RYAN TURNER WIN GARY CUNNINGHAM MEMORIAL AT MERRITTVILLE
THOROLD, ONTARIO (June 24th, 2023) … Mother nature forced fans and teams to await until June 24th to 360 Sprint Cras at Merrittville Speedway when Cotton Inc presented the Gary Cunningham Memorial. The Southern Ontario Sprints proved to be more than worth the wait as Dunnville, Ontario’s Ryan Turner took home the win. Todd Gordon of St. Catharines, Ontario became the second different driver to win in the Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modifieds. Stevensville, Ontario’s Pete Reid returned to victory lane in the Hoosier Stocks. Thorold, Ontario native Brent Begolo kept his winning streak alive in the Rona Doidge Modified Lites and Alex Riley of St. Catharines, Ontario won the Vansickle Pet Valu/PV On the Lane 4 Cylinders.
The newly revamped Southern Ontario Sprints series made their debut at Merrittville Saturday on Saturday night. Ryan Turner and Bailey Heard started from the front row with Heard jumping out to an early advantage. He paced the field until a caution came for Darren Dryden, who spun in turn four and then was clipped by Kevin Pauls. On the restart, Ryan Turner was able to regain the top spot and drive away from Heard who faded back to third as Mike Bowman took over second after starting sixth. D.J. Christie used some impressive and bold moves to get back into the third spot late, but nobody could match Ryan Turner on this night. Turner takes home the Gary Cunningham Memorial crown and becomes the first driver not named Dylan Westbrook (who finished eighth), to win a stop on the Southern Ontario Sprints. Bowman was second, Christie third, Matt Farnham fourth and Baily Heard had the wildest fifth place finish you’ll see after grinding along the outside wall on the front stretch and crossing the finish line backwards.
Speaking of new winners for the year, the Corr/Pak Merchandising 358’s saw their first new winner of the season. Ken Winfield and Dylan Davidson lead the 12-car field to green for the final feature of the night. Davidson paced the field early, looking strong out front while Todd Gordon who started fourth moved up to second. As laps clicked off, Gordon showed he was the faster car and made the move to the lead with two-thirds of the laps remaining. Meanwhile, Brad Rouse who started 10th was on his own march forward. He drove up to second but never got close than within two seconds of Gordon and the march would fall short. Todd Gordon won the caution free 35 lap feature while Rouse finished second, Luke and Fred Carleton third and fourth respectively and Pet Bicknell rounded out the top five.
Since winning a few weeks ago at Merrittville Speedway, Pete Reid had encountered quite a bit of bad luck including a flat tire in last Saturday’s Hoosier Stock feature. This week, his luck changed and presented him the opportunity to make one of the moves of the year when Kyle Pelrine tangled with John Couture for the top spot. Pelrine suffered a puncture to his tire and a lane opened allowing Reid to dive from several car lengths back to pass Couture and Pelrine in the same corner and take the lead. The quick move allowed him to amass a large enough advantage to hold off the hard charging Dave Bailey who started in 11th and moved through the field to second. Zach Bleich finished in third, Jason Fontaine was fourth and Mark Fawcett finished in fifth.
There really is no stopping Brent Begolo in the Rona Doidge Modified Lites. Even with Josh Sliter, one of the best in a Mod Lite, capitalizing early cautions to get to the lead early, Begolo kept pace until the time was right. A long green flag run gave Sliter a several car length advantage until Begolo emerged from the traffic to find clean racetrack and only Sliter in front of him. Begolo made the pass for the lead with two laps to go, and Sliter had one last chance to take it back on the final lap. While pushing the car to its absolute limit in turn 1, Sliter spun a full 360 and Begolo drove to the checkered flag without pressure. Sliter spun again in 3 and 4, allowing R.J. Pietz to grab second, Sean Iftody third, Tyler Winger fourth and Chris Watson rounded out the top 5.
The Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on the Lane 4 Cylinders were tasked with a very tricky Merrittville track after track prep at intermission made for a slick outer grove. The caution waved three times in the first 5 laps as John Lubeck, Mason Anderson, Tina Ronning, Kyle Rothwell and Douwe DeGroot all had problems running wide in corner four. As the drivers settled in and adjusted to the track, Alex Riley took the lead paced Merrittville perfectly, never pushing the car past its edge and minding the gap back to Austyn Werstroh. Werstroh came under fire late when Rothwell made a comeback through the field. Rothwell was able to take second away from Werstroh who ended up third but ran out of time to track down teammate Alex Riley, who visited APC Auto Parts Centre Victory Lane for the second time this season. Olivier Larocque and Cole Hardy finished in fourth and fifth.
The Canada Day long weekend will be a busy one at Merrittville Speedway as next Saturday Bobcat of Hamilton presents the Schools Out for Summer Canada Extravaganza. The Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modifieds, Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman, Hoosier Stocks, 4 Cylinders all see action in addition to the return of the NRVRS Vintage Cars. Fireworks will illuminate the southern Ontario sky in celebration of our great nation and the summer that is upon us. Pit gates will open at 5:00 pm, grandstands open at 5:30, and racing will begin at 7:00 pm.
Then July 2nd, Rona Doidge Building Centres Wreckfest Jr. featuring the 72 lap enduro powered by 97.7 HTZ FM takes over the racetrack on Sunday Afternoon. The event will also feature a Pro Rider Freestyle MX performance and a gut and go demo derby. Pit Gates open at 9:00am, grandstands at 11:30 and the event will get underway at 1:00pm.
Follow Merrittville on social media including Facebook (facebook.com/MerrittvilleSpeedway), Twitter (@Merrittville), and now Instagram and Tik Tok (@merrittvillespeedway). For results, point standings, and more, check out the brand new www.merrittvillespeedway.com
RACE RESULTS –- June 24th, 2023
Southern Ontario Sprints – RYAN TURNER, Mike Bowman, D.J. Christie, Matt Farnham, Baily Heard, Josh Hansen, Mitch Brown, Dylan Westbrook, Travis Cunningham, Cory Turner, Shone Evans, Allan Downey, Liam Martin, Kyle Phillips, Tyeller Powless, Nick Sheridan, Jamie Turner, Aaron Turkey, Kevin Pauls, John Burbridge Jr., Mike Ferrell, Paul Ballantyne, Darren Dryden, Lucas Smith
Heat Winners – Mike Bowman, Ryan Turner, Josh Hansen
Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modifieds – TODD GORDON, Brad Rouse, Luke Carleton, Fred Carleton, Pete Bicknell, Dylan Davidson, Scott Wood, Ken Winfield, Trevor Wright, Boyd MacTavish, Darrell Farraway, Derek VanMil
Qualifying Heats – Todd Gordon, Luke Carleton
Hoosier Stocks – PETE REID (2), Dave Bailey, Zach Bleich, Jason Fontaine, Mark Fawcett, Ryan Dinning, Ron Loggie, Donny Lampman, John Couture, Rob Murray, Ken Sargent, Jim Lampman, Bryce Richardson, Jeff Bean, Tyler Lafantaise, Trevor Want, Gofast Teeple, Kyle Pelrine
Qualifying Heats: Pete Reid, Mark Fawcett, Ken Sargent
Rona Doidge Modified Lites – BRENT BEGOLO (6), R.J. Pietz, Sean Iftody, Tyler Winger, Chris Watson, Leroy Buscumb, Josh Sliter, Rob Misener, Chance Kotar, Dan Kviring, Anthony Kelly, Greg Zack, Dave Cornish, Roger Pardis, Ryleigh Sliter, Ashton Anderson, Cohen Corbett, Ryan Anderson
Qualifying Heats – Brent Begolo, Josh Sliter, R.J. Pietz
Vansickle Pet Valu/PV On the Lane 4 Cylinders – ALEX RILEY (2), Kyle Rothwell, Austyn Werstroh, Olivier Larocque, Cole Hardy, Rick Beales, Vincent Pagnotta, Hana Rothwell, Randy Alway, Blair Rousselle, Sam Iftody, John Lubeck, Ken Hair, Clinton Barrick, Douwe Degroot, Richard Hadler, Cierra Keus, Dustin Duga, Nick Bowman, Mason Anderson, Jay Moulton, Tina Ronning, Dave Winniger, Nathan Joyner
Qualifying Heats – Kyle Rothwell, Cole Hardy, Ken Hair
Article Credit: Jonathon Howe
Submitted By: Jonathon Howe