The high-speed thrills of the inaugural Riskon360! Open Wheel Showdown continued Friday night with Winged Sprint Car time trials, heat races, and the fast dash. Litchfield, Michigan’s Jason Blonde stormed to a new track record at 11.629 seconds / 116.089 miles per hour before Langley, British Columbia, Canada’s Aaron Willison snagged the dash win and the pole for Saturday’s $50,000 to win feature.
“Well it’s really an honor. Look at the field of cars we have here today. So many incredible cars and incredible drivers. I’m honored to be out front and lead this historic race to green,” Willison said. “Going to have to get through the first 50 laps nice and clean without beating our stuff up. I think you’re going to really start to see people get after it in the second half of the hundred laps.”
Blonde’s qualifying effort opened official competition for the three-division Open Wheel spectacular, paying a record $250,000 in prize money for Winged Sprint Cars, Midgets, and Speed Tour Super Modifieds. The fast-time itself paid $1000 courtesy of Dave Parrie.
“It feels pretty awesome (to set the track record). Hats off to the Dick Meyers 50m Ram Engineering team,” Blonde said. “Man I tell you, it’s a fast car. Proud to be in it.”
Six Winged Sprint Car heat races followed for 12-laps each, advancing the top-three of each directly into Saturday’s championship feature. Blonde paced the field from the pole in the opening race. Aaron Pierce reeled him in before spinning into a smokey slide on the exit of turn two. Blonde paced the final laps for the victory while Pierce recovered to finish fourth for a B-Main appearance on Saturday night.
Bobby Santos of Franklin, Mass. won the second heat race from the pole over London, Ontario, Canada’s Ryan Litt. Langley, British Columbia’s Jeff Montgomery rode over the front wheels of Idaho’s Mike Murgoitio at the start of the third heat race. The race was completely restarted with Montgomery outfoxing Murgoitio for the victory.
Willison and Davey Hamilton, Jr. of Tampa, Florida staged a thrilling display of battling in their heat race. Willison fended off a three-wide maneuver from Hamilton in traffic to win the race from the outside pole position.
Eric Humphries of Fresno and Tacoma, Wash.’s Evan Margeson rounded out the heat race victors. A redraw of the heat race winners set the dash lineup, with Willison drawing pole alongside Montgomery.
Willison paced all 10-laps of the non-stop dash which will place him on the pole for Saturday’s championship finale.
In other action, brothers Tanner and Kody Swanson traded spots at the top of the practice leaderboard in the Midgets while Davey Hamilton, Sr., Bryan Warf, and Dave Danzer continued to be the top drivers in the Speed Tour Super Modified practices.
All three divisions will stage main events on Saturday night along with C- and B-Mains for the Winged Sprint Cars and qualifying for the Midgets and Sprint Cars. Grandstands open at 12:30pm for on track action. Opening ceremonies are set for 3:30pm with feature racing to follow. Tickets are available at the gate as well as all-access pit passes. Speed Sport TV provides live pay-per-view streaming coverage as well.
Race fans can learn more about the Open Wheel Showdown at www.OpenWheelShowdown.com or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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