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Kicking Up The Dirt - Kratzmann Caravans Firecracker 50
Joanne White posted Sunday February 5, 2017.

Thirty-four cars checked into Hi-Tec Oils Toowoomba Speedway last night for the Kratzmann Caravans Firecracker 50 and the first Sprintcar race in South East Queensland for nearly a month. While some our drivers have spent the past few weeks doing us proud and representing Queensland in the big races further south, most in the club have had a number of weeks off racing and were ready to put on a spectacular show for the large Toowoomba crowd. Difficult track conditions made for a tough night of racing, with the second round of heats abandoned and the 50-lap A-Main a test of skill, endurance, fuel conservation and tyre wear, but in the end it was the ever popular Dave Whell who took the win, his first feature event win in Sprintcars. Mick Sauer, back in the Sprintcar after some time on the sidelines, made a triumphant return when he crossed the line in second ahead of Robbie Farr in third. Farr had suffered engine issues in the Q7 racer and failed to complete his one and only heat, forcing him to contest the B-Main event to earn his spot in the main race. Luke Oldfield finished the feature in fourth, having led the early stages of the race before dropping to second and then electing to change his rear tyres in the open red stoppage eighteen laps from home. The fresh rubber enabled Oldfield to climb as high as fourth before the race concluded, with the Q17 racer even challenging Farr for third. Andrew Scheuerle put in yet another solid performance to cross the line in a very respectable fifth.

Qualifying got underway and it was Peter Lack who topped the leader board once all thirty-four cars had had their chance at qualifying. Lack stopped the clock at a quick 11.989 seconds and was the only driver who was able to break into the 11-second bracket. Luke Oldfield was second quickest around the Toowoomba circuit, recording a lap of 12.026 seconds, while Mitchell Gee secured third when he completed his lap in just 12.091 seconds. Allan Woods and Robbie Farr rounded out the fastest five while the top twenty-six cars were separated by less than one second. Michael Saller beat Mark Pholi by just one thousandths of a second, but Pholi, who made his return to the track after a few months on the sidelines, inverted the Q14 racer during his qualifying run. Fortunately Pholi was not injured in the incident and would return trackside later in the evening.

Heat one started with Peter Lack and Allan Woods from the front row with Mark Pholi and Kevin Titman out of row two. Woods got a brilliant start on the high side when the green flag flew and quickly secured the race lead, leaving Lack in second and Titman in third. Titman held nothing back as he challenged Lack for second, with Mark Pholi, Jayden Peacock and Simon Jupe all closing in as well. With Woods well and truly in control of the race, having built up a significant margin over his rivals, Pholi closed in on Titman and Lack and began challenging the pair for position. Woods began weaving his way through lapped traffic and was just moments away from taking the win when Tony Wynne spun to a stop in four and brought the race under caution. Left with a two lap sprint to the chequered flag, Woods led the restart from Lack, Titman and Pholi, but as soon as the lights went green Woods took off and pulled several car lengths ahead of his rivals. Titman challenged Lack for position in a thrilling battle to the finish, but Lack hung on and managed to successfully defend his position. Cody Maroske had a brilliant run in the final few laps, stealing seventh from Clem Hoffmans as the pair crossed the line, Maroske just six hundredths of a second ahead of Hoffmans. Allan Woods easily took the win ahead of Peter Lack, with Kevin Titman home in third. Mark Pholi crossed the line in fourth and led Jayden Peacock, Simon Jupe, Cody Maroske, Clem Hoffmans, Kristy Bonsey, Tony Wynne and Nelson Reddacliff across the line.

Luke Oldfield and Robbie Farr shared the front row for the start of heat two, with Dave Whell and Brett Minett right behind. Oldfield and Farr drag raced side-by-side through the opening corners with Farr soon securing the advantage on the high side. Unfortunately for Farr the race was immediately brought to a stop for Matthew Butler when had up-ended the immaculately presented Q12 racer in turn one. Butler was unscathed but unable to start the event, while Brodie Tulloch, who was also involved in the incident, restarted at the rear of the field. A full restart followed, only this time Farr uncharacteristically stumbled on the start, with Brett Minett then getting hard into the tail tank of the Q7 racer. Somehow everyone managed to avoid disaster but Farr slowed to a stop on the track and brought the race under caution. Unfortunately for Farr all was not right in the Q7 car and he was unable to restart the event, the crew later performing an engine change before the feature events. Oldfield led the restart from Minett and Wayne Iacono, only for Iacono to spin in turn four and leave the luckless Brodie Tulloch with nowhere to go once more. Tulloch again restarted at the rear of the field while Iacono was unable to continue the race. Oldfield led the restart from Minett, with Dave Whell now up to third ahead of Dan Murray, Mick Sauer and Brent Kratzmann. Oldfield immediately opened a comfortable margin over the rest of the field, while Kratzmann raced up the inside of Sauer to make his way a little closer to the front. Brodie Tulloch spun the Q74 racer to a stop in turn one while searching for a way past Neil Howard, bringing the race under caution. Officials gave Tulloch the mechanical defect flag and relegated him to the infield for the restart. Oldfield once again led the restart from Minett and Whell with seven laps still to run. Whell closed in on Minett and took to the high side to steal second in a beautiful run around the top. Minett valiantly fought back but Whell soon started to open a small margin on Minett and began trying to close the gap to Oldfield. Kratzmann caught the tail of Dan Murray with two to go, but Mick Sauer fought back hard and stole his position back from Kratzmann on the final lap of the race. Luke Oldfield went on to take the win ahead of Dave Whell, and Brett Minett with Dan Murray, Mick Sauer, Brent Kratzmann and Neil Howard rounding out the finishers. Brodie Tulloch, Wayne Iacono, Robbie Farr and Matthew Butler all failed to finish the event.

The start of heat three saw Mitchell Gee from pole position with Michael Saller alongside and Danny Reidy and Andrew Scheuerle from the second row. The first start was aborted, with Gee getting the jump second time around and leading Saller and Scheuerle through the opening lap. Gee started to open a significant lead, leaving Saller and Scheuerle to fight over the minor places, while Danny Reidy and Lachlan McHugh stayed close behind. Rob Hamilton and Brad Ayers tangled in turn four and brought the race under caution, and while Ayers was able to restart the event, Hamilton was out of the race with a flat right front tyre. Gee led the restart with four laps left to run, immediately pulling away from Saller and Scheuerle. McHugh had a big look on the outside of Reidy but was unable to get the job done, Reidy managing to hang on to fourth. Mitchell Gee took the win with Michael Saller across the line in second and Andrew Scheuerle coming home in third. Danny Reidy finished fourth and led Lachlan McHugh, Andrew Corbet, Anthony Lambert, Scott Genrich, Garry Jacobson and Brad Ayers across the line. Rob Hamilton did not finish the event.

With both time and tyre wear of significant concern, the second round of heats were abandoned. The top six finishers from each of the first three heat events would score automatic starts in the A-main race, with a further two cars to join the A-Main field after the B-Main race. Starting positions were determined based on the lap times from qualifying, leaving Peter Lack and Luke Oldfield to share the front row for the start of the main race. Kevin Titman and Robbie Farr both changed engines between the heats and the finals, with Farr then taking to the track in the 15-lap B-Main.

Robbie Farr started from pole position in the B-Main with Tony Wynne alongside and Matthew Butler and Scott Genrich right behind. Farr got the lead when the lights went green while Wynne fought for second, but officials aborted the start. A full restart followed with Farr again easily securing the lead and Butler and Wynne arguing over second. Wynne managed to secure the advantage over Butler and settled into second, with Cody Maroske holding down fourth. Anthony Lambert begun to make his way forward, while Garry Jacobson raced underneath Neil Howard to advance one position. Nelson Reddacliff and Clem Hoffmans had a great battle going towards the rear of the field, with Reddacliff soon racing on the inside of Hoffmans, while Scott Genrich began to slow before pulling out of the race. Anthony Lambert had made his way into fifth with ten laps still to run, while Farr began navigating lapped traffic with just seven laps completed. Lambert closed in on Maroske and the pair had an epic battle as they argued over fourth, with Maroske managing to hang on to greet the chequered flag ahead of Lambert. Robbie Farr seemingly effortlessly took the win with Tony Wynne across the line in second, the pair securing transfers to the back of the A-Main. Matthew Butler finished third in the B-main, leading Cody Maroske, Anthony Lambert, Brodie Tulloch, Garry Jacobson, Rob Hamilton, Nelson Reddacliff, Neil Howard and Clem Hofmans across the line. Scott Genrich did not finish the event.

Twenty cars rolled out trackside for the 50-lap A-Main event, with everyone concerned about both tyres and fuel. Peter Lack and Luke Oldfield shared the front row for the start with Mitchell Gee and Allan Woods from row two and Mick Saller and Mark Pholi from the third row. Oldfield got a great start when the green flag flew and immediately secured the race lead, while Andrew Scheuerle, who had started deep in the field had a brilliant run on the bottom and made up several positions in just half a lap. The race was brought under caution though when Dan Murray spun in turn three with less than a lap complete. A full restart followed, with Oldfield again getting a brilliant run on the topside. Gee climbed over the rear of Lack as they took the green, slowing the progress of both cars and almost causing trouble for the rest of the field. Oldfield had control of the race while Scheuerle again began to make his way forward. Lack had settled into second and was beginning to challenge Oldfield for control of the race, while further back in the field Lachlan McHugh had made his way past a number of his rivals and was searching for a way past on the inside of Kevin Titman. Lack took to the high side that he knows so well and held nothing back as he relentlessly searched for a way past Oldfield, eventually stealing the lead six laps into the event. Michael Saller and Allan Woods raced side-by-side as they negotiated over the minor positions, while Oldfield followed lack for a couple of laps before stealing the lead back and regaining control of the race. Lack faded to third before looping the Q5 racer and almost coming to disaster as the rest of the field tried to avoid him. Lack was able to keep the car moving but Tony Wynne spun the NQ8 racer and brought the race under caution. Lack withdrew from the race having only completed ten laps, the left front brake locked on the Q5 car.

Luke Oldfield led the restart from Danny Reidy and Michael Saller with forty laps left to run. Lachlan McHugh took to the high line as he raced around the outside of Mark Pholi, only to find himself with nowhere to go when Mitchell Gee spun the Q36 racer right in front of him. Contact between the pair left McHugh stranded on the track while Gee was able to keep the Q36 racer moving. Officials however deemed Gee to be the primary cause of the stoppage and he, along with McHugh, were relegated to the rear of the field.

Luke Oldfield again led the restart with forty laps still to run and Danny Reidy and Michael Saller right behind. But it was the battle behind the leading trio that captivated the crowd as Kevin Titman took to the high line to race past Mark Pholi, while Dave Whell raced underneath Allan Woods and Mick Sauer got through on the inside of Pholi. Robbie Farr was having a spectacular run on the top side, making his way past both Andrew Scheuerle and Mick Sauer to be inside the top eight, while Titman worked the high line to try and find a way past Woods. Mark Pholi spun the Q14 racer in turn four and brought the race under caution, while Danny Reidy and Michael Saller came together in turn one while running second and third. Saller actually tipped on his side before returning to four wheels, while Kevin Titman, having seen Saller in the process of rolling, brought his Q59 to a stop, despite the red lights not being thrown on. Titman was relegated to the rear for the restart. Pholi restarted at the rear of the field but both Reidy and Saller were unable to restart the event, a devastating blow for the pair who looked very comfortable in podium positions.

Luke Oldfield again led the restart from Dave Whell, while Lachlan McHugh had already made his way back into seventh. McHugh and Farr had a great battle, with Farr working the bottom to get under Woods and McHugh quickly following him through. Brett Minett had a brilliant run and had settled into third behind Oldfield and Whell with thirty-three laps left to run. Kevin Titman and Mitchell Gee had a thrilling battle at the rear of the field as they began to make up ground and closed in on Brent Kratzmann. Mark Pholi was exceptional as he came from behind and raced his way past both Titman and Gee and set out after Kratzmann. Whell began closing in on race leader Oldfield as they approached the half-way distance of the race, only for Oldfield to run a fraction wide and open the door for Whell to steal the race lead on the bottom with twenty-two laps left to run. Robbie Farr and Lachlan McHugh were embroiled in their own breath-taking battle, with Farr eventually securing the advantage over the Q23 racer. Andrew Scheuerle seized the opportunity and made his way past McHugh as well while Farr and Minett almost came to disaster as they fought over third. Minett had a moment of trouble in turn four, that almost brought McHugh undone as well, and brought the race under caution. Minett had serious tyre wear on the Q94 racer and doubt was cast as to if he would survive the final nineteen laps.

Dave Whell led the restart with nineteen laps left to run and Luke Oldfield, Mick Sauer and Robbie Farr right on his tail. Allan Woods had a flat left rear tyre but barely a couple of laps into the restart and the race was brought back under caution when Andrew Corbet and Tony Wynne came together and were left stranded in turn two.

With eighteen laps still to run and plenty of rolling laps already completed, officials called for an open red where teams could top up fuel supplies. Tyres could be changed but any driver who changed a tyre would take to the restart from the rear of the field. Allan Woods and Brett Minett both opted for fresh rubber, as they were both already at the rear of the field, while Luke Oldfield forfeited second when he and his crew opted for new rear tyres on the Q17 racer.

Dave Whell led the restart from Mick Sauer, Robbie Farr and Andrew Scheuerle, with Simon Jupe and Brent Kratzmann close behind and eighteen laps left to run. Oldfield immediately took to the top and made up significant ground in the first half lap of the restart, while Mitchell Gee also started working his way closer to the front. Oldfield committed to the high side as he searched for a way past Dan Murray, before setting his sights on Kratzmann. Oldfield spent a couple of laps looking for a way past Kratzmann, eventually getting the job done and moving into sixth with about fourteen laps left to run. Dave Whell had a comfortable lead over Sauer, while Sauer had several car lengths on Farr. Further back in the field Lachlan McHugh began looking for a way past Mark Pholi, while Oldfield made his way past Simon Jupe to steal fifth with ten laps to go and set his sights on Andrew Scheuerle. Oldfield slid beautifully underneath Scheuerle to steal fourth and immediately began closing in on Farr, ready to challenge the former Australian Champion for third. But there was no stopping Dave Whell out in front, the popular Toowoomba-based racer taking his first Sprintcar A-main victory in front of a large home crowd. Mick Sauer crossed the line a very impressive second while Robbie Farr was able to hold off a hard-charging Oldfield to finish third. Luke Oldfield and Andrew Scheuerle rounded out the top five and led Simon Jupe, Brent Kratzmann, Lachlan McHugh, Mitchell Gee, Mark Pholi, Allan Woods, Brett Minett, Kevin Titman, Andrew Corbet and Dan Murray across the line. Tony Wynne, Danny Reidy, Michael Saller, Peter Lack and Jayden Peacock did not finish the race.

Sprintcars Queensland will return to AusDeck Patios Archerfield Speedway in a fortnight, on Saturday 18 February 2017 for Round Nine of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship. Luke Oldfield won Round Eight at the venue on New Years Day and is certainly looking like the man to beat at the moment. However, you can be sure that if Oldfield is to get another win under his belt, the rest of the field are going to make sure that he earns it. Andrew Scheuerle, Kevin Titman, Lachlan McHugh, Mitchell Gee, Brent Kratzmann and the rest of the field can never be discounted and with any one of a dozen drivers more than capable of taking the win, there will be no holding back as they chase championship points. Be sure to get yourself trackside and see all the action for yourself!


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