WARRNAMBOOL’S Jamie Veal became the first south-west driver to win the Australia/America Challenge Cup after blowing away a world-class field on night two of the Lucas Oil Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic.
The 25-year-old, who lives just up the road from Allansford’s Premier Speedway, stormed to a comfortable win from former World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers and three-time Classic winner, former local, Max Dumesny.
Veal started the 30-lap feature from position four and raced to second as he crossed the start-finish line at the end of the opening lap. On lap four he slid under the leader, South Australian Matt Egel.
He sprinted clear and despite several stoppages late in the race, he was never challenged. His biggest scare came with six laps remaining when Queenslander David Muir, with front end damage, tried to slide across the track to the infield in front of a rapidly-closing Veal. Veal came within centimetres of collecting a stricken Muir at the entrance to turn one.
Veal described the win as the biggest of his short career.
“It’s unbelievable,” Veal said.
“We haven’t had the best start to the year and two weeks ago we changed cars, we built a new one. It’s an unbelievable experience.” Veal, who has won a Victorian title, was quick to describe the triumph as his best.
“It’s the biggest win for sure,” he said, with reference to the star-studded field.
“It feels pretty good, your home track, the Classic, it’s the race you want to win.”
Veal said experience gained from American tours in recent years, as well as driving regularly in Sydney last season, was paying dividends.
But he said he was very comfortable in the new car. He paid tribute to his hard-working crew, parents Ken and Elaine and his engine builder.
“It’s the best motor I’ve ever had, the team is bonding really well, it’s going well.”
Veal said a number of stoppages late hadn’t worried him but he started to get anxious.
“That was the longest 10 laps of my life.”
Meyers was pleased for Veal but said he had learnt plenty ahead of Sunday night’s Classic finale.
“I just needed lapped traffic,” Meyers said.
“We had our car set up to move around but Jamie was really good on the top, a little bit better than us.”
Meyers was pleased his performance had got him in the top 10 on points heading into the final night.
“We can win it from there,” he said.
Dumesny, who started from pole, was pleased with his night’s work.
“Vealy did a great job,” Dumesny said.
“I was quite happy with the third.”
The race went without incident until lap 18 when one-time leader Egel slowed to a halt in the back straight, bringing on the caution lights and bunching the field up for the re-start.
But Veal sprinted clear and some big names deep in the back, like defending champion Steven Lines, were able to make up some ground.
Lines, who started from 11th, worked his way to sixth before Grant Anderson rolled with 10 laps remaining.
He picked off American Paul McMahan at the re-start before Muir made a desperate attempt to get out of harm’s way with six remaining. While Veal missed him, Tower Hill’s Quentin Tanner had nowhere to go and crashed into him, again bringing on the yellow lights.
American Daryn Pittman was fourth ahead of Lines, McMahan, three-time winner Brooke Tatnell and Americans Brad Sweet and Terry McCarl.
While Lines made up six positions, Tatnell and Sweet had qualified through the B main. Tatnell won the B main and after starting from position 17 finished seventh, while Sweet, who won the C main, then stormed through to finish second in the B main, started 18th in the A main before finishing eighth.