This past Friday night, Brian Lonneville made one last strong, determined and daring maneuver to try to move past rival Alex Morris and steal victory in the final turns of the Street Stock headlining race at Ransomville Speedway.
While the maneuver did not work, the fact Lonneville would even entertain the option without worrying about playing it safe to preserve a good championship points day says a great deal about the strong and successful season he has enjoyed at Ransomville.
Coming into last Friday’s 20-lap affair, Lonneville, who is a two-time Street Stock race victor this season at Ransomville, held a virtually insurmountable lead of nearly 100 points in the Ransomville Street Stock championship points race.
Following a solid fifth place run Friday, Lonneville now holds a commanding 93-point edge over his closest pursuer, Brett Senek, with just two races remaining in he Ransomville Street Stock point campaign.
Simply, if Lonneville just takes the green flag in both of the remaining races, he will clinch the title.
“This year has definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Lonneville, 24, of Sanborn. “We have a brand new car this year that we’ve been building for the last couple of years, and we brought it out for this season and it’s been one heck of a machine.”
In the waning laps of last Friday’s race, Morris and Lonneville were having a serious two-car joust. On the last lap, as the pair entered Turn Three, Lonneville made one last attempt to get by Morris diving to the inside groove, but he could not hold his speed and did a 360 degree spin. With the top running cars somehow missing him, Lonneville righted his ship and sped to the finish line to record the fifth-place finish.
“I had two reasons to go for it like I did last Friday night,” said Lonneville. “First, it is correct that I have such a large lead in the points that I could afford to gamble and go for the win because I have such a big cushion.
“Also, I won the week before this past Friday so I was trying hard to get two wins in a row. For a lot of reasons, such as the race lineup handicapping, it’s hard to win two in a row at Ransomville in any division. It’s rare. The competition is tough to beat. I’m just glad when I went for broke on the last lap against Alex and spun in front of the field I didn’t get T-boned. I was lucky that I didn’t get hit and that I was able to get around to the fifth place run. After I got out of the car, I was just laughing.”
Lonneville began his racing career in the Street Stocks eight years ago and got a win in a 50-lap special during that rookie season. He considers 2010 to have been a pivotal year in his career.
“I started racing when I was 17,” said Lonneville, who drives the Andy’s Tree Service 1988 Monte Carlo. “I’ve improved as a driver. When I first started, I had a lot of accidents and was always straightening out a lot of fenders and body panels. But I have a lot more experience now, not just with the driving, but with the car set-ups. You need a lot of knowledge with these cars.
“I guess 2010, which was my fourth season, was a big turning point in my career because I got more competitive. I got two wins that year and placed third in the points. In 2011 and 2012 I didn’t race full time because I was going to college at SUNY Fredonia. I came back full time last year and was third in points just like 2010.”
Lonneville had raced the Street Stock car that he started with for the first seven years of his career before enjoying his new car this season. He is grateful to his crew chief and father, Keith, and pit crew members Mike Stahl and Rob Shugarts.
His immediate goal in racing over the next few weeks is to lock-up the Ransomville championship and then win the King of the Hill 100 at Ransomville on Sept. 13.
“I missed a chance to win two races in a row last week, but last year I won the King of The Hill 100 so I guess if I can win two King of the Hill 100’s that would be even harder to do, so that would make it much better,” said Lonneville.
• Shane Clanton dominated the 30-lap Super Late Model feature race this past Sunday evening at Little Valley Speedway. Following an early race restart, Clanton dove under both Dick Barton and Dan Stone in Turn Two and it was lights out for the rest of the field over the remaining distance.
“Barton slipped getting in on that restart there, left the bottom open, and I just took advantage of it,” said Clanton, who drives for car owner Ron Davies, his father-in-law.
• Word came that Pete Cosco, the owner and promoter at Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne, Ont., died unexpectedly Wednesday due to complications from a brain aneurysm. No other details were available. Cosco was 60.