The narrow track at Arena Manawatu hasn't always produced outstanding Sprintcar racing but it always seems to produce more than it's fair share of drama when a big Sprintcar meeting rolls into town. Tonight was one of those nights. Normally I start these reports with the field for the A-Main but the story of this meeting happened well before the main race. With the field for heat two gridding up under the caution lights, 1nz Jonathan Allard planted foot to floor down the front straight. Also putting foot to floor was the water truck driver. The pit shute at Palmerston North is halfway through turn one. The water truck drove from the infield, across the track towards the pit area. From when Allard was halfway down the straight I could see what was about to unfold.

When Allard threw his car into turn 1 I bet he got the shock of his life to see a big hulking water truck in his path. I'd be willing to equally bet that the water truck driver got the shock of his life to see a Sprintcar coming his way at full noise! Allard tried everything he could but it was all to no avail as he slid sideways into the water truck! The contact was enough to damage the back end of the car, moving a number of mechanical parts that shouldn't be moved. Allard was done for the night in the most extraordinary circumstances. Also not starting the A-Main was 1usa Craig Dollansky who finished both heats. Nothing obviously wrong with the car from the grandstand viewpoint.

Grid for the feature saw 71a Jamie McDonald on pole with 11usa Kraig Kinser on the outside. 54a Michael Pickens and 2nz Dean Brindle were the second row. 3nz Jamie Larsen and 55a Daniel Thomas occupied row 3. If anyone else was to be a factor perhaps it would be 05usa Brad Loyet from grid 7, 51m Rodney Wood from grid 9 or even perhaps former National champion 19t Jamie Duff from grid 16. 11usa Kraig Kinser got the jump from the green to no avail as 5a Daniel Rogers and 51m Rodney Wood got together on the first corner. Both would restart while innocent victims 8p Paul Donovan and 19p Kendall Savage would watch the race from the infield.

Second time proved a charm and a long green flag period followed. 71a Jamie McDonald wasn't about to be beaten twice, taking the early advantage. Behind him 3nz Jamie Larsen got up the inside of 2nz Dean Brindle for fourth place. 11usa Kraig Kinser quickly fell into the clutches of 54a Michael Pickens who found a line down low to move into the second position. Witb the early action out of the way the race fell into a rhythym with the lower reaches of the track preferred though other lines were available.

Pickens made inroads to the lead of McDonald as the field entered lapped traffic. McDonald was decisive down low in passing the first couple of cars but struggled with 66m Skinny Colson who was also circulating around the pole. Pickens managed to get back on McDonald's tail and when McDonald drifted up the track through turns 3 and 4 Pickens pounced to take the lead. A little further back things were getting worse for Team USA. 11usa Kraig Kinser explored lines higher up the race track to his detriment as 3nz Jamie Larsen made a move up the inside through turns 1 & 2. Kinser accelerated out of the corner in an effort to retain his podium position but only succeeded in giving the wall a decent clip. He was able to continue albeit behind the 3nz entry.

With the laps winding down the front group of 5 cars was in close proximity without there being any battles of note. The white flag unfurled for race leader Pickens as the field went around one last time. 2nz Dean Brindle had a look up the inside of 11usa Kraig Kinser going into the last corner. It wasn't the greatest move ever witnessed. The two came together, heading up the track to the wall. Kinser rolled which summed up the night nicely for the American contingent. It was an expensive disaster. I thought Pickens had gone under the chequered flag before the yellows came out but the officials had a differing perspective. A 2-lap finale was run without incident. 54a Michael Pickens taking the win from 71a Jamie McDonald, 3nz Jamie Larsen, 51m Rodney Wood, 05usa Brad Loyet, 55a Daniel Thomas, 21w Stephen Taylor, 5a Daniel Rogers, 19t Jamie Duff and 18p Greg Pickerill.