Shane Stewart won the final round at Western Springs Speedway to make it four from four in the Porter Hire International Sprintcar Series.
After Stewart won round three in Palmerston North, the rest of the field were battling for second place in the championship. With only 37 points on offer for the round the United Truck Parts team had secured their second series championship in a row as they enjoyed a 39 point lead over nearest rival, and ever quickening Australian, Jamie Veal.
The large crowd on hand enjoyed fine weather with rack and racing to match. In the first heat Kapiti Coast’s Jamie Larsen was able to win the start and the race over Daniel Eagleton with Matthew Leversedge 3rd.
Jamie McDonald took out Heat 3 on a track that look like it was once again holding together nicely and conducive to exciting racing. The 42 year old Stewart finishing second with 30 year old Veal in third.
Points leading into the fourth and final test race saw New Zealand within striking distance of America with Australia trailing and in no man’s land after Sydney Speedways Troy Little was forced out with motor problems at the previous round.
It was Australia’s turn to start on the front row and Veal won the four-lap affair to salvage what little team honour was on offer. Taking all he could get Veal also set the quickest lap time of the night on the quarter mile clay oval in a time of 12.255 seconds.
All positions were maintained over the brief race distance and Team America cross the line ahead of the New Zealand pairing of Michael Pickens and Jamie McDonald giving the Americans the test series win by 12 points.
Heat 3 was lead start to finish by Tauranga’s Rodney wood. Dean Shadbolt made a good mid-race restart to advance a couple of positions and finished second with young Palmerston North driver Dean Cooper on his first visit to the springs rounding out the top three.
Sprintcar rookie Steve Smith lead the field to the start of heat race four but was soon swallowed up by a field of experienced drivers including Kyle Hirst and Michael Pickens who claimed the first 2 finishing spots with Larsen and McDonald finishing close behind having both past four cars.
In the final heat race Veal was unchallenged for the win over Stewart by two seconds. Kihikihi’s Brian Edwards came home third.
The series winner may have already been decided but the $10,000 race winner’s purse was still up for grabs. Larsen, Veal and Stewart were locked into a three-way share of the points lead after heats and Larsen was awarded point via fastest heat race lap time and elected to start on the outside of the front row closer to the preferred highline the quicker drivers were using.
After finishing second across the line in round one at Western Springs six days ago officials said Veal passed a car while his wheels were on the grass and subsequently relegating him off the podium. From pole position on the drying low line Veal conceded the start to Larsen and moved to outside line and set about chasing him down, passing Larsen on lap 7.
Stewart was able to follow Veal through into second as the leaders hit lap traffic. Three laps later Veal went to the outside and Stewart to the inside of a lapped car with Stewart more efficient coming out of the three wide manoeuvre with the race lead.
Jeremy Halpin flipped his machine in pine tree bend holting the action and another mid-race caution also brought the field back together for double file restarts however Stewart was able to pull away on each occasion taking the big payday. Veal, Pickens, Hirst and Leversedge completed the top five.
“I’ve never won four races in a row in my entire career so obviously this is pretty special to me. It’s been a great week we needed a little bit of luck to get four in a row.” Stewart said of his series domination.
Veal finished second in the series and acknowledged how well Stewart performed throughout the series and the nights feature race compared to himself.
“I didn’t play the traffic card that well and Stewart looked comfortable the whole time he was here so I hope to try again next year.”
During the meeting drivers walked through the crowd with helmets in hand and the Western Springs Speedway crowd gave generously to Kyle Hirst and family who live in fire stricken Paradise, California. Having had their house burnt down three years earlier in a fire and again recently they humbly accepted the approximate $10,000 donated.
A grateful Hirst relaying to the crowd; “It means a lot to my family. This racing family we have is second to none and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
If you missed the action the full nights racing can be found on www.speedshifttv.com