Veal charges into Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic contention

WARRNAMBOOL’S Jamie Veal scored the biggest win of his career against a classy field in Wednesday night’s President’s Cup, but maintains any one of 30 drivers could win the weekend’s Lucas Oil Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.

The 24-year-old inherited the lead in the final at Avalon from Allansford’s Stephen Bell, who spun out in lapped traffic with less than 10 circuits remaining, beating home former national champ Robbie Farr and Grant Anderson. While he celebrated with a wing dance, he was back at work yesterday morning, refusing to get carried away heading into the Classic on his home track, Premier Speedway.

“The big one is Sunday night,” he said.

Veal, whose father Ken is a former Victorian champion, said he was confident entering tonight’s Kings Challenge at Mount Gambier before tackling the two-night Classic.

“It’s probably the biggest win of my career,” Veal said. 

“There were 15 Americans there. We’ve been rolling along pretty well but it’s all part of the game, you have your good nights and bad nights.”

He said he was a couple of car lengths behind Bell after they started from the front row when his friend and rival brought on the cautions. Bell finished 12th.

Veal conceded he had luck on his side and knows he will need more tomorrow and Sunday night as he chases his childhood dream of a Classic victory. Typically, he won’t be backing off.

“Go there, turn left and go fast,” is his approach.

“It’s the race I want to win. I think my best finish is 10th. I’ve made it (the Classic final) a couple of times and just to make it is an achievement.

“To make it straight out (without going through the B main) would be good. I’ve done it twice. Top-five would be nice and to win it would be great. But there are so many cars, there are 30 cars who can win it.”

Veal said the first hurdle was posting a good time in qualifying, followed by four “solid heats”. “You need a lot of luck on your side.”

Veal will be behind the wheel of the NSW registered car owned by Dave Doherty, which he has campaigned for most of the season after crew chief, former Warrnambool mechanic Tim Gleeson, approached him about joining the team.

“Everything is going great,” Veal said. 

“We are up to 20 shows already.”

Veal said racing more consistently had seen him and the car improve.

“The more laps the better. You are a bit more race fit and racing night after night you can do things to your car. 

“But when you go to work and come back a week later you often forget about the things you wanted to do.”

Veal and Bell will spearhead the south-west contingent of drivers in the 102-car field for the Classic. Others hunting for home-track success include Warrnambool’s Darren Mollenoyux, Carl Ludeman, Simpson’s John Vogels and Tim Rankin, Timboon’s Daniel Newnham, Tim and Simon Van Ginneken, teenager Will Carroll and Terang’s Jack Lee.

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