By Ken Plaetinck, Winnipeg, MB – Canada – After being held up for two weeks by poor track conditions caused by weather, the 2014 Red River Co-op Speedway racing season kicked off with some familiar trends. Five classes took to the dirt just south of Winnipeg on Thursday night for the start of the racing season at the speedway.
The goal for the management at the track was to give the fans a better experience from the minute they arrive at the gate, till the time they get into their cars to go home. Speedway G.M. Blair Bodley has brought in a new team over the last few years to try to achieve this goal. Last night fans and drivers got a taste of what’s in-store. Despite starting a few minutes late, Race Director Darren Pallen, managed to get the show started and then didn’t disappoint from that point on. Five race classes made their way around the dirt oval last night in great time. What I personally liked was that the staff and drivers have seemed to buy into this new system. Both the feature races and the heats had very little time delays, with only a few yellow flags throughout the night. One would think that being the first race of the season for some of these drivers, along with the first time the track has been driven on would lead to many more delays, but the drivers, officials, and management kept the show going in a timely fashion. From this writer, it was a treat to watch such a well executed show.
As for the racing it was a mixed bag for fans to watch, the Pure Stocks, Modifieds and Street Stocks gave them plenty to cheer about in the feature races. While the Super Trucks and Late Models seemed to spread out very quickly.
Last night’s race in the Late Model division looked a lot like a race from 2012. Ricky Weiss and his 7w made an appearance in his home town last night, much to the displeasure of his fellow drivers. Weiss, who is known as one of the best in the province, showed his skill and expertise in no time in both the heat race and then in the feature. Mike Balcaen, last years track champion, couldn’t get close to Weiss, but managed to climb a few spots to finish second. Steffan Snare and Bill Mooney rounded out the top 4.
In the Modifieds, Kevin Sexton, Scott Greer, Ward Imrie, and Danny Staff put on a clinic from start to finish in this one. Sexton looked great early on, however Staff, Imrie and Greer all managed to find a way to get around the cagey vet. Sexton started in the pole position but couldn’t hold on. Both Greer and Staff, who started the race in 5th and 6th spot respectively found the throttle and managed to sneak by Sexton after just a few laps. Imrie, who started in 4th kept hot on their heels throughout this entire race. Greer took the lead from the #57 car of Sexton and never looked back. Scott Greer would move up 4 spots to claim the first Modified win at Red River Coop Speedway for the 2014 season.
In the truck class it was a repeat of last year, Jamie Vernaus continued where he left off. After dominating at the speedway in 2013, Vernaus and the #2 Super Truck picked up their first speedway win of the year. Dustin Enns who was driving the #18, kept pace for a few laps, but fell off the leader board, finishing 9th. Young Shane Holden had a great evening, finishing 2nd in the feature.
Shawn Teunis, a former champion in the Street Stock class picked up his first win of 2014. While Les McRae who is driving the #9 Ford Pure Stock also picked up a win on Thursday.