California’s Carson Macedo dominated the opening night of competition in the 2023 Australian Sprintcar Open at Archerfield Speedway on Friday night (January 13), leading every moment of the 25-lap preliminary feature race. A strong finish propelled Lachlan McHugh into second spot ahead of Luke Oldfield, with Matt and Marcus Dumesny swooping on the final lap to round out the top five. In a race that came oh-so-close to completion without interruption, Jock Goodyer secured sixth ahead of Steven Lines, and Texan teenager Chase Randall, whose charge through the field after qualifying into the feature via the B Main would see him finish ahead of Jamie Veal and Ian Madsen. Next best were Brock and Hallett and Ryan Newton, both of whom finished inside the top four on Wednesday night but couldn’t crack the top ten on this occasion.
A return to a more traditional qualifying format created plenty of anticipation through time trials with no less than seven drivers enjoying a moment at the top of the timesheets. As the first car on track, McHugh’s 12.106 survived six challengers before Ian Madsen clocked a 12.099, which was immediately bettered by Veal with a 12.036. As the 14th runner against the clock, Justin Sanders became the first to drop under 12 seconds with a 11.979, however the times kept tumbling in quick succession as Oldfield (11.949), Sam Walsh (11.946) and Hallett (11.936) lowered the benchmark further before Macedo usurped them all with a best lap of 11.925 that would remain unbettered and give him a vital points lead heading into the heats.
With an 8-car inversion for each of the heat races, the racing was frenetic yet largely incident free and fans were treated to a level of competition that the fastest-from-the-front format used on Wednesday simply cannot deliver.
Continuing the form that carried him to victory in the opening States Series round just two days prior, national champ Marcus Dumesny took out the opening heat ahead of Goodyer and Aaron Kelly.
Heat two saw Newton advance from the third row to win over Peter Doukas and Michael Saller, with McHugh doing likewise in heat four to down Cole Macedo and Trent Vardy.
Randy Morgan looked to have heat four well and truly in his keeping, only for him to spin in turn two with less than two laps to run, handing the lead to Adam Butler, who fought doggedly to keep Brooke Tatnell at bay and secure the win as Morgan recovered to salvage fourth behind Oldfield.
Cole Macedo outpaced Jayden Peacock and McHugh to win heat five before Morgan avoided any repeats of his earlier indiscretion to score heat six in advance of Tatnell and Kevin Titman.
A NSW trifecta in heat seven saw Jackson Delamont home first ahead Matt Dumesny and Marcus Dumesny, with the final heat falling to Tim Farrell ahead of Lines and Jack Bell.
The preliminary 15-lap B Main saw Walsh lead all the way, keeping well clear of any squabble over the minor placings. Kelly occupied second spot for the first six circulations before Randall moved ahead, while the fight for the final transfer saw Saller grab the spot initially before Jy Corbet moved ahead on lap two. The duo would swap the position several more times before Saller secured it for good on lap nine. Behind Corbet came Butler, Titman, Vardy and a luckless Brent Kratzmann, who found himself banished to the rear of the field after contacting the restart cone in the wake of a turn three kerfuffle that eliminated Jack Bell and Jayden Peacock.
The preliminary feature race grid assembled with Macedo and Oldfield on the front row and these two bolted at the drop of the green to distance themselves from the field. McHugh slotted into third initially, only for Matt Dumesny to take the spot on lap four. The big mover through the field was Marcus Dumesny, whose outside charge would see him round up Veal, Lines and Sanders before moving ahead of Goodyer on lap nine, although Goodyer was back in fourth on the next lap. Having reclaimed third from Matt Dumesny, McHugh chased down Oldfield to take over the runner-up spot on lap 21 and, just as it looked as though the race would go flag-to-flag, Sanders and Cole Macedo parked themselves in turn one to bring about a restart and a green-white-chequer finish. Macedo was unfazed by the interruption, putting more than a second between himself and McHugh over the final two laps to clinch his second Archerfield feature win for the season. In finishing third, Oldfield maintained his perfect record of podium results so far this season, while the final lap proved costly for Goodyer as he was ambushed by both Dumesny boys to ultimately finish sixth behind Matt and Marcus respectively. Veal was another to drop spots in the closing stages, consigned to ninth behind Lines and Randall, who finally overcame a series of setbacks to showcase his considerable talents. Finishing where he started, Madsen rounded out the top ten ahead of Hallett and Newton, both of whom finished inside the top four on Wednesday but struggled on this occasion, with Kelly, Saller, Walsh and Tatnell the remaining finishers.
As he has done so many times before, Michael Kendall dominated the Midget events, winning two heats before leading throughout the 20-lap feature race. Having also scored a heat win to qualify on the outside front row, Casey O’Connell chased for the duration but couldn’t pressure the five-time New Zealand champion into a mistake, all the while fending off the advances of last-start feature winner Charlie Brown, who moved into third on lap five. Brad Dawson finished fourth ahead of Lachlan Paulger, who did a great job to bounce back from a wild crash in the first heat that saw him come crashing back to earth atop the turn one wall. Scott Doyle, Tim Devine and Boyd Chaffey, who was also a heat winner, were next in line, leaving Jesse Harris as the only other finisher.
A very (very) familiar scenario played out in the Modlite feature race with Klinton Hancey and Terry Leerentveld occupying the top two spots at the fall of the chequer, with Hancey clinching back-to-back wins. When a late-race tangle eliminated Sean Rose and Chris Fing, Dan Lewis pounced to pinch third ahead of Callum Beerling, Steve Collins, Jake McRae and Michael Lawton.
The 25th Australian Sprintcar Open continues on Saturday night (January 14) with the final round of heats and a 50-lap feature race paying $20 000 to the winner. Also on the program will be AMCA Nationals, Formula 500s and Formula 500 Juniors.