounds of 7 heat races, then C, B and A mains.
Several delays eventually caused the final to be completed in the early hours of Sunday morning with a large crowd thrilled by the awesome B-main and non stop A-main. Heat Race winners in round one were Ryan Farrell, Danny Smith, Matthew Reed, Robbie Farr, Jason Johnson, Shane Stewart and Brooke Tatnell while round two saw James McFadden, Phil March, Steve Caunt, Craig Dollansky, Ryan Davis, Wayne Johnson and Lucas Wolfe take the win collecting valuable points. Tomorrow’s night two begins with the RAAF Roulettes opening the show before a further 14 heat races before the finals will eventually see 18 cars compete over 40 laps for the $30,000 winners prize. A reminder that the Race Info Line 9513 5555 contains all the information for upcoming events. For more details phone General Manager David Mills 0408 529 625 Website – www.premierspeedway.com.au