Parker secures No. 2 plate with strong finishes in Leamington and Wheatley
September 4, 2009
Kawasaki Race Team's John Parker secured the overall No.2 plate in the Canadian Dirt Track Championship at the season's double-header finale on August 22/23 in Leamington and Wheatley respectively.
Fortunately the rain and stormy weather that plagued much of Southwestern and Southern Ontario on the weekend bypassed Leamington and Wheatley. On Saturday and Sunday night dirt track fans enjoyed a rock 'em sock 'em racing program as contenders battled for final positions in the CMA sanctioned points chase.
For veteran multi-time Dirt Track National Champion Parker it was business as usual. Although the No.1 plate was pretty well out of reach for him, he did what he had to do to secure runner-up position in the title hunt.
After the national in Belleville on August 8th, Parker had slipped from first in the points to third. Not a situation he was happy about.
"I knew it was going to be really tough to take the lead back from Don Taylor," said Parker. "But I was going to give it my best shot so that in a worst case scenario I would still finish in second place. It may not be number one but it sounds so much better than third."
When all was said and done, Parker nailed down third place in the 450 Pro division and second place in Open Pro; the combined points gave him second overall on the season. But don't go looking for Parker to sport the No.2 plate next year. Although he has the option to bolt the plate to his bikes, he is sticking with his lucky No.11 plate, one that has become his trademark on the Canadian dirt track circuit.
The penultimate and final showdown of the season proved to be a battle of the titans which included Parker, Taylor, Doug Lawrence, Colin Heggarty, Chris Evans, Mike Labelle and Scott Sehl. Lawrence and Heggarty, like Parker, were Kawasaki-mounted.
"Saturday was about maximum points, Sunday it was about strategy. By then I knew I couldn't unseat Taylor even if I won so I wanted to be sure I finished where I needed to in order to nail down second overall in the series," said Parker. "In Wheatley, Lawrence was my only concern. I had to make sure I kept him behind me."
On the half-mile track in Leamington Parker pulled out all the stops to snare second place in his 450 heat race and third in his Open heat race, which put him on the front row for both finals. In the 450 final, Parker nailed down the holeshot on his KX450 rocket and led for most of the race, but he had to settle for second at the finish line to Mike Labelle.
Parker also claimed the Open final holeshot, but he was passed by Taylor and then by Jon Cornwell. The two veterans slugged it out for rest of the race, with Parker having to bow to Cornwell, when the checkered flag was waved. Parker was the only rider in the top-five mounted on a single, with the others crossing the finish line powered by considerably more powerful V-twins.
"It would have been sweet to take the win, but I was happy with my results. They put in a good position to wrap up second place in the series the following night," said Parker. "My bikes ran great and did exactly what I wanted them to do. Nobody was taking any prisoners so second and third proved to be strong finishes."
In Wheatley, the dirt track combatants encountered a very rough quarter-mile track. It hardly resembled the oval they had run on some five weeks earlier. Undaunted, Parker put the end-of-season pressure and stress in neutral. On the track, however, he flicked through the gears and rocked the throttle to qualify fifth in the 450 class and take his heat win in the 600 Pro. Again he enjoyed front row starts in the finals.
The 450 final proved to be a routine race for Parker. He didn't take any chances nor did he push himself, knowing he still had to go out for the 600. A fourth place finish was his result, which still contributed nicely to his championship points collection. Saving the best for last he blasted off the line to take the 600 holeshot and led for a while until defending champ Taylor snuck by him. Parker then battled with American guest rider Jeremy Higgins, to whom he finished a close third at the checkered.
"I wanted to put on a good show for the fans, Kawasaki, and my other sponsors in the feature 600 class so I didn't beat myself up in the 450 final. I more or less cruised on safety to score the points I needed," said Parker. "I was determined to peg another holeshot in the 600, make sure I got on the podium, and collect the No.2 plate. I'm happy to say that when it was over I had fulfilled my mission. It was a good season for me. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all my sponsors, especially Kawasaki Canada. Without their support none of this would have been possible."
John would like to thank the following people for their continuing and loyal support: Len Shpeley, Jake Vanroon, Connie Vanroon, Dawn Parker; and his valued sponsors who help to make it all happen: Canadian Kawasaki, Inglis Cycle Centre, Scorpion Helmets, 26 Twenty Six Suspension, Hot Cams - Pivot Works, IM Leathers, Bickle Racing, Extreme Measures Kustom Paint, Saddlemen, Ron Wood Racing, A&A Racing