CORNWALL, Ontario – Never before had Bryan Howland waited this long to get his first win of a season, but after a convincing victory on Sunday night at Cornwall Motor Speedway, he proved that July is when he really heats up.
“Finally”, declared Howland as he presented the checkered flag to the crowd after leading wire-to-wire in a caution-free Patriot Sprint Tour event. It was Howland’s 21st career series win, his 10th in the month of July.
“The car was just perfect tonight,” Howland stated. “The start was really good. We came off of turn two like a rocket ship and I think that is what won us the race.”
The four-time Patriot Sprint Tour champion had even debated attending the Sunday sprint special at the quarter-mile, a track where he had crashed at on his two prior visits, but he knew his luck had to turn around soon enough.
“This is an awesome race track, we just had bad luck here in the past,” said Howland. “We’ve had a real rough year and every week (my crew) keeps coming back with their chin up looking for our first win and we finally got it tonight.”
Howland finished third in his heat, which was good enough to get into the redraw, where his string of poor draws was snapped when he selected the pole starting spot.
Outside pole sitter Mitch Brown ran him hard into turn one, but the Filtrec No. 51 would get the lead working down the backstretch. Lapped traffic would soon become a factor, but it also allowed Howland to gauge how strong his car was.
“I tried the top a few times but I wasn’t gaining anything on the lapped cars so I was just holding my position on the bottom, figuring that I didn’t feel anyone would be moving on the top,” Howland said.
As the race wore on, the track became increasingly slicker while not taking any rubber; this put more emphasis on being tactical and hitting the correctly line, something that has made Howland a front-runner for so many years. Despite Howland’s excellence at being precise, Mitch Brown was not going to let it be a run away.
At points during the middle of the race, Brown would chop the lead down but was not able to gain enough on Howland.
Over the final five laps Brown would have to work hard just to hold off Jared Zimbardi, but was able to do just that as he claimed his best career PST finish.
It was a solid end to the weekend for the third year sprint driver after a motor problem Friday at Ohsweken made them thrash just to make it up to Brockville and Cornwall.
Jared Zimbardi’s third place showing was impressive considering that he started seventh on a track where passing was certainly at a premium.
The defending PST Champion drove from seventh to fourth on the first lap but without a caution would have to settle for his second third-place of the weekend. In the process, Zimbardi has taken over the PST Canada Series point lead.
On the final lap, Glenn Styres, who had a very impressive run from 12th place up to fourth running the high line, planted his Ohsweken No. 0 in the turn four wall after the checkered flag had already been given to Howland.
That would hand fourth back over to Alain Bergeron, who returned to action on Sunday with a heavy heart after the passing of his father earlier in the week. It was an emotional night for the two-time Cornwall winner but ended with a quality result.
Michael Parent would earn his second top-five finish in the last three starts at Cornwall. It was also a difficult week off the track for Parent but he too was able to use racing as an escape.
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