O'Blenis, Sheridan, Turner drive to victory

File photo jpg, BT

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By Tim Baltz

The 12th annual Dirt Outlaw Apparel Fall Nationals opened at Brockville Ontario Speedway on Friday with one of the busiest nights in the history of the event.

Three regular scheduled events headlined, but race fans were also treated to six held-over events from Sept. 5. The action did not disappoint.

In the held-over 358 modified feature, it was Mat Williamson jumping into the early lead in the 50-lap event with Luke Whitteker and Chris Raabe giving chase. Williamson seemingly had things going his way until a quick yellow on lap five slowed the field. Williamson, under caution, would slow his car to a stop and have to be pushed to pit road, ending his night. This handed the lead to Whitteker, and the former track champion and Fall Nationals winner made the most of the opportunity by pulling away from Raabe, Lee Ladouceur, Mike Bowman and Madison Mulder. Whitteker survived a late-race restart to finally notch his first win of the year. Raabe had his best finish of the year taking second over Kyle Dingwall, Mulder and Chris Herbison.

In sportsman, Jessica Power has had a fantastic season and she was also strong on this night, but Dylan Kirkland would steal the spotlight, taking the lead over Jarrett Herbison and Power. Herbison would take the lead, but on lap 10 the right front would go flat ending his great run. Power took the lead on the restart; with a great-handling car and Johnathon Ferguson not able to close the gap, Power would dominate the final half of the race, becoming the first two-time feature winner of the season. Ferguson crossed second over Kirkland, Scott McGill and Gabriel Cyr.

Luke Stewart has been the driver with the worst luck in 2020 when it came to the 1000 Islands RV crate sprint car division, as he has been shut out of victory lane all year. In the held-over 25-lap event, Stewart would jump to the lead. With a fast car and no caution flags, the rest of the field had zero chance of catching the longtime modified driver as he broke through for his first career crate sprint car win in the caution-free race. Dave McKnight and Allan Downey filled out the podium.

Fire Swamp had been the story maker in the sportsman ranks in 2020, and on this night it was no different. Despite the effort from Andrew Young, Fire Swamp proved to be too much as he scored his third rookie sportsman win of the year over Young and Blayden Arquette.

Todd Raabe was looking to keep his great season going and remain perfect on the year, but it was Kyle Massey stealing the spotlight in the 20-lap street stock event as they held the top two spots with Terry Gorgerat completing the top three in the opening laps. Massey would take the lead from Raabe and was looking to grab career win number one. The veteran Raabe was not about to let that happen, as he charged back by the leader with five laps remaining and would hold it the rest of the way to score his fourth win in a row. Massey scored the runner-up spot over Denis Hamel, Brock Cullen and Peter Raabe.

Randy Gaudet was the star of the show in the 25-lap vintage modified feature, taking the lead early on over Jason Powers and Ryan Comeau. Gaudet tangled with traffic, ending his night with a broken front end. While fighting for the lead, Powers and Comeau tangled in turn two as Josh Powers sneaked by for the lead. In the end, Josh Powers would lead the final laps in dominant fashion to record another vintage win in 2020 over Steve Billings and Tim McColman. Kayla Charland claimed top honour as the highest-finishing ’50s and ‘60s car.

Street stocks kicked off the regular portion of the Fall Nationals, and former Brockville sportsman star and current Canadian modified driver at Brighton Speedway, Doug O’Blenis, was in control in the same car that carried owner Jeff Humphrey to the win a year ago. O’Blenis was determined to get his first-ever Brockville win, but Adam Tuner was hard charging as he put the pressure on O’Blenis in the opening laps. On the final restart, O’Blenis was holding the lead while Turner was giving him all he could handle but on this night, it was not meant to be. After several years of trying, Doug O’Blenis finally put it all together claiming the Fall Nationals street stock win over Turner, Shawn Gregory, Peter Raabe and Patrick Easton.

The first-ever event for the 1000 Islands RV crate sprints took centre stage and it was action packed. On lap two, Luke Stewart saw his bid for back-to-back wins go away as he spun in turn two. On the restart, Jacob Dykstra had a Cray moment as he would get out of shape and flip his car wildly in turn two, bringing out the red; Dykstra would climb out without injury. In the midst of all that, Nick Sheridan would assume the lead and have a dominant race car. Sheridan drove a perfect race, as he became the first-ever Fall Nationals crate sprint car champion. Eric Gladhill crossed in second over Lucas Smith, D.J. Christie and Darren Dryden.

After struggles early in the night, Jason Powers was looking for redemption in the regular scheduled feature for the vintage modified as he took the lead with Adam Turner and Sheldon Hoogwerf giving chase. The lead was short lived as Turner, who was hired to drive the Brian Billings ride mere minutes before the start of the heat races, would take the top spot in traffic as he made a great move in turn one. After a letdown finishing second in the street stock event in his own car earlier, Turner would notch his first-ever vintage win and first win at the Fall Nationals after years of trying. Powers settled for second over Hoogwerf; Tim Hegarty took the Ovide Doiron replica car to a fourth-place finish, with Chad Lackie finishing fifth. Pat Charland would be credited with a win as the highest-running ’50s and ‘60s machine.