Pickens Wins Seventh 50 Lapper

Michael Pickens wins the World 50 Lap Classic.
Western Springs Speedway, World 50 Lap Classic, Auckland, New Zealand on the 5 January 2020. Copyright Photo: Jeremy Ward / www.shot360.co.nz

Michael Pickens produced one of the best drives of his storied career to win the World Midget 50 Lapper. On a night which began in eerie conditions due to the Australian bushfires, it finished with local delight on a track that retained plenty of moisture throughout the meeting. Time trials initiated the format, Kyle Larson setting quick time at 13.763 seconds followed by Pickens and the 2019 USAC Midget champion Tyler Courtney.

However, Larson was unable to capitalise, spinning in the A-Dash and handing the advantage to his adversaries. Pickens led the 24-strong field to the green for what was a caution filled, hectic opening stanza. Shayne Alach flipped on the original start and would quickly find himself part of an extensive gathering on the infield. We were down to 16 drivers from the original field when Logan Seavey made contact with Aaron Hodgson on lap 9. For his efforts Seavey was sent to the rear, effectively ending his race. The race would subsequently run 41 green flag laps uninterrupted to the finish.

Courtney and Pickens established themselves at the front of the field, rendering the race into a duel. While Larson came through the field to third, Pickens stalked Courtney, taking his chance just past half distance when Courtney was tempted by the higher line in pine tree bend. Courtney stayed within strike range but when Pickens made a series of passes through challenging lapped traffic, the race was won.

When Sleepy Tripp won his ninth 50 lapper in 1993/94 it was hard to envisage how any driver could possibly match that mark. Yet Pickens has now won this race seven times and the speedway world must contemplate the possibility that Tripp’s mark may be matched.

Earlier in the night Keaton Dahm took out an outstanding Sprintcar feature. Dahm led for the distance but behind him it was a race for the ages. Craig Dollansky and Jamie Larsen made forward runs from mid-field, the former retiring to the infield having made his way to the top five. Looking for back to back wins, Matthew Leversedge made a fine run and looked to have something for Dahm. Upon Leversedge showing his nose, Dahm changed lines to halt the progress Leversedge was making. The Cantabrian falling to third due to a late Daniel Eggleton pass.

The F2 Midget record book went tumbling in the third heat. Sam Cometti destroyed the 10-lap track record by an unfathomable six seconds and set a new single lap record in the same race. But even he couldn’t match Australian Tom Callaghan in the F2 feature. Callaghan was in a class of his own, finishing over four seconds ahead of Mike Driver and Leyton Kendall.

Ryan Baker bounced back from NZ title disappointment to take a commanding win in the TQ feature. His 15-lap time just half a second off Scott Bakers track record. Newly crowned 3nz Ben Morrison and rising star Troy Pennington filled the minor positions. Emerson Vincent was once again victorious in the quarter midgets, followed home by Bryce Pennington and Reagan Edwards.

Time Trials – Kyle Larson, Michael Pickens, Tyler Courtney, Hayden Williams, Logan Seavey
Semi Main – Jayden Worthington, Brett Jnr Morris, Travis Buckley, Breyton Davison, Hayden Guptill
B Dash – Kaidon Brown, Zach Daum, Zeb Wise, Brock Maskovich, James Earl
A Dash – Michael Pickens, Hayden Williams, Aaron Hodgson, Tyler Courtney, Kaidon Brown
50 Lapper – Michael Pickens, Tyler Courtney, Kyle Larson, Kaidon Brown, Zach Daum

Heat One – James Dahm, Brian Edwards, Dean Shadbolt, Tyler Radovan, Matthew Leversedge
Heat Two – Keaton Dahm, Steve Smith, Craig Dollansky, Dion Kendall, Daniel Eggleton
Heat Three – Dean Brindle, Jamie Larsen, Daniel Eggleton, Matthew Leversedge, Glen Torpey
Feature – Keaton Dahm, Daniel Eggleton, Matthew Leversedge, Dean Brindle, Jamie Larsen

F2 Midgets
Heat One – Kenny Roberts, Leyton Kendall, Corbin Anderson, Ben Matthews, Mike Driver
Heat Two – Jordan McDonnell, Ben Cometti, Daryl Webster, Adam Davis, Tom Callaghan
Heat Three – Sam Cometti, Tom Callaghan, Mike Driver, Ben Matthews, Brad Robertson
Feature – Tom Callaghan, Mike Driver, Leyton Kendall, Corbin Anderson, Ben Matthews

Heat One – Troy Pennington, Ben Morrison, Kaleb Currie, Liam McCoubrey, Scott Baker
Heat Two – Ryan Barry, Ryan Baker, Josh Melrose, Ben Morrison, Cole Morrison
Heat Three – Peter Hunnibell, Scott Baker, Ryan Baker, Kyle Glover, Cole Morrison
Feature – Ryan Baker, Ben Morrison, Troy Pennington, Ryan Barry, Scott Baker

Next Meeting Saturday Feb 01st.

Matthew Percival