The VP Racing Fuels DIRTcar Sportsmans took to the Dirt Track at Charlotte Saturday night for the second Feature of the eighth annual World Short Track Championship. The divisions’ heavy hitters battled it out in the 30-lap, $4,000-to-win, showcase for a trip to Victory Lane.
DIRTcar Sportsman Series and Hoosier Tire champion Andrew Buff started the evening on the pole, joined by Salisbury, NC driver David Richer to his outside. Michael Wright and Chelsea, QC driver Cedric Gauvreau followed behind.
Buff took the lead at the drop of the green flag, with Richer following close behind. The Latham, NY driver stayed steady out in front, navigating the clear air as he has many times before. He approached lapped traffic on Lap 10, creating the need for some quick decision making in the 32-car field.
He wisely used all sides of the track to maneuver his way through the heavy traffic, once passing through the middle in between two cars. After eight laps of withstanding the obstacles, Buff’s luck ran out on Lap 18. His #92 machine collided with another car, bringing him to a full stop. Buff’s car sustained enough damage to force him to the sideline.
Richer moved into the lead position upon Buff’s exit with just 12 laps remaining, with Gauvreau joining him on the front row. Richer shot out in front on the following restart, inching closer and closer to his first event win.
But the bad luck was not to be relegated just to Buff. With five laps left, Richer came speeding down the backstretch, only to have his #318 machine come to almost a complete stop around Turn 3 with a blown motor. He exited the track with assistance, leaving the door open for another leader.
Gauvreau found himself in the hot seat of the lead, with two-time World Short Track Championship Feature winner Kevin Ridley in second, with a handful of laps between him and his first win. He fired hard on the restart, creating space between him and his competitors. He raced the final laps error free and cruised to his first World Short Track Championship win.
“(In the last several laps), I said I’m going to give my best to get to first,” Gauvreau said. “But (Richer) blew his motor…I was keeping some power for the end, but I was closing the gap. Unfortunately, he blew his motor. But it feels amazing (to win). We finally got a win at (The Dirt Track at) Charlotte and I think it’s the biggest win of our career. I’m really proud of it.”
Ridley held on for a respectable runner-up finish after starting in sixth place.
“I’m happy with my finish. It was a tough race out there. We wanted to get the win, but we’ll take what we can get.”
Michael Wright, making his second appearance at the event, accomplished his pre-race goal of a top-three finish.
“We tried a couple of small things with the car,” Wright said. “We didn’t want to change it too dramatically, and the car didn’t fire the best. We had fallen back to, I think sixth, but luckily when we got into lapped traffic the car got pretty good and we were able to pick a couple off. We had a couple of leaders break and we were able to hang on to third.”
David Rogers finished in fourth place and Ayden Cipriano finished in fifth place to round out the top five.
Feature (30 Laps): 1. 22C-Cedric Gauvreau; 2. 20X-Kevin Ridley; 3. 0-Michael Wright; 4. 44-David Rogers; 5. 5C-Ayden Cipriano; 6. 52-Jessica Power; 7. 49-Chris Jakubiak; 8. 35T-Cameron Tuttle; 9. 51-Kreg Crooker; 10. 35-Nelson Mason; 11. 29-Tanner Forbes; 12. 813-Jason Quenneville; 13. 44S-Gordon Smith; 14. 03-Joshua Jock; 15. 72-Ray Hall Jr; 16. 49M-Derrick McGrew; 17. 32C-Carter Crooker; 18. 32-Tom Princiotta; 19. 10-Chelsie Kriegisch; 20. 23-David Dickey; 21. 58-Logen Lockhart; 22. 73J-Troy Arnold; 23. 22S-Dane Hedlund; 24. 60X-Kinser Hill; 25. 73G-Gordon Hermanson Jr; 26. 7X-Chuck Miller; 27. 318-Dave Richer; 28. 16X-Savannah Laflair; 29. 92-Andrew Buff; 30. 284-Jamie Kamrowski; 31. 28J-Jacob Jordan; 32. 6W-Kyle Whitney