2023 Round 35 Cup Results
Round 35 of the ANZCAR Cup season took us to the iconic Martinsville Speedway, and it was not just another race; it was the decisive Round 9 of the Chase, the last chance for drivers to secure their spot in the final four for the championship showdown in Phoenix.
The pressure was on for two chase drivers, Matthew Raymond and Jaie Schultz, both finding themselves in a must-win situation to keep their championship hopes alive.
Neil Pearson emerged as the pole-sitter for this crucial race, with his teammate, Andrew Dyson, locking in the other front-row spot. The second row featured Dave Douglas and Joshua Carroll-Walden, while Matthew Raymond and Ruben Phelps formed the third row on the grid.
As the green flag waved, Pearson made a strong start, opening a small gap ahead of Dyson.
However, his early lead was short-lived, as a slight wheel lock-up into a corner on lap 7 allowed Dyson to seize the opportunity and complete the pass.
The race strategy quickly came into play, with drivers needing to make at least one pit stop for fuel to ensure they could make it to the finish.
The first of four cautions in the race came out on lap 8, leading several drivers to opt for pit stops and creating a divergence in race strategies.
On lap 22, Pearson's car went for a spin after contact, prompting another caution. Fortunately, Pearson managed to keep his car straight and free from damage.
By lap 31, Schultz had worked his way up to second place, but it would prove to be the highest position he would hold all night. A poorly timed final caution combined with a speeding penalty would ultimately put Schultz two laps down, ending his hopes of making the final four.
After the restart, the race settled into a long green flag run, with drivers focused on their strategies and managing their tires. On lap 73, race leader Dyson decided to pit under green flag conditions, temporarily going two laps down in the process.
Dave Douglas assumed the lead during this stint, only to pit for service on lap 109, handing the lead to Joshua Carroll-Walden.
Pearson would make his move on lap 119, taking the lead as Carroll-Walden headed for pit lane.
A final caution on lap 133 shuffled the running order. Pearson opted for a two-tire pit stop, while Dyson and Douglas went for four.
Carroll-Walden took advantage of the lucky dog to regain his place on the lead lap, and the rest of the field used the wave-around to get back into contention, all hoping for another quick caution to shake up the race.
From the restart, Pearson's fresh tires provided the traction he needed, allowing him to pull away and secure the victory. Douglas managed to hold off Dyson for second place, while Carroll-Walden finished fourth, and Matthew Raymond brought home a respectable fifth.
With the conclusion of this race, the final four contenders for the 2023 ANZCAR Cup championship were set, and the stage is now set for a winner-takes-all showdown in the final race of the season at Phoenix.
The championship is within reach, and next week, it's all or nothing as the drivers prepare for 150 intense laps in the quest for the title.
Total Laps: 150
Cautions: 4 For 20 Laps
Lead Changes: 4
Lap 8 - Riley Curtis
Lap 17 - Ruben Phelps
Lap 23 - Ruben Phelps
Lap 132 - Lachlan Urquijo
Top 10 Finishers:
1: Neil Pearson
2: Dave Douglas
3: Andrew Dyson
4: Joshua Carroll-Walden
5: Matthew Raymond
6: Ruben Phelps
7: Riley Curtis
8: Norman Clark
9: Lachlan Urquijo
10: Brad Fenly