As we head into arguably the biggest five consecutive race days of the Australian Sprintcar Racing Calendar, it’s still too hard to make a call on who will be crowned the Classic Champion. Wednesday and Thursday night see the President’s Cup at Avalon Raceway and The King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway respectively, as the traditional warm ups to the richest sprintcar event in the country, which is now held consistently over three nights and this year yields a field of 102 sprintcars as of the nomination close off date. This year also sees regular Premier Speedway announcer Gavin White alongside Aussie speedway commentary royalty Wade Aunger, and special guest announcer Johnny Gibson of World of Outlaws fame.
The Australian summer speedway season has seen seven rounds of the World Series Sprintcars (WSS) Championship completed across three states, along with The 10th and final Scott Darley Challenge at Valvoline Raceway, Sydney which was taken out by American Logan Schuchart. These races combined have given glimpse of the talent pool currently on tour (and as per usual, Donny Schatz’s annual domination of Archerfield Speedway’s WSS rounds). The usual suspects of Kerry Madsen, Jamie Veal, James McFadden and Steven Lines have sat up the top end of the leader-board, but emerging younger talent of the likes of Rusty Hickman and Lockie McHugh are starting to creep their way up the ladder. Last years Classic winner and hometown hero Corey McCullagh once again turned heads at a recent WSS round in Warrnambool when he became one of only a few drivers to do a sub-ten second lap on the high banks of Premier Speedway.
So what can we expect over the coming weekend, when Warrnambool’s population swells by the thousands and the streets are taken over by race transporters, sprintcars being serviced on median strips and mules being ridden through the Macca’s drive-through? Lets take a look……
Kerry Madsen has gelled extremely well with the uber professional Krikke Motorsport W2 team and currently is highest points in the World Series Sprintcars standings with only 3 rounds left to contend. Madsen, a three-time Classic winner said in a recent interview that if he didn’t think he could win the prestigious event, he wouldn’t be here. Kerry has been in impeccable form since arriving from the US and the seat time he is getting on the World of Outlaw tour certainly shows with him currently in the lead on WSS.
James McFadden has been claimed as a “local” now that he resides in Warrnambool, but if you ask him he’s always the kid from Alice Springs, NT. James put on an absolute clinic at the final Speedweek round at Premier Speedway driving from ninth to the lead and took the win over on-form Cory Eliason and Steven Lines. James loves running the high-line and isn’t afraid of driving elbows up, taking risks and trying different lines before others. McFadden won the 2017 Classic ahead of Darren Mollenoyux and Brooke Tatnell.
Carson Macedo once again has paired with the Dyson Motorsport outfit to run his Australian campaign. Macedo had a hectic crash in the opening heats at Premier during speedweek and last year he came runner up in the Classic so he will be looking to better that by one position this year. He’s always on pace at Premier and should do well on his qualifying night.
Rusty Hickman and Tim Kaeding put on the most glorious come-backs I have seen in my life during last year’s final night of the Classic. Both drivers crashed out in their heats, rebuilt, got caught up in incidents with more damage, ran through the alphabet and never gave up. It was breathtaking to watch the fire both these divers possessed to keep moving forward and was quite the spectacle to witness first hand. Hickman has been displaying his talent on the WSS tour and took out the Preliminary A-Main of the Australian Open over Jamie Veal, James McFadden and Donny Schatz. Don’t be surprised to hear his name come up a lot this week.
Jamie Veal and Corey McCullagh are both Classic winners and both have done a sub-ten second lap around Premier. They’re also both local boys with a huge amount of track time under their belts and the weight of the home town on their shoulders. Veal has been consistent with his dives this season and sits in fourth place in the WSS standings, while Corey has focused on races in regional Victoria and South Australia to race, utilising his $40,000 pay day from last years event. Can either of the boys snap up a second Classic?
Keep an eye out for these guys:
Cory Eliason – Solid run down under over the last few weeks clocking up seat time.
Gio Scelzi – The American teenager ran the USA71 Indy Race Parts car at Simpson Speedway over the weekend and took the victory but was DQ’d for failing to go to the scales post race. Gio has shown to be fast across the many classes of speedway he gets into.
Grant Anderson – He’s won a bunch of races at Warrnambool, including a prelim night last year and a Speedweek win this year. Grant is always up front here but is still chasing that Championship Night Win!
Steven Lines – This years overall speedweek winner and currently coming second in WOrld Series Sprintcars, 2013 Classic winner Steven Lines will certainly be out to impress once again, this time with the Horrell Motorsports outfit.
Brooke Tatnell – You cannot deny it. Brooke is a staple of Australian speedway, this year he was delayed in getting to Australia due to inclement weather and missed a race or two but he made it and is ready to rumble. Tatnell is a three-time classic champion and has placed third in the last two Classics.
So who will be added to the list come Sunday Night (or Monday morning depending on the famous “Warrnambool Sea Mist”)? I have no idea. But I do know it will be one hell of a weekend filled with high emotions, fast racing and B-A-D-A-double five (thanks Wade) slide jobs.
To watch all the action live you can stream it on www.clayperview.com or follow me and TDN on twitter at @That_Caitie and @TheDirtNetwork as I spam news feeds with all things Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic!
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