Story By: NORTHEAST LATE MODEL ALLIANCE – BRIGHTON, ONT – Brighton Speedway’s Charlie Sandercock won his second Vanderlaan Building Supplies NLMA championship in as many seasons, however the road to the championship in year two was much different than the inaugural season.
In the 2018 Sandercock swept the combined series races winning all 6 events, in 2019 he won the championship through consistency and without winning a single race on the combined tour schedule.
The NLMA point’s battle began early in the season while drivers would compete for home track points at one of the four NLMA member tracks prior to going head to head in the combined events. Sandercock did come out of the home track portion with a perfect 100 points entering the combined portion of the season. Chad Homan of Fulton Speedway also finished the home track portion of the points with 100 while Sam Pennachio was the top driver out of Humberstone with 98 points prior to the combined events.
The first combined series event would take place at Humberstone Speedway on June 30th with 27 Late Models filling the pits. Heat races were won by Homan and Kyle Sopaz of Fulton Speedway as well as Humberstone Native Rob Pietz. Pennachio and Sopaz lead the feature to green with Pennachio showing the way early on. Sandercock and David Pangrazio would make their way through traffic and with Sandercock taking over the lead from Pennachio until late in the race when Pangrazio made the pass for the lead for the final time. Sandercock would settle for second while Pennachio, Sopaz and John Pinsonneault would finish third through fifth respectively.
Race two would come one night later on July 1st at the famed Merrittville Speedway with 19 cars in attendance. Pietz and Sopaz would again take home a heat win along with Tim Gillespie of Humberstone Speedway. Sopaz would draw number one in the feature redraw to start pole alongside the winner from the night before David Pangrazio. Sopaz was on rails this night and would be challenged from time to time by Pangrazio and Pennachio but he would hold on for the win followed by Pangrazio, Pennachio, Sandercock and Pietz.
Combined event #3 would see the NLMA drivers head east to the neutral battle grounds of Cornwall Motor Speedway. Brighton Speedway’s Steve Baldwin and Sandercock would start on the pole position but the super racy track would see lots of movement throughout the field. Baldwin continued to pace the field while Sandercock would fall as far back as fifth place by the mid-point of the 35 lap event. Brighton Speedway’s Adam Nayler, Phil Potts, Austin King and Sopaz would all be in the mix as the race progressed along. A caution flag with four laps left for Potts would set up an epic battle to the finish as Sandercock and Sopaz would work the extreme high side to get by King and Nayler to battle Baldwin for the lead. Baldwin and Sandercock would battle side by side for the last two laps with Baldwin winning it at the line by a nose. Sandercock would finish second followed by Sopaz, Nayler and King.
From Cornwall it was on to Brighton for the annual Applefest Shootout featuring a double header of NLMA Events. Night one would see an NLMA record of 35 cars in attendance. On Friday night, Brighton’s Brandon Mowat looked like he was well on his way to scoring an Applefest victory as he dominated the majority of the 30-lap race. With four laps to go Fulton’s Chad Homan stole the lead and the driver from New York cruised to checkers. Sandercock would get by Mowat for second, while Andrew Hennessy picked up fourth and Baldwin fifth. For the $4,000.00 to win Great Crate Race the following night Austin King would get out to the early lead but on lap 13 Brighton Speedway’s Adam Turner would drive around the outside of King for the lead and never look back in the 50-lap event. Dale Caswell of Fulton Speedway did put on a heck of a challenge for Turner in the last 10 laps and it was all Turner could do to keep Caswell behind him with two to go. Turner used a lapped car to block Caswell as he came out of turn two and he would go on to win with Caswell runner-up, Pangrazio, Homan who drove from 17th starting position and Sandercock would come home 3rd through 5th.
The final event of the season would come at the Fulton Speedway for the Outlaw 200 weekend. Once again a great car count was on hand with 27 cars. Brighton Speedway regulars Steve Baldwin, Charlie Sandercock and Andrew Hennessy would take the heat wins. Sandercock would take the lead early and it looked like he and Hennessy had the field covered as the two teammates battled side by side for many of the 48 laps. However, with two laps to go Homan, who started 10th on the field had made his way past Hennessy for second and would chase down Sandercock in the final two circuits. On the last lap, last corner Homan would dive under an unsuspecting Sandercock and put a slide job on the #57 car coming out of turn four. Sandercock would counter by trying to drive underneath Homan to the line but come up just short as Homan would get the checkers by less than a nose to take his second series win of the season. Hennessy would come home third followed by Jimmy Johnson and Baldwin. The thrilling finish had fans on the edge of their seats and a fitting way to end the 2019 sophomore season for the NLMA.
With three 2nd place finishes and never finishing outside the top five Charlie Sandercock was able to secure his second championship in as many years and a points fund check for $3,500.00. An all over $12,500.00 will be distributed amongst the NLMA drivers for the year end points fund.