Over the past few years, the compliments and hype surrounding Sunset Speedway’s top division has continued to grow with a mix of past champions, feature winners, experience, and youth at the wheel. While the off-season can be painful waiting to hear the rumble, smell the rubber, and enjoy the sights, it’s almost over as the Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Limited Late Models will kick-off their campaign on Saturday.
So, without further ado, here is your 2017 season preview as expected, detailing the drivers who should be in attendance this season.
After a solid rookie campaign in the St. Onge Recreational Super Stocks, Kendra Adams will make the jump up to Late Model for the 2017 season. Adams improved throughout the 2016 season, scoring a top-10 in the second half of 2016. Going into the year, she’s keeping her goals in check with focus on qualifying each week and completing all the laps. As she continued to get more comfortable, expect her to be a contender for a top-10’s in the second-half.
Danny Benedict purchased a brand new chassis from Shaw Chassis after a solid rookie campaign with five top-10s, behind the wheel of what was deemed an older car. It seemed near the end of the year is when the good runs started happening. Now if you combine the lessons with new equipment – he could be your break-out star of 2017.
2013 Sunset Speedway Late Model Champion Mike Bentley is on the roster, sharing a second Holdaway Motorsports entry with Scott Wylie. Bentley knows his way around Sunset, scoring 10 top-fives last season. Meanwhile, Wylie captured the fan’s attention as he scored eight top-10’s, including his first career track victory.
Last year saw Ernie Fumerton’s season cut short as a result of an arm energy, with Justin Holmes and Chance Isherwood splitting time behind the wheel of the No. 10. Going back to his traditional No. 3 that he carried to Thunder Car Championships and feature victories, Fumerton will return back behind the wheel. He started off last strong, posting three top-10’s in the first eight features of 2016.
Each season, you have to keep an eye on Nick Goetz as he has one of the fastest cars on the property, setting quick time in qualifying on four different occasions in 2016. Last year, he scored 16 top-10’s, including a feature victory.
Britney Gresel is hoping to build on last season’s success which saw consistency, with nine top-10’s en route to finishing sixth in points. 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.
With each passing season, the Hallyburton brothers continue to get stronger, and put themselves closer to championship contention. Thayne Hallyburton broke through for his first career feature victory on the second night last season, following it up with four top-fives and 10 top-10’s to round out 2016. Meanwhile, 2015 Autumn Colours Classic Champion Travis Hallyburton caught everyone’s attention with 16 top-five finishes last season, including a pair of victories.
2015 Sunset Speedway Late Model Champion Taylor Holdaway put up an impressive defense last year, scoring seven wins and 15 top-fives en route to finishing runner-up in points. If he can rid of the issues his team ran across last year, he could score his second career championship.
Jordan Latimer is hoping to put last season behind him, after bad luck plagued the team throughout their sophomore year with only three top-10’s finishes, highlighted by a sixth-place finish on July 2.
Paul Maltese is hoping to light up victory lane with his first career feature victory as he enters what has been dubbed his final season of Late Model competition. He came close last year, leading up until a couple laps to go before being passed by Ryan Kimball for the victory. That night was a highlight in what turned out to be a great year for Maltese Motorsports as he finished seventh in the Limited Late Model standings, with a pair of top-fives and 11 top-10s – a big improvement from 2015 when he failed to post a top-10.
Seven-time Late Model Champion Chris Morrow will debut a brand new McColl Racing Enterprise chassis, hoping to build on the success he had last year with 12 top-10s, including a victory at the end of July. Morrow has been a constant front runner, and now in a top-notch ride, one has to think opportunities are endless.
2011 Barrie Speedway Champion Ron Quesnelle will run his first full season in awhile in a car ran last season part-time by KDR Motorsports. The Penetang, Ontario native knows how to win features, scoring 13 feature victories en route to his 2011 title.
2016 Sunset Speedway Late Model Champion Gord Shepherd will be back to defend his crown, hoping to put together another consistent season after scoring two wins and 18 top-fives last season. With only two finishes outside of the top-10 last year, expect the 2016 Autumn Colours Classic Champion to be solid once again.
2016 Peterborough Speedway Late Model Champion Rick Spencer-Walt makes his return to Sunset Speedway this season. He had a stellar year at Peterborough Speedway, and across the province truthfully with five victories and only a couple finishes outside of the top-10 in the schedule put together. Oh, and as part of that he finished in the top-five at Sunset’s Velocity 250 in September. How does that translate to 2017? We’ll just have to see.
2016 Sauble Speedway Late Model Champion Josh Stade will be focusing on re-claiming his crown at the beach, as well as the APC Auto Parts United Late Models of Ontario Tour. Though with Sunset Speedway kicking off weeks before both, he told Short Track Musings that he would be in attendance for the first couple nights this season. That worked out well for him last year, as he finished sixth and fifth in his pair of starts following a victory in 2015.
Since debuting in the division, Mike Wilkinson has gotten a little better each season, as noted with a pair of top-10’s in 2016. Could he score his first career top-five in 2017?
After a rough season last year, everybody hopes the bad luck is in the rear-view for the Zardo brothers as it seemed they were plagued by issues weekly. Billy Zardo failed to reach victory lane scoring eight top-10’s, while Lane Zardo scored 12 top-10’s and his first career feature victory.