QSSS Round 11 - Hodges regains series lead

Darrell Hodges led all twenty five laps to win Round 11 of the Qld Sprintcar Summer ShootOut at Brisbane International Speedway on March 17 and with the aid of Round 11 being deemed a double points Round during the driver's briefing, regained a ...

Darrell Hodges led all twenty five laps to win Round 11 of the Qld Sprintcar Summer ShootOut at Brisbane International Speedway on March 17 and with the aid of Round 11 being deemed a double points Round during the driver's briefing, regained a share of the lead in the Series points chase for 2000/2001. Hodges (Valvoline Maxim) led home Darren Jensen (Serco Maxim) and Todd Wanless (ABC AutoGear Maxim) with Jensen's second placing putting him into a tie with Hodges on top of the points ladder with three Rounds remaining and Wanless' haul of points placing him well and truly back in contention for the Series crown for the third consecutive season.

It was a night of high drama at the Brisbane venue, with both Hodges and Stephen Bell incurring the wrath of the Stewards following some heated clashes during the running of the second qualifying race. A number of slow starts by pole-sitter Sherri Schaffer (ACE Fireworks Maxim) had the field rubbing wheels and crash bars when the green finally flew and the field were tightly bunched down the back chute into turn three. Bell's Speedflow Maxim pushed uptrack into the path of Hodges, sending him into the wall and tipping the #5 Maxim over. While the Stewards deliberated on penalties for the incident, Hodges' crew worked to repair the car in time for the restart, with Hodges taking the opportunity to express his thoughts to Bell from behind as the cars lined up again. When the green flag flew once more, Tony Bridge (AB Bridge Removalists Avenger) rode the rear wheel of Sherri Schaffer in turn one and flipped hard into the retaining fence, rendering Bridge momentarily unconcious in the car. Bridge emerged from his racer with the assistance of the crash crews, took no futher part in the night's program and is expected to seek a medical clearance before racing again this season.

Stephen Bell drove down low into turn one on the next start under Hodges who had run wide, with Hodges pinching the car back down looking for a way under Bell coming off of two. Bell got the car loose off the turn and Hodges tagged the back of Bell, sending him into a wild spin across the infield. Still hard on the throttle, Bell narrowly missed vehicles on the infield before spinning the car around again and coming to a stop back on the racetrack along the front straight. When pushed off again, he singled out Hodges for some treatment in retaliation of his view of events and it was this incident which saw the Chief Steward exclude both cars from the event. A meeting was convened following the race and the Stewards will keep a watchful eye over the pair during the next two Rounds of the Series.

On a night of racing Bell would surely prefer to forget, his woes continued in the night's Feature event when he spun in front of the field in turn one of the opening lap, setting off a chain reaction of events which ended in Nathan Macdonald upside down against the wall and the cars of Bell and Andrew Scheuerle on the infield and out of the race. Scheuerle (Lucas Oils Maxim) was left with nowhere to go but into Bell while Macdonald (RAAF-AIS MAC 1) was tipped upside down after Darren Jensen rode the right rear wheel of Clem Hoffmans (Hypermax Internet Avenger). Earlier Macdonald had scored his first 3x3 ShootOut victory of the season and timed in third fastest of the six cars which had qualified for the unique Dash format employed by the Series. On lap five the yellow lights were back on when Adam McKenzie spun after showing a good turn of speed holding down second place from Jensen, and yet again on lap eight when Greg Wright found the turn one wall in John Dean's Tognotti entry. Brent Kratzmann brought the race to a stop with ten circuits remaining when he brushed the wall coming off of turn two, rode the fence and flipped the Kratzmann Cars and Caravans Stealth end for end along the back straight. Brent emerged from the car unaided by the crash crews.

Hodges came under some pressure from Jensen while in lapped traffic and in sight of the white flag lap, narrowly holding on for his third win of the Series. Bell, due to the double points on offer and being credited with a 12th place finish has seen his Series lead evaporate but is sure to regroup before Round 12 at Toowoomba's Charlton Raceway on March 24 in a bid to win the crown in his Series debut

-QSSS

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