Sheldon Haudenschild won the King's Challenge Thursday (Video Highlights from Clay-Per-View)
Sheldon Haudenschild became the first American to win the Kings Challenge at Borderline Speedway in more than a decade after a dominant drive on Thursday night.
After brake issues took out early leader Chase Randall, Haudenschild drove away from his rivals to win by a convincing 4.2s margin over Kerry Madsen in the A Main to charge towards the Grand Annual Classic with plenty of momentum, while Jy Corbet flew from 18th to third.
He is the first driver from the USA to win Mount Gambier’s biggest race since Jason Johnson back in 2012 and fifth American overall joining Phil Grossman, Donny Schatz, Daryl Pittman and Johnson.
Haudenschild was in a league of his own, being the only driver to clock a 12s lap during the 30-lap A Main and said he felt at home at Borderline.
“It is pretty crazy,” Haudenschild reacted when heard about breaking the drought.
“We had been struggling a little bit during the first swing here with getting my feet back wet and getting comfortable with the car.“There were also some oddball tracks we started at so I was excited to get here tonight on a normal track.
“It got slick, racing up against the wall so it was fun.”
Sheldon Haudenschild celebrates being crowned Kings Challenge winner. Image: Richard Hathaway Photography
It was an action packed night full of drama with major players tangling in the heats to favourites forced to fight back from the back foot in the 30-lap feature.
In qualifying the track got faster after each run with Brock Zearfoss, Carson Macedo, Chase Randall, Callum Williamson, Grant Anderson and Luke Dillon topping their respective time trial groups.
The fastest of all was Dillon, who posted a 10.631, a huge two tenths faster than the next best Haudenschild.No less than 12 heats entertained the crowd with Jordyn Charge, Macedo, Randall, Madsen, Grant Anderson, and Dillon the winners of the first six respectively.
The next set saw Australian champion Jock Goodyer taste success alongside Taylor Prosser, Jamie Bricknell, Randy Morgan, Brock Hallett and Ben Morris.
High drama occurred in heat 4 when behind winner Madsen big names Lachlan McHugh and American star Rico Abreu clashed.
The pair had completed the first lap and a half side by side fighting for third until they made wheel to wheel contact at turn 3, sending the 2021 Kings Challenge winner flipping into the catch fence.But there was no bigger victim than Matt Egel, who was unfortunately not only ruled out of the Kings Challenge, but also the entire Grand Annual Classic weekend due to the chassis damage inflicted from being hit in the top of the cage.
In the C Main Daniel Pestka gave his local Port McDonnell based team something to cheer about, while Goodyer blazed his way to an important B Main win over Jy Corbet and Matt Dumesny to secure their places in the main event, albeit forced to start at the rear end of the grid, which did not stop them from having an impact.
At the start of the 30-lap main event for the Kings Challenge crown, Randall led out of turn 1 but only briefly as Dillon got a great exit from the second left hander stormed into the lead up the back straight.
However, Dillon responded at the same part of the track a lap later as Madsen fended off Anderson and Haudenschild for third with poleman Anderson fading to fifth.There was also plenty of action deeper in the field with the likes of McFadden, Goodyer, Waters, Dumsney and many more fighting like crazy to get into the top 10.
Haudesnchild made good use of the high line to claw into the top three past Madsen as Randall opened up some breathing space on Dillon.
Kerry Madsen pushed hard to secure a strong second while Jy Corbet flew from 18th to third. Image: Richard Hathaway Photography
Before too long Dillon lost two spots in as many corners after being ganged up by the #USA25 and Madsen.
By lap 8 Haudenschild had already caught leader Randall and two laps later he swooped down the inside at turn 3.It appeared the #USA25 would be unbeatable but a small mistake clipping the wall on the exit of turn 2 allowed Randall to regain control.
The Americans continued their tense battle for the lead until the mid race caution arrived when some of the big chargers came unstuck.
Goodyer had started down in 17th but charged all the way up to seventh until he was wiped out in a big crash on the back straight.
Despite the slow start Anderson had held fifth until he found the fence on the exit of turn 2.
This sent the #V37 barrel rolling down the back straight and neither Goodyer or Carson Macedo could avoid the crashed car.Goodyer was out on the spot with the impact taking out his right rear, while Macedo was able to continue with a damaged wing.
To add to the drama Randall pulled into the infield and out of the lead during the caution with major brake issues.
This promoted Haudenschild to the lead with 16 to go with Madsen and Dillon in behind.
Despite having started 18th, Corbet climbed his way into the top five and would eventually snatch third away from Dillon after a thrilling battle where they exchanged places four times.
Up front Hadenschild had grown a comfortable caution but it almost all disappeared when he almost spun whilst trying to avoid the lapped Macedo.He enjoyed the remaining three laps untroubled to claim the Kings Challenge crown convincingly.
After a dramatic night in Mount Gambier, the sprintcar world heads across the border to Warrnambool’s Premier Speedway for the opening night of the 2024 Grand Annual Classic.
1. USA25-Sheldon Haudenschild
2. W2-Kerry Madsen
3. NQ10-Jy Corbet
4. W17-Cory Eliason
5. S81-Luke Dillon
6. D5-James McFadden
7. Q5-Brock Hallett
8. V35-Jamie Veal
9. S3-Ben Morris
10. USA99-Carson Macedo
11. N47-Marcus Dumesny
12. W3-Callum Williamson
13. V6-Cameron Waters
14. N57-Matt Dumesny
15. S20-Glen Sutherland
16. USA45-Riley Goodno
17. W95-Brock Zearfoss
18. USA9-Chase Randall
19. V37-Grant Anderson
20. A1-Jock Goodyer