INNISFIL, Ontario — Some things just feel they are meant to be, and it seemed Saturday afternoon at Sunset Speedway was one of those cases.
Dwayne Baker and Bill Zardo Sr. held a special friendship, which included spending time away from the track camping together. So it seemed only fitting to watch Baker be victorious in the inaugural Big Z Memorial for the LUDUH Hot Rods.
Herb Walters won the first heat in front of Dwayne Baker, Amanda Balson, Billy Alderson Jr., Rob Bromley, Rob Wark, Donny Beatty, Luke Gignac, and Keenan Belzie.
Tyler Hawn was victorious in the second qualifier ahead of John Gaunt, Travis Hallyburton, Brian Wilson Sr., Paul Senior, Steve Adams, Matt Spry, and Thomas Dunn.
Amanda Balson picked up the checkered flag in the third heat, followed by Walters, Baker, Alderson Jr., Wark, Beatty, Gignac, Bromley, and Belzie.
John Gaunt snagged the victory in the last qualifier, in front of Wilson Sr., Senior, Hawn, Hallyburton, Adams, Spry, and Dunn.
Come feature time, it’d be Dwayne Baker starting pole followed by Amanda Balson, John Gaunt, Tyler Hawn, Travis Hallyburton, Billy Alderson Jr., Herb Walters, Rob Wark, Matt Spry, Donny Beatty, Rob Bromley, Brian Wilson Sr., Paul Senior, Luke Gignac, Steve Adams, and Thomas Dunn.
Dwayne Baker grabbed the early advantage with Gaunt slotting into second ahead of Balson, Hawn, Walters, and Hallyburton. Alderson ran seventh, followed by Wark, Wilson, Senior, Beatty, and Bromley, as Spry headed down pit road on Lap 4 with a mechanical issue.
Alderson began to make his way forward, passing Hallyburton for sixth on Lap 6, with Senior challenging Wark a lap later for eighth. Walters would make his move, dive bombing Hawn on Lap 8 for fourth, though unable to complete the pass, as Alderson ran sixth followed by Hallyburton, with Wark and Wilson side-by-side. Walters tried again, this time successfully taking fourth on Lap 11, only to be tagged a lap later by Hawn. Walters kept it straight, with Hawn using Dunn as a pick to keep fifth ahead of Alderson.
Behind them, Hallyburton ran seventh in front of Bromley, Wilson and Wark, with Adams by Wark to break into the top-10 on Lap 15, as Beatty rounded out the top-12. Alderson did not give up on his pursuit, passing Hawn for fifth a lap later.
The race’s first caution came out on Lap 20 for an issue in turns one and two. Under the yellow flag, Hawn came down pit road for adjustments. The restart saw chaos through the field, including a battle four-wide to break into the top-five. It would not end well, with contact from Alderson cutting Walters’ tire. Senior would lock it up as the yellow flag flew, spinning in turn four.
The second attempt was smooth, with Baker holding serve as Gaunt and Alderson battled for second. Gaunt held off the challenge, with Balson running fourth, as Bromley and Hawn ran side-by-side for fifth in front of Adams. Balson got alongside Alderson on Lap 25, with the caution flying a lap later for Wark going around in turn two.
The restart saw a battle between Baker and Gaunt, with Baker once again holding onto the top spot, as Alderson ran third in front of Balson, Hawn, and Bromley. Balson challenged Alderson for third once again on Lap 30, with Adams heading down pit road a lap later. Balson got the spot a lap later, as Hawn ran fifth with Wilson tagging Bromley for sixth. The attempt did not give him the spot, with Hallyburton getting by Wilson, with Wilson going around on the backstretch on Lap 34 for the third yellow flag.
The restart saw another battle for the lead, with Baker holding serve once again as Balson and Alderson ran side-by-side for third. Balson got the spot ahead of Alderson, Hawn, and Hallyburton as Bromley slowed with a flat right rear tire.
Dwayne Baker then led the rest of the way across the finish line in front of John Gaunt, Amanda Balson, Billy Alderson, and Tyler Hawn.
1 47 Dwayne Baker
2 96 Johnny Gaunt
3 18 Billy Alderson Jr.
4 2 Tyler Hawn
5 6H Travis Hallyburton
6 4 Rob Wark
7 14 Brian Wilson Sr.
8 40 Donny Beatty
9 20 Luke Gignac
11 99 Steve Adams
12 88 Herb Walters
13 63 Thomas Dunn
14 8SR Paul Bogensberger Sr.
15 17 Matt Spry
16 34 Keenan Belzie (DNS)
17 66 Marty Monette (DNS)
DQ 16 Amanda Balson
Categories: Race Reports, Sunset Speedway
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