The 2017 championship season came to a close for four weekly divisions on Friday, September 8th, including the Case ’N Drum Oil Late Models, Ground Masters Super Stocks, Demar Aggregates Trucks, and TransAxle V8 Stocks. Drivers took to the famous Delaware Speedway for one last shot at advancing in the championship standings, and for some a chance at adding their name to the record books and forever being called champions.
Group qualifying for all four divisions kicked off the night’s on track competition with two minute sessions on the card. Scott O’Connor (#23) set fast time in Case ’N Drum Oil Late Model qualifying with a 19.993 as Branden Verhoeven (#7) and Jordan Lawrence (#78) timed in behind him. Darrell Lake (#77) set fast time in Ground Masters Super Stock time trials with a 20.617, barely missing the track record. Matt Robblee (#51) and Jake Sheridan (#52) qualified behind Lake as all three drivers were close in time. The TransAxle V8 Stocks were up next to run their 2 minute session as Barry Watson (#45) claimed the top spot ahead of Jeremy Taggart (#11) and Kyle Mezenberg (#810). The Demar Aggregates Trucks were last in line to qualify as Tom Zagorodny (#77) set the fast time with a 21.804 ahead of Rick Verberne (#88) and Mickey Brydges (#55).
Championship points leader in the Case ’N Drum Oil Late Models, Branden Verhoeven, led the field to the green flag with points rival Brady Smith (#39) alongside. Smith and Verhoeven raced side by side for the lead for the opening six laps before Smith took the spot from the high side. Scott O’Connor worked his way into third as the front two continued to battle hard and slide in every which way. Verhoeven retook the lead on lap 12 with an inside line pass off of turn 2. Verhoeven would extend his lead and score the win, adding to his championship total with just one feature remaining. Brady Smith would hold on for second as Scott O’Connor came home in the third spot.
Jake Sheridan, current Ground Masters Super Stock points leader, started on the pole position for the first feature with Matt Robblee alongside. Sheridan led the opening laps before the caution came out on lap 3 when David McCullough (#39) and Andrew Ferreira (#9) made contact in turn 1, resulting in McCullough going around. After the restart it would be Sheridan continuing to pace the field with Lake and Robblee trailing behind as David McCullough charged through the field. The caution flag came out on lap 23 when Brittany Beatty went around in turn 1, setting up for a green-white-checkered finish. The restart was a mad scramble, however Jake Sheridan would be able to hang on for the win ahead of Matt Robblee and David McCullough.
Rick Verberne and Mickey Brydges started on the front row for the first Demar Aggregates Truck feature. Tom Zagorodny moved into second right away as he looked to track down Rick Verberne for the top spot. The battle for third developed jus after halfway as Tyler Fortey (#97) began pressuring Mickey Brydges, this half a straightaway behind the battle for the lead. Fortey took over the third spot on lap 18, meanwhile up front Zagorodny was pressuring Verberne. On lap 21, the caution flag came out when Lucas Manning (#66) had a tire go down and he spun out in the middle of the back straightaway. Rick Verberne would go on to score the win as Tom Zagorodny finished second and Tyler Fortey in third.
The first TransAxle V8 Stock feature, a 25 lap race, started with Jeremy Taggart on the pole with championship leader Barry Watson to his high side. Right away there was trouble as Nathan Taback (#46) got sideways in the middle of the field and Steve Book (#64) hit him. Taback was able to limp his machine back to pit road and the race would stay green. On lap 4, the race lead changed hands as Barry Watson advanced past Jeremy Taggart. Barry Watson would go on to win the race ahead of Taggart and Paul Fothergill (#33).
Marc Jacobs (#96) started on the pole for the second Case ’N Drum Oil Late Model feature as the inverted field chased behind into turn one. Marc Jacobs took the lead early in the race before Jordan Lawrence moved ahead on lap 5. Lawrence pulled ahead from the field as Brady Smith and Branden Verhoeven exchanged bumpers back and fourth behind. The caution came out on lap 10 when Wayne Pilkey (#75) was turned in turn 4. Lawrence was able to maintain the lead after the restart as Verhoeven and Smith continued to race hard. Verhoeven finally cleared Smith with less than 10 to go and he set sights on the race lead. Lawrence would lead up until turn 4 on the final lap when Verhoeven gave the slightest tap to move Lawrence up the track and the two drag raced to the line, where Verhoeven won by a mere 0.038 seconds. Verhoeven was also crowned the 2017 Case ’N Drum Oil Late Model champion.
Trevor Collver (#1) started in the pole position for the second Ground Masters Super Stock race beside Geoff Chant (#19). There was trouble right away as Jason Lidster (#11) drove over top of Geoff Chant and the caution flag was displayed. Trevor Collver maintained the lead off the start as the drivers sliced and diced behind before the caution came out on lap 5 for debris. Collver maintained the lead until lap 14 when Darrell Lake made a pass for the spot and brought Gary Adriaensen (#55) along with him. David McCullough and Jake Sheridan moved into third and fourth respectively just before the conclusion of the race, but it would be Darrell Lake winning the race over Adriaensen. Jake Sheridan would be crowned the series champion at just 14 years of age, one of the youngest in track history.
Connor Van Steensel (#71) and Tyler Fortey started on the front row for the final Demar Aggregates Truck feature of the points season. Van Steensel would spin on the opening lap, however get going again and the race would remain green with Mickey Brydges in front. On lap 3, Tom Zagorodny took over the race lead as Rick Verberne followed. On lap 8 there was disaster for Van Steensel as he was sandwiched hard into the outside wall while racing the leaders attempting to stay on the lead lap. The field remained tight and on lap 17 Tyler Fortey and Rick Verberne swapped spots briefly for second. Tom Zagorodny would win the race but it would be Rick Verberne being crowned champion for the second time in the Demar Aggregates Trucks, beating Tom Zagorodny in final championship standings.
Terry Cole (#3) and Manuel Ferreira (#8) started on the front row for the final race of championship night, the second 25 lap TransAxle V8 Stock feature. There was trouble on lap 2 as several cars made contact and went around including Barry Watson and Kyle Mezenberg. The lead changed hands twice before lap 5 as Manuel Ferreira took over and then Paul Fothergill. Cody Payne (#00) and Barry Watson trailed behind the race leader in the mid-point of the race before Watson moved into second on lap 14. Up front the fight got heated as Paul Fothergill raced out his rearview mirror looking for his first win of the season. With just four laps to go Watson made his move to the high side and the two raced side by side. Fothergill would hold on for the victory as Watson and Jeremy Taggart rounded out the top three. Barry Watson would win the 2017 championship, going back-to-back in the series in his #45 machine.
The next event at Delaware Speedway is the historic and prestigious Great Canadian Race Weekend featuring two days of action on September 15th and 16th. On the Friday of the doubleheader weekend, the Race of Champions Sportsman Modified Series will invade the half mile for the first time ever alongside the Ground Masters Super Stocks, Demar Aggregates Trucks, TransAxle V8 Stocks, and a King of the Hill Spectators Race. The APC Series will crown its champion on Saturday, September 16th in the annual running of the Great Canadian Race. All the weekly divisions will return to run alongside the APC Series to cap off another weekend at the half mile.
By Ryan Dyson