In a finish that left fans shocked as they left Sunset Speedway on Saturday night, Danny Benedict picked up the Sauble Falls Tent and Trailer Park Late Model feature victory.
Following the first feature, it’d be Billy Zardo on pole ahead of Nic Montanari, Chad Corcoran, Ernie Fumerton, Dylan Gardner, Mike Wilkinson, Taylor Holdaway, Danny Benedict, Ron Quesnelle, Nick Goetz, Gord Shepherd, Paul Maltese, and Jeff Richards.
Zardo would grab the early lead ahead of Montanari, as Corcoran and Fumerton battled for third. Corcoran got the spot, then made contact with Montanari in turns one and two to send him for a spin on Lap 2. In the process, Benedict spun to avoid getting no damage, and was allowed to maintain his track position. With 33 laps to go, Zardo led Fumerton, Wilkinson, Gardner, Benedict, Holdaway, Goetz, Quesnelle, Shepherd, Maltese, Corcoran, Richards, and Montanari.
Zardo got a good restart to keep the lead ahead of Fumerton, Wilkinson, and Benedict, as Gardner and Goetz battled for fourth, with Holdaway alongside Shepherd for sixth. Goetz got the spot on Lap 6 ahead of Shepherd, Gardner, Maltese, Holdaway, Quesnelle, Corcoran, Montanari, and Richards. Goetz looked to continue moving forward, getting alongside Benedict for fourth at Lap 9.
The shuffling continued mid-pack, with Maltese moving up to seventh on Lap 13 ahead of Holdaway, with Quesnelle alongside Gardner for ninth. Quesnelle got the spot a lap later, with the caution flying on Lap 15 for Montanari spinning Corcoran. With 20 laps to go, Zardo led Fumerton, Wilkinson, Benedict, Goetz, Shepherd, Maltese, Holdaway, Quesnelle, Gardner, Corcoran, Montanari, and Richards.
Fumerton got a good restart to take over the top spot, as Benedict got alongside Zardo for second, with Shepherd and Goetz side-by-side for fourth. Benedict took the runner-up spot on Lap 20, with Shepherd and Goetz taking Zardo three-wide for third. There’d be contact, which would see Zardo go around for a spin in turns one and two for the third caution at Lap 21. With 14 laps to go, Fumerton led Benedict, Shepherd, Wilkinson, Maltese, Holdaway, Quesnelle, Gardner, Corcoran, Montanari, Goetz, Zardo, and Richards.
The first attempt at a restart saw a fourth yellow flag as Zardo would stop in turn two with a flat right front. The second attempt went cleanly with Benedict taking the top spot as Shepherd got alongside Fumerton for second. Meanwhile, Zardo headed down pit road, done for the event.
Shepherd would move into second on Lap 24 ahead of Fumerton, Wilkinson, Holdaway, Maltese, and Quesnelle. Shepherd then got alongside Benedict for the top spot two laps later, with Maltese getting alongside Holdaway for fifth at Lap 27. Holdaway kept the spot, with Quesnelle getting alongside Maltese for sixth two laps later.
At the front of the field, Shepherd was able to clear Benedict for the top spot with four laps to go as Fumerton continued to run third ahead of Wilkinson, Holdaway and Quesnelle, with Goetz alongside Maltese for seventh with three laps to go. The battles went down to the wire with Quesnelle getting alongside Holdaway for fifth on the last lap.
At the front of the field, it appeared as though Shepherd would cruise to the feature victory, uncontested. Though coming off of turn four, it appeared the No. 10 Late Model died suddenly. Benedict took advantage of this, squeezing barely between Shepherd and the outside wall with contact to beat him by a bumper at the line.
“I was thinking, ‘Okay, P2, good day’ and all of a sudden he’s rolling down the frontstretch and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on?’,” Benedict said post-race in victory lane. “I went to his outside and he was kind of moving up and down, and I kind of got into him, and after that it’s kind of a blur.”
Danny Benedict got credited with the feature victory ahead of Gord Shepherd, Ernie Fumerton, Mike Wilkinson, Taylor Holdaway, Ron Quesnelle, Paul Maltese, Nick Goetz, Dylan Gardner, Nic Montanari, Chad Corcoran, and Jeff Richards.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we had anything for him tonight,” Benedict added. “They were quick and we were trying some stuff different than normal. We missed it really bad in qualifying and in the second feature, we kind of worked our way up and kept the nose clean on it – till the last lap I guess. But just a lot of patience. Can’t my guys enough as they worked all day on this thing. It was kind of an up and down, up and down kind of day but a good finish, I guess.”
Entering the night sitting third in points, nine points behind Shepherd, the finish will certainly make things interesting moving forward.
“It’s always nice to win, but that’s not the way you want to do it,” Benedict said. “I feel bad for Gord, but he’s the points leader so I guess I can’t feel too bad for him. We still need to find some more speed so I guess we got to find something, but we’ll keep plugging away and see if we can get a couple more lucky ones.”