The Porter Group International Sprintcar Series take to the clay with some familiar faces and an Australian veteran making his first appearance.
Jamie Veal and the SWI Racing team are back in New Zealand for their second Series in as many years. The 31-year-old Victorian showed blazing car speed when last in New Zealand but failed to convert into a Feature win, finishing 2nd in two of the four rounds and 2nd in series points.
When asked how his racing has gone since his last visit the 2016 Grand Annual Classic winner stated “We had a pretty quick and consistent car for most of the season. As for this season, we have had a few wins so hopefully, we can continue that into the International series.”
Joining Veal is fellow Victorian and two-time Australian Sprintcar Champion Dave Murcott making his New Zealand debut. His purple wheeled J & J machine arrived as BSL Racing headquarters last week and is set to make its 1st outing in the 3 round series opener this Saturday 7th December at Western Springs Speedway.
The two American drivers announced earlier this season left their regular rides at home and have local cars to drive. Craig Dollansky makes his 5th appearance here and is driving for ex-1970s Saloon car racer Rowen and his Wife Jackie Geck.
Dollansky has many wins in NZ that make up part of this prolific winners’ 80+ career win tally worldwide. His nickname is ‘The Crowd Pleaser’, a moniker earned through ovation inducing performances over the years.
Defending series champion Shane Stewart will make his third consecutive appearance in the United Truck Parts car that partnered him in victory previously.
The 43-year-old Bixby, Oklahoma native clean swept all 4 rounds of last season’s series leaving only crumbs for the other hungry drivers and hopes to repeat his perfect performance again.
His World of Outlaws Series season was well below his standards ”We had our worst season ever… it was pretty tough, to be honest.”
Steward is glad to be back racing in New Zealand” I’m looking forward to it, it’s another way for us to keep in racing shape through the winter months instead of sitting out for 3 or 4 months before our season starts back up.”
When asked about the locals Stewart said: “There’s a couple of local guys that run well at Western Springs and Baypark because they know the tracks well.”
Missing from the series is Jamie McDonald who finished 3rd in series points behind Stewart and Veal. McDonald is having a season off and many fans hope to see the standout peddler back in action soon.
Another driver missing will be Michael Pickens who will race in Perth this weekend while he serves a controversial 22-day stand down from Speedway New Zealand for physical contact with an official at Western Springs on opening night. The Perth trip planned in advance of the penalty.
However, the CRC sponsored 3NZ machine of Pickens will be hurtling around the track with a third American behind the wheel.
Fresh off his regular trans-Pacific trip home to race in California during our wither months Jonathan Allard will fill the Pickens cockpit and is excited to be back in his adopted second home and back behind the wheel.
“Pickens had contacted me about a month ago and we discussed the possibility of me being back into New Zealand in time and if I had anything else planned, which I did. The closer it got and Pickens defiantly wanted me to run so I was happy to accept.” Said Allard.
Kapiti Coast driver and current 2NZ Jamie Larsen completed last season series in 5th, second Kiwi home to Jamie McDonald. With good early-season pace and only a collision with a lapped car stealing away what looked like certain victory in last weeks North Island Title, the young driver will have a point to prove this week.
Round 2 is at Baypark Speedway at Mount Maunganui on Thursday 12th with the Series final on Saturday 14th December.
If you can’t make it to the tracks catch all the action on www.speedshifttv.com