Photos by Dale Calnan/ImageFactor Media
By Tommy Goudge (August 13, 2021) – Another busy weekend is coming up for Ontario’s Sprint Car teams. The Pinty’s Knights of Thunder 360 Sprint Car series is set to race on Friday at Merrittville Speedway, while the Crate Sprint Cars of the Action Sprint Tour Fueled by Pinty’s will race at Merrittville on Friday and Saturday. The Knights of Thunder drivers will have an extra challenge with Dylan Westbrook competing in the Glenn Styres Racing #0 car.
Merrittville has hosted a pair of combined KoT/AST events this season, and Jordan Poirier has taken both Knights of Thunder wins while Jacob Dykstra and Nick Sheridan have split the Action Sprint Tour wins. Poirier and Dykstra have matching records in their respective series, as Poirier has won four of five attempts and added a runner-up, and Dykstra has won three of four with a runner-up. Poirier and Dykstra both saw their win streaks snapped in their most recent events though, as DJ Christie won the KoT event at Southern Ontario Motor Speedway last Saturday, and Nick Sheridan won the AST event last Friday at Merrittville.
Dylan Westbrook has won twice on the ASCS National tour this season and also claimed his first Knoxville Raceway win in June. The three-time Ohsweken Speedway track champion and two-time SOS titlist will be a formidable foe for the Knights of Thunder series regulars on Friday; the 22-year-old also has four Merrittville wins on his resume.
Jordan Poirier has a 49 point cushion in the Knights of Thunder standings over Ryan Turner and Jim Huppunen who are tied for second. Aaron Turkey and Cory Turner round out the current top five, with Travis Cunningham, Josh Hansen, Tyler Rand, Jamie Turner, and Liam Martin holding top ten spots.
Jacob Dykstra holds a 39 point lead in the Action Sprint Tour standings, while Sheridan’s win moved him into a tie for second with Allan Downey. Lucas Smith is currently fourth, while Brett Stratford and Curtis Gartly are tied for fifth. Eric Gledhill moved up to seventh with his first career podium finish last Friday, while Jesse Costa, Rob Neely, and Dereck Lemyre hold the remaining spots in the top ten.
THEY SAID IT
Jim Huppunen and Jordan Poirier put on a show racing for the win at Merrittville in last Friday’s Knights of Thunder A-Main, and Huppunen is enjoying the additional opportunities this year to race at the track he grew up at.
“It’s definitely a cool experience to race more at Merrittville this year,” Huppunen told Knights of Thunder media this week. “I live seven minutes away, so the minimum travel is great! I grew up going to Merrittville every Saturday night, along with Humberstone and Ransomville. My old man was involved in racing since way before I was born, building and fixing cars for a number of competitors throughout the years, and my brother Tom had some success at Merrittville in the Sportsman division in the early 90’s before getting into Sprint Cars.”
The two-time Ohsweken Speedway track champion claimed his first Merrittville Sprint Car win in 2018, and enjoys the challenge of the D-shaped 1/3 mile track.
“Obviously getting a win a couple of years ago was special due to the history at the speedway,” Huppunen said. “I hope to get a few more before I hang up the helmet. I believe the track is challenging no matter what type of car you are in; it has a unique shape that is tricky to get a handle on. Obviously the Sprint Cars are the fastest cars that run on the track currently, so that makes for a challenge to run consistent fast laps. It is a fun and challenging track that I enjoy visiting; with the additional races there this year, it just helps our program all around and I look forward to the remaining races.”
Jacob Dykstra is another local racer who is enjoying the extra Merrittville races on this year’s schedule. The 18-year-old driver has won three of the nine Action Sprint Tour A-Mains run at Merrittville since the tour’s inception in 2018.
“I love racing at Merritville,” Dykstra told Knights of Thunder media. “It’s one of my home tracks that I have lots of laps around, and from a young age my dad has drilled into my brain to find the fastest way around; Merritville is just one of the tracks I can do that very well on. I’m a really aggressive racer (and) it just suits my driving style very well.”
Spectators ARE permitted at both events this weekend, and Merrittville’s party patio and private boxes are available along with grandstand tickets. The Hoosier Stock and Four Cylinder divisions will also be in action on Friday, while 358 Modifieds, Hoosier Stocks, Mod Lites, Four Cylinders, and V6’s are on the Saturday card. Visit www.merrittvillespeedway.com for more information.
GForceTV will be broadcasting live from Merrittville on Friday night, and Saturday’s action will be taped and uploaded for viewing on Sunday night. Visit www.gforcetv.net to catch all the action.
KNIGHTS OF THUNDER MEDIA
About the Pinty’s Knights of Thunder Sprint Car Series: Founded in 2021, the Knights of Thunder series is a traveling winged 360 Sprint Car tour based in Ontario, Canada. Each points-paying event on the 2021 schedule will pay a minimum of $2,000-to-win and $250-to-start, and selected events will be broadcast live on GForceTV. The championship winner will be rewarded with $5,000 and a Pinty’s VIP package for the 2022 Bristol Dirt Race, while 10th place in the championship standings will pay $1,000. The 2021 Knights of Thunder Sprint Car Series is made possible with the support of Pinty’s Delicious Foods, Corr/Pak Merchandising, Stoneridge Specialty Insurance, Hoosier Tire Canada, Burger Barn, Nitro 54 Variety, Strickland’s Brantford Chevrolet, and EPIC Racewear. Visit www.knightsofthunder.com for more information.
ACTION SPRINT TOUR MEDIA
About the Action Sprint Tour fueled by Pinty’s: Founded in 2018, the Action Sprint Tour is a traveling Winged Crate Sprint Car Series based in Ontario, Canada. Action Sprint Tour cars are powered by GM 602 crate engines modified specifically to fit a Sprint Car chassis. The championship winner will be rewarded with $5,000 and a Pinty’s VIP package for the 2022 Bristol Dirt Race, while 10th place in the championship standings will pay $1,000. The 2021 Action Sprint Tour is made possible with the support of Pinty’s Delicious Foods. Visit www.actionsprinttour.com for more information.
-Knights of Thunder 360 Sprint Car series – 2021 Season Round 6
-Action Sprint Tour Crate Sprint Car series – 2021 Season Rounds 5 & 6
-Friday, August 13 – Knights of Thunder and Action Sprint Tour @ Merrittville Speedway
-Saturday, August 14 – Action Sprint Tour @ Merrittville Speedway
2371 Merrittville Hwy
Thorold, ON L2V 3Y9