Blenheim, Ontario — By Mike Bennett
South Buxton Raceway
It took Jim Dale Jr. three months to get to Victory Lane.
It took him about an hour to get back there again.
Dale Jr. enjoyed a double celebration in Victory Lane in front of a big crowd at South Buxton Raceway on Saturday night.
The Shrewsbury driver won the second leg of the UMP Late Model Summer Sizzler and $2,000 first-place prize.
Later in the night, Dale Jr. returned to Victory Lane as he won the Schinkel’s Gourmet Meat UMP Modified feature race.
“Go figure, I haven’t won one all year, then to win two in the same night …” Dale Jr. said with a huge smile.
Ironically, it was just over a year ago when Dale Jr. made South Buxton history as the first driver to win two features in the same night. He won both the Late Model and Modified features on mid-season championship night on July 5, 2008.
“To win a big Late Model race with Andrew (Reaume) and Chris (Ross) both here … by far it’s the biggest win of my career,” Dale Jr. said.
“The Modified … I was just way overdue,” he added.
Dale Jr. led twice for 15 laps of the 25-lap Summer Sizzler, holding off Wallaceburg’s Chris Ross in the final laps to post the improbable win.
Reaume, who won the first leg of the Summer Sizzler at Ohsweken Speedway on Friday night, twice lost the lead on Saturday because of cut tires.
The first incident happened on lap two, but he was able to make the tire change under caution, storm through the field and pass Dale Jr. for the lead on lap 14.
The second flat came with just three laps to go after contact with a lapped car. Reaume had to settle for a disappointing seventh-place finish, ending the Blenheim native’s streak of nine straight feature wins.
“When Drew sailed by me the first time, I thought, ‘second would be good,’ ” Dale Jr. said.
“Then when I saw him wobble in turn four the second time, I knew I had a shot.”
But Dale Jr. still had a fight on his hands with Ross, who races regularly on the Ohio Late Model circuit.
“I just tried to hold my line on the bottom. I figured on the last lap, he’d try a bonsai hammer down move around the top, but he didn’t do it, so I’m happy,” Dale Jr. said.
Ross felt like he had a couple of shots at Dale Jr. but said it wasn’t worth the risk.
“Not the way the track was,” he said, as rough conditions made passing an adventure.
“I didn’t want to take a chance at taking him out. I’m glad Jimmy won, he deserves it,” said Ross, who made track history of his own last September as the first Canadian to win the Castrol Late Model Shootout.
Ross, who was also second to Reaume on Friday, pocketed $3,500 over the two nights, earning $1,500 for each of his second-place finishes and the $500 bonus for the best two-night finish.
Joe Field of Chatham was third, Brett Reaume of Blenheim fourth and Kirk Hooker of Chatham fifth. Blenheim’s Tom Hazlett finished ninth.
On Friday at Ohsweken, Reaume also had to fend off a furious late-race challenge from Ross to win the first leg of the UMP Late Model Summer Sizzler.
Reaume started in the fourth row and took the lead from Ed Carley, of Freedom, N.Y., off a restart on lap three.
Ross moved into second when Carley’s motor blew with three laps to go.
A late-race caution set up a one-lap shootout as Reaume got a big jump on the restart and sailed away to win the $2,000 race.
“I didn’t need to see that caution,” Reaume told the Ohsweken audience, “ but it worked out, thank God.
“We’ve been struggling here the last couple of years but we worked with (Brian) Ruhlman this week and we finally got some things figured out. The car worked awesome. Brett Reaume finished third, Hooker fourth and Field fifth. Dale Jr. finished 13th.
In Saturday’s Modified feature, Dale Jr. took the lead from Belle River’s Mario Toniolo with six laps left and held off Rutherford’s Chris Van De Wiele in the closing laps for the win.
The feature win was Dale Jr.’s first checkered flag of the season in the Modifieds.