With the sun shining bright and high above the track, multiple drivers took to the track on Sunday to continue to prepare for the upcoming 2014 season, which kicks off on May 3rd with the highly anticipated Spring Derby invitational.
Limited Late Model
Third generation driver Billy ‘Z3’ Zardo debuted his brand new Limited Late Model (featured image) as he hit the track to begin preparations for the season. Unfortunately, Zardo ran into some mechanical issues that prevented him from getting as many laps in as he would’ve hoped, but those problems looked to be cured heading into the Spring Derby. Zardo had a break-out season last year, scoring his first career Late Model feature victory in a thrilling battle with Mike Bentley.
Jason ‘Bam Bam’ Witty (pictured left) hit the track for his first laps of the 2014 season as he looks for the key to consistency this season. Witty won five features last season, though also suffered five DNFs along the way with motor issues and wrecks. Perhaps a slight change to the look of the No. 19 Late Model will result in a successful, consistent 2014 season.
Getting set for the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series schedule, Gary Klutt made his first laps on an oval as he tested a Late Model at Sunset Speedway. It was announced last week that Klutt would run a limited NCAT schedule for Legendary Motorcar as a result of sponsorship CTL Vehicle Financing.
‘Livewire’ Nick Goetz unveiled his 2014 paint scheme at practice (pictured right) as he is going with the flames, which were so predominately carried by his favourite NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. Goetz moved to Sunset Speedway partway through last season and scored five feature top 10s as he got used to the track. Now with a new car underneath him, Goetz is hoping to score his first victory.
Goetz still has his car from last year and it will be kept as a back-up car in case something should happen. Though for the first two events (May 3rd Spring Derby and May 10th APC Pro Late Model 100), NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driver Jason Hathaway will be behind the wheel. Hathaway had his best season to date last year in NCAT as he finished third in points with a pair of victories. Hathaway was on hand at practice today to get the car handling for the opening event.
‘Hollywood’ Taylor Holdaway also unveiled his 2014 paint scheme (pictured left) as he began to dial in his late model. Holdaway had a solid season last year with five feature top-fives, though will certainly be in search of getting back to victory lane this year.
Michael Wilkinson would make his first laps of the season during the test season as he joins the list of rookie drivers with the No. 25 on the side of his late model.
Seven-time Late Model Champion Chris Morrow hit the track for his first laps of the season. Bad luck plagued Morrow all last year, resulting in no feature wins – which surprised many of the fans. It was still a solid year for Morrow, last year, as he scored eight feature top-fives throughout the year.
Coming off of a stellar Thunder Car season at Barrie Speedway, Travis Hallyburton is moving up a division and moving to a new track. Hallyburton unveiled his No. 39 Late Model at Sunset Speedway (pictured right) as he will be one of the drivers contending for the Rookie of the Year title. Last year, Hallyburton had a great season as he contended for the championship while winning the Garry Reynolds Memorial. Hallyburton is driving the late model piloted by his brother Thayne last year at Barrie, in which brought forth a total of eight feature victories.
After some limited success in the OSCAAR Super Late Model ranks, Kyle Passer will be running the full 2014 Sunset Speedway schedule. Passer bought the car previously piloted by Chris Mitchell at Peterborough Speedway, in which the car has shown great speed in the past as Mitchell finished on the podium in the Autumn Colors Classic.
After a season highlighted by eight feature victories, Thayne Hallyburton (pictured left, courtesy of Thayne) makes the move from Barrie to Sunset Speedway in 2014. Hallyburton unveiled his brand new look on Sunday at Sunset Speedway as he will be certainly one of the drivers to watch this year. Hallyburton comes into the year with a brand new chassis from Port City Chassis and is receiving help form Kyle Baker in getting it hooked up for the season.
After finishing top five in points last year, Dwayne Baker is hoping that this year is his championship season as he was out testing his Late Model. Baker had a great year last year with a win and 14 top 10s in 14 feature events last year, as well as winning the Autumn Colors Classic and Garry Reynolds Memorial.
After running a limited schedule in the OSCAAR Super Late Models, Sean Cronan returns to the full-time Late Model competition in 2014 as he looks to repeat the success that he had during the 2011 season in winning the McColl Racing/Sunset Shootout Series Championship.
After not ending the season liked he would’ve hoped, Tyler Liscum had his late model on track as he tried to get dialed in. Liscum is driving a late model that was previously piloted by Baker.
Carrying over from the Saturday test session, Adam Cuthbertson, Tom Walters, Mat Box, Paul Maltese and Steven Wilson continue to lay down laps on the 3/8 mile oval.
Defending Super Stock Champion Randy Rusnell (pictured right) debuted his new look for the No. 72 Monte Carlo that the fans have grown to love. The past two seasons have gone perfectly for Rusnell as he has dominated both years, winning the championship both seasons. Last year, Rusnell won 11 features, along with the Velocity 250 feature and the Autumn Colors Classic feature. Being a Dale Earnhardt fan, Rusnell and wife Joanne went through Earnhardt’s previous paint schemes, picking out one that liked and adapting in their own way for the super stock.
After purchasing the car late in the season, Tyler Liscum (pictured left) is set to come to Sunset Speedway this year full-time and contend for the championship. Liscum debuted his new look at Sunday’s test session as he worked at getting the car dialed in.
‘The Thrillbilly’ Lane Zardo brought out his familiar Super Stock and got some practice laps under his belt after having to rebuild the car over the winter following an Autumn Colors Classic weekend that won’t be forgotten soon. Zardo had a successful season last year as he finished second in points with a feature win and 14 heat wins.
Ryan Semple brought his camaro back out as he looking for some magic this year in hopes of pulling together a victory, or perhaps a string of solid runs.
Mike Weeda was also on hand continuing to lay down more laps with his Super Stock as he brings out a brand new car for the new season.
Chris Howse has made the decision to make the move to Sunset Speedway from Flamboro Speedway and had his No. 55 Super Stock on track to get down some laps before the season begins.
Also unveiling their new look was rookie Adam Martin, as he made multiple laps throughout hte day to get used to his car. Unfortunately, Martin’s day didn’t end as well as he would’ve hoped as he blew the rear end heading into turn three late in the day.
‘The Astronaut’ Brandon McFerran (pictured right) unveiled his brand new paint scheme on his mini stock as he searches for his first Mini Stock Championship this season. McFerran had a great season last year on his way to winning four features and 12 qualifying heats.
After starting to get a feel for it on Saturday, rookie Lauren Halliday returned to the track on Sunday to continue to log laps as her education of mini stock racing continues.
Another rookie to watch is Jordan Howse as he follows in his father’s footsteps. He took his white mustang out to get some laps under his belt for the first time. Of the rookies so far, Howse has shown the most speed and potential to contend for a top five finish out of the gate.
2013 Varney Motor Speedway Champion Cory Young took his mini stock out to get some laps. With Varney (now Full Throttle Speedway) not starting up for a couple weeks, Young may be one of the drivers in attendance for the Spring Derby next weekend in hopes to try and rascal a win away from the regulars.
Ready to tackle the high-banks again, Wendy Adams (pictured right) unveiled her brand new look as her mustang is now blue rather than the red that everybody grew familiar to. Adams is certainly looking for a better season this year as she looks to escape the bad luck that bit her last year.
Barrie Speedway regular Ryan Toon hit the track to log some laps on Sunday as he prepares for Barrie’s season opener on May 10th. With their opening night being pushed back a week, look possibly for Toon and other Barrie regulars to attend the Spring Derby.
Shawn Gerrior, Warren Paxton and Andrew Kamrath also joined the group on Sunday to continue to add to their lap count total from Saturday.
Beyond the Sunset Speedway regulars on track, a couple of the Outlaw Modified and Ryan Dick of the OSCAAR Modifieds took to the track to begin getting dialed in for their opening events of the season.