Melton’s Harley “Wild Child” Bishop continued his impressive return to the Speedcar ranks when he stood atop the podium for the second time this season at Portland’s Southern 500 Raceway on Saturday night, claiming round 5 of the VSDA Speedcar Series.
A small but ultra-competitive field fronted for the nights racing and the mighty Midgets sure didn’t disappoint with some entertaining side by side action they are known for.
Bishop was a standout from the outset as he blasted from P2 in the opening heat to take a commanding victory aboard the immaculate Mark Harrington owned Spike/Esslinger, Speedway Shop #S6. Lance McMinn had the headlights ablaze on the quad early on in the heat as nephew Justin (#V12) was on the loud pedal early taking to the highline which would give him a 2nd place finish and Ash Booker (#V59)worked over pole sitter Dillon Ghent (#V27) to come home in third. Nick Rowe driving the Boss Chassis #S7 had a brief moment with the wall in the middle of turn 1&2 but settled to show some good speed out of the Nissan V6 powered racer.
Heat 2 had NSW racer Matt Jackson & Queenslander Adam Wallis off the front row with Robert Heard aboard the ex-Dillon Motorsport #57 Breaka/Fontana and Rory Jackermis (#S45) from row 2. A spicy heat race with some heavy hitters deep in the field, the likes of Glen Shaw (V#72), McMinn, Rowe, Bishop & Booker all down near the back of the bus. Wallis would get the better of the start and scoot to the lead with Jackson, driving for club President Tim Fisher in the Indy Race Parts #V23 Spike hot on his heels.
On a narrow racing surface passing was at a premium and Bishop looped the #S6 at ¾ race distance trying to find a way through the field.
The re-start had the field bunched back up and Jackson hugged the pole line to perfection in search of some moisture but just missed on snatching the win from an impressive Wallis in the Boss Chassis Australia #Q89. Rowe got by Heard for third and Glen Shaw put in a good drive to get 4th at the fall of the flag.
The third and final heat had Bishop & Rowe lined up at the front of the pack and P2 showed yet again that it was prime real estate as Rowe took the early advantage. Bishop was in pursuit but couldn’t really make any inroads on the #S7 entry with Rowe driving a faultless race to the checkers. Home third was the Q89 of Wallis with Booker & McMinn locked in a race long battle for 4th & 5th respectively.
Feature race time and your grid had Rowe from the point, followed by Bishop, Wallis, Ghent, Booker, McMinn, Jackson, Heard, Jackermis & Nankiville.
Launching from the pole Nick Rowe broke the trend of outside row hole-shots and took the early lead with Bishop & Wallace racing hard for second. Justin McMinn was catching the eye early as he pursued with a higher line to find a way forward. While all eyes were on the front running pack Matt Jackson (#V23) was on the march, hugging the pole line and picking off cars lap after lap and was up to 5th within as many laps.
The battle for the race lead intensified as Bishop began to apply heat to leader Rowe and an impressive young Dillon Ghent did likewise to Adam Wallis before sneaking by for third position. Around mid-race, Bishop took the only opportunity that had presented and snuck down the inside of Rowe to take over the race lead. While the paint flakes were settling off the respective tyre manufactures logos, Jackson had now moved his way up to third when the yellows come on for a spinning Heard in turn 2.
Back under way and Bishop opened up his lead a little on route to Victory Lane before Jackson found his way through to second. Rowe capped off a good night with a third place finish, followed by Ghent in another stellar drive, Booker & Wallace who had a great 2 wide tussle for the closing laps and Heard rounded out the finishers.
With Matt Jackson taking the Permatex "Hard Charger" award for his 7th to 2nd drive in the feature.