Pinsonneault Cruises To Victory At South Buxton

John Pinsonneault - South Buxton Raceway

John Pinsonneault takes the checkered flag at South Buxton Raceway – Photo by James MacDonald/ Apex One Photo

You don’t often hear a driver who just about lapped the entire field admit he was hoping for a caution flag. But that was the case for Chatham’s John Pinsonneault Jr., who led all 20 laps of a rare caution-free Tirecraft Mini-Mods feature Saturday at South Buxton Raceway.

Pinsonneault started on the pole and put seven cars a lap down before three laps were complete.
As the laps ticked off, he built a three-quarters of a track lead on second-place Steve Shaw Jr. of Merlin and was just about to catch the fourth and fifth place cars of brothers Brett and Kyle Hope of Blenheim.

“When I saw the Hopes right in front of me, I knew I had a big lead, so I backed down,” Pinsonneault Jr. said.

But there was an underlying reason why he let off the gas.

“It was starting to overheat,” he said. “I didn’t see the cross flags (halfway), so I had no idea how far we were into it. I was praying for the white flag, even a caution flag, to cool it down,” Pinsonneault said.

The two-time track championship race winner pulled back the reigns enough for Shaw and Trevor Jones get to within a corner on the final laps before Pinsonneault capped his green-to-checkered run.

“Usually it’s pretty close racing, I think we just hit the setup tonight and no one else did,” Pinsonneault said of his dominating performance. “We thought it was going to be super dry, so we set it up for that,” he continued, but everyone’s setup plans were thrown a curve when the track crew put water on the racing surface during the intermission.

Pinsonneault said it was too late to change the setup, “so I knew I had to put the metal to the floor to keep it free, and it was fast.”

It was the second straight win for the No. 0 race team as Tim Mackenzie drove it to the Winner’s Circle in the second half of last Saturday’s double-feature night.

“We’re a team, that’s two for Tim and me,” said Pinsonneault, nixing any thought that he was under pressure to equal his teammate’s efforts. That was my birthday present for me,” he said of Mackenzie’s win.

“He brought home the cheque and he got the checkered flag … that’s all that matters,” Pinsonneault said. “Now,” he continued with a big smile, “if he keeps talking, I will just have to bring up the fact that I won by a lot bigger margin.”

“Yeah, but I started at the back and won!” Mackenzie countered.

Pinsonneault also won a heat race to give the ‘0’ team a division leading five checkered on the season.

Jones passed Shaw on the final lap to finish second, with Brett and Kyle Hope fourth and fifth. Blenheim’s Elliott Wilton passed Pinsonneault late to get his lap back and finished sixth.

Leamington’s Joel Dick capped an incredible month of May with a three-for-three night including his fifth straight feature win in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds. Dick started in the third row and led the final 22 of the 25-lap feature.

Leamington’s Justin Coulter passed Belle River’s Mario Toniolo for second on the final lap while Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. and Clayton Smith, of Taylor, Mich., rounded out the top five.

Dick had nine checkered flags in 14 total races for the month.

Merlin’s Steve Shaw finished second on the track but was awarded the Tirecraft Sport Stocks feature win when Grande Pointe’s Tyler Lozon was disqualified after post-race tech inspection revealed an illegal transmission. Shaw, who had to restart at the back after causing a four-car pileup on lap three, roared through the field to take second with five laps to go.

Kingsville’s Rob Young was promoted to a second-place finish with Merlin’s Eren Vanderiviere third, Essex’s Doris Lajeunesse fourth and Chatham’s Eric Vanderiviere fifth in his return to the Sport Stocks.

Gregg Haskell was the hottest driver of the night – literally – as he overcame being put to the back to start the race and contact on lap 11 to win a Westside Performance Plus UMP Late Models feature for the second week in a row.

Haskell, who was supposed to start in the second row, instead started 10th because he was late getting his RH21 car to the chute for the line-up after the autograph session during intermission.

“I was there (at the chute) 10 minutes before we went out, but for some reason they made me start at the back. That’s what put the anger in me and that’s what made me go to the front,” Haskell said.

Chatham drivers Brad Authier and Jim Jones battled for the first half before Haskell, Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis and Chatham’s Erick Walker caught the leaders to make it a five-car battle. After a caution on lap 11, the yellow flag flew again on the restart as Haskell and Authier got together briefly. On the restart, Haskell followed Authier on the outside as both got around Jones.

Two laps later, Haskell went to the bottom to get by Authier between turns three and four, setting the stage for a tremendous seven-lap shootout between four cars.

Haskell took the checkered with Jones second, Lewis third, Authier fourth and Walker fifth.
Chatham’s Chris Ellerbeck won his second straight Autotech Bombers feature, with Port Lambton’s Caleb O’Leary, Blenheim’s Austin Pickering and Merlin’s Cale Johns finishing second through fourth.

The Late Models will run the first Gord Gotelaer memorial feature this Saturday, in honour of the former track champion and Hall of Fame inductee earlier in May who passed away at the age of 76 in May, 2013.

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