Bland Wins Thrifty Foods 150 at Saratoga

saratoga speedway

By Fred Rannard, Jr.

Wade Bland of Victoria, BC executed a perfect pass around Tom Berrow, in heavy traffic, with just three laps to go to win the Thrifty Foods 150 at Saratoga Speedway last Saturday night. The event, run on a warm summer evening and in front of a huge crowd, was race number two of the season for the ASA Advance Testing BC Late Model Tour.

The 28 year old Bland, driving the OK Tire of Saanichton-Metal Supermarkets-C1 Contractors Ford Fusion, had only raced at the central Vancouver Island track once before, as an eight year old boy, in a go kart. It was a heartbreaking loss for Berrow, as the former three time Langley Speedway champion had led the race since lap 39 of the 150 lap marathon.

The race came down to a 41 lap shootout between Berrow and Bland, after the race’s only red flag appeared, when Dave Hemrich crashed violently down the front stretch on a lap 109 double file restart. Hemrich was running in third place at the time and fortunately he was not injured.

Without any lapped traffic to deal with, Berrow appeared to have things under control until with five laps to go when the two leaders approached the heavy, lapped traffic. As they exited turn two Bland made his move to the high side as Berrow was slowed by the lapped cars on the inside. Bland took the lead and by the time they had cleared the other cars the white flag was waving and Berrow didn’t have time to try and regain the top spot.

Bland went on to win his first series race ahead of Coquitlam’s Berrow and Victoria’s Rory Smith, who was the only other car on the lead lap. Tyler Clough and Brandon Carlson rounded out the top five and were both one lap down at the checkered .

The race was slowed seven times by yellow flags that eliminated a number of the top contenders including Geoff Morris, Brent Morris and Bart Smith, who was running second up until lap 90.

Brent Morris was the fastest of the 15 qualifiers at 15.736, with heat race wins going to Rory Smith and Aaron Wilkie. Clough and Berrow won the two, four lap trophy dashes.

Berrow was the top points driver of the night through time trials, heat races and the main event. He is now the new series point leader for 2012 ahead of Bland, Hemrich, Tom Garnett and Geoff Morris.

Next up for the ASA Advance Testing BC Late Model Tour is the annual Gordie Mannes Memorial race at Penticton Speedway on Saturday and Sunday August 4th and 5th.

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Fast time: Brent Morris 15.736

B Dash: (4 laps) Tyler Clough, Rory Smith, Nik Wiesselmann, Rob Angus

A Dash: (4 laps) Tom Berrow, Geoff Morris, Dave Hemrich, Brent Morris

Heat 1: (10 laps) Rory Smith, Nik Wiesselmann, Rob Angus, Tom Garnett, TJ Cassidy, Brad Purdy, Tyler Clough.

Heat 2: (10 laps) Aaron Wilkie, Geoff Morris, Tom Berrow, Bart Smith, Wade Bland, Brandon Carlson, Brent Morris, Dave Hemrich.

Feature: (150 laps) Bland, Berrow, Rory Smith, Clough, Carlson, Wilkie, Wiesselmann, Garnett, Cassidy, Geoff Morris, Brent Morris, Hemrich, Bart Smith, Purdy, Angus.

Lap leaders: Rory Smith (1-5) Tyler Clough (6-30) Rory Smith (31-38) Tom Berrow (39-147) Wade Bland (148-150)

Red flags: One

Yellow flags: Seven

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.