Special to Bullet News
Tommy Flannigan had a big night at Merrittville Speedway Saturday as the second-generation driver drove off to almost a half-lap margin of victory in the 35-lap 358 modified feature.
Cody McPherson, Ken Sargent, Jason Corless and Rocco Conte also visited Victory Lane in the sportsman, stock, modified lite and four-cylinder divisions respectively.
“We’ve been wicked consistent lately,” said Flannigan. “But we just haven’t been able to get here.”
Pete Cosco was first to lead the 35 lap event with Ken Winfield and Travis Braun the early challengers. Quickly however Winfield’s car began to show signs of smoke and soon after he retired to the pits, Flannigan was able to get by both Braun and Cosco to take control of top spot. By lap 10 he had driven away from the field to a lead of almost half a lap.
As the race continued caution free – Flannigan was able to maintain the healthy advantage which meant a lead on almost seven seconds through increasing lap traffic. Chad Chevalier settled comfortably into the runner up spot and by lap 25 enjoyed a lead of some 10 car lengths over Mat Williamson.
By lap 30 Williamson closed to within a couple car lengths of Chevalier but neither had anything for the leader in the event that was run entirely under green.
When Flannigan took Starter Doug Leonard’s Double Checkers – Chevalier was leading the field into Turn 3.
“I don’t know what to say,” added Flannigan. “No cautions and starting up front definitely helped … but thanks to John McKenney and Randy Mallory for putting this deal together for me.”
Flannigan, Chevalier and Williamson were followed by Larry Lampman and Braun.
A caution-filled 25 lap Original Pizza Logs Sportsman Feature saw Cody McPherson take control of top spot just past the lap 10 mark with the field slowed twice more in the last half of the race with the second generation driver back out front each time.
“Every lap I held my line … hit my marks and stayed smooth,” said McPherson. “The track was awesome … the top was fast and the bottom too.”
The start of the event saw Jason Farraway as the initial leader before Robert Baker took control after a lap 2 restart. Second generation driver Gary Lindberg would then take over to start lap 4 with Nick Cupolo and McPherson settling in behind.
Once by Cupolo and into top spot McPherson would lead the field into lap traffic by lap 18 before a final caution slowed the pace on lap 20.
The battle for the runner up spot would allow McPherson to pull away to a comfortable lead with BJ Willard able to overtake Cupolo for second down the backstretch of the final lap. Brad Rouse was also able to get by with Cupolo having to settle for fourth and Lindberg fifth.
“I’m just trying to run my own race and staying out of it,” said Sargent. “It’s unfortunate that it is gonna come down this way.”
Sargent took control of the 20 lap event just past the halfway point after then leader Rob Murray slowed with a flat rear tire. Previous to that Murray and Billy Bleich had staged quite a battle for top spot with the two leaning on each other until Murray slowed. While under caution Murray would spin Bleich out.
Bleich had taken the lead on a lap 3 restart from early leader Lee Winger after Dave Bitner slowed on the front stretch after losing his right rear wheel and axle. Once action resumed Bleich and then second place Rob Murray pulled away before a lap 9 incident slowed the event setting up their side by side battle.
Once Sargent was the leader – the defending champion’s pace would also be slowed twice in the final laps with Dave Small able to hold off another impressive finish from James Thompson with Kevin Knapp and Vince Fargnoli rounding out the top 5.
“Really, I had no idea how far ahead I was,” said Corless after winning for the second time of 2011. “Late in the race I couldn’t hear anyone so I just slowed down and tried not to overdrive ther corners … this is just awesome – an amazing car tonight!”
Corless took control from the drop of the green and despite being slowed for two cautions – was never really challenged the entire distance.
Corless led on start with Derek Moore into second although their was quite a gap between the top three cars. That all changed on lap 6 when caution slowed the field. Corless regained the lead on the restart Moore and Derek Wagner challenging although Corless was out front by some 5 car lengths. Doug Williams trying to hold off Josh Sliter but despite sparks flying was able to hold off the invader. Caution on lap 15 Corless back out front on the restart with Wagner trying to hold off Moore. Corless would open up almost a 10 car advantage over Wagner
The race to watch became the one for second between Derek Moore and Derek Wagner. Behind them Josh Sliter was also trying to keep his position – being challenged by Hastings NY visiting driver Doug Williams.
At the finish Corless would run to a 10 car lead over Derek Wagner with Moore settling for third. Williams advanced to fourth spot with Shawn Sliter taking fifth. His nephew Josh would drop to sixth at the finish after suspension problems had the defending champion’s car throwing sparks throughout the event.
The start of the 15 lap Feature for the Turn 4 Collision 4 Cylinders saw Rocco Conte beat fellow front row starter Dillan Sliter to the initial green flag – opening up a 10 car lead by lap 5.
Sliter who just turned 15 was in an unfamiliar car – the Rob Goulding # 16 but from the drop of the green had it up to speed. Sliter would face an early challenge from Goulding himself in his 2011 ride with the two side by side before caution would slow the field after Trevor Goulding in the Tony Kelly #12 slowed in Turn 4 at half way.
Conte resumed control on the restart but not without a good challenge from Sliter.
At the finish – it was Conte out front by 5 car lengths with Sliter second. Goulding would settle for third with Kyle Pelrine and Greg Wilson rounding out the top 5.
INSIDE TRACK MOTORSPORT NEWS PIT NOTES
The Hoosier Stocks were in the spotlight between their heats and feature with a Dash for Cash that saw Kevin Knapp take home some bonus money remaining from Monday August 1st’s Bob St. Amand Senior Memorial.
The flags were at half mast in memory of the late Cam Gagliardi who passed away at 82 this past Wednesday. Gagliardi was one of the first American drives to become a Merrittville Regular and was a member of the L. St. Amand Enterprises Wall of Fame.
UPCOMING AT MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY Ball Hockey International will present Minor Sport Night assisted by the Niagara IceDogs featuring a 5 Division Lucas Oil Weekly Racing Series Event Saturday August 27th. When the Grandstands open at 5:30 all Minor Sport Players in their Uniform Sweaters will be admitted free. Show Time is 7 PM.
For all the news on Merrittville Speedway’s 60th Consecutive Season – call 905-892-8266 or 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).
BOBCAT OF HAMILTON DIRTcar 358 MODIFIED FEATURE (35 laps) Tommy Flannigan, Chad Chevalier, Mat Williamson, Larry Lampman, Travis Braun, Rob Pietz, Bill Bleich, Mike Bowman, Tim Jones, Todd Gordon, Scott Wood, Pete Bicknell, Rick Richner, Danny O’Brien, Brandon Easey, Justin Sharp, Mark D’Ilario, Boyd MacTavish, Shayne Pierce, Tyler McPherson, Pete Cosco, Fred Carleton, Dennis Giancola, Ken Winfield.
ORIGINAL PIZZA LOGS DIRTcar SPORTSMAN FEATURE (25 laps) Cody McPherson, BJ Willard, Brad Rouse, Nick Cupolo, Gary Lindberg, Brent Begolo, Rob Knapp, Robert Baker, Robbie Rounce, Paul Gaboury, Jesse Penner, Jason Moore, Jason Farraway, Remington Price, Steve Robins, Ray Hockridge, Ron Kingsbury, Dave Flannigan, Doug Banner, West Tallons, Greg Panunte, Adam Leslie, Kevin Knapp.
HOOSIER STOCK FEATURE (20 laps) Ken Sargent, Dave Small, James Thompson, Kevin Knapp, Vince Fargnoli, Ron MacAulay, Ed McNamara, Chris Schneider, Lee Winger, Jeremy Bean, Devin Habiuk, Charlie Lynch, Austin Wood, Ian Blanchard, Matt Bartlett, Mark Fawcett, Terry Ronning, David Bitner, Billy Bleich, Jason Fontaine, Pete Reid, Rob Murray.
J&S HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING MODIFIED LITE FEATURE (20 laps) Jason Corless, Derek Wagner, Derek Moore, Doug Williams, Shawn Sliter, Josh Sliter, Paul Klager, Jeffrey May, Kory Howe, Randy Hollingshead, Rick Demo, Ray Sliter Jr., Jared Turnbull, Derek Bredin, Scott Billing, Greg Mills, Wally Billing, Bob Bredin, Kellie Mason.
TURN 4 COLLISION 4 CYLINDER FEATURE (15 laps) Rocco Conte, Dillan Sliter, Rob Goulding, Kyle Pelrine, Greg Wilson, Garnet Wilson, Rob Overholt, Kameron Kocarik, Chris Laskey, Trevor Goulding, Jason Langaro, Hilary Haegens, Mike Giberson, Brandon Boychuck, Chris Sheppard, Jeff Larmet, Evan Curtis, Tony Kelly, Jason Coutu.