Jim Dale Jr. wins fourth straight at South Buxton Raceway
Jim Dale Jr. in Victory Lane, with the night’s sponsor Doug Tope of Midas Auto Service Experts in Chatham. Jim Dale Jr. certainly had the Midas Touch in August, winning all four UMP Modified feature races in the month - James MacDonald Photo
By Mike Bennett – Special to the Daily Post
Jim Dale Jr. put an exclamation mark on a perfect August by winning his fourth straight feature race and wrapping up the points championship in the Schinkel’s Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.
“Never,” Dale Jr. answered, when asked if he had ever experienced a run like his four-for-four feature win streak. He also won a feature in the UMP Late Models giving him five in total for the month.
“It’s hard enough to win two in a row, let alone four.
“But if we don’t win that one in September, then four in a row in August means nothing,” he said, looking ahead to this Saturday’s season championship race.
Dale Jr. went into the night with a 79-point lead over second-place Chris Van De Wiele. All he needed to clinch his six career points championship was to come out of Saturday with a 31-point lead. Unofficially, he increased his lead to 123 points.
Dale Jr. collected 102 out of a possible 105 points Saturday as he also won his heat race and finished fourth in the pursuit. Richard Ainsworth, who was subbing for Van De Wiele, was eighth in the feature, sixth in the heat and ninth in the pursuit. The 58 points he earned go to Van De Wiele’s totals.
Dale Jr. won the Pro Stock/IMCA Modified points title in 1993 when the two classes ran as one. He won Modified crowns in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2004.
“It’s big, it something I really wanted this year … not just for me, but for Bunky,” Dale Jr. said, referring to long time car chief and mentor Brent Gibbons.
“He’s going to retire some day, so I wanted to give him one more.”
Gibbons is a five-time track champion himself while driving the famous No. 39 Hallmark Flyer, including four Late Model titles in a row from 1981-84.
Dale Jr. started in the fourth row in Saturday’s 20-lap feature and passed LaSalle’s Mike Demars for the lead on lap seven.
A late caution erased his half-lap lead, setting up a green-white-checker finish, but Chatham’s Joe Field couldn’t do anything with Dale Jr. on the final two laps. Field settled for a second-place finish after his heat and pursuit wins earlier in the night.
Demars finished third, followed by Woodslee’s Clayton Smith and Belle River’s Mario Toniolo, the only cars that finished on the lead lap.
Dale Jr. also has six season championship race victories on his resume, the last coming in 2004.
He’ll have two chances to increase his championship race victory total as Dale Jr. also drives in the Ultimate Sandblasting & Coatings UMP Late Models.
Dale Jr., who finished second in Saturday’s feature behind Chatham’s Brad Authier, won features in both classes on the same night on Aug. 1 as well as Mid-Season championship night in 2008.
For the month of August in his two cars, Dale Jr. had five wins, two second-place finishes and an eighth in eight feature races. And in his eighth-place finish, he was battling for second when he crashed with six laps to go in the Aug. 23 Late Model feature.
Authier led all 25 laps on Saturday to post his third feature win of the season. Dale Jr. and third-place Dale Glassford of Thamesville were the only cars on the lead lap.
It was redemption for Authier, who one week earlier led the first 19 laps but spun out after a restart, allowing Chatham’s Kirk Hooker to get by and collect the feature win.
“We let one get away last week, but it’s a wonder we even finished that race as good as we did,” he said of his fifth-place finish, as the car suffered serious damage in a heat race earlier in the night.
“We didn’t know how bad until we got it back home up on the hoists … it was bent up pretty good.
“But we worked all week and got the car back together … it was sweet tonight,” he said.
Authier moved into second place in the points standings but still trails Glassford unofficially by 23 points with just the heat and pursuit races to determine the championship. The most points a driver can collect by winning both races is 30.
Authier is a six-time points champion at South Buxton, including a stretch of four in a row from 1997-2000.
Chatham’s Louis Clements clinched a points championship on Saturday despite not starting his feature race.
Clements, who carried a commanding 84-point lead into the night, scratched from the Sun Parlour Trailers Sport Stocks feature after breaking the rear-end housing in the pursuit.
He still emerged with an unofficial 56-point advantage over Wallaceburg’s Gary Vyse to clinch his second straight points title.
Doris Lajeunesse of Essex led the final 17 laps and survived a frantic green-white-checker finish to win his first career Sport Stocks feature victory.
The Four Seasons Driver Education Comp 4s also had a first-time feature winner.
Seventeen-year-old Shawn Jones of Blenheim held off challenges from several of the class’s more experienced veterans to lead all 15 laps and collect his first feature win.
Reid Fenton, 16 of Blenheim, finished second, one week after having a feature win taken away because of an illegal carburetor.
Defending series points champion Nate McNally moved to within 13 points of leader Brandon Windsor of Leamington heading into this Saturday’s final points night.
Championship races in all four classes take place this Saturday.
South Buxton will close its 2009 season with the Castrol Canadian UMP Late Model Shootout/Advantage Warehouse UMP Modified Blowout on Sept. 26