Last Saturday night Western Springs Speedway held the final round of Rolling Thunder. A Super Saloon, Sprint and Midget car three-round series finale where Michael Pickens and Dan Corrin were crowned as series winners.
Going into the final round in the Sprintcars, Pickens led the points after winning the first two rounds and held a 24-point lead over former National Champion Jamie McDonald. McDonald had a two-point lead over a three-way tie for third between Jamie Larsen, Sprintcar veteran Dean Brindle and Palmerston North newcomer Dean Cooper.
With race wins worth 37 points the series title was very much up for grabs.
Heat race wins went to James Dahm, Dean Cooper and Daniel Eggleton.
In the 25 lap feature, Cooper started on pole with Brindle alongside. Pickens and McDonald were in the second row with Larsen and Keaton Dahm behind them in the third row.
At the start of the race the momentum of the high side propelled Brindle into the lead with Cooper following as Pickens who was initially ahead of McDonald drifted high off the turn and lost several spots before eventually spinning out on lap five. That left Jamie McDonald nowhere to go and the two cars collided head-on. McDonald attempted to minimise the damage aiming for square-on contact.
McDonald was fan favourite having just announced plans to take a season off from racing, and at the time was in contention for the series win. He was left dejected to be parked and broken on the infield as Pickens was restarted and 13th place.
Brindle went on to win the race with Keaton Dahm second, Larsen third, Daniel Eggleton fourth, and Christchurch driver Matthew Leversedge fifth. Pickens managed to work his way up to finished sixth and duly took the series title.
In the Super Saloon division Palmerston North registered Martin Halcrow had a four-point series lead over Dan Corrin with Peter Dickson Matt Smith and Terri Corrin in the top five. Halcrow had won the first round at Palmerston North and Dickson round two at Kihikihi.
Heat race wins went to Matt Smith, Chris Cowling and Dan Corrin. Corrin lined up in pole position with Cowling, Smith, Dickson, Terry Corrin and Halcrow in the top six.
The high side once again working best for starts, the 2NZ of Cowling took the lead and Dan Corrin followed him on the around the top to complete lap one. Dickson digging hard on the bottom pulled alongside Corrin for several laps.
Meanwhile Mic Quinn had worked his way up from seventh into fourth early on and set about chasing down the Corrin-Dickson duel for a shot of his own at second place. This battle afforded Cowling a comfortable lead.
Dickson’s hard work eventually paid off and he moved into a clear second spot as Dan Corrin fell into the clutches of Quinn. With only a handful of laps remaining Dickson made a last ditch effort and drew alongside Cowling but was unable to stop Cowling from winning his third consecutive Rolling Thunder Western Springs race.
Dickson was second with Quinn third. Dan Corrin fourth,Smith fifth, Terry Corrin sixth and Halcrow seventh. The series title going to Dan Corrin by two points over Halcrow with Dickson third.
As with the sprint cars Pickens had won the two previous rounds in the Midgets with a 24-point lead over Hayden Williams with Chris McCutcheon, Hayden Guptill and Jayden Worthington also top five in series points.
Heat race wins went to Brad Mosen, Worthington, Brock Maskovich and Pickens.
American Zac Daum started from pole with Maskovich, Pickens, Mosen, Guptill and Shayne Alach in the top three rows.
When the race got underway Mosen shot underneath the front row to lead the first lap with Pickens following Mosen through into second place.
In the early laps near the back of the field Williams had advanced 11 spots in five laps and found himself in seventh position as the caution came out. When the race resumed Pickens, Maskovich and Daum were three-wide for second position. Pickens took the spot then passed Mosen for the lead.
Daum soon secured third then went to work on Mosen for second.
After a restart bunched of the field back together Daum passed Mosen. A few laps later Daum got to the tail of Pickens and set about working a lower faster line low into the bend and exiting High on to the straight.
This line gave Daum the opportunity to put an inside move on Pickens then proceeded to run that line and eventually won by just under a second with Pickens second and Williams a hard charging third from 19th in the field. Guptill and Alah rounding out the top five.
Pickens’s second place finish enough to secure the Rolling Thunder Midget series win.
If you missed the action the full nights racing can be found on www.speedshifttv.com