Oldfield again, Clark wins Modified farewell

In a remarkable performance that saw him conjure the most unlikely of wins, Luke Oldfield has continued his domination of the final ever season at Archerfield Speedway, extending his lead in the 2022/2023 East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship with victory in round nine on Saturday night (May 6). With five laps to run, Oldfield sat third behind Australian champ Jock Goodyer and Queensland titleholder Ryan Newton, however, a mix of good fortune and sheer determination would see Oldfield emerge with the lead just a couple of laps from home. Goodyer would finish second and, with Newton heading infield on the final lap with a flat tyre, Brent Kratzmann would wind up on the podium for the second week in a row. Taylor Prosser finished fourth ahead of Kevin Titman, Jack Bell and Jy Corbet, who was the last runner on the lead lap. Darren Jensen climbed from 16th to be eighth at the flag, with Ben Atkinson and Brad Ayers rounding out the top ten.

In the final ever Archerfield feature race for Dirt Modifieds, David Clark etched his name in the history books with an all-the-way win over Andrew Pezzutti and Australian champ Mitchell Randall. Luke Dunn was next best ahead of Phil Roberts, with Kevin Britten salvaging sixth after a spin in turn two with 14 laps to run.

A 32-car field hit the track for ECL Sprintcar qualifying and, just when it looked as though Oldfield (11.591) was going to again pick up the $100 bonus for KRE Fast Time, it was Lachlan McHugh who grabbed the cash with a last-gasp run that stopped the clock at 11.586. Goodyer (11.615) was third quickest, followed by Kratzmann (11.644), Corbet (11.827), Atkinson (11.870), Titman (11.902), Newton (11.917), Tim Farrell (11.934) and Bell (11.991).

The heat races started in spectacular fashion when, with Aaron Kelly having bolted from the outside front row, pole starter Peter Campbell shifted up-track and straight into the path of Adam Butler, who launched skyward before crashing back to earth to be collected by Ryan Newton and Tony Bridge. Whilst Butler would take no further part in the race, or the rest of the meeting for that matter, both Newton and Bridge would continue with varying degrees of damage. From the restart, Kelly again cleared away and would finish more than seven seconds clear of second-placed Tyler Stralow, while Prosser filled third ahead of Bell, with Newton no doubt delighted to have finished ahead of the carnage-causing Campbell in fifth spot.

Jensen held on to win heat two over Oldfield, who had advanced from the third row, with Brad Ayers home third.

Trent Vardy set a cracking pace to win heat three, finishing more than 2.5 seconds clear of Nathan Pronger despite a restart with two laps to go. Corbet finished third ahead of McHugh, both of whom moved ahead of Titman in the latter stages.

From pole position, Newton easily accounted for Bell and Prosser to win heat four, with Oldfield outpacing Goodyer and Ben Atkinson to take heat five.

The final heat of the night saw Corbet lead the field away from the outside front row and then keep McHugh at bay and score the win, with another strong run from Vardy into third securing him a place in the Dash.

With Jensen, Stralow and Harry Stewart having the first three spots safely in their keeping, the fight for fourth provided all the action in the B Main, which was interrupted on lap nine when Daniel Bridge rode out a heavy crash through turn four. In the end it was Campbell who fended off a fast-finishing Farrell to secure the final berth in the feature race, with Murray, Liam Williams and Tarhlea Apelt next in line ahead of Mitch Gowland, whose result was a far cry from his strong performance in the previous round.

Having again emerged as the top qualifier at the conclusion of the heats, the pre-race grid draw for the Boss Hogg’s Steakhouse Dash proved costly for Oldfield when he inverted the entire field, gifting Kelly a pole start with Goodyer alongside. The national champ made easy work of the six lap sprint, leading home Kelly, McHugh, Newton and Vardy, with Oldfield advancing two spots to finish sixth ahead of Corbet and Bell.

The feature race looked to be following the expected trajectory for much of its duration with Goodyer leading the field away as Newton moved ahead of Kelly and McHugh to grab second spot. Just when an elusive podium result seemed a possibility for Kelly, he would make a spectacular exit on lap six when a slow exit from turn four would allow McHugh to charge underneath as Oldfield raced around the outside. Contact between Oldfield and Kelly, which seemed innocuous at the time, would unfortunately result in the latter shedding a wheel and end-for-ending into turn one. Just two laps into the subsequent restart and turn one was the centre of attention again when Stewart, who was making forward progress through the field, slammed the wall with considerable force. Back underway and Goodyer continued to lead from Newton as Oldfield rounded up McHugh, who would fall through the field before heading infield on lap nine. The order remained unchanged until lap 26 when Goodyer guessed wrong in his bid to clear some tailenders, enabling both Newton and Oldfield to pounce and relegate the Tasmanian to third. A lap later and the merest of moments from Newton exiting turn two left Oldfield unable to avoid contact, with a flat tyre sidelining Newton as Oldfield now found himself in front with only a couple of circulations remaining. OIdfield kept Goodyer at bay through the final laps to secure back-to-back feature wins, maintain his perfect record of podium results for the season and further extend his championship lead. For the second time in as many weeks, Kratzmann secured himself a place on the podium, surging from position 10 to secure third on this occasion ahead of Prosser, who also advanced from row five. Titman rounded out the first five, followed by Bell, Corbet, Jensen and Atkinson, with Ayers, Pronger and Campbell the remaining finishers. A strong qualifying effort came to nothing for Vardy when he headed infield on lap eight, with Stralow the only other retiree, making his exit on lap 23 while on the cusp of a top ten result.

The first of the Petzyo Development Sprintcar heats saw Noah Ball work his forward from the third row to win in advance of Dan Moes, with Luke Manttan grabbing third when Todd Gaudry threw away the position on the final turn.

Heat two took an eternity to run as a series of incidents, included a flip from Manttan in turn three, frustrated officials and fans alike and resulted in the race being shortened with Moes the winner ahead of Pronger, who had a busy night on double duty, with Thomas Clarendon-Blair snaring third.

Moes assumed the early lead in the feature race, only to whack the back straight wall on lap three before grinding to halt in turn three, handing the top spot to Pronger, who would hold the position to the chequer. Ball bested the rest of the pack to secure second ahead of Gaudry, who advanced from the outside of row four. Jared Desmares filled fourth ahead of Libby Ellis, for whom the final two laps proved costly and saw her drop from third to fifth, with Carlo Moiola, Clarendon-Blair, Manttan and Jason Rae the remaining runners.

Luke Dunn proved too quick in the first of the Dirt Modified heats, finishing more than three seconds clear of Andrew Pezzutti despite a restart with two laps remaining as a result of Mick Reid cuddling the turn four concrete. Phil Roberts finished in third spot.

From pole position in heat two, Kevin Britten prevailed by a similar margin over Ray Klarich, with Clark clocking the fastest laps of the race in his run to third.

Clark was clinical in heat three, working through the field with speed and precision from the third row to depose Randall from the lead after just four laps.

Brayd Stephenson took out the final heat, holding firm in the face of late challenge from Britten, who started on the back row, with Klarich clinching third.

With Britten occupying pole position for the 25-lap feature race, any reasonable prediction would have the five-time national champ running away from the field. However, Clark was having none of that and promptly powered to the lead at the drop of the green while Britten, of course, headed straight to the highline. An incident on lap three put Klarich and Stephenson on the infield and, with Britten struggling to extract maximum performance from the #34, he would spin in turn two on lap eight, sending him to the back of the pack for the restart and handing second spot to Pezzutti. Other than Britten’s efforts in trying to fight his way back through the field, the final ever Dirt Modified feature race at Archerfield proved to be a somewhat sedate affair as Clark cruised home to etch his name in the record books. Pezzutti remained secure in second spot, with Randall annexing third ahead of Dunn, Roberts and Britten, who was able to round up Scott Quirk, Trevor Wiley, Riley Smith and the final finisher in Reid.

Following heat wins to Sean Rose, Dan Lewis, Terry Leerentveld and Gavin Thomas, it was Rose who proved too quick in the 20-lap Modlite feature race. The first dozen laps were completed without incident or interruption, enabling Rose to build a margin on the 20-car field, only for the latter stages of the event to be plagued by restarts. Always a front runner at Archerfield, Leerentveld finished second on this occasion, with Josh Herne hustling into third ahead of Thomas, Callum Beerling and Dan Lewis, the latter running third before finding himself shuffled back in the inevitable congestion that each restart brings. Trent McLean, 14th-starting Tyson Snow, Alex Coward and Jake McRae completed the top ten.

Cooper Norman, Daisy Smith and Chay Corbet shared the spoils in the Formula 500 Junior heat races, but the feature race was all Norman as he raced clear to win by more than five seconds over Brooke Wilson, who was followed home by Smith, Corbet, Charlie Bowen and Hailey Ferguson, with Jai Bateman the only retiree. As the final ever event for the category at Archerfield, and given that this cohort of Junior racers won’t get an opportunity to compete at the circuit in the senior ranks, each nominated competitor who participated on the night was presented with a medallion in recognition of their participation in this final season.

The next meeting at Archerfield Speedway on May 20 promises to be an absolute ripper with round ten of the East Coast Logistics Sprintcar Track Championship and the Super Sedan GP53 on the program along with Fireworks, Formula 500s and Open Sedans.

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