Visiting American drivers were on track last night to dominate the 41st Lucas Oil Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic at Premier Speedway.
Three of the top four qualifiers for the 40-lap final were flying the Stars and Stripes, with Mount Gambier’s Steven Lines the lone Australian in the first two rows.
Saturday night A main winner Tim Kaeding, of California, was the top points scorer ahead of Lines and Americans Jason Sides and Terry McCarl.
Perth-based Robbie Farr was due to start the final from position five, with three-time winner Brooke Tatnell storming into contention by starting from position six.
At the time of going to press last night, a series of repecharge races had not yet been run.
Warrnambool’s Darren Mollenoyux was starting the 40-lap final from position eight, while his mate and rival Jamie Veal was to come out of position 10.
Tatnell was the talking point last night, making up for a tough opening night on Saturday. He had to qualify for Saturday’s A main from the B main before rolling early in the race.
But he made up for the loss of points by winning his two heats last night, the second of which sent a shudder through rival teams, such was the commanding performance.
“We are going to give this one helluva a shake-up,” Tatnell declared.
He said his American wife needed a decent birthday present and the Classic’s $30,000 first place cheque would have been ideal.
“I’ve got to win this one for my wife,” he said.
The build-up to the final was as spectacular as ever with drama, blistering speed and emotional postscripts.
In a dramatic night of racing, two cars rolled in hot laps as many fans were still yet to arrive.
The incidents which saw Victorian Dennis Jones and South Australian Jake Tranter tip over set the trend for the opening round of heats.
Kaeding opened last night the same way he finished night one — with a win in the first heat. But the second heat was marred by a heavy roll in turn three by South Australian Ash Scott.
Scott walked from the wreckage but moments later was taken by ambulance to hospital suffering back pain. The incident forced a delay in racing for more than 20 minutes while the track was cleared and Scott was taken to hospital. Danny Reidy went on to win the heat before Grant Anderson and Farr also had victories.
The fifth heat of the night was also marred by a roll-over, with highly-respected American Jason Johnson coming to grief after he and Allansford’s Stephen Bell made contact exiting turn four. Neither could resume. Mollenoyux went on to win the heat.
Other heat winners were Adelaide’s Matt Egel and Ian Madsen.
Plenty of big names missed direct qualification for the A main, including national champion James McFadden, who was to start the B main from position five. American Rico Abreu was on pole in the B main, with Dave Murcott on his outside.
Former winner Max Dumesny was to start the C main from position two alongside American hot shot Kevin Swindell.