RPW Column: “Money Mat” Earned Every Penny Monday At Autodrome Granby; Williamson Takes $5K Payday

Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – GRANBY, QUE – Seventy-five laps of Modified action around Autodrome Granby on a Monday night with $5,000 on the line was the perfect storm for everyone in attendance.

Amazing talent all vying for the win with a packed grandstand watching…what more could a promoter ask for?

Mathieu Desjardins, Carey Terrance, Michael Parent, Francois Bernier, Erick Rudolph and David Hebert were all in contention for great finishes and even a trip to victory lane in the Canadian Big Block Series event on this night, but when the checkers flew, there was only one driver that came away with the “Money.”

That driver’s name?  Mat Williamson, and Williamson had to work hard over the course of those 75 laps to take home the top prize but he was able to get the job done Monday.

“It’s awesome coming to Quebec,” Williamson said.  “The fans here are incredible.  It’s a shame the Super DIRTcar Series doesn’t come up here anymore.  Hopefully one day they’ll be back but, for now, we’ll take these races up here.”

Williamson fired from the tenth starting spot but didn’t make much headway early on.  He only got as high as sixth by the time the first caution flew on lap 21 for the slow car of Jeremy Roy.

Bernier took off from the drop of the green but it was Desjardins who grabbed the lead away with a power move to the outside in turns one and two on lap 13.

It looked like it was the driver from Yamaska, QUE’s race to lose, as he built up a big lead at times.  However, Bernier and Williamson were coming and the top three tightened up as the event neared the 40-lap mark.

That’s when Desjardins caught a break.  His #37 Bicknell hopped the cushion entering turns one and two, allowing Bernier to the inside of him.  While those two were rubbing side rails, the 6 of Williamson slipped underneath both to take the lead…or so everyone thought.

The caution flew at that very moment for the stopped car of Jeffrey Lapalme in turn four.  That was a lucky break for Desjardins as, without a lap being counted, he was given the lead back and Williamson was relegated to third.

Over the next 15 circuits, Desjardins and Bernier waged war for the top spot with Hebert and Williamson hot on their heels, all battling for the top spot.  Williamson got as high as third at one point, going back and fourth with Hebert.

The track began to take rubber as the laps clicked off so lane choice was key, and that’s when the driver from St. Catherines, ONT found the groove that ultimately helped him move closer to the lead.

Williamson began diamonding off the corners.  He’d run up to the brown (where there was bite) on the high side.  He’d then turn the car hard and drive right through the slick part, making up some serious ground on the top two.

With 22 laps left to go, Mat was able to get around Bernier for second with his sights set on the leader.

The distance between the two continued to shrink as Williamson’s car came to life.  They were just a few car lengths apart when the yellow was drawn once again for the 29 of Steve Turcotte that slowed in the second corner.

On the ensuing restart, it was a flat-footed drag race for the top spot as both drivers battled side-by-side for an entire lap before Williamson took the lead away coming off of turn four.

Even with one final caution with five laps remaining, from there, it was all “Money Mat” as he took home Granby’s big $5,000 paycheck.

“We actually chunked a tire in the heat race that made us learn some things for the feature,” he said.  “All of my guys that came with us (three of them) worked hard here tonight.  We were selling t-shirts and changing chalks and smashing springs so I’ve really got to give a shout out to those three.”

One thing that was super helpful for Williamson on Monday night came from the tower, of all places.

“I’ve got to give a thank you to the race director tonight,” he said.  “I don’t know who it was but coming up here, the majority of drivers speak French and some of us don’t.  I’m not very bilingual but he gave us all the communications we needed in both French and English.  He was awesome.”

Mat sure does love racing in Quebec.  The handful of times he’s been able to lately, he’s been successful.

“It doesn’t take too much to twist my leg to come up here to run a couple of races,” he said.  “We came up during the Pandemic and picked up a win here.  This will be our second and hopefully we can go to Drummond tomorrow (Tuesday) and do it again.”

In the final dozen laps, Michael Parent looked to be the fastest car on track, working his way to the runner-up spot until the final caution with five to go, however, when his car seemed to go away.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Carey Terrance’s came to life.  Terrance, who fell back as far as seventh in the feature, drove from fifth on the restart with five to go, all the way to a well-deserved second place finish.

“We weren’t the greatest the whole race,” Terrance said.  “We were struggling the whole time but we finally got a restart on the top and made it work.”

Terrance loved racing on the Granby surface on Monday night and everything about the event.

“This was a great race track tonight, as usual,” he said.  “I also have to thank my Crew Chief, Chris, and all of my guys that came with me.  This good run is for everyone that helps put these cars together.  They give me great pieces to drive every night and to all of the fans that came out to support this race, thank you.”

Parent held on for third with Bernier in fourth and Hebert completing the top five.

Sixth through tenth were Erick Rudolph in the Slack #3RS, Luke Whitteker, Desjardins who backslid to eighth at the finish, Even Racine and Mathieu Boisvert.

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