Story By STEVEN PETTY / MERRITTVILLE SPEEDWAY – THOROLD, ONT – Kicking off his 50th season behind the wheel of a racecar, “Mr. Small Block” Pete Bicknell from St. Catharines, Ontario was in a familiar place… Merrittville Speedway victory lane standing as the winner of the Corr-Pak Merchandising 358 Modified feature as JNE Recovery and DDL & Co presented the Spring Sizzler Saturday night.
James Friesen from St. Catharines, Ontario won the Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman feature. Jake Brown from Brantford, Ontario won the opening round of the 2022 season for the Southern Ontario Sprints. Dave Bailey from Hagersville, Ontario won the Hoosier Stock feature, while Tyler Lafantaisie from Thorold, Ontario claimed the Vansickle Pet Valu/PV On the Lane 4 Cylinder feature.
Chad Chevalier and Scott Wood brought the Corr-Pak Merchandising 358 Modifieds to the green flag for their 35-lap feature event with Lindberg taking the lead. Lindberg would come to a stop on the front straightaway on lap six to bring out the caution. Luke Carleton and Brad Rouse would get together in turn four to bring out the caution. Once the field settled, Pete Bicknell would assume the lead over Ryan Susice. With Bicknell and Susice upfront, Chad Chevalier, Fred Carleton, Scott Wood, Gary Lindberg, and Boyd MacTavish all raced inside the top five throughout the night. After bringing out an early race caution, Lindberg drove back through the field until his night ended for good with less than 10 laps to go as he needed assistance to get back to the pit area. Bicknell would hold off Susice on several restarts to claim the win.
Billy Bleich Jr and James Michael Friesen were on the front row for the 25-lap feature for the Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman with Friesen taking the lead. Justin Sharp would take over third from Cody McPherson on lap three and would set his sights on Bleich for second. Friesen would pull away from the field substantially as Sharp would take second away from Bleich with eight laps remaining. Friesen would score the win with his sponsors in the suites enjoying the show.
Glenn Styres and Jake Brown set the pace in the 25-lap feature for the Southern Ontario Sprints (SOS) with Brown showing the way. Jake Dykstra took over third on lap four. Paul Pekkonen spun in turn four to slow the field down for the first time on lap five. The restart would see Brown, Styres, and Jake Dykstra battle for the lead with Ryan Turner moving up. Turner would take over second place on lap 14 and would go after the race leader. Jake Brown would hold off Turner to score his first career win at Merrittville. It was the first race for the SOS since the pandemic. Special thanks to Frontier Transportation Services from Beamsville for sponsoring the dash for cash.
Justin Ramsay and Dave Bailey brought the Hoosier Stocks to the green flag for their 20-lap feature with Bailey showing the way. Gofast Teeple spun, in turn, two with Mark McDonald having nowhere to go. Teeple was able to rejoin the field after making a pit visit. On the restart, Bailey would take off in the lead ahead of Ramsay with Chris Hale racing in third. Zach Bleich came to a stop in turn two to bring out the caution. Ramsay would take the lead following the caution, with Bailey being able to regain the lead just one lap later.
Ken Hair and Vincent Pagnotta were on the front row for the 15-lap feature for the Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinders, with Hair showing the way. Tyler Lafantaisie would take the lead away on lap two and the top two would pull away from the rest of the field. Lafantaisie was able to hold off Hair to pick up the win. Clinton Barrick crossed the line in third place but was found to be illegal in post-race tech.
DDL &Co. put in an extra $6100 into the top five positions for the weekly Merrittville divisions competing at the Spring Sizzler, the 358 Modifieds, Sportsman, Hoosier Stocks, and 4 Cylinders.
The 71st season of racing at “Canada’s Oldest Dirt Track” will officially begin as Peters Construction Group presents a full card of Bobcat of Hamilton Weekly Racing Series action featuring the Corr-Pak 358 Modifieds, Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman, Hoosier Stocks, RONA Doidge Builders Mod Lites, and the Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinders. Pit gates will open at 5:00 pm, grandstands open at 5:30, and racing will begin at 7:00 pm.
RACE RESULTS –- APRIL 23, 2022
Southern Ontario Sprints: JAKE BROWN, Ryan Turner, Jake Dykstra, Mitch Brown, Glenn Styres, Aaron Turkey, Brayden Cooley, Todd Hoddick, Holly Porter, Kyle Phillips, Shone Evans, Baily Heard, Shawn Sliter, Chris Jones, Jim Huppunen, Warren Mahoney, Cory Turner, Derek Jonathan, Paul Pekkonen, Jamie Turner, John Burbridge Jr
Qualifying Heats: Aaron Turkey, Ryan Turner, Brayden Cooley
Dash: Aaron Turkey
CORR-PAK Merchandising 358 Modifieds: PETE BICKNELL, Ryan Susice, Chad Chevalier, Fred Carleton, Scott Wood, Boyd MacTavish, Shayne Pierce, Derek VanMil, Glenn Styres, Brandon Gruhl, Gary Lindberg, Tanner Podwinski, Luke Carleton, Dave Flannigan Jr, Brad Rouse, Todd Gordon, Jarrett Herbison
Qualifying Heats: Chad Chevalier, Scott Wood
Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman: JAMES FRIESEN, Justin Sharp, Cody McPherson, Brad Rouse, Billy Bleich Jr, Trevor Wright, Rob Knapp, Jay Mallory, Adam Leslie, Brent Begolo, Darrell Farraway, Terry Smith, Noah Mamo, Daniel McKay, Nathan Peattie
Qualifying Heats: Billy Bleich Jr, James Michael Friesen
Hoosier Stocks: DAVE BAILEY, Mark Fawcett, Jason Fontaine, Chris Hale, Justin Ramsay, Jeff Larmet, Zach Bleich, Steve Shaw Sr, Bryce Richardson, Todd Shaw, Evan Curtis, Kyle Andress, Trevor Want, Gofast Teeple, Ryan Beagle, Mark McDonald, Kacey Huffman, Rob Murray
Qualifying Heats: Justin Ramsay, Dave Bailey, Chris Hale
Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinders: TYLER LAFANTAISIE, Ken Hair, Jay Moulton, Austyn Werstroh, Vincent Pagnotta, Trevor DeBoer, John Lubeck, Randy Alway, Jordan Denobriga, Richard Hadler, Cierra Keus, Danny Wurster, Jeremy Hughes, Alex Riley, Clinton Barrick (DQ)
Qualifying Heats: Kenny Hair, Vincent Pagnotta