Californian Brad Sweet registered the 135th victory for the USA in the history of Valvoline Raceway in scoring victory in the 35th Australian Sprintcar Grand Prix tonight.
Sweet pedaled his #99 Highrace Towing / Ruhs Brothers Motorsport entry to a stellar win in the main event leading home Max Dumesny in second place, Ben Atkinson in third, Ian Madsen in fourth and Max Johnston rounding out the top five.
On a challenging track where multiple lanes and a two very different cushions at either end of the circuit Sweet was able to sweep to victory and record an excellent start to his month in Australia for Josh and Isaac Ruhs.
“That was awesome,” smiled the pint sized Californian, “I was smilin’ the whole time out there, we were swapping back and forwards for the lead. The cushion was so tricky it bit everyone a couple of times. I told myself a few times just don’t go over the edge and you can win this race, so I just tried to limit my mistakes and be as patient as I could.”
Max Dumesny’s second place finish (he started on pole position) was, by his own admission, an enjoyable result.
“I had a couple of really good battles there. I still think we had something for everyone on the bottom (line) there but we had a couple of yellows that probably didn’t help us. I’m grateful to Valvoline for their sponsorship of this race and for their sponsorship of me though and it’s a good start to our International Series campaign.”
Third placed Ben Atkinson managed a smile but he was also gritting his teeth not long before.
The PCR Karts sponsored #2 driver was the fastest man in qualifying in the 55-car field but then dramatically missed the transfer to the A-Main and had to do it the hard way in the B-Main.
Leading the B-Main he had to evade a spun lapped car and stalled, where he was promptly sent to the rear and then had to fight his way back from oblivion to make the top four just in the nick of time and get his time back in A-Main qualification.
“My guys have worked their butts off tonight,” he mused, “we built this new car up on Christmas Eve and we’ve all been thrashing all night to keep me in the money. We’ve got some speed in this new car but we need to find more. I’m happy we could get a podium for the team but it was hard work tonight to get to where we did.”
Ian Madsen led the main event and looked to be quite comfortable in the DB Goodyer #10 but he jumped the sizeable cushion in turn four and dropped several positions before soldiering back to an eventual fourth ahead of Parramatta Posse rising star Max Johnston.
Johnston rolled over in the Pole Shootout but came back out for the A-Main with a borrowed wing to run top six for most of the main event and eventually clamber to fifth behind Madsen.
Robbie Farr challenged many times for the race lead and enjoyed some memorable stoushes with Max Dumesny before fading at race’s end to sixth behind Johnston and ahead of Garry Brazier in seventh, Grant Anderson eighth, James Thompson ninth, Peter Gordon tenth, Grant Tunks eleventh, Tim Kaeding twelfth, Darryl Campbell thirteenth, Jackson Delamont fourteenth, Shaun Dobson fifteenth, Jeremy Cross sixteenth and West Aussie Carl Dowling seventeenth as the last car running.
DNF’s included the spectacular exit of Danny Reidy who rolled the Desert Palms Resort #5 on the main straight and mechanical failures for Sam Walsh, Matthew Craft, Troy Little, Trevor Green (who qualified on the front row), Craig Brady and Glen Saville.
The night’s most spectacular incident happened in qualifying when 17 year old Jordyn Brazier tripped the cushion in turn four and flipped savagely in the Capalaba Wreckers #21.
The fourth generation racer was dazed and concussed in the incident and received treatment trackside at the scene from ambulance officials before being later released in his parents care.
The excellent crowd was treated to some wheel-to-wheel competition and also expert comments from Peter Murphy and Kelly Linigen whilst another highlight was brother and sister Marcus and Michaela Dumesny singing the Australian National anthem to kick off proceedings.
The Legend Car racing was again legendary with Rob Rawlings emerging with the 20-lap main event win over Brett Mitchell in second place and Glen Philpott home in third.
AMCA National main event honours went to Peter Markulin over Terry Pankhurst in second place and Spano Gutierrez finishing third.
The next night of the Valvoline Raceway International Series sees the Sprintcar Summer Cup on Saturday night, December 27 with Late Model sedans, Speedcars and a Demolition Derby.
– Valvoline Raceway press release
– Photo credit: Valvoline Raceway