Story By: JIM IRVINE / MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY – THOROLD, ONT – For motorists a CAA Niagara Membership is rewarding. For six Merrittville Speedway Bobcat of Hamilton Weekly Racing Series Drivers – CAA Niagara Night at the races was rewarding as Mike Bowman of St. Catharines, Brent Begolo of Thorold, Anthony Kelly, Chris Watson and John Couture all of Niagara Falls won their first features of 2018 in the S&W Service Centre 358 Modified, David Chevrolet Sportsman, Central Fabricating & Welding 4 Cylinder, Vansickle Pet Valu & Groomingdale’s Mod Lite and Dave’s Auto & Speed Centre V6 Divisions.
Begolo’s first win came in the first round of the three race David Chevrolet King of the Crates Series. The only repeat winner Saturday May 26th was Rob Murray of St. Catharines who won his second straight Hoosier Stock Feature.
“Gary and I talked about Monday Night,” said Mike Bowman in Victory Lane less than a week after the two came together in the Brian Stevens Memorial … we’re both good to go and it’s great to see him have a great run too. I dusted off my driving shoes from the Sportsman days tonight … it’s great to give the new car a good run.”
Bowman set the pace at the start of the 35 lap event for the S&W Service Centre 358 Nodifieds ahead of an early three wide battle for the runnerup spot between Tim Jones, Lindberg and Pete Bicknell. Lindberg would take control of second but at 5 laps in – Bowman had opened up almost a ¼ lap lead.
Five laps later at lap 10, Bowman had stretched his lead to almost a straightaway on the field.
At lap 15, Mat Williamson would challenge Lindberg but to no avail. In the closing laps as the leaders came up on increasing lap traffic, Lindberg was able to close slightly but in the caution free event there was no stopping Bowman.
Bowman and Linderg were followed by Williamson, Bicknell and Chad Brachmann.
“Tonight’s Mod Lite Feature got away from me … this one didn’t,” said the two division racer Brent Begolo after winning the 30 lap David Chevrolet King of the Crates Series Opener for the Sportsman, “we’ve finished second the last couple years so this is a big one.”
Justin Sharp led the 25 car field to the initial green flag but 3 cautions in the first couple laps would quickly find Begolo the new leader. Just as quick was Brad Rouse who took top spot after a lap 2 restart.
Begolo would regain top spot on lap 4 and by lap 10 enjoyed a 10 car advantage.
Through slower cars Rouse appeared to be catching Begolo slightly until a lap 21 caution.
Begolo and Rouse were side by side on the restart with Rouse finding the advantage down the backstretch. The next time into Turn 1 it was Begolo who was back out front.
B y lap 25, Begolo would open up a 5 car lead – one that he would maintain through to the finish. Begolo and Rouse were followed by Cody McPherson, James Friesen and Adam Leslie.
“Back in Kart Racing I knew I would someday be racing Saturday Nights,” said Anthony Kelly in Victory Lane after winning his first ever Central Fabricating & Welding 4 Cylinder Feature, “never did I think it would be with the defending champion’s car though … thanks to Mom and especially Dad and to everyone that has helped me do this.”
Kelly who turned 17 May 12th had to be thankful after losing control of his car on lap 3 causing the first caution in the event slowing leader Sean Iftody’s early pace.
Jay Moulton was the new leader on the restart and just before a lap 5 caution Cole Hardy was the new leader. On the restart it was Moulton out front once again before Hardy regained top spot.
Kelly would work his way back through the field and by lap 10 was side by side with Hardy.
Kelly would take over top spot in Turn 3 and along with Hardy and Alex Riley in third … the frontrunners had pulled away.
At the finish, Kelly, Hardy and Riley were followed by Moulton and Jeremy Cooper.
“This one’s for Jeff,” said Chris Watson in Victory Lane after winning his first Vansickle Pet Valu & Groomingdale’s Mod Lite Feature, “the car just got loose … I was able to get back on it right away thankfully.”
Watson and initial leader Tyler Winger were involved in quite an early battle for the lead until Watson got off the backstretch on lap 4.
Watson’s run for family friend Jeff Hughes who passed away earlier in May saw him regain the lead on lap 6. By lap 7 – Begolo was now in the runner up spot. On lap 10, Begolo took over top spot until a lap 13 caution.
Begolo would set the pace on the restart until Watson became the leader out of Turn 4 finishing lap 14. Watson was followed by Jeffrey May who made a late race charge to take second from Begolo. RJ Pietz and Winger rounded out the top 5.
Tina Ronning and Alana McDonald took the Dave’s Auto & Speed Centre V6 12 lap Feature to the green flag with McDonald taking top spot the first time into Turn 1.
John Couture was on the move in the early stages taking over top spot on lap 4. Adam Plazek followed Couture to the front in taking second spot.
Two laps later Plazek was closing in and by lap 7 the two were side by side. Couture would maintain a couple car length advantage with two laps to go but Plazek would again pull alongside as the two took the white flag.
At the finish, Couture came home out front by a car length with Plazek settling for second and Ronning third.
The father and son team of Bill and Tanner Podwinski took the 20 lap Hoosier Stock Feature to the green flag ahead of two and three wide action behind them. When things settled down – Jason Fontaine was the leader in finishing the first lap.
Rob Murray would also settle into second spot and by the halfway point had begun to narrow the 5 car lead of Fontaine. A lap 10 caution would bring the field back to Fontaine and on the restart Murray took control of top spot.
Dave Bailey would soon take over the runner up spot about 10 car lengths behind the leader.
Brad Sheehan would take over second on lap 14 but by the finish could only come to within about a ¼ lap lead of his team mate Murray.
Murray and Sheehan were followed by Baily, Billy Bleich and Kyle Pelrine.
UPCOMING at Merrittville Speedway
Merrittville will host a Wednesday Night Practice on May 30th. Open to all divisions – the Pit Area will open at 5:30 and the Track at 6:30.
Young McNamara will present the Annual KIDSRACE Night in support of the Canadian National Autism Foundation Saturday June 2nd.
Race Fans will have an opportunity to meet Drivers for Autographs on the front-stretch at Intermission.
Pits will open at 5:00, Grandstands at 5:30 and Show time is 7 PM.
CAA Niagara Night – Saturday May 26, 2018
Bobcat of Hamilton Weekly Racing Series Complete Results
David Chevrolet Sportsman King of the Crates Series Opener (30 laps) Brent Begolo, Brad Rouse, Cody McPherson, James Friesen, Adam Leslie, Jay Mallory, Justn Sharp, Paul Gaboury, Jordan Cosco, Chad Chevalier, Luke Carleton, Robbie Johnston, Trevor Wright, Brett Senek, Rob Knapp, Brian Bellinger, Ryan Ferri, Chris Storm, Dave DiPietro, Vince Fargnoli, Dave Small, Brandon Gruhl, Jason VanMil, Greg Panunte, Sean Dominey.
S&W Service Centre 358 Modifieds (30 laps) Mike Bowman, Gary Lindberg, Mat Williamson, Pete Bicknell, Chad Brachmann, Scott Wood. Ryan Susice, Tommy Flannigan, Todd Gordon, Tom Richau, Boyd MacTavish, Fred Carleton, Tom Neale, Chris Bellamy, Tim Jones.
Hoosier Stock Division Feature (20 laps) Rob Murray, Brad Sheehan, Dave Bailey, Billy Bleich, Kyle Pelrine, Dave Small, Scott McPhail, Bill Podwinski, Chris Schneider, Ian Blanchard, Robin Mortensen, Jason Fontaine, Tanner Podwinski.
Vansickle Pet Valu & Groomingdale’s Modified Lite Division Feature (20 laps) Chris Watson, Jeffrey May, Brent Begolo, RJ Pietz, Tyler Winger, Rob Misener, Ryleigh Sliter, Randy Giroux, Ray Sliter, Jr., Zach Trotter, Colby Bennett.
Central Fabricating & Welding 4 Cylinder Division Feature (15 laps) Anthony Kelly, Cole Hardy, Alex Riley, Jay Moulton, Jeremy Cooper, Vincent Pagnotta, Dan McKay, Sam Iftody, Kevin Kocarik, Mike Giberson, Sean Iftody, Cameron Lane, Austyn Werstroh.
Dave’s Auto and Speed Centre V6 Division Feature (12 laps) John Couture, Adam Plazek, Tina Ronning, Nick Hendricks, Alana MacDonald, Joe Bleich.