If the numbers from pre-season testing are an early indication for the season, this year is primed to be full of excitement at Sunset Speedway. Here is a rough recap from the second weekend of testing.
Kendra Adams was out each session in her brand new Late Model after recently announcing she will move up to the premiere class after racing Super Stock last season. She improved throughout the 2016 season, scoring a top-10 in the second half of the year.
After testing last Wednesday, Paul Maltese was back on Saturday to lay down more laps behind the wheel of his Late Model. With a career of success behind the wheel of both a Super Stock and a Limited Late Model, he appears to be getting near the end of his time behind the wheel – but the Maltese family isn’t leaving racing. Maltese confirmed a month ago that he’s set for “one more year of full-time late model, and then we’re going to work with Connor.” As noted, his son Connor has been at the track the past several years helping him on a weekly basis as a crew member, though has shown aspirations of getting behind the wheel of a super stock. Maltese finished last season seventh in points, with a pair of top-fives and 11 top-10’s.
Ron Quesnelle continued to shake down his Late Model as he gets set to make his return back behind the wheel full-time in 2017.
Britney Gresel laid down her first laps of 2017, testing throughout the day. Last year, consistency on a weekly basis allowed her to finish sixth in points as she scored nine top-10s across the season, in contrast to only three top-10s the year before. The season was highlighted by a pair of third place finishes, including a night where she led most of the laps in the feature till being passed late in the going.
“Our goals and everything for the upcoming 2017 racing season is to do better then than how we did last year,” she told Short Track Musings. “Last year, we had a phenomenal season, finished sixth overall in the Sunset points and within the top 80 of our provincial points for NASCAR. So we definitely want to improve that, as we do every year, but it’s going to be tough to do with the crowd that we race against. But I think we’re up to the challenge for sure.”
Dustyn Mombourquette debuted his brand new Super Stock chassis as he looks to improve upon last year’s single feature top-10 finish and pair of heat top-fives.
Jay Cutting laid down his first laps of 2017 after recently announcing he will be driving a John Latimer-owned super stock for 2017. The second generation racer has spent many years at Sunset Speedway, racing as part of the track’s four-cylinder division, before spending a couple seasons in Thunder Car with some heat victories to his credit. Now set to return for the first time in a couple years, he say he is hoping he can “still wheel a racecar and keep her out of the cabbage/fence,” with desires of scoring a top-10 in points and a possible win, or two.
“That will be a challenge in itself with the equipment and talent that are on and at that race track,” he added. “Fastest Thunder Cars in Ontario in my opinion.”
Frank Davey was back for a second day of testing, hoping for a better season this year after scoring only one heat victory and two feature top-10’s last season.
Justin Holmes put the first laps behind his new super stock in the books. The teenager had a solid year in 2016, scoring a pair of heat wins and 13 top-10s throughout the year.
“2017 season is going to be a good season for us at 400 transmission,” Holmes told Short Track Musings. “There’s gonna be some good racing, with us building a new car and hopefully being able to compete with the top five drivers. I honestly can’t wait to see what the outcome will be this year.”
It appears Ethan Constable has solved the mechanical issues that plagued him week one of testing as he put down some solid laps this past weekend. Last season saw the driver of the No. 11 Eisses Pump My Tank, M.R Auto, Alliston Transmission, Paul’s Auto Body, RTI Equipment Solutions, Murry’s Law Firm, Big Bryan’s Towing, and Middleton Motorsports Super Stock have a “pretty rough” season at times with numerous incidents throughout the year as he learned more about racing in the division. However, the young driver persevered to post three top-15 feature finishes throughout the season, including a pair back-to-back.
Jade Franklin continued to lay down laps, in hopes of building off the late season momentum from 2016. In his sophomore season, Franklin finished fifth in the final points standings at Sunset Speedway with four feature top-fives, 11 feature top-10s and nine heat top-fives in 12 events. His efforts were awarded at the banquet with the Most Improved Driver Award. He then caped the year off with a b-feature victory and eighth place finish in the Autumn Colours Classic at Peterborough Speedway.
“We just look to go out and have some fun – maybe push Jade around a little and show him it’s done, you know?” He said. “Teaming up with him to try and help both cars out. It’s been awhile since I’ve been out so we’ll see what we can do.”
Bullen Racing had a pair of mustangs out on the track for the second straight weekend, hoping to find success this season in the Mini Stock division. Melissa Bullen laid down some laps to kick off the day, hoping to back up an impressive sophomore campaign. Last year, Bullen competed in Sunset Speedway’s second-tier Mini Stock division, the Mighty Minis, scoring a consi victory, along with three top-fives and nine top-10s. The team will field a second brand new mustang, which will feature rookie Josh Bullen behind the wheel. Bullen is no stranger to the track, having crew chiefed for Melissa through last season.
2013 Mini Stock Champion Warren Paxton laid down his first set of laps for 2017. A partial schedule last year yielded success with six top-fives, including a victory on June 11.
Cameron McGlashan ran a couple sessions, having much better luck this week without the mechanical issues that plagued him last week. This past season, the driver of the No. 83 Mustang made the move up to the Mini Stock division after he completed 2015 with a runner-up finish in the Mighty Mini standing and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division IV Track Championship. It didn’t out as planned, but he put together some performances through the second half for eight top-10 results, including a pair of top-fives.
Stefan Woyslaw took part in a couple sessions, as well, continuing to shake down his new ride after debuting it at the Velocity 250. the driver of the No. 94 Mustang is coming off a solid season where he finished eighth in the series standings, after posting a top-15 finish each night except one.
“I’m really looking forward to 2017 at Sunset Speedway,” he told Short Track Musings recently. “We sort of changed things around at the track this year. We only have one Mini Stock division as we got rid of the Mighty Mini division. So we’re going to have full fields every Saturday night of 28 cars for an a-main, and the competition is going to be really stiff but I’m looking forward to it.”
Johnny Paradzinski laid down his first laps of 2017, but unfortunately smoke persistently trailed behind his No. 4 Honda Civic throughout the day. Coming in as the new guy on the scene, he shocked the racing world last year with a victory in the second week of competition. From there on, he didn’t look back en route to picking up the Signs of Innovation Mighty Mini Championship. Entering the year, Paradzinski notes he’s not “looking to set the world on fire”, however wants to “prove to everyone on and off the track that last year wasn’t a fluke”.
Cory Young debuted his new ride, hoping to visit victory lane after scoring seven top-fives last season.
Randi Sequin has made the decision to race at Sunset Speedway full-time in 2017 after traveling to Sauble Speedway last year. She laid down her first laps, hoping to rekindle the magic of her five Mighty Mini feature top-fives in 2015. Her teammate, 2015 Mini Stock Champion Doug Butler, was back for a second week of testing as he will also make a full-time return to Sunset Speedway.
Rookie Curtis Stewart made his first laps of 2017 as part of the test session, as well.
DY Racing teammates Lisa DeLeeuw and Eric Yorke both took the opportunity to take part in testing for their first laps of 2017. After a rocky start to the 2016 season, Eric Yorke was able to come on strong en route to a runner-up finish in points.
“As any other season it hard to say what will happen,” he told Short Track Musings. “I try not to think too much about other crews and what they are doing. I just try and focus on myself and my teammates. Basically I am always thinking about what I can do to better prepare my car and what changes I need to make to my driving, what are my weaknesses from last season that I need to address going into 2017.”
Meanwhile, DeLeeuw has a new ride for this year – the Nissan 240SX that teammate Eric Yorke drove to the 2012 series championship. Last year, DeLeeuw put together an incredible run which included 12 top-10 finishes en route to finishing fifth in the Mighty Mini series standings.
“I’m a little nervous to learn a whole new car,” she told Short Track Musings. “Retiring the mustang for 2017 and jumping in Eric’s 2012 championship car, which means learning a whole new car and hoping to continue the successful season I had last year.”
Daniel Montanari continued to lay down laps in his brand new ride for the 2017 season as he hopes to make his mark known in the Mini Stock division. Last year, he put together a solid rookie campaign in the Mighty Mini division, picking up four heat victories and three feature wins.
He was joined on track by his brother Nic Montanari, who won the Mini Stock Championship last season. Over the course of the 14 race season, the driver of the No. 98 HIGHWAY TECHNOLOGY, SELECT DELIVERY, DR.JAY PERTOFF AT MAPLE RIDGE DENTAL AND PERMATEX Mini Stock posted 10 top-five finishes to go along with six heat wins and two feature victories.
Charlie Smith debuted his new look for 2017, switching from red to an all black appearance for the season. Despite some controversy, he scored a pair of feature victories last season. He hopes to turn that into a championship this season.
“After last season we know the car is fast enough,” he said. “Being consistent, finishing races, and not letting the long grind wear you out will be key to being in the top three by September. My only question is how I will stack up next to Andy (Kamrath)’s new ride if he runs every week, and without question you will have to be able to go the distance each and every week against Doug Butler if he does return. If you want to run with Doug you have to have your program in line, and not make any mistakes on the track, because he always gets to the front.”
The father-son team of Brandon and Dave Crumbie were in attendance to put some laps in the books with their Porche and Neon. Brandon scored eight top-10’s last season, with Dave putting four in the books.The primary focus for Brandon in 2017 is dirt, as after a great rookie campaign on at Ohsweken Speedway, he will return full-time this upcoming season behind the wheel of his mustang. However, he also plans to remain active on the asphalt tracks, running “some regular nights and invitationals” behind the wheel of his father’s Porche, and the mustang lent to him by Steve McLeod.
Ken Townsend also continued to shake down his Mini Stock as it appears his team has gone in a new direction for 2017. Last year, Townsend was able to pick up three victories in the Mighty Mini division.
While not in attendance, Short Track Musings can confirm the following drivers were on-track: Doug Wilman, Justin Holmes, Peter Wakeling, Miles Tyson, Nick Goetz, Gerritt Tiemersma, Kendra Adams, Jade Franklin, Robbie Sikes, Danny Benedict and Mike Weeda. Each of the drivers had made a previous test session, except for Wilman, Benedict and Weeda. It was especially nice to hear Wakeling was back on-track as he blew his moor during the initial test session the weekend prior.
“I’m hoping to have a top-10 car all year long,” Doug Wilman told Short Track Musings. “It’s going to be a hard season. There’s some really good competitors in it, but hopefully what we’re doing to the car will improve it. Basically, my goal this year is try and keep the nose of the car clean and bring her to the front.”
After putting a solid rookie season together, Danny Benedict will return to Sunset Speedway once again in 2017 – but will be behind the wheel of the new chassis. Benedict revealed earlier in the off-season that he was getting a new chassis built by Shaw Motorsports for the upcoming season.
“It’s definitely going to be different than 2016, but we’re going into it with the best people possible for support,” he told Short Track Musings. “We’re confident in our equipment and the piece we’re building, and I have all the confidence in the world in my guys. We’re not expecting to light the world on fire, by any means, but the goal this year is definitely compete more than we did last year.”
Meanwhile, Mike Weeda is hoping for some better luck this season after scoring only four top-10’s in 2017.