On a weekend that is traditionally known as the unofficial end of summer, Canada’s Toughest 3rd Mile Oval closed out its 2023 regular season schedule with the crowning of the season champions – Saturday, September 2nd – at Peterborough Speedway.
With Tegan Stanley and Jacob Kelly on the front row, the Battlefield Equipment Rental Bone Stocks hit the track for a 20-lap feature. From his outside front row starting spot, championship contender Kelly took the early lead, with Stanley and John Bates working their way toward the front of the pack. After starting at the tail of the field as the division’s most recent winner, Sean Kennedy had moved into 5th spot but that’s where his race ended, when a broken hub forced the popular runner pit side for the night. Kelly continued to lead as the laps clicked away and slower traffic became an issue. At the checkered flag, Jacob Kelly hadn’t only won the race, he was crowned 2023 Bone Stock track champion. Bates, Stanley, Angelo Novis and Cory Horne followed Kelly to the checkered flag.
Lakelyn Junkin and Praxton Sellers led the Kingsway Auto Centre Junior Late Models to the track for the final time of 2023. Newcomer Austin Finnegan jumped out to an early lead and had almost a straightaway’s advantage when he started to work through the slower traffic with about 8 laps complete. With the No. 26 car in control of the field, Finnegan scored a dominating win over Praxton Sellers, Avery Kirkpatrick, Gracelynn MacInnes and Lakelyn Junkin. Junkin collected a $20.00 bonus donated Super Stock racer Donovan Price, while Kirkpatrick’s 3rd place finish clinched the 2023 track title.
With 20-laps to settle the score, Paul Boundy and Shawn Murray led the Trent Lakes Complete Plumbing Renegade Truck line-up to the line for their headline dance. Boundy was the early race leader, but a yellow flag for debris on the backstretch quickly slowed the pace. Championship rivals Kyle Gordon and Chad Strawn – who entered the night deadlocked for the division’s point lead – were marching toward the front of the pack, with Gordon taking 2nd with 5 laps complete and Strawn moving into 3rd a lap later, as they chased new race leader Kurt Batty. Slower traffic became an issue with the scoreboard showing just short of the halfway mark. Another yellow was displayed as the field took the crossed flags at lap 10. Gordon took the lead on the restart, with Strawn coming back through the pack after losing some spots in traffic. He was 3rd at the time of the race’s final caution at lap-16, before heading pit-side. Gordon took the checkered flag and clinched his 2nd straight championship. After scoring review, the top-5 finishing positions were adjusted to Gordon, Boundy, Jordan Desroches, Stacy Switzer and Shawn Murray.
Championship hopeful Ember Junkin and Brandon Feeney were on the front as the SwitchTire Mini Stocks rolled out for their Championship Clash feature event. Feeney took the lead early, before surrendering the position to Junkin with a trio of laps complete. Nolan Gould – who started 10th on the field, after his August 19th feature win – moved into the top-5 with 6 laps complete and had his sights set on Junkin as the leaders started putting slower cars a lap down. The No. 28G ride had been the division’s dominant piece all season and the Championship Clash was no exception. He took the lead from Junkin with 4 laps remaining, adding another win and the 2023 Mini Stock championship to his resume. Junkin, Feeney, Rob Crick and Chris Tubman followed Gould across the line.
With lap times and attitudes that would rival some of their full-size stock car counterparts, the Peterborough Speedway Kingsway Auto Centre Pro Junior Late Model field keeps fans on their feet from green flag to checkered. Brothers Carson and Cole Cousineau were on the front row for the final main event of the 2023 regular season. The No. 14 – carrying a paint scheme reminiscent of the Cole Trickle ride from Days of Thunder – was the early leader. A caution with only a pair of laps complete slowed the field and saw his cousin Lucas, the current point leader push his No. 12 to the lead on the restart. As the pack started to work through the backmarkers, Cole Cousineau regained the lead and took the win. Landon Sellers, Lucas Cousineau, Chase Stevenson and Chase Cousineau completed the top 5. With his 3rd place finish, Lucas Cousineau was named Pro Junior Late Model champion.
Marlie Owen and title hopeful Miles Tyson brought the Jiffy Lube Super Stock field to the line for the 20-lap main event. Mark Gordon – who entered the regular season finale a single point behind Tyson – fell into 3rd, as the lead duo put on a show. Owen was putting on a clinic, while Anthony DiBello – in just his 2nd start of the year – took 4th as the quartet broke away from the rest of the field. Owen led from start to finish and survived a late race caution flag to put her No. 21 into victory lane. Tyson, Gerrit Tiemersma, Gordon and DiBello rounded-out the fast 5. Tyson’s runner-up effort saw him named 2023 track champion.
With Rick Warnes and Alex Cuzzilla on the front row, teams with the Ontario Modifieds Racing Series, presented by GEN-3 Electrical set out to tackle Canada’s Toughest 3rd Mile Oval in an event that will now be known as the Maebrae Memorial Classic, in memory of former racer Robert Maebrae. The lead duo of Warnes and Cuzzilla logged a few high-speed pace laps before the No. 50 machine took the advantage. Former group champion John Baker Jr. joined the fight, but it was last year’s overall titleholder Cuzzilla who picked-up the win. Warnes and Baker Jr. took 2nd and 3rd positions, with Tyler Boullion and rookie of the year hopeful Andrew Massey completing the top 5. The 2023 OMRS championship will be decided during the Autumn Colours Classic.
The night’s final feature event was a 30-lap headliner for the KOD Disposal Late Models that saw James Horner and Dan McHattie on the front row. McHattie took the early lead from his outside starting spot until a 3rd turn incident slowed the pace with 4 laps on the scoreboard. While McHattie continued to lead, potential track champion Ryan Kimball moved into 4th on the restart. The field started working through the back of the pack with 3rd of the race complete with the No. 71 of McHattie continuing to lead. The multi time track champion picked-up the win, with Horner, Kimball, Daniel Montanari and Brandt Graham chasing him to the checkered flag. Kimball was crowned 2023 Late Model champ with his 3rd place finish.
Tegan Stanley and championship contender Jacob Kelly shared the Bone Stock opening rounds, with Austin Finnegan sweeping the rookie Junior Late Model heats. Reigning track champion Kyle Gordon had a pair of Renegade Truck heat wins, with his 2023 title challenger Chad Strawn and Kurt Batty taking the others. Championship contender Nolan Gould scored a pair of Mini Stock qualifying round checkered flags, with Brandon Feeney and Ember Junkin – who was the point leader at the start of the night’s program – taking the others. Pro Junior Late Model preliminary rounds went to Chase Stevenson, Landon Sellers, Chase and Cole Cousineau. Miles Tyson and Mark Gordon shared Super Stock heat race victories. Alex Cuzzilla took a couple of OMRS qualifier wins, with John Baker Jr. and Bob Franks scoring the others. Late Model opening rounds went to James Horner, Ryan Kimball, Dan McHattie and Daniel Montanari.
All finishing positions are unofficial and subject to scoring review and post race inspection.
Bullring bullet points: Bryan Mercer made his first start in almost 2 seasons, taking over the No. 21 Late Model in place of Doug Hanchard, who sustained a sprained ankle during the week…Coming into the night 2nd in points, Sean Kennedy made contact with the frontstretch wall with 5 laps on the scoreboard and his No. 9 machine was finished for the night…Track officials made the difficult decision to cancel the night’s Non-Winner races. With a Township imposed 11:00 curfew the call was made to cut the show short. Schedules will be reviewed, with a possible earlier start time planned for the 2024 running of the Championship Clash…John Bates won the Lakeside Mobile Tire ‘Rubber Up Giveaway’ with a free set of Bone Stock tires to use during the 2024 season. Brandon Feeney was the winner of the Mini Stock ‘Rubber Up Giveaway’.
The track will now take a break until Thanksgiving Weekend and the 30th annual APC Autumn Colours Classic, presented by Motorama. Mark your calendar for October 6th, 7th and 8th as Canada’s Toughest 3rd Mile Oval celebrates the running of the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.
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