DANNY O'BRIEN ENDS LONG MOHAWK WINLESS DROUGHT WITH MEMORIAL CUP TRIUMP
On a hot night this past Friday at the Mohawk International Raceway Frenchies Chevy and Frenchies Ford were on hand for a full show which included the 27th running of the Memorial Cup for the 358 Modified. All the heavy hitters were on hand to try and add their name to the list of past winners of this prestigious event.
At the start of the 50 lap contest Chris Raabe and Gage Morin started on the front row after a draw was conducted at intermission for the top 12 qualifiers. Raabe was looking to put some bad luck behind him from last weekend as he jumped into the lead over Morin, Zack Aubertine, Danny O'Brien and Corey Wheeler. Raabe who suffered motor troubles from Saturday at Autodrome Drummond, right through the DirtCar 358 Series opener at Merrittville on Monday night, was in charge and looked strong in the early going as he pulled away from the field with Morin and O'Brien at each other for 2nd and 3rd. The caution flew on lap 6 for Tommy Jock Jr. who experienced front end issues with his car. On the restart Raabe continued his assault on the field but behind them defending Memorial Cup champion Billy Dunn was on the move from his 10th starting spot. Dunn would move by Aubertine on lap 11 and then challenge Gage Morin for the 3rd spot which he finally accomplished on lap 15. Meanwhile with all the action behind him Raabe held a straightaway lead by lap 20 as the long green flag run allowed the leader to run his own pace. Raabe entered into lapped traffic on lap 22 and gave Danny O'Brien the chance to close the gap to 5 car lengths with Dunn settled into the 3rd spot. On lap 27 George Foley slowed with front end troubles on the back stretch bringing out the 2nd caution of the race. When the green flew Raabe took off once again while Dunn was on the move and battling with Danny O'Brien. The four time track champion got by O'Brien for 2nd and was trying hard to run down Raabe for the race lead. Raabe would once again build up a comfortable lead and it seemed nothing could keep him from victory lane. However slight contact with an infield tire caused the front end to give out on the back stretch on lap 42 ending his shot at a 2nd Memorial Cup. With Raabe out of it Billy Dunn and Danny O'Brien staged a war for the lead when the field went back to green. Dunn was committed to the top but O'Brien was that much better on the bottom as he took the lead heading into turn 1 with 3 to go. Despite a charge on the top on the final lap the night belonged to Danny O'Brien scoring his first win since the Memorial Cup of May 30, 2014. Dunn, settled for 2nd with Gage Morin, Jordan McCreadie and Brian McDonald rounding out the top 5.
The Sportsman division was ready for action as the top 2 in points had their work cut out for them as they started in row six. Joel Hargrave and Jordan Miller brought the field of 26 starters to the green flag with Hargrave jumping out to the lead with Brianna Ladouceur moving to 2nd, Miller, Zack Arquiett and Moise Page completed the top 5 early on. Hargrave had a fast car and was pulling away from the field, building up nearly a full straightaway advantage with Ladouceur, Arquiett, Miller and Page battling in the top five. Behind the top five Jackson and Pecore were starting to move forward as they both charged to 6th and 7th by lap ten. At the halfway point Hargrave continued to lead as the yellow flew for Shane Pecore as he made contact with the front stretch wall causing heavy damage to his machine. Pecore was ok in the crash but the car was done for the night. On the restart Hargrave kept his great night going but Jackson was on the charge as he made his way to the 3rd spot and quickly chased down Brianna Ladouceur for 2nd until the caution flew again on lap 17. On the restart Joel Hargrave charged to the top spot but Jackson went right to the top side getting around Ladouceur for 2nd and then ran down the leader Hargrave for the top spot. Hargrave would maintain a four car length lead with Jackson, Ladouceur, Arquiett and Page completing the top five. With one to go it appeared that Joel Hargrave was going to cruise to his 2nd career win. That all changed when the caution flew for a two car crash in turn four. With a one lap dash to the checkered flag Joel Hargrave did everything right as he stayed committed to the bottom lane while Jackson made a bid for the lead in turn three but it didn't work out and Joel Hargrave scored his 2nd career Sportsman win over Jackson, Brianna Ladouceur, Zack Arquiett and Moise Page.
The Novice Sportsman division saw Junior Delormier charge to the race lead from the pole over Anthony Rassmussen and Melvin Rush. Rassmussen wasted no time getting to the top spot as he took over the lead on lap two and began to pull away from the rest of the field. Behind the leader Delormier, Rush and opening day winner Greg Snyder were in a tight battle while Jason Bruno rounded out the top five. Anthony Rassmussen was on cruise control and without the help of a yellow flag in the final laps Junior Delormier and the rest of the field had no chance of catching the youngster as Anthony Raasmussen would dominate the 15 lap event for his first ever win at Mohawk, Delormier would cross in 2nd with Snyder, Burno and Melvin Rush completing the top five.
The Mod Lite class so far has seen a veteran and a first time winner in victory lane in the first two races. John Foster was that first time winner and wanted to get back there badly as he took the lead from the pole with Scotty Waldriff and Deric Ellsworth completing the top five. Waldriff was all over Foster for the opening six laps before Foster made a slight bobble in turn one allowing Waldriff to get by for the lead and begin to pull away. By the halfway point Waldriff was in control but Deric Ellsworth was a man on a mission. As the laps wound down Ellsworth was getting closer to Waldriff as the handling appeared to go away. With one lap remaining Waldriff was trying to muscle and ill handling car to victory lane but Ellsworth was right there to challenge. As the top two came to the checkered flag Waldriff slipped up high in turn four allowing Deric Ellsworth to lead the last 300 feet for his 3rd career Mod Lite victory. Waldrif came home a close 2nd with John Foster, Harley Brown and Nick Mallette completing the top five.
In the Bandit class Richard Thorton continued his dominance of the class leading all 10 laps once again to score his 3rd straight victory over defending track champion Shane Ray. Thorton by the way, has led every lap in feature action so far in 2016 for the Bandit class.
Next week the good folks at CKON 97.3 FM will be on hand for a full show in all 5 classes with racing beginning at 7:30.
358 MODIFIED - DANNY O'BRIEN, Billy Dunn, Gage Morin, Jordan McCreadie, Brian McDonald, Corey Wheeler, Pat O'Brien, Joel Doiron, Zack Aubertine, Luke Whitteker, Louie Jackson Jr., John Mulder, Madison Mulder, Matt Woodruff, David Papineau, Chris Raabe, Luke Stewart, Patrick Dupree, George Foley, Tommy Jock Jr., (DNS) Tim Fuller
SPORTSMAN - JOEL HARGRAVE, Louie Jackson Jr., Brianna Ladouceur, Zack Arquiett, Moise Page, Robert Delormier, Adam Rozon, Mike Stacey, Thomas Cook, Ricky Thompson, Jesse Hudson, Sid Harmer Jr., Andy Howard, Bruce Makinson, Delbert Legrow, Justin White, Joel Herne, Billy Cook, Jessica Power, Kyle Sharp, Chris Frennier, Delbert Legrow Jr., Neal Provost, Jordan Miller, Troy Fleming, Shane Pecore, (DNS) Gabriel Cyr
NOVICE SPORTSMAN - ANTHONY RASSMUSSEN, Junior Delormier, Greg Snyder, Jason Bruno, Melvin Rush, Jamie Begor, Regi Castelle, JP Herne, Dudes Thompson, Styles Arquiett
MOD LITE - DERIC ELLSWORTH, Scott Waldrif, John Foster, Harley Brown, Nick Mallette, Rej Lemieux, Jason Paige, Karine Thibault, Brad Reif, Dan Reif
BANDIT - RICHARD THORTON, Shane Ray, Curtis Smith, Gary Sharlow