Brooke Tatnell made a return to form on night number one of the 45th Lucas Oil Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic when he claimed a non-stop 30-lap feature event in front of a healthy crowd at Sungold Stadium, Premier Speedway, Warrnambool.
After Thursday night’s rain, which dumped 30mm of rain on the Allansford venue, the track conditions proved to be conducive to good racing with plenty of action right from the start of the program.
With the format consisting of two flights of qualifying 52 starters embarked on qualifying with Kerry Madsen sounding an ominous warning as he claimed quick time in flight one, before the hard charging Brad Sweet was the quickest in the second flight.
The opening four heat races saw the fastest qualifiers to the front of their respective line-ups with Kerry Madsen winning the opening heat from pole position ahead of Grant Anderson (started position 4) and Corey McCullagh (2).
Tatnell who was second fastest in his qualifying flight stormed to a win in heat race two, leading home Bryan Mann (2) and the N99 of Carson Macedo (6).
Brad Sweet continued from where he left off in qualifying taking out heat 3 from pole position while Brian Brown showed glimpses of his best with a second placed run ahead of Matt Dumesny (4).
Steven Lines was able to win the battle between he and fellow front row occupant Ian Loudoun to capture the final heat of the opening bracket, with Loudoun doing enough for second with Kyle Hirst in third.
With a 12-car heat race inversion, the second round of heats with the fastest qualifiers to the rear was always going to produce high excitement as Jackson Delamont captured heat 5 from Jake Tranter and Chris Campbell. Madsen again showed his class in advancing from position 12 at the drop of the green flag to eventually finish seventh.
Braydon Willmington took out heat 6 while Jordyn Brazier impressed in advancing from position seven to second while Charles Hunter also moved forward from position five to run third.
Peter Milnes was a happy man after taking out heat seven from the impressive young Queenslander Lachlan McHugh and Kyle Hirst who was another to make some serious inroads in the points battle as he came from position nine to third.
The final heat race on the opening night was won by Ben Atkinson, from Tasmania’s Callum Zizek and David Murcott.
The 15-lap C-Main saw four cars transfer to the 20 lap B-Main with Mark House doing enough to get the win from Jordyn Charge, Tim Hutchins and Sam Putland.
Next on the program was the last chance B-Main with Luke Oldfield, Jackson Delamont, Jake Tranter and Craig Vanderstelt all making the transfer, with Sammy Walsh unlucky one to miss out having advanced from 11th on the grid to fifth.
That led to the A-Man over 30 laps and it was Tatnell and Sweet who made the most of their front row starting positions with Tatnell making the early running.
The race appeared set for a caution as Steven Lines slowed after the opening six circulations, before being able to limp to the in-field – his night was done.
From there it was all eyes on Tatnell and Sweet as the talented Californian tried to run down the three-time Classic Champion, and run him down he did as Sweet took the race lead on lap 14.
From there most would have though how far Sweet as the likes of Kerry Madsen, Kyle Hirst and the ever-present Grant Anderson worked their craft in the battle for third.
Then almost inexplicitly Sweet slowed on the exit of turn two and Tatnell as always was on the spot set to pounce as he took back the race lead as he careered away to win the opening nights feature event.
Sweet was able to hang tough for second while Kerry Madsen did what Kerry Madsen does and produced another high-quality night of point accumulation with a third-place finish to boot.
Anderson was again super on a slick race track advancing from position nine to fourth while rounding out the top five was the N99 of Macedo.
2015 Classic Champion Kyle Hirst was sixth, while David Murcott (7th), Jordyn Brazier (8th), Ben Atkinson (9th) and Brian Brown rounded out the top ten.
They were followed by Lachlan McHugh, Corey McCullagh, Ian Loudoun, Tim Rankin, Jack Lee, Jackson Delamont, Charles Hunter, John Vogels, Jake Tranter, Luke Oldfield, Craig Vanderstelt and Bryan Mann with Lines and Daniel Harding being scored as DNF’s.
The Classic is again a qualifying event for the Speed Sport News Challenge which will be held during the Knoxville Nationals next August.
The 2017 45th edition of the Lucas Oil Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic is supported by the following sponsors; Oval Express Magazine, KRE Race Engines, The Lady Bay Resort and GJ Gardner Homes.
Web: www.premierspeedway.com.au Twitter: @sungoldstadium Facebook: Premier Speedway Instagram: @premierspeedway