Recap: Gresel Wins Opener
Gresel Wins NASCAR Opener at Delaware Speedway
FT Garage Late Models
Sundance Balloons night kicked off the 60th season of racing at Delaware Speedway on Friday night and Andrew Gresel (#81) of Hepworth made the three and a half hour haul worth it, as he beat half of the competition in his heat race and then waxed the entire field in the FT Garage Late Model feature.
Racing was in doubt from early in the night, as rain delayed practice and the first green of the year until 8:35 pm. The FT Garage Late Models would be cut short at the other end of the night, as lap 20 saw the skies open up, putting a wet Gresel in the winner’s circle. Other than the rain, it was a great evening of action at Canada’s Finest Short Track.
Gresel and ‘The Sauble Beach Road Warriors’ had their car in pieces until the last possible minute, working on their ride for the 2011 campaign. They tested Thursday at Sauble Speedway, and worked on freeing the car up during race night. Gresel spoke about the evening, “We’re excited about racing at Delaware full-time this year, and this is a great way to start the season. It always helps to sit on the pole, and while it’s nice to get a win early, but there is still a lot of racing to go.”
Crew member Joe Chisholm also explained the thrills of victory, “It makes for a great ride home!”
Jesse Kennedy (#10) of Southwold couldn’t mount a charge on Gresel, while Jay Doerr (#43) of London had a solid third-place performance. Scott Lindsay (#20) of St. Marys and Jamie Cox (#3) of Dorchester) staged the battle of the night as the pair waged a six-lap duel before Lindsay took fourth position away at almost the exact same time the sprinkles started pick up. Following a short yellow flag period, the checkered flag was thrown 15 laps short of the finish, but still as an official race. Mat Box also passed Cox to pick up his third career top-five finish, while Cox in the debut of the RCR Racing Team ended up sixth.
Gresel and Kennedy won their heat race.
Dynamic Fluid Products Super Stocks
Night number one also saw NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck racing star J.R. Fitzpatrick return to victory lane for the in his Dynamic Fluid Super Stock. It was the first Delaware Speedway feature win for J.R., in a full-sized car, and since he was in a KROWN Body Maintenance Junior Racing League car in 2003.
Fitzpatrick, who will be pulling double duty next weekend in Dover, Delaware in both the Truck and a Nationwide series races, spoke about returning to victory lane, “It was a lot of fun tonight, and we worked for it. We were up until 5:00 am this morning getting the car ready, and we were good everywhere, getting in, getting off, and through the centre.”
For J.R., despite racing on the big stage South of the boarder, he likes returning to Delaware, and spoke about his program, “I’m just a racer and I’ll race anything. I like the package for the built motors I love the new bodies and I like the new handicapping system. The other thing about racing in this class is racing with my buddies and working on my car with my buddies. Guys like Darrell Lake and a bunch of guys in this division, we grew up racing Juniors against each other. In a way, I feel like I missed out on this part of my racing career, because I went straight from a Junior to a Late Model and Super Series car.”
Paul Fothergill is making a full-time charge in the Super Stock division this year, and ‘The Black Knight’ looked strong out of the chute. He was able to pull off an early pass of 2009 division champion Jason Lidster (#11) of St. Thomas in the feature to move to second, but didn’t have enough to challenge the race winner on any of the restarts.
Steve ‘Pee Wee’ Smith (#84) of Arkona made a charge to third, but on lap 18 Lidster pulled the pass of the race. He moved to the inside of Smith taking Lake with him and shuffling Smith back to a fifth-place result, while Lister finished third, and Lake wound up fourth.
Heat race checkered flags went to Fitzpatrick and Lidster.
Demar Aggregates Trucks
‘The Flying Dutchman’ Devon Bloemendal (#01) of Delaware started on the pole for the Demar Aggregate Truck division and set sail to an early lead with Chad Rijnen (#16) of Thamesford and Jeff Showler (#56) of Mt. Elgin in hot pursuit. The trio were able to distance themselves from the pack, but stayed in line until Showler started an attack on Rijnen. Showler worked high and low, but Chad was just fast enough to keep him at bay.
While that was going on, Devon was checking out the action in his rearview mirror, saying, “Those guys started racing and I was able to get a little distance on them.”
The race wore on with no yellow flags and the trio finished in that order. Rijnen held off Showler in a tremendous race long battle for second spot. Matt Koricina stuck with the trio up front in the very early going, but held on to finish fourth, while Tom Zagorodny (#77) put in an impressive charge to finish fifth. Zagorodny might have the most impressive run of the night as he started 10th in the feature and picked his way through the field without the help of any cautions.
Bloemendal spoke about winning on opening night, “The handling on our truck wasn’t perfect, but when I had clean track, I was able to change my style a bit, and dragged the brake all the way into the corner, and it helped the truck roll through the centre and turn. After all the motor problems we had last year it was nice to win, but I think we might have dropped some a bearing tonight in the motor.”
Bloemendal and Matt Koricina (#93) were victorious in heat race action.
Story and photos by Jamie Maudsley and www.maudsleymotorsports.com
Post Race Technical Inspection Note:
Following post race technical inspection on Friday May 6, 2011 car 14 in the Dynamic Fluids Super Stock division was found to be in violation of the following rules:
1. Non approved front and rear suspension components.
2. Exhaust system not conforming.
As a result of these infractions the team was assessed a monetary fine as well as a loss of both 25 owners and 25 drivers championship points.