MCFADDEN WINS THE BATTLE BUT LINES WINS THE SPEEDWEEK WAR
Four-time and defending QSS World Series Sprintcars Champion, James McFadden has claimed his first win of the 2018-19 Championship, as Steven Lines placed third to secure his second Speedweek title at Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway.
Cory Eliason and Kerry Madsen were the quickest of their flights in qualifying, with Eliason claiming his second Revolution Racegear Quicktime of the week, while Lines and McFadden qualified second and fourth respectively in flight two.
Lines entered the night with a 60-point championship lead over Madsen with a further 55 points back to McFadden, forcing the Mount Gambian to race hard to secure his lead.
Madsen would open the night by driving from the inverted eighth spot on the grid to win heat one, firing a shot over the bough of Lines who would only finish eighth in his heat, while McFadden also struggled move forward placing seventh.
In round two, the tables were turned somewhat as Lines and McFadden claimed fourths, while Madsen could only manage seventh, reclosing the points gap.
For the second time in Speedweek, McFadden missed the Top 8 Shootout by just one spot, while Lines turned his seventh qualifying position into a front row start, advancing from the Bronze to the Gold Shootout, joining Eliason in discharging Madsen and Jamie Veal of their original lead row positions.
Emerging in the top five at various stages of every round of Speedweek, Eliason clearly proved that the Diamond Bay Motorsports #26 had the speed to win, and the fresh faced 27 year old launched hard at the start of the 35 lap feature event and worked hard to forget the misfortunes that saw him retire at Mount Gambier after contact while battling for the lead with Madsen, and then again at Avalon where he tore out the front end tagging an infield tyre while leading in the final stages of the race.
While Eliason controlled the top spot for the majority of the race, the top six remained intact for the first five laps until Madsen replaced Veal for fourth on lap six. Despite a host of attempts, the front runners line-up continued largely untouched until lap fourteen where David Murcott’s retirement brought on the caution lights, On the restart, Madsen passed Lines into second, and McFadden moved from ninth to fifth, with Tatnell retiring shortly after from a deflated left rear.
Slowly but surely McFadden used the highline to carve through the field, reaching fourth behind Madsen and Lines on lap 19, before both Lines and McFadden dislodged Madsen on lap 24. McFadden then claimed his second last scalp of Lines just two laps later, setting out after Eliason who had put in his quickest lap early in the race, and looked to be slightly fading in the closing stages.
With just three laps remaining, McFadden made the move on Eliason, claiming the lead all the way to the chequer, to become the fifth winner in five rounds and the American Racer Hard Charger award in the process, while Eliason held on for second and Lines sealing the Speedweek $10,000 title in third.
“Qualifying is what we really need to work on,” McFadden said, “because we’ve finished well with four top-fives this week, but we only made the shootout once, so if we can get better at the start of the night, I won’t have to work so hard at the end!”
Lines was equally jubilant, looking back on a week where he never finished outside the top six, sealing his second Speedweek title, and the overall series lead heading into the Australian Open.
“I’m just relived it’s all over to be honest! When Kerry got past me, I was doing all the sums in my head working out where I had to be to win Speedweek. But after I got past him, I was actually not too bothered when James passed me because I knew we’d done enough and I just wanted to hold my ground.”
After round five, Lines has garnered 1329 points, just 56 points clear of Madsen on 1273, and only a marginal gap of 11 marks to McFadden on 1262.
The series now heads to Brisbane’s Archerfield Speedway this Friday and Saturday for the 22nd running of the Australian Sprintcar Open with $20,000 first prize on offer.
Pic: Podium of McFadden, Eliason and Lines