SAUBLE BEACH, Ontario –The wins just keep on rolling for Glenn Watson and the #22 team. Watson won his fifth straight OSCAAR feature at Sauble Speedway after leading all fifty laps at the ¼ mile track just outside of Sauble Beach. Watson posted the quickest time in the time trial section of the night with a lap of 14.108 seconds and an average speed of 63.829 mph, which guaranteed him to start from inside the front row. When the green flag flew to begin the South Shore Services 50, Watson did not hold anything back, leading every lap. Watson survived several challenges from second place Wayne Isaacs in the #00 Outlaw to capture the win. Isaacs, who started second after posting the second quickest time of 14.601 seconds, never let Watson slip from his sight and came close to making a pass on a few occasions. Watson would later say that he constantly had to keep an eye on his rearview for the #00.
“Wayne had a good run. He was keeping up and I was a little nervous (because) my car wasn’t quite right. It was a little tight and I understand the brakes were glowing a bit. I was worried about him, especially if we had a restart. I knew I was working my brakes pretty hard. He was fast tonight. He gave me a good run,” explained Watson in victory lane.
The top two cars battled hard, but certainly were not the only battle of the night on the tight paperclip shaped oval. On just the second lap of the race Tyler Hawn and Shane Gowan spun in turn two after a tight battle from the green flag to start the race. On the ensuing restart Jeff Dunford and newcomer Jesse Kennedy, who started third and fourth respectively, made contact when Dunford’s car bounced over the small infield curb, causing both cars to fall further back in the field.
“I think he just went in a little too low and hit the curb there. It jumped his car up in to me,” said an understanding Kennedy. “He already said at the start of the race he’s going to give me a lot of room and I trust that it’s going to be. Sometimes you just make mistakes and it’s unfortunate it just happens. “
Kennedy was able to bounce back to a fifth place finish, but Dunford would finish the night in tenth after the steering on his car broke with five laps remaining. Kennedy had no easy time achieving a top-five finish in his first OSCAAR start. Kennedy battled with Inside Track Rookie of the Year Contender Todd Campbell for nearly twenty laps. Kennedy searched high and low to find away around the #07 Campbell’s Sanitation Chevrolet and resorted to tapping Campbell with his front bumper at every corner entry. Kennedy finally made the pass when the two were racing side-by-side and Campbell was forced to check up to move around the lapped car of Chris Burrows.
In the meantime, the Watson and Isaacs pairing gained significant time on the grouping of three cars that included Campbell, Kennedy, and Dunford. On lap 43, Watson lapped the fifth place Kennedy, leaving just four cars on the lead lap at the end of the fifty lap event. The ‘Orange Blossom Special’ of Lloyd Ritchie was the final car on the lead lap in fourth place. Ritchie started twelfth after spinning in his heat race and cutting the left-rear Hoosier tire. Ritchie held the fourth fastest time following time trials with a lap of 14.675 seconds, just seven hundredths slower than second place Wayne Isaacs. Coming from the back is difficult for any driver and so Ritchie was happy with his fourth place finish.
“That’s pretty good considering what happened last week and the work that I did this week” said Ritchie referring to the blown engine troubles he suffered at Sunset. “I’m pretty happy with that. I wish I had one more chance at it so I could tighten the car up a little. I loosened it up too much. It was a good run.”
The night’s underlying story, however, was Rookie of the Year contender Brandon Vanderwel finishing in the third, his first podium finish in a young OSCAAR career. Vanderwel benefitted from the mishap between Dunford and Kennedy, and was never challenged for the remainder of the race. Vanderwel remained consistent for the duration of the race and was ecstatic to achieve his best finish at his home track.
“It’s truly an honour to be able to do it here, of all tracks. My best finish here at Sauble Speedway where I grew up. For me to do it in front of all my family and friends, I couldn’t ask for any better. We finally got the car tuned in. We’ve had a lot of things go wrong, some pretty bad luck, but we’ll take (third).”
Vanderwel was absent from the racing scene in Ontario altogether for almost a full decade, but decided to try his hand again after spending time around a respected member in the OSCAAR family.
“Well, I hung around Chester Ritchie a little too long,” joked Vanderwel. “I decided that it was going to be in my blood again so here we are.”
Brakes were also a big issue for multiple drivers as the race ran green flag for 43 straight laps after two early cautions. Following a lap seven caution for Bruce Gowland who stopped in the infield, the race ran caution free, causing the brake discs on many cars to glow bright orange. Even leader Glenn Watson feared his brakes might run out.
“I was concerned about them. I was getting a fair bit of movement in the pedal. I was hoping there wasn’t going to be a restart because usually the brakes go away once you stop. We were fortunate we were able to keep going (under green),” said Watson following the race.
Conversely, Wayne Isaacs experienced no such problems, largely due to a different driving style than most other drivers.
“Actually I don’t use much of the brakes. That’s one of the things with me. I tend to drive the car and float it in (to the corner) and I don’t use the brakes as hard. I don’t think mine were glowing,” said Isaacs.
Isaacs came up just short of a win for the second straight week after finishing third at Sunset on July 2. The #00 has finished every feature race this season inside the top-five and, like the rest of OSCAAR drivers, is seeking to dethrone Watson from Knightworks Design Victory Lane. Isaacs does have a plan for defeating the three-time champion.
“Well if he was sick and stayed home, I think that would work,” joked Isaacs in front of a full grandstand following the race. “I had him going in to the corners, but he had me coming off. There was nothing I could do, but stay behind him and watch.”
The two twelve lap heat races were divided based on the earlier time trials with the odd qualifiers in the first heat and the even qualifiers in the second heat. Glenn Watson started on the pole for the first heat race, but a quick move off the start on the outside by Jeff Dunford, who qualified third quickest, forced Watson back in to second. Dunford would go on to win the heat.
The second heat was an eventful one. On lap 7, Bruce Gowland drew a caution after he came to a stop on the grass just off the back straightaway. On the following restart, Lloyd Ritchie was loose out of turn two and was spun by the #00 of Isaacs. Ritchie cut a tire and had to sit out the rest of the heat. Isaacs was sent to the back of the field. Jesse Kennedy assumed the lead and battled Brandon Vanderwel before eventually capturing his first checkered flag in an Outlaw Super Late Model.
OSCAAR returns to action in two weeks at Mosport Speedway on Saturday July 23 and will join the Ontario Legends Series and Mosport’s own four cylinder division. Racing is set to begin at six o’clock and OSCAAR will follow its usual format of two sets of heat races followed by the fifty lap feature race.
By Clayton Johns
OSCAAR – Feature
|1||1||22||Glenn Watson||Barrie , On||310.00|
|2||2||00||Wayne Isaacs||Brampton , On||290.00|
|4||12||62||Lloyd Ritchie||Southampton , On||270.00|
|7||5||13||Gary Passer||Innisfil , On||240.00|
|9||9||42||Tyler Hawn||Oro Station, On||220.00|
|10||3||7T||Jeff Dunford||Callander , On||210.00|
|11||11||39||Shane Gowan||Waterford , On||200.00|
|12||10||18||Bruce Gowland||Grand Valley, On||190.00|
|13||13||77||Craig Stevenson||Courtice , On||180.00|
|OSCAAR – Qualifying Heat A 2|
|3||1||00||Wayne Isaacs||Brampton , On||8.00|
|5||6||18||Bruce Gowland||Grand Valley, On||6.00|
|6||2||62||Lloyd Ritchie||Southampton , On||5.00|
|OSCAAR – Qualifying Heat A 1|
|1||2||7T||Jeff Dunford||Callander , On||10.00|
|2||1||22||Glenn Watson||Barrie , On||9.00|
|3||4||13||Gary Passer||Innisfil , On||8.00|
|5||5||42||Tyler Hawn||Oro Station, On||6.00|
|6||6||39||Shane Gowan||Waterford , On||5.00|
|7||7||77||Craig Stevenson||Courtice , On||4.00|