2017-08-17 / Sports

Kinross Speedpark Race Nets Plenty of Action, ‘Spin and Win’ for Spurway

By Erich T. Doerr

The Kinross Speedpark’s fifth race of the season Sunday, August 6, was a big one with five classes of cars in competition. Victory lane would host some familiar and some new faces throughout the day as the Speedpark regulars were joined on the track by additional Upper Peninsula racers from Norway Speedway.

The ABC Stock Cars A-Division feature race was one of attrition that saw just four of race’s nine starters make it to the finish line. Reigning track champion Keenan Spurway of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario bounced back from some rough races to claim his second win of the season, but not without incident as he was spun in the opening laps by Kinross-based racer Tony Rankin. The race began with Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan racer Dennis Aho out front followed by Petoskey’s Grant Howard and Ontario Soo racer Chase Wilson. Mr. Spurway was fourth early on before his spin. The restart then got chaotic as Mr. Wilson got into Mr. Howard spinning him. Mr. Spurway got by Mr. Aho to take the lead on a restart but behind them the car of Boyne City’s Keith McBee had a mechanical issue and slowed before Mr. Rankin spun into him. Mr. Aho got back in front and fought off a challenge from Soo Ontario racer Jason Praysner but quickly found himself in another battle with Mr. Spurway. Mr. Spurway made the winning pass on the outside with just three laps to go then held on to win by about a car length in front of Mr. Aho, Mr. Wilson, and Mr. Praysner. Mr. Rankin took fifth despite not finishing with Mr. Howard, Mr. McBee, Brandon Carson, and Larry Young, Sr. completing the finishing order. Mike Fox and Tod Furguson did not make the call to start the feature. The season championship battle remains tight with four drivers within just 13 points of each other; Mr. Aho’s total of 143 points leads Mr. Rankin’s 136, Mr. Carson’s 135, and Mr. Praysner’s 130. Mr. Spurway’s winning black #0 car was a Chevrolet Camaro, the bowtie brand’s cars being omnipresent in short track racing, but his sponsors ironically included a Canadian Ford dealership.

The speedy, purpose-built modified division racers had the largest feature of the day with 15-cars lining up to take the green flag. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario’s Dustin Jackson would win his second race in a row but not before some dramatic racing set back most of his competition. The feature began with a battle of heat race winners as Echo Bay, Ontario racer Mark Laakso led the early laps and held off a challenge from Wolverine’s Michael Evans, Jr. It soon became a four-car battle at the front as Mr. Laakso and Mr. Evans’ side-by-side duel allowed Petoskey’s four-car dash winner Buddy Gray IV and Mr. Jackson catch up. A decisive moment came as Mr. Gray IV attempted a daring move in turns one and two by driving to the inside looking to move from third place straight to first. He paid dearly for his courage as he pulled into the lead but clipped Mr. Laakso’s car in the process. The wheel-to-wheel contact was disastrous for Mr. Gray IV as it launched the back end of his #24JR entry into the air and sent him into a spin to the right that carried him off the top of the track’s banking into the grass before his car finally came to a stop. Mr. Evans spiked the brakes as the chaos unfolded in front of him to avoid being collected, his car sliding slightly sideways as he narrowly escaped damage. The restart saw Mr. Evans leading Mr. Jackson and Mr. Gray IV. Mr. Jackson took the lead from Mr. Evans after a side-by-side duel then held off the late charge of Barbeau heat race winner Josh Ware in the closing laps, including slight contact on the white flag circuit, on his way to victory lane. The final rundown saw Mr. Jackson, Mr. Ware, Mr. Gray IV, Mike Babcock, and Mr. Laakso fill the top five with Roddy Bolduc, Mr. Evans, John Ross, Joe Deisler, Tyler Rye, Tim Aho, Leila Uhlman, Dean Eggart, Cody MacLean, and Mark Porpelia completing the field. B.J. Marcoux did not start the feature after issues in qualifying. Mr. Jackson’s victory makes him the first modified racer this season with more than one feature win and helps him extend his points lead to 43 points ahead of Mr. Gray IV.

The ABC Stock Car B-Division saw its fifth winner in as many races this season as Ontario Soo competitor Mike Corbett took his first victory of the season leading home a clean sweep of the top-5 for Ontario drivers. He was followed home by Echo Bay’s four car dash winner Jerry Ross, John Carter and Daniel Bibeau of the Canadian Soo, and Goulais River’s heat race winner Buddy Palahnuk. Caleb Williams, fast qualifier and heat race winner Ron Raynor, Jr., Chris Toms, Chris Ogden, Gerald Archer, and Tommy Follette completed the field. Kaitlyn McDonald, Jacob Heimonen, and Larry Young, Jr. were unable to start the feature. After the race Mr. Carter maintains a 16-point lead in the title battle over Mr. Palahnuk and a 34- point advantage above Mr. Ross.

The four-cylinder class was wide open coming into its race as points leader Brent Fewchuk had won three of the prior four races but wasn’t entered in this one. Jack Lannigan briefly led at the start but quickly gave way to Petoskey heat race winner Gillian Howard and Canadian Soo competitor Rebecca Fewchuk, Brent’s sister, as the fast-lapping ladies pulled away from the field. Rebecca Fewchuk pulled into the lead after a side-by-side shootout with Ms. Howard with the Michigan competitor then having to race with Harbor Springs’ Jack Wieman for second. Ms. Howard and Jack Wieman saw their chances of victory eliminated when they got into each other, resulting in Ms. Howard’s car ending up sideways on the track. They both drove away without crashing but Ms. Howard’s #4 retired after a few trips in and out of the pits. The restart saw Rebecca Fewchuk continue to lead as she held off all attacks from fellow Canadian Soo competitor Anthony Mannarino in the closing laps to claim her first win of the season. Mr. Mannarino took second with four-car dash winner Rob Wagner third followed by heat race winner Megan Hayes, Ken Fewchuk, Jack Wieman, Mr. Lannigan, John Wieman, Ms. Howard, and Brandon Williams. Don Dangler, Jr. from the American Soo was the day’s fast qualifier but again had issues keep him from contending; he was second in the four-car dash but disqualified in his heat race and did not start the feature. Rebecca Fewchuk came into this race trailing her brother by 21 points in the championship battle but moves ahead of him with the win. She is now leading the standings by six points over Mr. Wagner and 11 points over Brent Fewchuk.

The Kinross race fans got a bonus race on the program as six competitors from Norway Speedway’s Sportsman class made the three-anda half hour, 200-mile drive across the Upper Peninsula to compete at the Speedpark. Norway races on Friday nights so its drivers were free to race in Kinross Sunday without missing out on their regular events. Kingsford racer Savanna Novara was unbeatable in her black #21 as she posted fast qualifying time then won the four car dash, the heat race and the feature. Michelle Janczewski took second in the feature followed by Jade Novara and Jordan Massicotte. Joe Ostermann and John Ostermann were unable to start the feature.

The Speedpark’s next race is going to be Sunday, August 20. It will be the track’s final Sunday afternoon races of the year as drivers battle to gain as many points as they can in the lead up to the season championship races Friday, September 1, during the Chippewa County Fair.

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