Can Am

Willix Ends Winless Drought At Can-Am

With nearly 100 cars entered for Friday night’s event at Can-Am Speedway, fans were treated to exciting racing across six divisions.

The night started off with a 12-lap feature event for the Donath Motorworx Limited Sportsman. Keegan Nier would start on the front row for the event and began to author a dominating performance in the early laps. Behind the leader, Dylan Moore was looking great in his debut as he charged to second. Dustin Woods was right there to challenge from third.

Nier had a lead of nearly a full straightaway just past the halfway point. With the race going caution free, Keegan Nier would drive away to a half-track lead claiming the opening day win with Moore and Woods completing the podium.

A three-car spin in turn four on lap two was the only thing that slowed Dakota Sharp and his quest for his first-ever win in the FABCO DIRTCar Pro Stocks. Sharp jumped into the lead early with Kevin Fetterly Jr. and Burton Ward giving chase. Sharp had the car to beat, but charging through the field was Pete Stefanski.

The four-time DIRTcar Pro Stock Series champion, made his way into the top three just before halfway and would run down the race leader. Sharp continued to run the low lane with Stefanski in his tire tracks while behind them. Sid Harmer Jr. was making a late race charge and would be a factor at the finish.

With two laps to go, Sharp continued to lead, but Harmer was flying on the top lane. He stole second from Stefanski and would close quickly on the leader. However, Harmer would run out of time as Sharp brought it home for an emotional first career win. Harmer crossed in second with Stefanski crossing in third.

The 25-lap Whitesboro Plow Shop DIRTCar 358 Modified feature was a classic battle between some of the best in the history of the speedway. The 2019 track champion, Ryan Arbuthnot, led the way early over Taylor Caprara, Derek Webb, Scott Webb and six-time track champion Billy Dunn.

Arbuthnot had a solid car in the opening laps, but Caprara was not going away as he stayed close by in the number two spot, with Billy Dunn on the move. Dunn started sixth and would make his way to the top three by the halfway point, as the leaders entered traffic with Arbuthnot and Caprara continuing to show the way.

Lance Willix was also moving forward and would make some noise in the later stages. With 10 to go, Dunn was tired of running second and made a big move in traffic to take over the lead from Arbuthnot. At the same time, Willix moved to third over Taylor Caprara and Tim Fuller. Dunn appeared to have the better car, but on lap 22, Willix saw an opening in traffic in turn three and would grab the lead away.

From there, Willix would work the traffic perfectly and march on to his second ever Can-Am victory and first since July 31, 2020. Dunn came home second while Tim Fuller made a late race pass on Arbuthnot and Caprara to complete the top three.

Remington Hamm won his heat race early in the day and would lead the field of 31 Bob Johnson Auto Group DIRTCar Sportsman drivers to green with Ryan Shanahan and Gavin Eisle right there with him.

Hamm had a great car in the early laps but Ryan Shanahan was quick, as he put the pressure on for the race lead. On lap nine, Shanahan went to the top lane and would take over the lead with Gavin Eisle in the third spot, while Mike Fowler and Eric Nier both had strong top-five runs going. Once in the lead, Ryan Shanahan had the dominant car of the night as he drove away from Remington, Hamm and the rest of the field.

Behind them, defending track champion Tyler Corcoran was making some big moves late in the race. Corcoran would charge to third, using the outside lane, and would close in on Hamm for second. However, by this time, Ryan Shanahan had checked out on the field. In the end, after going winless last year, Ryan Shanahan would take care of business by scoring his first win in over a year at Can-Am.

Tyler Corcoran would barely edge out Hamm for second, with Fowler and Nier completing the top five. 

A solid field of Panther Frameworx 602 Crate Sprints took the green flag. Tucker Donath looked to be the driver to beat early on with Tiger Chapman and defending track champion Josh Verne Jr. completing the top three. Donath had a fast car but Verne, who had mechanical problems early in the night, would be a factor before the finish.

By lap nine, Verne had moved to second and was charging after Donath down the back stretch as the top two put on a great show for the fans. With five to go, Josh Verne Jr. would make the move on the top lane for the lead and go unchallenged the rest of the way, for his sixth career win in the division and first opening day win.

Donath and Chapman rounded out the top three.

The 15-lap Sundance Leisure Thundercar division closed out a great night of racing with a great finish. Francois White, who was pulling double duty in the Panther Frameworx 602 Sprint Car feature, would take the lead early. Damien Bechler and Steve Smith completed the top three spots.

A restart on lap six would see Bechler grab the lead briefly, but White was fast and was able to reclaim the number one position one lap later. White appeared to be in complete control but was showing signs of brake problems, as the rotors on his car were glowing, allowing Smith to close in.

Despite the glowing brake rotors, White would not be denied as he held on for the win — his first of the year and third win in the last four races, dating back to the end of the 2022 season. Steve Smith and Damien Bechler would complete the top three.