by Jon Brown, VICTORIA, British Columbia — In the blink of an eye, Scott Aumen set himself up for a great chance to win the fifth Daffodil Cup of his career Friday night.
Driving on his home track in the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series debut at Western Speedway, Aumen worked his way from the middle of the pack to win the 30-lap Denny Rand Memorial to kick off the 52nd annual Daffodil Cup.
Aumen was the night’s top qualifier, too, laying down a 13.74-second qualifying lap that was just .12 of a second off Randy Price’s track record. Because Friday’s race was the first at Western Speedway in the history of the WWS, Aumen was installed as the series record-holder for the 4/10th-mile, egg-shaped paved oval nestled in evergreen trees.
The Duncan, British Columbia driver already owns the record for most career Daffodil Cup wins with four, including last year’s two-day event. On Friday, he scored 90 points, and heads into Saturday’s finale with an eight-point lead over Middleton, Idaho’s Sierra Jackson.
The Daffodil Cup concludes Saturday with a 50-lap feature, which will be the ninth race of the WWS season.
Surprisingly, Aumen is looking more for consistency than a checkered flag Saturday night.
“I’m not really looking (for a win),” he said. “We want to try to go as fast as we can. I have confidence that the car is going to handle good.”
If he compiles enough points during the weekend, he’ll repeat as Daffodil Cup king.
Aumen flashed past Poulsbo, Wash., driver Randy DuBois with three laps remaining.
DuBois’s No. 7 racecar, which had found victory square twice earlier Friday, began to go away midway through the main event as a lead that once had been as large as seven seconds slowly slipped away.
“The car started picking up a push and I should have slowed down a little bit when it did,” DuBois said. “I just got out of the groove.”
DuBois had led from the start, which was disrupted when series points leader Johnny Giesler of Meridian, Idaho, spun in the apex of turns 3 and 4 on the first lap after Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia driver Jeff Bird ran into him while battling for position.
Giesler’s racecar was put out of commission, and the track safety crew had to drag his No. 23 sprintcar into the dirt beyond Turns 3 and 4 for the rest of the race.
Giesler entered the weekend with six main event wins in 2012. With Friday’s did-not-finish on the ledger, the 23-year-old lost more than half of his Western Winged Sprints series points. Jackson, who entered the weekend third in the standings and 65 points behind Giesler, leapfrogged No. 2 Bryan Warf of Meridian, Idaho (who didn’t make the trip) and landed in second place. She starts Saturday’s action just 30 points away from Giesler, her travel partner.
Jackson was runner-up to Aumen in Friday’s main after battling the Canadian all night long and making several runs at passes before and after he took the lead.
“He had a really good car. We both had good cars,” Jackson said. “I just got caught up there a couple of times.
“It’s a bummer what happened on the first lap. You hate to see that kind of thing happen on the first lap.”
Despite leading the feature race’s first 26 laps, DuBois couldn’t continue a dominant streak that began in one of the four-lap trophy dashes.
As the preliminary races unfolded, it appeared he and popular local driver Jeff Montgomery had found the secret to success on the 4/10th-mile egg-shaped paved oval. Both are no strangers to Western Speedway fans. Montgomery, a Canadian from Langford, British Columbia, and DuBois, a 10-year veteran of winged sprints, picked up wins in the trophy dashes and the heat races.
Montgomery kept up the local pride by winning the four-lap Trophy Dash A and then doubling his fun with a victory in the eight-lap first heat.
While he sat on the pole for the green flag and led all the way in the dash, the three-time Daffodil Cup champion drove into the lead from the second row at the start of the heat race.
Duncan, British Columbia driver Darren Yates tried to keep the pace on the opening lap, but Montgomery caught him by the time the two Canadians had hit Turn 4.
Montgomery built a three-second lead as Sierra Jackson and Yates battled for second place behind him. The lead grew to four seconds by the end of the race, and Jackson worked by Yates for the runner-up spot.
In Montgomery’s trophy dash victory, the only movement in the field came when Jackson moved past Scott Aumen and into third place on the opening lap.
Montgomery appeared to be lying in wait after his dash win.
“It seems when the track gets tighter, the car gets better,” Montgomery said.
The veteran driver was pleased with how he began what will be his only winged sprint outing on his home track this year. He also expressed optimism that with the emergence of the WWS winged sprintcar racing would continue to improve in western Canada and northwestern United States, including with more north-of-the-border appearances by American drivers.
“We try to get those guys to come over the ferry up here because we like to be them up on our home turf,” he said. “But they don’t want to come here because they get beat all the time.”
Montgomery anticipates a tough row to hoe if he expects to win his record-tying fourth Daffodil Cup, though. Aumen has twice as many points after Night 1. Montgomery is seventh overall with 44 points.
“There’s no garbage here,” he said. “There are six to eight cars in this field that can win it on any given night.”
DuBois, who took the ferry over from Poulsbo, Wash., led wire-to-wire in both his preliminary races victories.
In the eight-lap second heat, he and Giesler broke away from the field early.
Giesler could never catch the 52-year-old man who has a decade of seat time in winged sprintcars. Late in the race, Giesler did whittle away at DuBois’ lead, which had grown to two seconds.
Back in the field, Aumen and Matt Mansell of Victoria, British Columbia, jockeyed for position. Over the final couple laps, Aumen got the upper hand and wound up crossing the line third.
Dubois is quite familiar with Western Speedway’s egg-shaped oval.
“I’ve always enjoyed coming up here,” he said.
“My grandfather was a half-resident of Canada, and he taught me I live on the border of the two greatest countries in the world.”
Dubois was one of the slowest qualifiers to get into the trophy dash field, but he wouldn’t give up the advantage of the pole position once the four-lap race started.
Bird rebounded from a frustrating practice session and finished second in the dash after passing Yates on the first lap. As a car owner, he also watched his fortunes turn as Cam McLean drove Bird’s wingless sprintcar to a victory in the 30-lap WILROC main event. After leading early, McLean lost the lead only to find himself back in front when the two race leaders were sent to the back with about five laps remaining.
Dubois isn’t surprised in the least about the competition that the Western Winged Sprints series drivers have encountered in Victoria.
“It’s always a tough group of guys,” he said. “Whether it’s the guys that come in or the guys that are here, it’s a tough group, and the fans are awesome. So let’s have some fun.
Aumen ran the fastest qualifying lap of the first night. The four-time Cup winner flashed to a 13.74-second time on the first of his two laps. The time was 0.12 of a second off the Western Speedway track record of 13.62 established by Randy Price.
Local event sponsor P&R Western Star has put up a $500 prize for the first sprintcar driver to break Price’s track record.
Because this is the first visit for the Western Winged Sprints to Western Speedway, Aumen’s time becomes the series record for the Canadian short track.
Jackson was the only other driver to crack 13 seconds in qualifying, notching a 13.915 on her second lap.
Eleven of the 14 Western Winged Sprintcars in the pits were able to put down qualifying times. Three British Columbia drivers – Guy Barrett from Victoria; Chase Larson for Quesnel; and Duane Zeinstra from Black Creek – didn’t qualify. Barrett was busy changing engines in his No. 42 sprintcar, but was able to roll out for the first heat race. He finished fourth.
Zeinstra took the track for qualifying, but couldn’t get enough power out of his sputtering engine to take the green flag. But in the Old Timers Racing Association – one of Friday’s companion classes – Zeinstra picked up a pair of wins, including in the 25-lap main event.
The Daffodil Cup is one of the oldest open-wheel spectacles in western Canada. It started in 1961 when Edmonton, Alberta driver Eldon Rassmussen took home the Cup. Former Indianapolis 500 participants have tried their hand at the sprintcar showcase, including Idaho’s Davey Hamilton, Jim Malloy from Colorado and the late Billy Foster, who called Victoria home.
For more information about the Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series, including schedule, results and standings, visit www.wingedsprintcars.com.
More information on Western Speedway is available at www.westernspeedway.net.
Canadian-American Western Winged Sprintcars Series
Race No. 8
52nd annual Daffodil Cup
Victoria, British Columbia
Friday’s unofficial results
Denny Rand Memorial (30 laps) – 1. Scott Aumen, Duncan, British Columbia; 2. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 3. Randy DuBois, Poulsbo, Wash.; 4. Darren Yates, Duncan, British Columbia; 5. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah
Daffodil Cup standings after Night 1 – 1. Aumen 90 points; 2. Jackson, 82; 3. DuBois, 56; 4. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia, 55; 5. Darren Yates, Duncan, British Columbia, 51
Western Winged Sprintcar Series standings after Race 8 – 1. Johnny Giesler, Meridian, Idaho, 411 points; 2. Jackson, 381; 3. Bryan Warf, Meridian, Idaho, 345; 4. Andy Alberding, Roseburg, Ore., 309; 5. Burdett, 299
(Four laps each)
A Dash – 1. Jeff Montgomery, Langford, British Columbia; 2. Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia; 3. Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho; 4. Scott Aumen, Duncan, British Columbia
B Dash – 1. Randy DuBois, Poulsbo, Wash.; 2. Jeff Bird, Shawnigan Lake, British Columbia; 3. Darren Yates, Duncan, British Columbia; 4. Ryan Burdett, Salt Lake City, Utah
(Eight laps each)
Heat No. 1 – 1. Montgomery; 2. Jackson; 3. Yates; 4. Guy Barrett, Victoria, British Columbia; 5. Bird
Heat No. 2 – 1. DuBois; 2. Johnny Giesler, Meridian, Idaho; 3. Aumen; 4. Burdett; 5. Mansell
1. Aumen, 13.740 seconds (first lap)
2. Jackson, 13.915 (second lap)
3. Montgomery, 14.027 (second)
4. Mansell, 14.106 (second)
5. Giesler, 14.137 (second)
6. Bird, 14.140 (second)
7. Burdett, 14.212 (first)
8. Yates, 14.373 (second)
9. DuBois, 14.383 (first)
10. Ron Larson, Quesnel, British Columbia, 15.239 (first)
11. Wade Bland, Victoria, British Columbia, 16.294 (second)
Did not qualify – Barrett (engine); Chase Larson, Quesnel, British Columbia (rear end); Duane Zeinstra, Black Creek, British Columbia (engine)