Home | Divisions | Late Models | Jim Dale Jr. claims 3rd Straight DIRTcar UMP Modified feature as Kirk Hooker Get South Buxton UMP Late Model win

Jim Dale Jr. claims 3rd Straight DIRTcar UMP Modified feature as Kirk Hooker Get South Buxton UMP Late Model win

Jim Dale, Jr.
Jim Dale, Jr.

South Buxton, Ont. — Mike Bennett

South Buxton Raceway Public Relations

SOUTH BUXTON, Ont. ‑ Shrewsbury’s Jim Dale Jr. remains perfect in August as he won his third straight Schinkel’s Gourmet Meats UMP Modified feature race on Saturday night at South Buxton Raceway.

Meanwhile, Chatham’s Kirk Hooker ended a two-year famine by winning his first Ultimate Sandblasting & Coatings UMP Late Models feature since June 30, 2007.

Dale Jr. started in the fourth row and patiently worked his way to the front in the Modified 20-lap feature. He moved into the top three on lap seven, where he had a good view of the battle for the lead between LaSalle’s Mike Demars and Rutherford’s Chris Van De Wiele.

Dale passed both of the front runners on lap 14 and drove away to a half-track margin of victory.

“The car’s perfect,” Dale Jr. described his ride. “I’d go mid-track, turn the car (into the corner) and it’d go right to the bottom and out every time. It’s been this way three weeks in a row … the car is just awesome.”

Demers was able to hold on to the second position until he got turned around in turn four on the final lap and got passed by the entire field. His best run of the season turned into a ninth-place finish.

Van De Wiele wound up finishing second, followed by Woodslee’s Clayton Smith, Belle River’s Mario Toniolo and Merlin’s Brad McLeod.

His feature win and second-place finish to Demars in the heat race – coupled with Van De Wiele’s DNS in the heat – will help Dale Jr. pad his points lead. He went into the night with a 56-point advantage.

“If everything keeps goes like it’s been going, we should be fine,” Dale Jr. said of his quest for a sixth career points championship.

Hooker, naturally, was a little more animated after his feature win

“Man … it feels great to finally get this monkey off my back!” he declared.

That monkey was more like King Kong for Hooker, who suffered through the longest winless drought of his 24-year racing career at his home track.

Kirk Hooker
Kirk Hooker

He appeared to be headed for another bridesmaid finish as Chatham’s Brad Authier dominated the first 19 laps before hitting a rut coming out of turn two on a restart.

“I thought, ‘I’m gonna win this son-of-a …’” Hooker said to himself as he passed the spinning Authier to take the lead with five laps to go.

“A couple of weeks ago I threw one away,” he reflected back to July 4 when he missed a restart with two laps to go while leading, allowing Authier to make the pass and go on to the victory.

“But I know this car is good enough to win.”

Hooker’s biggest challenge was holding off Dale Jr. for second, a battle that ended when Dale Jr. hit one of the apron tires and crashed into the front stretch on lap 19, bringing out the caution that set up Hooker’s pass for the lead.

Kirk Hooker
Kirk Hooker

“I think I was a little bit faster than Kirk, but I probably should have waited a couple more laps to make that move,” said Dale Jr., who runs both the Late Model and Modified classes.

“I was committed to the bottom and Kirk was holding his line. I hit the tire instead of Kirk,” said Dale Jr., who had a win and two second-place finishes in the last three features but wound up eighth with Saturday’s DNF.

Hooker was able to catch Authier in the corners but didn’t think he’d be able to make a clean pass.

“Me and Brad have been racing a long time and there’s been some bad blood between us some nights …” said Hooker, adding he didn’t want to dump his rival to take the lead.

“But,” he paused with a smile, “if it would have come down to the last lap, someone would have ended up in the rhubarb.”

A second caution came out two laps after Hooker took the lead but he was able to hold off Blenheim’s Brett Reaume over the final four circuits to secure the win.

Wallaceburg’s Mike Lewis had a season best third-place finish while Thamesville’s Dale Glassford was able to take fourth away from Authier in a heated final lap.

In his Victory Lane speech, Hooker said ending his feature famine at South Buxton meant more than his recent back-to-back wins on the pavement at Delaware Speedway.

“This is home, this will always be home,” he said of South Buxton.

“I’ll be 70 years old with a cane and I’ll still be out here every Saturday.

“The fans, the promoter (Scott Mihalco) all make it good for us to come here,” Hooker said.

There are two weeks remaining in the regular season at South Buxton, climaxed by Championship Night on Saturday, Sept.5.

Meanwhile, American drivers interested in racing in South Buxton’s annual UMP Late Model Shootout/UMP Modified Fall Blowout on Sept. 26 are asked to visit www.southbuxtonraceway.com for important details regarding the event.

Drivers who intend on participating in this year’s Shootout/Blowout need to reply by Aug. 31 by filling out the information sheet on South Buxton’s home page.