With two track champions and a total of 28 wins between them last year alone, four of the five drivers who took the checkered flag on opening night of the race at Merrittville Speedway hardly needed road maps to find their way to victory.
Only Alex Riley from St Catharines, who set the pace in the 4-cylinder class when the Thorold track finally put on a program after two weeks of heavy rain, failed to record at least one win last year.
For the others in the winners’ circle, Saturday was just another night in their D-shaped, dirt-floored office.
Mat Williamson, also of St. Catharines, Merrittville’s 2022 Driver of the Year after a 10-win season and finishing fourth in the race with 358 modified points, drove last year’s co-champ Gary Lindberg, Scott Wood, Pete Bicknell and Chad Brachmann in the show -Stopper across the finish line.
It was Williamson’s third straight win and second in as many nights. Aside from setting the pace Friday night at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania, northeast of Pittsburgh, the 33-year-old took the checkered flag at the King on April 23 at Bridgeport Motorsports Park in Swedesboro, NJ, south of Pittsburgh of the Big Blocks Philadelphia.
In Sportsman, Cody McPherson began defending his track championship by defeating James Friesen by 1.72 seconds in the 25-round feature. The St Catharines raced to seven wins as he topped the points standings last year.
Dave Bailey of Hagersville, Ontario, the 2022 Merrittville points leader at Hoosier Stock and an eight-time winner last season, defeated former champion Rob Murray and Mark Fawcett in the 20-round feature.
Port Colborne’s Josh Sliter, who claimed three wins in Mod Lite and finished second overall, followed up a first place finish in his qualifying run with a win in the main events.
Below are the top five and heat winners from a Saturday night race program presented by Loop Paint at Merrittville Speedway in Thorold:
Corr/Pak Merchandising 358 Modified, 35 Rounds: 1st Mat Williamson 2nd Gary Lindberg 3rd Scott Wood 4th Pete Bicknell 5th Chad Brachmann. Heat Winner: Williamson, Wood, Lindberg. Field: 21
Right Choice Auto & Leisure DIRTcar Sportsman, 25 laps: 1st Cody McPherson 2nd James Friesen 3rd Brent Begolo 4th Chad Chevalier 5th Adam Leslie. Heat Winner: Friesen, Justin Sharp, McPherson. Field: 26
Hoosier Stocks, 20 rounds: 1st Dave Bailey 2nd Rob Murray 3rd Mark Fawcett 4th Ryan Beagle 5th Pete Reid Heat Winner: Fawcett, Zach Bleich, Reid. Field: 26
Rona Doidge Modified Lites, 20 rounds: 1st Josh Sliter 2nd Brent Begolo 3rd Tyler Winger 4th Sean Iftody 5th Chris Watson Heat Winner: Sliter, winger. Field: 16
Vansickle Pet Valu/PV on lane 4 cylinders, 15 turns: 1st Alex Riley 2nd Nick Erskine 3rd Austin Werstroh 4th Clinton Barrick 5th Hana Rothwell Heat Winner: Werstroh, Cole Hardy, Erskine. Field: 24
Weather permitting, Saturday’s racing returns with a five division program at Canada’s oldest continuously operating stock car track. Pit gates open at 5:00 p.m., grandstands at 5:30 p.m., race start with heats at 7:00 p.m
A night presented by Auto FX Graphics and Signs will also be highlighted by the Big Bike Giveaway, a promotion giving youngsters a chance to go home with a new bike.
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