Kicking Up The Dirt - ECL Series - Round 6
Joanne White posted Sunday December 15, 2019.
Last night Randy Morgan came agonisingly close to getting his first Sprintcar A-Main win, leading twenty-nine-and-a-half laps of the thirty-lap feature event before getting momentarily caught behind a lapped car with just half a lap to run. The lapped car bounced off the back straight wall forcing Morgan to slow briefly to avoid contact, and that was the only invitation Mitchell Gee needed, with Gee, who had positioned the Q43 perfectly to capitalise on the situation, racing underneath Morgan as they rounded the final two turns, taking the win and becoming the first dual round winner thus far in the 2019-2020 East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Series. Morgan was forced to settle for second after a truly phenomenal drive, while Brock Dean ran a solid third for most of the race and managed to hold off the advances of Aaron Kelly to round out the podium. Aaron Kelly finished fourth ahead of Chad Ely, driving the Q59 racer usually piloted by Kevin Titman.
Qualifying got underway and Bryan Mann quickly set the benchmark at 12.169 seconds to secure quick time for the night. Callum Walker locked in second quickest with a 12.180 second lap while Brock Dean stopped the clock at 12.290 to secure third. Cody Maroske (12.407) and Brent Kratzmann (12.456) rounded out the fastest five while Randy Morgan (12.457) missed a top five qualifying spot by just 0.001 seconds. Chad Ely impressed early, recording the sixth fastest time in his first drive of the Q59 racer, while deeper in the field Mark Pholi beat Andrew Corbet by just one thousandth of a second. Kristy Bonsey beat Allan Woods by just 0.001 seconds as well, while less than 0.8 seconds separated the top nineteen cars.
The first heat event of the night saw the Development Series cars out on track with Geoff Davey and Ron Hendrickson to lead them to the green. Davey got his nose in front when the lights went green, but Hendrickson powered around the high side and took control of the race before they hit turn one. From there Hendrickson set about opening a sizable lead, with Davey a comfortable second, while David Kenway got the better of Cody Reynolds to settle into third. Kenway challenged Davey for second with a bold look on the inside of the NQ74 racer, while Libby Ellis raced through underneath Reynolds as they rounded turn four. Reynolds challenged Ellis for the next couple of laps before getting around the high side of the NQ73 racer, only for Ellis to take the position back a few laps later. Ron Hendrickson went on to take the win ahead of Geoff Davey, David Kenway, Libby Ellis and Erin Vanderreyden. Cody Reynolds pulled out of the event and did not finish the ten-lap journey.
Heat one of the Open Sprintcars started with Aaron Kelly from the front row with Tim Farrell alongside and Mark Pholi and Mitchell Gee sharing the front row. Kelly got a brilliant start and quickly secured the race lead, with Pholi challenging Farrell for second, the pair racing side-by-side until Farrell managed to move slightly ahead and settle into second. Mitchell Gee soon made his way underneath Pholi, with Brent Kratzmann looking to do the same soon after. Bryan Mann chased Cody Maroske mid field but soon brought the race under caution when he stopped in turn two with front-end damage. Unfortunately for Mann it would end both his race and his night of competition, with the Q16 racer not returning to the track for the rest of the night. Kelly led the restart from Farrell and Gee with six laps still to run. Kelly got a brilliant start and quickly opened a margin of several car lengths on the rest of the field, while Kratzmann made short work of displacing Pholi as he made his way into fourth. Pholi faded as both Cody Maroske and Allan Woods came charging through, with Maroske and Woods embroiled in their own battle for track position. Aaron Kelly got the win ahead of Tim Farrell and Mitchell Gee, with Brent Kratzmann home in fourth, leading Cody Maroske, Allan Woods, Mark Pholi and Mitch Gowland across the line. Bryan Mann did not finish the event.
Kristy Bonsey and Ryan McNamara led the field to the green for the start of heat two, with Bonsey getting the best start and quickly securing the race lead. McNamara put all kinds of pressure on Bonsey as he fought to gain control of the race, but Bonsey refused to surrender the lead and skilfully kept McNamara at bay. Andrew Corbet held down third but a small mistake in the second corner allowed both Chad Ely and Brock Dean to slip through, with Dean promptly racing underneath Ely to steal third as well. It was short-lived for Dean though as Ely, looking more comfortable in the Q59 car with each completed lap, raced back around the outside, taking third position back and moving on to challenge McNamara for second. Dean lost ground to Andrew Corbet and Randy Morgan after running too wide in turns three and four, allowing both Corbet and Morgan to slip through on the inside, with Corbet and Morgan soon catching Ely and challenging for mid-field positions. Corbet got past Ely but got all crossed up in turn two, fading back through the running order as he straightened the Q78 racer, while Morgan made his way past Ely and left Ely to defend his position from Dean. Kristy Bonsey was mostly unchallenged out in front and went on to take the win, despite a fierce last lap challenge from Ryan McNamara, ahead of McNamara and Randy Morgan, with Chad Ely home in fourth. Brock Dean was fifth across the line and led Adam Butler, Callum Walker, Scott Genrich, Andrew Corbet and Andrew Baumber home. Luke Dougherty did not finish the event, exiting the race after completing just three laps.
The second of the development series heats saw Libby Ellis and Cody Reynolds share the front row for the start, with Geoff Davey and David Kenway right behind. Ellis secured the lead when the lights went green, with Reynolds in second trying to challenge for the lead, while Davey settled into third and tried to defend his position from both Kenway and Ron Hendrickson. Three laps in an engine drama for Reynolds resulted in a large fire on board the Q61 racer, with Reynolds stopping the car as he pulled towards the infield with the flames intensifying. The race was brought under caution and the fire and crash crews were very quickly on the scene, putting the fire out quickly, with Reynolds exiting the car unscathed but out of the race. Ellis led the restart from Davey and Hendrickson with seven laps to run, and while Ellis was able to open a small lead over the rest of the field, Davey had his hands full trying to defend his position from Hendrickson as they pair fought over second and third. Libby Ellis went on to get a very popular win, her first in Sprintcar competition, with Geoff Davey home in second ahead of Ron Hendrickson, Erin Vanderreyden and David Kenway. Cody Reynolds did not finish the event.
Heat three of the open Sprintcars saw Andrew Corbet and Mark Pholi share the front row and lead them to the green flag, with Pholi quick to secure the advantage despite the best efforts of Corbet, who settled into second while Aaron Kelly and Ryan McNamara negotiated over third and fourth. Brock Dean got the better of Adam Butler deep in the field before racing underneath Brent Kratzmann for mid-field positions, while just ahead of him Randy Morgan searched for a way past Kelly. Kratzmann searched the top side for a way back past Dean to no avail, before switching to the bottom and making his way underneath the Q8 racer as they rounded turns three and four a few laps later. Dean fought back on the inside of Kratzmann, the pair spending the next two laps virtually side-by-side, but Kratzmann prevailed in the end and managed to stay ahead of Dean, opening a small margin as he started to chase down Morgan and Kelly. Mark Pholi got the win ahead of Andrew Corbet and Ryan McNamara, with Aaron Kelly, Randy Morgan, Brent Kratzmann, Brock Dean, Adam Butler and Scott Genrich rounding out the finishers.
The final heat of the night saw Allan Woods and Kristy Bonsey share the front row for the start, with Tim Farrell and Mitchell Gee close behind. Woods and Bonsey raced wheel-to-wheel into the first corner but it was Woods on the bottom who was able to secure the lead, leaving Bonsey in second but immediately under immense pressure from both Mitchell Gee and Chad Ely. Gee was sensational on the top side, racing around Farrell in the opening corner before getting by on the top side of Bonsey and challenging Woods for control of the race. Bonsey was busy defending her position from Ely, but managed a bold look underneath Gee as they rounded turn one a few laps in, while deeper in the field Callum Waker and Mitch Gowland negotiated over minor positions. Ely challenged Bonsey for position but soon surrendered his own spot to hard-charging Farrell, only for Ely to immediately fire straight back past Farrell and regain his position less than half a lap later. Allan Woods went on to take the win ahead of Mitchell Gee and Kristy Bonsey, with Chad Ely home in fourth ahead of Tim Farrell, Cody Maroske, Callum Walker, Mitch Gowland, Luke Dougherty and Andrew Baumber.
Mitchell Gee was highest on points going into the dash event but started from position four after the pre-dash draw, leaving Brock Dean and Randy Morgan from the front row for the six-lap affair. While Dean and Morgan raced side-by-side into the first corner, it was Morgan who emerged in front and took control of the race, leaving Dean in second ahead of Gee. Gee challenged Dean for second, while Chad Ely got around Cody Maroske and began challenging Gee for third. Maroske fought back hard, looking underneath Ely, but could not quite get the job done, while out in front Morgan was simply unstoppable. Randy Morgan got the win ahead of Brock Dean and Mitchell Gee, with Chad Ely home in fourth ahead of Cody Maroske, Brent Kratzmann, Ryan McNamara and Callum Walker.
Adam Butler and Mitch Gowland led the B-Main field to green light conditions with Butler initially getting the lead, only for Gowland to power around the outside and take control of the race. Butler settled into second while Andrew Baumber and Scott Genrich negotiated over third and fourth, and behind them Libby Ellis tried to find a way past Luke Dougherty. Ron Hendrickson started challenging Genrich for fourth, and the final transfer to the A-main event, but Genrich held on, denying Hendrickson at every opportunity. Mitch Gowland went on to take the win ahead of Adam Butler and Andrew Baumber, with Scott Genrich hanging on to secure the fourth and final transfer to the A-Main. Ron Hendrickson crossed the line in fifth, narrowly missing a start in the main race, and was the first of the Development Series cars home, with Geoff Davey, Luke Dougherty, David Kenway, Libby Ellis and Erin Vanderreyden following him across the line.
The thirty-lap A-Main event sure was a sight to behold. Randy Morgan and Brock Dean led the eighteen starters to the green flag, with Mitchell Gee and Chad Ely right behind them. Morgan immediately secured the lead in advance of Dean, with Gee sitting in third, while Cody Maroske and Ryan McNamara got the better of Brent Kratzmann further back in the field. Aaron Kelly had a great run on the bottom, making his way ahead of both Mark Pholi and Callum Walker as they completed the first lap of the race, but the race was promptly brought under caution moments later when Maroske and Kratzmann came together in turn two. Maroske stopped on the track, bringing the race under yellow light conditions, while Kratzmann, his run of bad luck seemingly not yet over, suffered front end damage and was forced out of the race.
Morgan led the restart with twenty-nine laps still to run and Brock Dean and Mitchell Gee right on his tail. Morgan was fast out in front, quickly opening a sizable lead while Gee challenged Dean for second and, further back in the field, Aaron Kelly made his way underneath Callum Walker and Ryan McNamara in quick succession before turning his attention to closing the gap to Chad Ely. Walker searched for a way around McNamara until McNamara looped the Q88 racer in turn four. Somehow not only did the rest of the oncoming field manage to avoid the Q88 racer, but McNamara managed to turn the car around and keep moving, avoiding a stoppage but losing a considerable number of positions in the process. Once heading in the right direction once more McNamara set about making up lost ground and systematically began working his way forward. Brock Dean eventually surrendered second to a hard-charging and determined Mitchell Gee, while race leader Randy Morgan started weaving his way through lapped traffic. Gee started to close in on Morgan with lapped traffic playing its part, and within just a few laps Gee started challenging Morgan for the race lead, having a big look on the inside of the beautifully presented Q54 racer as they navigated past the back markers. Aaron Kelly got the better of Chad Ely and set out after his next target, while Allan Woods and Andrew Corbet had a great battle for mid-field positions, and Mitch Gowland and Ryan McNamara put on a show a little further back. The battle between Gowland and McNamara unfolded just as Morgan, and Gee, approached to put the pair a lap down, with Morgan caught behind the pair long enough for Gee to close in further and challenge for control of the race. Gee managed to get his nose in front on several occasions but Morgan quickly surged to maintain the lead, the duo eventually getting around Gowland and turning their attention to McNamara. The race was however soon brought under caution with Allan Woods stopped in turn one with eight laps left to run.
Randy Morgan led the restart from Mitchell Gee, Brock Dean, Aaron Kelly and Chad Ely, with Morgan quickly racing away from the field when the green flag flew. Morgan looked almost certain to have the race in the bag, but lapped traffic soon came into play once more and Gee was poised to make a last minute run for the win. While Ryan McNamara took to the high side to race around several of his opponents, all eyes were soon on the leading pair as they entered lapped traffic a few laps from home. With the white flag in the air, and Gee right on his tail, Morgan, just half a lap from his first win in Open Sprintcar competition, got momentarily caught behind a lapped car. The lapped car clipped the back straight wall right in front of Morgan, the Q54 racer forced to take evasive action to avoid contact, giving Gee the opportunity to slip through on the bottom, racing side-by-side with Morgan until Gee finally emerged in front as they exited the final corner of the race. Mitchell Gee got the win ahead of Randy Morgan, while Brock Dean was able to hang on to finish third ahead of Aaron Kelly and Chad Ely. Ryan McNamara raced his way back to an impressive sixth after his earlier spin, while Callum Walker, Allan Woods, Mark Pholi and Kristy Bonsey rounded out the top ten. Tim Farrell crossed the line in eleventh and led Andrew Corbet, Mitch Gowland, Adam Butler and Scott Genrich across the line, while Cody Maroske, Brent Kratzmann and Andrew Baumber did not finish the event.
And that race fans is us done until after Christmas. We will be back at Archerfield Speedway on Boxing Night, where the legendary Donny Schatz will join us once again, for another massive night of Sprintcar racing action. You will most definitely not want to miss this one so come and join us trackside at Ausdeck Patios Archerfield Speedway on 26 December 2019. Until then folks, from all of us Sprintcars Queensland, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy festive season, and we look forward to seeing to trackside soon.
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