WARRNAMBOOL, Australia – Not even an engine that was down on power could keep James McFadden from scoring a popular win in Sunday’s 48th annual Southwest Conveyancing Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic.
Despite the fact that he “dropped a cylinder at lap one or two,” McFadden nursed his Monte Motorsport No. W17 to a 1.553-second victory over Jamie Veal, leading all but five circuits in the 40-lap finale.
McFadden’s win came with a dash of controversy, however, as he tagged the No. V25 of Jack Lee when trying to slide defending Classic champion Robbie Farr for the race lead in turn two on lap six.
The contact shot the lap car of Lee up into Farr, who ramped over Lee’s left-rear tire and bicycled hard into the outside wall at the exit of the second corner, causing terminal damage to the No. NQ7.
For Farr, who led the first five rounds on Sunday, it was game over at that point.
“Without seeing the replay, I don’t know if James got (Lee’s) front end or Jack just … saw James and tried to get out of his way, and I was already on the outside of him,” Farr noted. “I was up there (in the air) for a bit, and I knew the fence was going to be coming sooner or later.
“I think Jack was just trying to give the leader some space, and we were racing for the lead.”
Undeterred, McFadden soldiered on and held an all-star cast at bay for the remaining distance, despite four cautions in the remaining 35 laps that kept his pursuers close at hand.
The most notable of those came with five to go, when contact between Marcus Dumesny and Brenten Farrer sent Farrer’s mount flipping wildly down the backstretch before it was struck by the oncoming car of Tim Kaeding.
Kaeding quickly climbed from his car and sprinted down to check on Farrer, who emerged uninjured after a check over by safety workers at the scene.
That set up a sprint to the finish, with McFadden leading Cory Eliason, Veal and Kerry Madsen, but the yellow returned for the fifth and final time a lap later when Scott Bogucki spun in turn four from fifth.
After that, no one could touch McFadden over the final four rounds, as the Monte Motorsport pilot raced unchallenged to victory lane for the second time in Australia’s biggest sprint car event.
“First, I’m sorry to the crowd. I wanted to do donuts … but I was just trying to nurse it home,” McFadden said in victory lane. “It was a bummer I couldn’t do them; I wanted to mess up the infield logo.
“That was a hard race. I was trying to run the middle and got a little hung up in traffic, and then I was watching the big screen and saw Cory (Eliason) coming on the top,” he added. “I knew at the end that (upstairs) was where Cory was going to be and just had to keep pounding the cushion. This race is getting bigger and bigger each year and it’s an honor to win it again.”
Veal hung on to finish second, with Kerry Madsen completing an all-Australian podium.
Cory Eliason was the highest-placing American in fourth, followed by Dumesny, Tim Shaffer, Buddy Kofoid, Luke Dillon, Brooke Tatnell and Steven Lines.
A horrific weekend for Dyson Motorsport concluded Sunday with Carson Macedo flipping on the opening lap of the feature, finishing last in the 24-car field, while NASCAR star Kyle Larson turned the team’s second entry over in heat-race action and retired prior to the alphabet soup that followed.
James McFadden, Jamie Veal, Kerry Madsen, Cory Eliason, Marcus Dumesny, Tim Shaffer, Buddy Kofoid, Luke Dillon, Brooke Tatnell, Steven Lines, Peter Doukas, Brock Hallett, Shane Stewart, Mitchell Gee, Jack Lee, Ryan Jones, Scott Bogucki, David Murcott, Tim Kaeding, Brenten Farrer, Sam Walsh, Grant Anderson, Robbie Farr, Carson Macedo.