March 8 2021
Last weekend was the long awaited return of the Australian Stock Car Championship after a couple of months in off season mode.
Corey Gurney made a return in his Pontiac GTA after covid ruined 2020 plans and gone were the Petty colours and in its place were new sponsorship from McHitch Trailer Couplings and the GTA had a new paint scheme too.
Zac O’Hara, Robert Marchese, Danny Burgess, Michael Heppleston, Derrick Hocking and 2019 champion Brett Mitchell all returned and the series regulars were joined by Brett Morris, Greg Morris and John Angiolella.
Greg Morris got behind the wheel of the #97 Pontiac which used to be the #10 Pontiac back in the days when Stock Cars were racing at Calder Park Thunderdome.
Brett Morris’ #34 is in its late 1990’s colours with complete with past sponsors The Fireworks King and Vision, the look may be memorable to long time Australian Stock Car viewers as Russell Ingall won the Bathurst 100 in the #34.
Practice was drama filled as Brett Mitchell’s OzTruck got a little hot under the bonnet and Brett Morris and Danny Burgess got together in Practice 3 putting the #34 out of Saturday’s action whilst the #7 and #8 resumed with their weekend.
Corey Gurney qualified on Pole Position for Race 1, it was the first time that he had qualified for pole and fans were curious to see how he would go against Brett Mitchell who qualified second as OzTrucks have dominated the series in recent years over the Stock Cars, Invites and GTA’s.
It was an exciting race as Corey Gurney and Brett Mitchell battled for the lead as Corey set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:42.3303 but he was reeled in late in the race by Brett and Brett was the winner by under a second.
Seven seconds back were Danny Burgess and Robert Marchese who crossed the line just .3837 seconds apart giving spectators two close finishes in the one race with John Angiolella finishing fifth followed by Zac O’Hara and Michael Heppleston.
Derek Hocking’s race ended after two laps and Greg Morris’ debut seemingly ended after three laps with the #97 having a blown head gasket after an entertaining contest with Zac O’Hara in the battle of the Stock Cars.
While the #97 was out for the weekend, efforts to fix the #34 continued through the rest of Saturday to get the car ready for Sunday and they succeeded with Greg Morris shifting from the #97 to the #34 to race the last two races of the round.
Brett Mitchell started Race 2 the way he ended Race 1, in front but he was challenged by Corey Gurney and Robert Marchese with Robert nabbing fastest lap from Brett with a lap of 1:43.1037 which was less than 0.05 seconds ahead of Brett’s fastest lap.
Brett won the race by just over a second whilst second and third was a thriller as Corey Gurney held off a fast charging Robert Marchese by just .1241 seconds in what would of given photographers in attendance a great picture.
John Angiolella picked up another fifth place finish in his BMW, Derrick Hocking picked up sixth after his DNF in Race 1 and Greg Morris got the #34 Chevrolet home in 7th position.
Zac O’Hara’s weekend ended early with gearbox issues just two laps into the race depriving us all a contest between the #27 and the #34 but the good news is that there is plenty of more chances to come this year.
Brett Mitchell was now a chance at achieving a clean sweep of the weekend but the path to victory was not straightforward because Corey Gurney still had good speed, Robert Marchese was closing in on the front two and Danny Burgess was hanging around with a chance.
In a nutshell, the race was mostly likely one of the ASCC’s best in recent years, Brett was in front the whole way but new variable would come into play every lap.
Corey would do some good sectors or complete laps and become a threat, the next lap or sector it would be Robert Marchese’s turn to surge forward and then there was Danny Burgess who got past Corey and was running down Robert who in turn was closing in on Brett.
At one stage, Robert was just under .2 of a second away from taking the lead of the race before Brett extended his lead but there was more drama as Danny swept into second on the last lap, not bad for an OzTruck that took a hit in Practice 3 on Friday requiring repairs.
The fastest lap times of the leading four were not too far apart with less than half a second between them with Danny the fastest followed by Corey in second just ahead of Robert’s best time with Brett at the back of the four.
Danny – 1:44.1413
Corey – 1:44.3355
Robert – 1:44.3449
Brett – 1:44.6069
The season has started fantastically, it was even better than last year’s Burge vs Chilby battle that went down to the wire.
Two Cup cars made their ASCC debut and with the #1 Holden and the #41 Ford Thunderbird incoming, the Stock Car field could have as many as five regulars through the majority of the year with other car owners interested in joining in the fun.
The OzTruck domination was under threat and while Brett Mitchell won all three races, all three wins did not come easy as he had to earn each victory against three strong competitors who each had a chance of claiming a win.