Words Paul Griffin. Pics Paul Griffin unless otherwise noted .
Young West Aussies David Priolo and Shaun Bradford shared the front row for the final race of the 25th World Series Sprintcar Championship.
Priolo himself had stated before the race that their Team had the fastest car all weekend and they were ready for anything. While confidence was high in the Priolo Camp, Shaun Bradford had elected to campaign a brand new Quick Time Chassis and was certainly looking like a threat.
To the rears of the front row pair was a stack of well-credentialed Drivers like Robbie Farr, David Murcott, Brooke Tatnell, Stephen Lines, James McFadden, Shane Stewart and Ryan Farrell.
Could these two young guys hold off the avalanche of experience behind?
The green flag dropped signalling the start of 30 long laps around the high banks of “The Plex”. Priolo pulled a massive wheelie coming out of turn 4 as he headed to the flagstand. He fell back several positions and Bradford shot to the lead. Bradford’s lead was short lived however as Ryan Farrell in the Hall’s Haulage #5 KPC was contacted by another car and cut down a right rear. Farrell pulled up on the straight and was allowed 2 minutes to do a tyre change. He had also sustained top wing damage, but the right rear was the priority. Farrell who had started form row 5 was visibly frustrated – shaking his head as he sat in the cockpit. He would now be down the back of the bus and not figure in the racing. He ended up pulling the sick KPC infield at mid race distance.
On the complete restart Shaun Bradford shot the #57 QT into the lead. Priolo refused to succumb – the two trading places for several laps while the rest of the field settled into a racing rhythm. With 5 laps down Bradford had cleared out a few car lengths and incredibly was approaching the tail of the field.
Current Australian Champion Brooke Tatnell was on a mission, realising he could cement second in the Championship and jostled for position with Priolo. Jason Johnson who was 2nd in points had not made the A-Main after binning the #47 in the B-Main so Tatnell was hungry. Meanwhile Robbie Farr found some extra bite down low, started moving forward and shut the door on Tatnell. Tatnell then switched to the low line in pursuit of the “wheel smoking” Farr.
Eight laps in Bradford continued to lead but was finding it impossible to get around the tail end cars. Bradford continued to run low and it seemed that the bottom was slowly deteriorating. This gave Priolo the opportunity to close. Murcott was also making moves forward with massive car speed high up on the cushion and went around Robbie Farr for 3rd place.
Priolo lunged at the Bradford still running the bottom and grabbed the lead. The crowd went ape !
With 12 laps to go top 6 were Priolo, Bradford, Murcott Farr, Tatnell and McFadden. Bradford hungry for victory started fighting back. Priolo showed true class threading himself through traffic, driving high, low and anywhere in between.
With 5 laps to go Robbie Farr and Murcott touched, sending Farr into a violent flip on the back straight. Farr’s car got massive air time, contacting the catch fence up high and was trashed. Caught up in the incident was a very unfortunate Shane Stewart in the Monte Motorsport #17 J&J – he also rolled. Stewart had qualified in the feature by winning the B-Main. He has had dogged luck lately with the last 3 races ending the same way – crashing out trying to avoid an incident ahead of him.
James McFadden who was coming on and running in 6 th threw his car sideways to avoid the Farr wreck but still made some contact. Exit Farr and Stewart.
The restart saw some phenomenal racing: Priolo glued to the top and Bradford challenging down low. Tatnell getting past Murcott only to have Murcott snatch it back, Lines rocketing around the high line with a new lease of life and McFadden also high and fast but tagging the wall hard. With 2 to go the yellows came on, Priolo very nearly binning his car into the back of the slowing McFadden.
On the restart Priolo was committed to the top and there he stayed. Bradford, ever determined, continued to snap at Priolo during the last 2 laps but just couldn’t make it stick.
Crossing the line first was Priolo, followed by a gutsy Bradford, Murcott, Tatnell, and Lines. A memorable race, one that will stick in everyone’s minds forever.
It was Priolo’s 1st ever WSS main event win and the overall event was world class entertainment and was a fabulous advertisement for Speedway.
And so ends the 25th year of World Series Sprintcars. Final Top 5 placings are:
1. James McFadden – 4356
2. Brooke Tatnell – 3957
3. Jason Johnson – 3869
4. Robbie Farr – 3820
5. David Murcott – 3807
Max Dumesny in his last year of racing WSS bagged 7th. Shane Stewart from USA came 13th in points while Ryan Farrell was 14th.