27 Sprintcars, a big field by New Zealand standards presented themselves for night 1 of the 2016/17 International Sprintcar Series. Track conditions for the A-Main were interesting. Due to excessive moisture applied to the track prior to racing commencing the track was racing narrow. That was after 25 race events including a 20 car Midget feature! The track was relatively smooth with two racing lines but the lack of distance between the pole and the high side of the race track was going to make life interesting for a 20 car Sprintcar field. For those that were there the track was similar to the track produced for the final round of last years International Sprintcar Series won by Steve Kinser.

Pole Shuffle winner 05usa Brad Loyet chose to set the pace from the outside of the front row handing pole to 11usa Kraig Kinser. 71a Jamie McDonald and 1nz Jonathan Allard comprised row two. 2nz Dean Brindle and 3nz Jamie Larsen row 3. 78a Daniel Eggleton and 54a Michael Pickens row 4. If anyone else was to be a factor it was likely to be 1usa Craig Dollansky who battled mechanical problems all night to qualify in the 15th grid. 17m Jarvis Tidd was the lead Baypark qualifier in the 10th starting grid. From the drop of the green 05usa Brad Loyet got the jump to take the early lead. The outside row got the better of the start allowing 1nz Jonathan Allard to take the second position ahead of 11usa Kraig Kinser. The three Americans put a bit of a gap on the chasing kiwi trio of 71a Jamie McDonald, 54a Michael Pickens and 3nz Jamie Larsen.

Kinser put the pressure on Allard for the second spot, showing his nose down low as Allard ran up high. Allard was able to fend off the challenge leaving Kinser to fall back towards McDonald whilst Allard hunted down race leader 05usa Brad Loyet. Nobody was making a noticeable charge from further back in the pack. Allard hunted down Loyet but like Kinser before him found that catching someone and passing them were two very different tasks on this track. Allard repeatedly showed his nose down low but Loyet was able to fend him off until Allard finally made a move stick coming off turn four. Once in the lead Allard was quickly able to pull a gap on Loyet until he encountered lapped traffic.

The lapped cars were going to be a challenging proposition and it was advantage Allard in my mind being a regular driver here in New Zealand thus knowing the tendancies of drivers he was dealing with. Indeed Allard was able to make a couple of passes as behind him the pack condensed. In particular Kinser was looking racey and looked poised to take the second spot when an extraordinary incident occurred. A visible puff of smoke came out the back of 05usa Brad Loyet's car entering turn 1. It was accompanied by plenty of fluid and Loyet managed to half spin but keep going. 71a Jamie McDonald had nowhere to go but managed to stop his car before contacting with Loyet but in doing so lost a batch of places. The yellows were activated, assumedly for Loyet. On inspection it appeared he had dropped water. Despite the yellow seemingly being for him, Loyet was allowed to continue from his position on the last lap. Surely if the yellow is thrown for you, you should be sent to the rear?

Unfortunately we persist with double file restarts at Western Springs and the next phase of the race would largely consist of double file disasters. 7a Dion Kendall rolled in turn 3. 6m James Dahm found himself in the wall after another competitor floated up the track. We managed a lap before losing 71a Jamie McDonald after he jumped the cushion in turn two and came to a stop. Then 78a Daniel Eggleton ended his race on the main straight. With the 10:30 curfew merely a minute away it appeared the race was over. But as curfew ticked by the green flag was thrown. We race on! Thankfully there would be no further stoppages until we reached the chequered flag four minutes after curfew.

1nz Jonathan Allard led away and would soon be joined by 11usa Kraig Kinser who had dealt with 05usa Brad Loyet. A little further back 1usa Craig Dollansky was finally making forward progress and even further back 88m Keaton Dahm was making moves having started dead last. 3nz Jamie Larsen had made his way into the 4th spot as the best of the kiwi's courtesy of some good fortune on the double file restarts. Back to the front and whenever Allard leads at Western Springs it's pretty much a foregone conclusion. However 11usa Kraig Kinser was showing impressive pace, closing the gap to Allard. Just as it looked like Kinser was poised to pounce, lapped traffic became a factor once again. Kinser hesitated as a lapped car took an unusual line out of turn four and his chance was gone. Behind him 3nz Jamie Larsen made a last corner pass to steal 3rd from 05usa Brad Loyet. 1nz Jonathan Allard the winner from 11usa Kraig Kinser, 3nz Jamie Larsen, 05usa Brad Loyet, 54a Michael Pickens, 2nz Dean Brindle, 1usa Craig Dollansky, 55a Daniel Thomas, 5a Daniel Rogers and 4a Matthew Leversedge.