ARTICLE BY MADDINGTON TOYOTA SPRINTCAR SERIES
AFTER running out of fuel on two previous occasions American Shane Stewart finally broke through for a win in the third round of the USA v WA Sprintcar Speedweek at Bunbury Speedway on Wednesday night.
Stewart started from p4 for the 30-lap final and sat in second for much of the race, crossing the line second to Jason Kendrick, with Mitchell Wormall taking third.
However at the conclusion, officials deemed Kendrick had made an illegal infield pass and penalised him two spots, giving Stewart the win.
The decision was appealed but ultimately stood – handing the win to the USA87 driver who has shown plenty of pace in the Dowling Motorsport entry in his first three outings with the team, but up until this round, was unable to capitalise on it.
Stewart started the night in strong fashion, posting the second quickest lap in Victory 1 Performance Qualifying with a 13.983 second lap, only being bettered by fellow American Harli White who set the benchmark with a 13.867 second lap.
They were the only two drivers to dip into the 13-second zone at the start of the show.
Stewart then took a second and a sixth in the heats to set up is second-row start.
Wormall started from P7 in the final on his way to second – and this was on the back of his win in Speedweek Round 2 at the Perth Motorplex on Saturday night.
He was seventh quickest in qualifying and then banked a third and a seventh in the heat races.
Kendrick started on the front row with White after he was fourth quickest in qualifying and claimed two heat race wins.
At the start of the feature race Kendrick got the jump on White and Stewart but the field was reset after the 94 of Matthew Cross spun and Brodie Minchin was unable to avoid contact and had to brace after White hit him.
This was while White was looking strong in traffic – in second place.
Kendrick once again bolted on the start but there were some good battles not far behind and including Daniel Harding, Andrew Priolo, Wormall and the third American in the field – Bud Kaeding.
With 14 laps remaining Harding tagged the back straight fence and pulled up abruptly, ending his very strong campaign.
On the next restart Stewart showed his intentions with a lower line than Kendrick and he ran it for a couple of laps before Kendrick opted to change lines and come down the track more, making it harder for the American to make a telling move.
They both ran hard to the finish line with Stewart then running higher as they went through traffic and in one of those laps, it is when officials ruled that Kendrick was penalised for an illegal pass down too low when negotiating with a lapped car.
Callum Williamson was the big mover in the feature race, starting from P11 and motoring his way up to finish a very solid fourth.
It was a good outcome for the #3 after he struggled in qualifying, posting only the 13th quickest time.
He then took a sixth and a third in his heat races.
Kaeding also finally got to showcase some of his talent, taking fifth after coming from P14.
He has struggled for consistency and also dealt with mechanical issues in his first two WA outings and for a while there it appeared the trend was going to continue at Bunbury.
Kaeding was sixth in qualifying and posted DNFs in both his heat races.
Priolo came out of 5 and finished sixth, once again showing plenty of speed and consistency in the W8 – something that is helping him getting closer to his maiden feature win.
Todd Davis started from P8 and finished seventh which was an impressive result for the driver of the #63.
Prior to the feature race he said he finally felt settled in the car and was looking forward to finishing a feature race.
He also looked very racy in the heat races.
Kris Coyle was eighth after starting P10, another positive night for the Merger Motorsport crew – and on the back of his fourth at the previous race meeting.
After getting some consistency, Coyle could be challenging for a podium result very soon.
Daniel Hartigan took ninth in the Sprintcar Parts Australia 383 after starting P12.
Despite not racing regularly in the series he looked comfortable behind the wheel, including in qualifying before taking a fourth in the first round of heats.
Unfortunately as he rolled out for the second heat, the motor sounded rough and he returned to the pits.
There was a lot of head scratching going on and after a couple of engine starts he was able to take his spot in the final for a sound recovery.
Trevor Jolly claimed another top 10 finish – in 10th after starting from P9.
This was after he started P2 and won the third heat of the show – his first victory in the W18.
Cameron McKenzie, in only his third outing in a sprintcar after previously racing Formula 500s, finished 11th – after taking seventh in the Motorplex round on Saturday night.
Jaydee Dack set himself up for a big show when he was fifth quickest in qualifying in the #67.
Unfortunately it counted for little when the car suffered too much damage in a big crash in the first round of heats, seeing it loaded up into the truck.
Matthew Cross was the only driver to play his Joker at this round to double his points, but that didn’t quite go to plan when the #94 had rear-end issues in hotlaps and he missed the early part of the evening.
The final round of Speedweek will be held at Albany Speedway this Saturday night.
Qualifying: Harli White 13.867, Shane Stewart 13.983, Daniel Harding 14.017, Jason Kendrick 14.096, Jaydee Dack 14.450, Bud Kaeding 14.474, Mitchell Wormall 14.581, Andrew Priolo 14.626, Kris Coyle 14.675, Brodie Minchin 14.683, Todd Davis 14.829, Daniel Hartigan 14.949, Callum Williamson 15.080, Trevor Jolly 15.465, Cameron McKenzie 15.620, Matthew Cross NTT.
Heat 1: 1st Daniel Harding, 2nd Harli White, 3rd Mitchell Wormall, 4th Todd Davis, 5th Kris Coyle, 6th Callum Williamson.
Heat 2: 1st Jason Kendrick, 2nd Shane Stewart, 3rd Andrew Priolo, 4th Daniel Hartigan, 5th Brodie Minchin, 6th Trevor Jolly.
Heat 3: 1st Trevor Jolly, 2nd Brodie Minchin, 3rd Cameron McKenzie, 4th Todd Davis, 5th Daniel Harding, 6th Shane Stewart, 7th Mitchell Wormall.
Heat 4: 1st Jason Kendrick, 2nd Andrew Priolo, 3rd Callum Williamson, 4th Harli White, 5th Kris Coyle, 6th Matthew Cross.
Feature: 1st Shane Stewart, 2nd Mitchell Wormall, 3rd Jason Kendrick, 4th Callum Williamson, 5th Bud Kaeding, 6th Andrew Priolo, 7th Todd Davis, 8th Kris Coyle, 9th Daniel Hartigan, 10th Trevor Jolly, 11th Cameron McKenzie. DNF: Daniel Harding (lap 18), Harli White (lap 9), Brodie Minchin, Matthew Cross (both lap 8). DNS: Jaydee Dack.