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NO FIREWORKS OPENING NIGHT



Opening night at Western Springs Speedway was postponed to an unusual 4pm Sunday kick-off. Track conditions were unexpected given the daylight nature of the meeting. Usually the track would dust up and give spectators a free tan. However this track retained it's moisture throughout the meeting. In fact the problem was we couldn't get the moisture out of the track! The result was a narrow race track that got bumpier the more the meeting continued. I think they call it a "cowboy up" track in the USA.

Just 16 cars fronted for the Midget feature which was the smallest field amongst any class except the quarter midgets. 5a Brock Maskovich was the polesitter with 1nz Michael Pickens on the outside. 11a Shayne Alach and 39a Peter Hunnibell the second row. 96a Chris McCutcheon and 97a Thomas McLean shared row three. If anyone else was to be a factor 91a Hayden Guptill from grid 11 or 2nz Brad Mosen from grid 12 were the most likely. Both had flipped in heat race action through no fault of their own.



There must have been a rule change I missed in the off-season which sees grid 1 set the pace. Maskovich clearly jumped the start from the pole position yet the start was not pulled back. Alach was quickly into second but we'd have to do it all over again as 69a Mark Enson suffered a big solo flip down the back straight. From start #2 Maskovich again went early, though not to the same extent as the first start. But it was the same result with Maskovich leading from Pickens and Alach. Maskovich was able to slowly eek out a lead and appeared to have Pickens covered through the opening stages.

A little further back Mosen was struggling to make forward progress but team mate Guptill was enjoying a little more success. That was until his left front wheel departed the rest of the car on lap 7. The next phase of the race was green for about 8 laps. Maskovich led away whilst behind him Pickens was going to Plan B, exploring some lines higher up the race track. That opened up the opportunity for Alach who had desires of making a move up the inside but couldn't make it happen. Further back Mosen found some pace to pass a bunch of cars. The race would go into a caution period as 15a Stevie Walsh spun exiting turn 4, collecting 43a Matt Watson and adding him to the evenings voluminous flip count. 98a Caleb Antonio-Rooney retired infield during the caution after a promising run, a flat left rear tyre the culprit.



The final stanza of the race would be the best. Maskovich again led away with Pickens trying apply pressure via his patented high line. Instead he found himself in a battle to hold onto second with Alach. Alach poked his head up the inside corner after corner until he got a move to stick. No sooner had he done so, Alach over-cooked it exiting turn 4 and handed the spot back to Pickens! Despite temporarily losing the second spot Pickens refused to change lines and would pay the price next time around when Alach made another inside move through Town Bend. That seemed to galvanise the seven time national champion who regained the second spot a couple of laps later via a cut back on the exit of Pine Tree Bend.

The top three had cleared out on the rest of the field. McCutcheon executed an outside move on Hunnibell to move into a distant fourth. Back up front and Pickens was finally making up some ground on Maskovich. He would be aided by a lapped car though it must be said what was Maskovich doing? Maskovich just followed the slower car around for a lap, seemingly disinterested in trying an alternate line to make a pass. Pickens showed him how it was done with a bit of aggression. Again the inside of Pine Tree Bend was the spot as the 1nz took his familiar spot at the front of the Midget field. From there it was plain sailing as Pickens took yet another feature win from Maskovich and Alach. McCutcheon was closing in fourth well ahead of Hunnibell and Mosen.