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Kicking Up The Dirt - Sprintcar Australian Open - Night One
Joanne White posted Saturday January 7, 2017.

Thirty-five cars rolled into AusDeck Patios Archerfield Speedway last night for the first night of competition in the 2017 Sprintcar Australian Open. The contrast between the carnage and problems of Wednesday night and the almost incident-free run program of last night could not have been starker. With everyone conscious of the need to return tonight for the big race, and perhaps starting to run down a little on spares, most managed to get through the night relatively unscathed. Defending Australian Open Champion Kerry Madsen started the night with Quick Time in qualifying and remained strong all night, but it was Lachlan McHugh and Carson Macedo who stole the show in the Preliminary A-Main. Macedo led the first half lap of the race before McHugh raced through spectacularly on the bottom to steal the lead, opening a small margin. Macedo was relentless and closed the gap significantly when they hit lapped traffic, but McHugh remained smooth, consistent and fast as he weaved his way through the back markers, Macedo right on his tail. A yellow light stoppage with nine laps left to run gave them clean air for a couple of laps, but the battle between them only intensified. McHugh tried the bottom briefly, with Macedo going around the top to briefly get his nose in front, with McHugh promptly returning to the high side, only for Macedo to have a massive look on the bottom. Macedo hit a rut in turn two and lost a few car lengths on McHugh but began to close in once more as McHugh again started traversing lapped traffic. It was an absolutely epic battle that sets both drivers up beautifully for the finale tonight, with Lachlan McHugh taking the win ahead of Carson Macedo and current Australian Champion, and defending Australian Open Champion, Kerry Madsen. James McFadden and Donny Schatz rounded out the top five, with Darren Jensen the next best local in seventh behind Jamie Veal.

Qualifying got underway while the track was still a little wet, but track conditions deteriorated as the qualifying session progressed, with many drivers struggling though the ruts coming out of turn four. Kerry Madsen topped the leader board once all thirty-five cars had taken to the track, stopping the clock at an impressive 11.526 seconds. Jamie Veal was second quickest for the second time here this week, his 11.620 second circulation very consistent with his 11.623 from Wednesday night. Brooke Tatnell secured third (11.668) while Mitchell Gee was the quickest of the locals with an 11.709 to sit in fourth. James McFadden (11.734) rounded out the fastest five, while the top fifteen all dipped into the 11-second bracket and the top thirty-two cars were separated by less than one second. Jayden Peacock, who stopped the clock at 12.554 just 1.028 seconds slower than Madsen, ended up 34th with a time that less than a fortnight ago would have seen him inside the top ten.

Heat one started with Dave Whell and Andrew Liebke from the front row, with hard-chargers Andrew Scheuerle and Daniel Harding right behind them. The first start was aborted with officials deeming Whell to have jumped the start. Second time around was much more even but it was still Whell who took control of the race, while Scheuerle raced up the inside of Liebke to secure second. Liebke tried to fight back on the high side but could not quite make it pay off, and forced to settle into third. Liebke soon came under pressure from Harding, while David Murcott and Brent Kratzmann both tried to use the high line to make their way forward. Murcott raced around Cody Maroske while further back in the field Kerry Madsen started looking for a way underneath Kratzmann and set his sights on Bryan Mann, while Harding made his way in front of Liebke. Murcott followed Harding a couple of laps later, leaving Liebke to battle Maroske while at the front of the field Andrew Scheuerle was all over the back of Dave Whell with Daniel Harding also closing in. Dave Whell took the win ahead of a relentless Andrew Scheuerle while Daniel Harding crossed the line in third. David Murcott finished fourth and led Cody Maroske, Andrew Liebke, Bryan Mann, Kerry Madsen, Brent Kratzmann, Mitchell Gee, Jayden Peacock and Chris Harrison home.

Brayden Willmington and Callum Zizek led the field to the green for the start of heat two with Zizek quickly securing the lead and Willmington settling into second ahead of Allan Woods. Darren Jensen had an impressive run on the top side, while Peter Lack worked the bottom, the pair both trying to race underneath Andrew Wright on the opening lap, taking the trio three-wide through turn three. Jensen beat both Wright and Lack out of turn four and set out after Woods, while Lucas Wolfe tried to find a way past Lack. Wolfe however soon had his hands full when the formidable trio of James McFadden, Logan Schuchart and Jamie Veal started challenging him for position. Jensen was persistent on the back of Woods, never relenting but spending several laps patiently waiting for the right opportunity to race up the inside of the Q28 racer. Lack soon raced up the inside of Wright, while McFadden raced around Wolfe and then underneath Wright in less than half a lap and thrilled the crowd. Race leader Callum Zizek had a spin in turn four, colliding hard with the tractor tyre on the edge of the infield. Willmington led the restart from Jensen and Woods with three laps to run and while Jensen was relentless in his quest to get into the race lead, Willmington held his own. Peter Lack started challenging Woods for third while Jamie Veal searched for a way underneath Lucas Wolfe. Brayden Willmington took the win ahead of Darren Jensen with Allan Woods in third and leading Peter Lack, Andrew Wright, James McFadden, Lucas Wolfe, Jamie Veal, Logan Schuchart, Rob Hamilton, James Grady and Callum Zizek across the line.

Andrew Corbet and Dylan Menz shared the front row for the start of heat three, with Richard Morgan and Jason Pryde from the second row. Corbet led the way into turn one but Menz was spectacular on the high side and managed to secure the lead as they raced through turn two. Carson Macedo raced around Jack Lee and Richard Morgan in the opening corner before slipping underneath Jason Pryde in turn two to make his way into third and begun chasing down Corbet. Luke Oldfield tried to run the topside as he searched for a way around Jason Pryde, while Donny Schatz and Lachlan McHugh worked the bottom as they tried to make their way through the field. Schatz and McHugh quickly their way past Jack Lee, with Richard Morgan next in line, while at the front of the field Carson Macedo had moved ahead of Andrew Corbet and was now putting all kinds of pressure on the tail tank of race leader Dylan Menz. Menz was simply brilliant out in front, and while Macedo was unyielding, and Schatz closed in rapidly, Menz remained smooth and determined. With just two laps left to run Macedo made his way underneath Menz, and while Menz fought back valiantly on the top side, there was no stopping Macedo. Schatz stole second from Menz with less than a lap left to run but it was Carson Macedo who took the win ahead of Donny Schatz. Dylan Menz crossed the line in third after an incredibly impressive run and led Lachlan McHugh, Andrew Corbet, Brooke Tatnell, Luke Oldfield, Richard Morgan, Jack Lee, Jason Pryde and Brett Minett across the line.

Callum Zizek stared from pole position in heat four, with Dave Whell alongside and Allan Woods and Andrew Scheuerle from the second row. Zizek quickly secured the lead while Woods raced under Whell to secure second while Scheuerle tried to race around the outside of both Woods and Whell. Scheuerle managed to get the better of Whell as they completed the first lap but James Grady spun the Q40 racer in turn four and brought the race under caution. Zizek led the restart from Woods and Scheuerle with Whell back in fourth and nine laps left to run. Darren Jensen was in magnificent form and quickly made his way underneath Whell, while behind them Lucas Wolfe and Jamie Veal argued over positions whilst trying to find a way past Cody Maroske. Unfortunately Maroske soon pulled out of the race with mechanical issues on board the Q22 racer, but all eyes were on Andrew Scheuerle as he searched for a way past Allan Woods. Scheuerle was in magnificent form, keen to make up for a less than ideal qualifying run, and had a massive look on the inside of Woods through turn two. Scheuerle managed to get his nose in front but Woods powered spectacularly around the high side through turn four to regain his position. Woods then raced underneath Zizek a lap later to take control of the race, with Scheuerle, now under fire from a very hard-charging Darren Jensen, soon making his way past Zizek as well. Zizek faded a little as Jensen come through, and lost one final position to Jamie Veal as they crossed the line. Allan Woods took the win ahead of Andrew Scheuerle, Darren Jensen, Jamie Veal and Callum Zizek. Lucas Wolfe was sixth past the chequered flag and led Dave Whell, Bryan Mann, Mitchell Gee, Chris Harrison, James Grady and Cody Maroske home.

Heat five started with Andrew Liebke from pole position and Andrew Corbet sharing the front row. Liebke got the jump when the green flag flew and quickly settled into the race lead while Corbet held down second as Richard Morgan took to the high line and tried to secure the advantage over Daniel Harding. Deep in the field Kerry Madsen had a look on the inside of Brent Kratzmann and Donny Schatz, the trio essentially three-wide through the opening corner, with Lachlan McHugh right on their tail. McHugh raced up the inside of Schatz when the latter got momentarily caught up behind Kratzmann with Kratzmann then racing underneath Jack Lee. McHugh and his team had the Q23 racer set up beautifully and McHugh soon raced under both Lee and Kratzmann, while Murcott raced underneath Morgan just ahead of them. Kratzmann got underneath Morgan, with Kerry Madsen having a look on the inside before taking to the high side to try and find his way around the top. McHugh had closed in on Harding and Corbet and was searching high and low for a way through and while Harding found his way past, McHugh soon had David Murcott to contend with. Kratzmann and Schatz had a brilliant battle mid-field, while Murcott found his way past both McHugh and Corbet, and Harding relieved Liebke of the race lead. Contact between the right rear of Harding and the left front of Liebke as they raced for control of the race, left Liebke heading towards the turn four wall and allowed Murcott to slip through on the bottom as the white flag flew. Daniel Harding took the win ahead of David Murcott, Andrew Liebke and Lachlan McHugh, while Kerry Madsen and Andrew Corbet raced side-by-side across the line. Madsen secured fifth ahead of Corbet, while Donny Schatz, Brent Kratzmann, Richard Morgan, Jayden Peacock, Jack Lee and Brett Minett rounded out the finishers.

Heat six, the final heat of the night, saw Dylan Menz and Brayden Willmington share the front row ahead of Jason Pryde and Andrew Wright. Menz once again got the jump on the start and quickly settled into the race lead, while Willmington settled into second and Jason Pryde and Carson Macedo argued over third. Andrew Wright took to the top side but soon found Luke Oldfield on the low line trying to make his way to the front, while Macedo switched to the high side as they tried to get around Pryde. Macedo made his way underneath Willmington and set out after Menz once more, while Oldfield and Wright raced underneath Pryde. Within just a couple of laps Macedo was back on the tail of Menz, the pair duelling as they did in the first round of heats, with Menz again having a sensational drive against his American rival. It did however only take Macedo a couple of laps to find his way into the lead this time around, leaving Menz with Oldfield on his tail as they raced closer to the chequered flag. Peter Lack chased Brooke Tatnell and Andrew Wright but it was Carson Macedo who took the win, with Luke Oldfield in second and Dylan Menz in third. James McFadden was fourth across the line ahead of Brayden Willmington, Andrew Wright, Brooke Tatnell, Peter Lack, Jason Pryde and Rob Hamilton. Logan Schuchart pulled out of the event after only two laps.

Eighteen cars lined up for the start of the B-Main, though one could be forgiven for mistaking it for a main event. Mitchell Gee started from pole position with Andrew Scheuerle alongside, and Brent Kratzmann and Bryan Mann shared the second row for the twelve lap affair. With only the top four to transfer it was going to a big ask for anyone starting behind the front four to make their way into the preliminary A-Main, but with twelve laps to run anything could happen. Scheuerle quickly secured the lead when the lights went green, with Gee securing second and Kratzmann and Mann fighting over third. Kratzmann beat Mann out of turn two, leaving Mann to try and defend his position from a very impressive Cody Maroske. Logan Schuchart battled with Jack Lee and Brayden Willmington mid field, while Jayden Peacock, from the rear of the field, raced around Andrew Corbet before ducking to the low line and trying to race under Chris Harrison and Andrew Liebke. Peacock soon secured the advantage over Harrison, with Richard Morgan following him through, and began searching for a way past Liebke. The race was soon brought under caution though when Cody Maroske, Andrew Wright and Rob Hamilton came together in turn four. Andrew Scheuerle led the restart with four laps left to run and would go on to take the win ahead of Mitchell Gee, Brent Kratzmann and Bryan Mann, all four securing transfers to the preliminary A-Main event. Jack Lee and Dylan Menz had a great battle for those final four laps, with Lee securing fifth ahead of Menz, while Jayden Peacock had a breathtaking run from the rear of the field to finish an impressive seventh. Dave Whell crossed the line in eighth and led Brayden Willmington, Chris Harrison, Andrew Liebke, Richard Morgan, Andrew Wright, Andrew Corbet and Jason Pryde across the line. Cody Maroske, Logan Schuchart and Rob Hamilton did not finish the race.

A huge field of eighteen cars lined up for the 20-lap Preliminary A-Main, with young Lachlan McHugh from pole position and with Carson Macedo alongside and James McFadden and Kerry Madsen out of the second row. The competition does not get much tougher than this, with some of the best in the world making for a gruelling and demanding race where even the smallest mistake is an invitation for the driver behind to make their move. McHugh got the jump on the start and narrowly led the way to the first corner, while Macedo worked the top side and led the way out of turn two. McHugh had the speed on the bottom and raced underneath Macedo as they headed into turn three, and stole the lead. Macedo tried to challenge but McHugh was too fast, the pair pulling ahead of the rest of the field less than lap into the race. Kerry Madsen had settled into third while McFadden and Luke Oldfield argued briefly over fourth, with McFadden soon securing the position and chasing after Madsen. Darren Jensen and Jamie Veal had a big look on the inside of Oldfield, while Oldfield remained committed to the top and managed to stay in front. Peter Lack and David Murcott raced wheel-to-wheel deep in the field, with Mitchell Gee right on their tail and Andrew Scheuerle not far behind. Lack, on the high line, quickly moved ahead of Murcott, while Lucas Wolfe raced underneath Gee and turned his attention to Murcott. Wolfe wasted no time at all in moving past the former Australian Champion, while Gee tried to follow him on the bottom only for Murcott to fight back on the top side as he tried to not only maintain his advantage over Gee but searched for a way back past Wolfe. Brent Kratzmann and Allan Woods had a great battle at the rear of the field, with Scheuerle on their tail and searching for a way through, all the while McHugh and Macedo closed in on the back-markers and began negotiating lapped traffic. Contact between Oldfield and Woods with nine laps left to run, with Brooke Tatnell also becoming involved, brought the race under caution.

Lachlan McHugh led the restart from Carson Macedo and Kerry Madsen, and while McHugh tried the bottom for the first lap, Macedo took to the high side and challenged McHugh for the lead. McHugh managed to hang on to control of the race, quickly switching back to the tricky but fast high line, and while Macedo had a big look on the bottom, McHugh maintained the advantage. Darren Jensen took to the high side to get past Brooke Tatnell but there was no stopping Lachlan McHugh as he raced past the chequered flag to take a truly spectacular, hard fought and very much deserved win. Carson Macedo held nothing back and thoroughly entertained the crowd as he challenged for the lead, but ultimately crossed the line in second with Kerry Madsen home in third. James McFadden and Donny Schatz rounded out the top five, with Jamie Veal, Darren Jensen, Brooke Tatnell, Peter Lack, Daniel Harding, Lucas Wolfe, Luke Oldfield, Andrew Scheuerle, David Murcott, Mitchell Gee, Brent Kratzmann, Bryan Mann and Allan Woods rounding out the finishers.

We are all set to head back out to AusDeck Patios Archerfield Speedway TONIGHT, for the final night of competition in the 2017 Sprintcar Australian Open. Can young Lachlan McHugh pull off another win in one of the biggest Sprintcar races on the Australian Calendar? Will Carson Macedo prevail in a longer race or will Kerry Madsen step up and successfully defend his crown. Of course Donny Schatz can never be discounted, with Schatz always playing the long game. Schatz always seems to shine in the 50-lap Australian Open finale – who can forget the night a number years back when he quite literally lapped the entire field? It is going to be an absolutely MASSIVE night tonight so come on out to AusDeck Patios Archerfield Speedway and cheer on your favourite! See you track side!


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