Shane Stewart came out on top of round two of the Porter Hire Sprintcar Series at ASB Baypark Family Speedway in Tauranga this week.
Stewart inherited the lead with 2 laps to go when first and second made contact. Stewart started from 13th after a heat race dnf last night at Baypark Family Speedway in Mount Maunganui.
Cars from the previous round were joined by a local contingent for the midweek meeting that was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening but had succumb to rain the previous day. This Wednesday iteration saw drivers contend with a track that had no time to dry to ideal conditions as was pointed out to them during their drivers briefing. This caused the soft spots in the track to catch cars out causing damage and ending the night for some.
In heat racing Stewart picked up where he left off from in round one and won the first heat from Palmerston North registered Jamie Larson with fellow P registered driver Dean Cooper finishing in the top three. Australia’s Jamie Veal made contact with the front straight wall and ended up on his side with damage that the team scramble to repair in time for the test race soon after.
Daniel Eggleton was able to hold off a fast approaching American Kyle Hurst and Michael Pickens to take heat race 2.
The 2nd test race of the series was held in between heats. With America already having their front row grids during round 1 at Western Springs they now started from the tail of the field with the Australian pairing ahead of the new Kiwi test team of Jamie McDonald and National Champion Kerry Brocas.
Having put his car together with the help of many of his fellow competitors visiting Victorian Veal started from pole position. His teammate and Sydney-sider Troy little won the start from the outside front row but came unstuck on the opening lap in turn 3 when he hit a rough spot which bounced him up and onto his side and out of racing for the rest of the night.
The American team was able to work their way past Kerry Brocas into third and fourth place with McDonald the leading Kiwi coming home second.
McDonald’s was 1st from Wellington driver Stephen Taylor and Dean Brindle in heat 3. Stewart, also in this heat, spun and retired to the infield. The final preliminary of the night saw Veal hit his stride taking victory over Pickens and two time national champion Rodney wood.
The drivers had slowly began to establish preferred race lines over the testing surface as the 30 lap main event started with 2NZ Pickens on pole alongside 11USA Hirst. Pickens took the initial lead while he was chased down by Hirst followed by Larsen and Brindle who were battling for 3rd. The leaders soon hit lap traffic as Hirst began to reel Pickens in.
With the white flag about to be displayed, Pickens, running the high line was forced to evade a lap car suddenly in his path but with nowhere to go made contact. The same fate befell a trailing Hirst who hit Pickens and the leading pair ended their night out of the race.
This handed the lead and 2 laps later the win to Stewart who had worked his way up from 13th on the grid. Larsen and McDonald made the podium and grants them test racing rights for tonight’s test race. Brindle and Veal rounded out the top 5. Stewart now leads a tied for second Larson and McDonald by 31 points in the series with Veal and Brindle in range for 2nd.
At the halfway point of the series Stewarts lead over the contenders seems insurmountable and anyone wishing to challenge his series title defence will need strong results and good fortune. Stewart though seems in the catbird seat as the teams head to Palmerston North tonight where Stewart also won last year.
The test racing and Porter hire Sprintcar Series both conclude at Western Springs this Saturday night.