Another Terrific Night at Laird – Recap for 2023 Racenight #3
Racenight Recap for Thursday July 27th, 2023.
We had another full racenight of exciting action at Laird International Raceway on Thursday July 27th. The grandstands were full, and we had even more cars and drivers show up to race than the previous racenight on July 13th.. It was a warm summer day with partly cloudy skies late in the afternoon, then clearing towards race time. A nice breeze helped to keep fans cooled, but that might not have helped the drivers so much.
Greg Brazeau accompanied by Oval Reving were track announcers for the night. Twelve Super Late Models came up on the track at 7pm in preparation for the first heat race of the night, then Greg introduced Annette Bouchard to sing the National Anthems. Greg followed up with late model driver introductions, then the evening’s race program began.
Service Rentals Super Late Models:
In the Super Late Model division we saw the return of a few veteran drivers and also had a rookie join the division. Jeremy Van Hoek, a previous season champion returned to drive Ron Raynor’s #100r car for the night. Jeremy hasn’t raced at Laird for quite a few years. Also joining the group for the first time this season was #90 Jay Palumbo. Jay was doing double duty for the night, also driving a car in the Modified division. Shawn Ritchie was out for the first time this season in the #3. We also welcomed rookie driver Jordan Parniak in the #826.
Ten of the late models were out to qualify earlier in the day. Fast qualifier was #90 Jay Palumbo with a time around the 1/3 mile oval of 14.476 seconds. We had a single 10 lap heat, and a 30 lap feature in the division during the night.
Twelve cars were out for the 10 lap heat race. The race ran quick and caution free. #100 Jeremy Van Hoek and #5 John Ross started front row and ran first and second through the entire race. Van Hoek took the checkered flag, with Ross second 3/10th of a second behind. #77 Chase Wilson was third, #61 Dustin Jackson fourth, and #21K Kevin Errington fifth.
All 12 were back out for their 30 lap feature right after a shortened intermission. The Late Model Feature didn’t go nearly as smooth at their heat, with 8 cautions during the race. Van Hoek and #29 John Carter started the race at the front. The first caution came out on lap 1 with #21 Jake Irwin, running at the back, pushing up corner 2, with Parniak set into a spin working to avoid Irwin. The race required a complete restart.
The second caution came out on lap 3 with #90 Jay Palumbo, running towards the back going into a spin through corner 3. Palumbo restarted at the back. #29 John Carter was running in the top 4 until lap 5 when he slid up and might have touched the guardrail in front of the flagstand. He left the track while the race was running. With 6 laps complete, the third caution flew, this time it was #88 George Wilson spinning onto the backstretch infield. Wilson was running 5th at the time, a few car lengths behind the 4 leaders, with Dustin Jackson in 5th, nearby. The pair might have made contact in corner 2. During the caution, both drivers were given a warning by flagman Ron Schmidt.
At the restart, Van Hoek, #77 Chase Wilson, #5 John Ross, and #21K Kevin Errington were running top 4. Jackson restarted outside of row 3 in 6th, with the elder Wilson in 7th Two more laps were completed before caution flew again, with George Wilson and Dustin Jackson making contact again, this time near the entry to corner 3. Jackson was following the group into corner 3, on the outside and from my perspective it looked like Wilson failed to slow, and knocked Jackson on the left rear quarter going into the corner. If Wilson’s intent was to send Jackson into a spin, the move backfired on him as Wilson’s front right went airborne on Jackson’s car causing Wilson to slide over the bank backwards in front of the corner 3 pit grandstands. After the incident, the black flag was seen in the flagman’s hand, possibly to DQ and send Wilson to the pits? Wilson’s car was pulled back up on the track by the Laird Towing flatdeck and Wilson then went to the pits on his own.
On the restart, Chase Wilson had the lead, with Van Hoek second. Van Hoek fell back after that with Wilson opening a lead on the others. #21 Jake Irwin left the track under green with 7 laps completed, then #21 Kevin Errington retired from the race with 11 laps complete. Ross, Palumbo, and Jackson were battling each other for second until the caution on lap 18. This one was due to #3 Shawn Ritchie and #826 Jordan Parniak getting together on corner 1 & 2, about ¾ of a lap behind the leader. Ritchie left during the caution.
With 17 complete, and 7 of the original 12 left on the track the race restarted, with Wilson and Ross at the front. On the first restart lap, Ross and Palumbo got together in corner 2, with the four others behind having to check up. The group straightened up, and no caution flew; now with Wilson with a 12 car length lead. Ross fell back a few positions, and Palumbo took up second with Jackson racing outside him for a couple laps until Jackson took over 2nd place. Caution flew again with 20 laps complete as Ross spun by himself in corner 3. Ross left during the caution.
Wilson and Jackson restarted at the front and Wilson jumped to the lead again. On the backstretch #50 Rob Hiiemaa got past Palumbo for third but before the lap was complete Palumbo had spun through corner 4 brining out the caution again. Still 20 laps complete. Palumbo had a flat tire, likely caused in the bit of mayhem on the last restart. Ross was pushed off track to the pits, had his crew change the tire, and was back out to rejoin the race.
After the restart, cars ran another 7 laps, with Wilson, Jackson and Hiiemaa all separated by about 10 car lengths, then on lap 28 the 8th and final caution of the race flew as Palumbo and Van Hoek came together on corner 3. Palumbo needed a push to get his car started again. Chase Wilson had another flawless restart beside Jackson to take the win. Jackson pulled 2nd 0.864 seconds behind, Hiiemaa 3rd, Van Hoek 4th, Palumbo 5th and rookie Parniak got a 6th place finish on his first late model feature start. Good job Jordan! From green flag to checkered, the 30 lap Late Model Feature took just shy of 40 minutes to complete. Long, but action packed and exciting.
NAPA Reyco Automotive Modified Division:
In the Modified division 9 cars were out to qualify. New cars for this season included #22 J.P. Delpaggio, and #90 Jay Palumbo. Fast qualifier of the nine was #20 Mike Hearty with a time of 14.890. The mods ran two 10 lap heats and a 20 lap feature through the night.
In the first heat, 8 cars took to the track; missing was #90 Jay Palumbo. Up front at the start were #17 Keith Horner, and #73 Randy Larrett. The 10 lap heat ran fast and caution free. Horner led all laps and took the win; 2nd was #22 J.P. Delpaggio, 3rd was #28 Mark Porpealia, #20 Mike Hearty 4th, and #78 Jason Herrington 5th.
All nine were out for the second heat later on; including Palumbo. Horner, starting at the front led the first couple laps then #73 Randy Larrett led four. Caution was out on lap 7 with Palumbo and #7 Terrance Devon coming together into corner 3. Devon was towed off. Hearty took the lead away from Larrett on the restart and on lap 8 caution was out again with Porpealia pushing up on corner 3 into a spin. Hearty went on to lead the final couple laps for the win, Larrett 2nd, Herrington 3rd, Delpaggio 4th, Palumbo 5th.
In the Modified Feature later on, Larrett and Horner started up front again. Horner got a bit loose on the first lap and lost ground while Larrett opened up a lead on the rest of the field. Caution flew on lap 5 when Herrington looped it by himself going through corner 1 and 2. The restart saw Larrett still up front with #84 Mark Laakso beside. Larrett led lap 5 then was passed by Palumbo. Larrett slid a few times and fell back a few positions while Hearty moved up to race side by side with Palumbo for a few laps. Laakso was right behind the front runners. On lap 13, while racing hard outside Palumbo, Hearty’s right side hit the backstretch guardrail, causing a slide into corner 3 and coming to rest at the top of corner 4. That was the end of Hearty’s night.
On the restart Palumbo and Laakso were front row with Larrett and DelPaggio behind. Palumbo got off to an explosive start, but Laakso didn’t fare as well and dropped back to 3rd with Larrett passing him. Larrett was doing a good job of keeping up to Palumbo until the last lap where he slid a bit coming out of corner 4 and lost some ground. Laakso was unable to take advantage of Larrett’s slide. At the checkered flag it was Palumbo with the win, Larrett 2nd, Laakso 3rd, #22 Delpaggio 4th, #28 Porpealia 5th, #78 Herrington 6th, #17 Horner 7th, and #7 Devon 8th.
Lakeway Automotive Factory Stock Division:
There were 11 cars out for qualifying in the Factory Stock Division. Fast qualifier was #67 Jarritt Varcoe with a time of 16.182 seconds. All 11 cars qualified with less than 1 ¼ seconds between fastest and slowest; which hinted at some exciting racing in the division for the night. Joining the group for the first time this season was #51 Jamie Fox. The Factory Stocks ran two 10 lap heats, and a 20 lap feature through the race night.
In their first heat, all 11 qualifiers were up on the track to start the race. Leading them off at the front were #57 Rick Ellis and #88 Rob Wagner. Caution flew on the first lap with #12 Owen Brown cutting loose on corner 2. Brown didn’t restart and left the track.
The second attempt at a start went smoothly. Ellis and Wagner ran side by side for a couple laps, with Ellis leading the first, and Wagner leading the second. #80 Brad Bibeau took the lead on lap 3 then caution was out on lap 4. #4 Dale Tucker was driving the wheels off his car and had moved up into 3rd behind Wagner. Entering into corner 3 Tucker trying to move up on the inside tagged Wagner’s left rear quarter, sending Wagner sideways. Coming out of corner 4, Wagner then swung around and nosed into Tucker sending Tucker into a spin. Right behind was Rick Ellis hammering the brakes to avoid the two, with #08 Dan Bibeau hitting the back of Ellis. Both Tucker and Wagner were able to continue with Tucker sent to the back for the incident.
The Bibeau’s restarted at the front and raced each other for a lap, then the #80 of Brad slowed and brought out the caution. Brad left with 4 complete. During the caution both Ellis and Dan Bibeau left. Track officials were seen kicking what appeared to be hot brake pads off the track. Perhaps one of the three had a catastrophic brake disc failure?
With 5 laps remaining, #12 Anthony Mannarino and #67 Jarritt Varcoe started up front. #51 Jamie Fox left the track with one lap to go. Mannarino took the checkers for a spin around the track. Varcoe 2nd, #77 Ed Lapish 3rd, Wagner 4th, Tucker 5th, and #15 Andrew Givens 6th.
Seven cars were out for the Factory Stock 2nd heat. Missing were Tucker, Fox, Ellis, and Dan Bibeau. Before the green, #67 Jarritt Varcoe pulled up and stopped at the end of the front stretch; possibly out of gas? Jarritt was unable to start, leaving 6 cars for the race. Wagner and Mannarino started up front. The race ran fast and caution free. Wagner drove the wheels off the #88 and took the checkers. #80 Brad Bibeau pulled up second, Mannarino 3rd, #77 Ed Lapish 4th, and #15 Andrew Givens 5th. With 3 laps in, #12 Owen Brown was sent to the pits with a car that may have possibly been leaking oil. Brown’s car has been smoking badly during the last few races.
Ten cars started the Factory Stock 20 lap feature. Missing were #4 of Dale Tucker, and #08 of Dan Bibeau. Added to the group was #724 of Mike Heinonen. Up front at the start again were #57 Rick Ellis inside, and #88 Rob Wagner outside. Ellis and Wagner ran side by side for the first 9 laps of the race. Eight of the cars in the field were packed up like sardines in a can for those first laps. Ellis led most of them, with Wagner nosing ahead for two. On lap 10 caution was out with #12 Owen Brown spinning on the backstretch; with nowhere to go, #51 Jamie Fox got involved, bending up the lid on his car. Both continued.
Ellis and Wagner restarted at the front, but this time Ellis didn’t seem to get a good start and fell back to 6th on the first restart lap. Jarritt Varcoe in the #67 moved up beside Wagner and the pair raced side by side until lap 14 when Varcoe got a nose ahead and completed an outside pass going up the front stretch into corner 1. Heinonen left the track with 12 laps complete, and Ellis was soon to follow leaving with 14 completed.
Once Varcoe got around Wagner he opened up a lead of about 10 car lengths on Wagner to take the win. Wagner finished 2nd. #80 of Brad Bibeau tried a few times to get up to and past Wagner but was unable to do so and took 3rd. #77 Ed Lapish finished 4th, #12 Anthony Mannarino 5th, #51 Jamie Fox 6th, #12Y Owen Brown 7th and #15G Andrew Givens 8th.
Northland Autobody Factory Four Division:
In the Factory Four Division we saw 14 cars out for qualifying. Fast qualifier was #12 Fern Mannarino. New to the division were #70 Logan Lavoy, and #96 Tim Pascall. The Factory Fours ran two 10 lap heats and a 20 lap feature during the night.
The 14 qualifiers were joined by #22 Adam Lapensee to make it 15 for the first heat. #42 Jack Lannigan and #94 Seth Ralph led the group at the start. By lap 5, the group was being led by #22 Shanna Harten and #05 Tyler Praysner who had started 5th and 7th respectively. On lap 6, there was some action on corner 2 towards the back of the pack involving #21 Daryl Whitmell, #94 Seth Ralph along with #42 Jack Lannigan going three wide into corner 1. Ralph and Whitmell made contact, sending Whitmell into a spin and up the track. #20 of Matt Lewis dove down and slid into the infield off corner 2. No caution was pulled out as the cars seemed to sort it out and get going again quickly. While watching that action unfold, something else happened at the front of the race on corner 3 & 4 involving #22 Shanna Harten, #12 Fern Mannarino and #4 Kayleigh Tucker. Harten and Mannarino were running at the front, while Tucker was being lapped. All three were broken and had to be towed off the track.
I asked Shanna post-race if she knew what happened and she said, “I’m not really sure. It happened behind me. I got taken out with that. I lost my back left tire. I was doing fine, next thing I knew I was going towards the wall.”
Kayleigh Tucker, rookie driver of the #4 that was being lapped said, “I slid sideways and bumped into Fern and Fern lost control into Shanna. I’m okay and the car should be back out next week ready to go. It definitely shook me up a little but I’m just glad everyone is okay.”
The last half of the heat ran with 10 cars and was caution free. #05 Tyler Praysner led 4 of those 5 laps before being passed on the last one by #16 Dyllen Sherrard who took the win. Praysner finished 2nd, #7 Gianni Viotto 3rd, #20 Matt Lewis 4th, and #94 Seth Ralph 5th.
The Factory Four second heat went much more smoothly and caution free. With Harten, Mannarino, and Tucker out for the night, along with #70 Logan Lavoy missing, there were 11 cars to start. #42 Jack Lannigan and #94 Seth Ralph started front row once again. Ralph led the first lap then got passed by #7 Gianni Viotto. Viotto got passed by #05 Tyler Praysner on lap 5, then fell back and left the track with 7 laps complete. Praysner led to the finish for the win, #16 Dyllen Sherrard followed for 2nd, #21 Daryl Whitmell 3rd, #94 Seth Ralph 4th, and #20 Matt Lewis 5th.
Ten cars were out for the 20 lap Factory Four feature. The race was quick and caution free. Jack Lannigan and Seth Ralph led them off and the pair maintained the lead positions for the first three laps. Tyler Praysner got past Ralph on the very end of the 4th lap, then on the beginning of lap 5 was past Lannigan as well. Once Praysner was in front he opened a commanding lead, being “bad fast” as announcer Greg Brazeau described it. Ralph and #20 Matt Lewis spent some time racing for 2nd place and eventually Lewis took it. As the laps wound down the field spaced apart even more. Praysner took another checkered flag, Lewis finished 2nd, about 4 ½ seconds behind – nearly a quarter track behind the leader. Ralph followed up another 3 ½ seconds behind Lewis for 3rd. #21 Daryl Whitmell 4th, Lannigan 5th.
AIM Recycling Enduro Division:
For the first time, the Enduro drivers were offered a qualifying session. There were 8 cars out for qualifying, in two groups of four cars. Fast qualifier was #19 Rob Morrison with a time of 19.530 seconds. The Enduros ran one feature at the very end of the evening. The feature was scheduled for 15 laps, but ended up being 16 laps in length. At the end of those 16 laps, the winner was #19R Jacob Ritchie. #19 Rob Morrison was 2nd, #13 Logan Lavoy 3rd, #4 Taylor Larrett 4th, #86 Dylan Connoly 5th, and #22 Lucas Crosato 6th. The improvement in these mostly young Enduro drivers with each race night is very interesting to see. There are less crashes and spins, and fewer cars being lapped by the end of the race. Great work guys and gals!
Our intermission for the night consisted of a 20 Lap Lawnmower Race. Originally we had planned some spectator drags for intermission as well, but opted at the beginning of the night to postpone those due to the possibility of rain moving into the area around 10 pm. We wanted to ensure fans got to see a full show of stock car racing. Our racenight ended shortly after 10 pm. Rain and thunderstorms did eventually come into the area at about midnight. During the evening features announcer Greg Brazeau randomly selected a couple of youngsters from the grandstands to take home a new bicycle. More smiles!
Visit the Lairdraceway.com website and click on the “media” menu item to see photos from the racenight. Fans can also visit the Lairdraceway Facebook page for announcements and more information.
Our next racenight is scheduled for Thursday August 3rd. The action at Laird has never been better! Come on out and enjoy it while you can.
Article Credit: Tom Stephenson
Submitted By: Tom Stephenson