Expect the Best Pairs format for Hawke's Bay's Krusty 500 stockcar event to be abolished in future but host track driver Zayne Pullan wasn't complaining on Saturday night.
It was the fifth edition of the Thirsty Whale-sponsored event raced in memory of track commentator Mike Wilson's son, Christopher John "Krusty" Keane who died in Australia in 2015. The previous four editions, which used the single entry format, produced more carnage than Saturday night's tame affair.
First season Hawke's Bay driver Pullan, a 21-year-old apprentice engineer with Red Steel, combined with Whanganui's Callum Sturzaker, to win the $3000 first prize in the 23-pair event. Points recorded in the final by each of the 15 pairs who qualified for the 15-lap final determined the winners.
Sturzaker, who started ministock racing in the 2013-14 season and celebrated his first year in the stockcar ranks in 2018 with the West Coast championship title and a second placing in the Meeanee-hosted North Island championship finished third from grid two while Pullan produced an outstanding incident-free drive to finish seventh from grid 29.
"It's been an awesome night. I just hit Callum up to see if he was keen to race and he was happy to make the trip over. I'm spending my share of the money on a new diff I had to get earlier in the season," Pullan explained.
"I can't wait for more meetings this season and future meetings including the nationals here at Meeanee next season," he added.
Although there was $500 rollover money up for grabs this wasn't claimed until the fifth race for the class. It was shared by Palmerston North's Tony Norman and Whanganui's Kaelin Mooney who combined to roll Norman's host track partner David Glassford.
Hawke's Bay's Regan Penn and Palmerston North's Jamie Tinetti captured the $1000 second prize after Penn took line honours in their first across the line run off with Hawke's Bay's Ben Milne and Gisborne's Ben Holt. Penn almost rolled Milne after smashing him into the wall and Holt almost got Penn before he raced off to secure the chequered flag.
Hawke's Bay's Steven Martin won the 17-car Hawke's Bay saloon championship. With two wins and a second placing Martin finished seven points ahead of Palmerston North's Ashley Halcrow.
A further three points behind Halcrow were the Palmerston North-contracted pair of Shane Laking and Ashley O'Dowd and Laking triumphed in their run off.
Martin's second placing from grid 11 in heat two and win from grid 10 in heat three were the keys to his comfortable title win.
With two wins and a third placing Hawke's Bay's 2019 North Island champion Denton Hodgkinson won the 11-car East Coast production saloon championship by two points from regular Whanganui visitor Antonio McKay. Whanganui's Brent Hackett was a further three points back in third place.
Hodgkinson won the first heat from grid 10, the second from grid five and knowing a third place from grid three would be enough in his final heat he produced a composed drive for the title.
Sidecars and ministocks provided the support class action. Hawke's Bay's Andrew McNamara celebrated his first outing of the season with three wins and a second placing when he teamed up with swinger George Olsen in a the seven-crew sidecar class.
Hawke's Bay's two-time national champion Russell Stuart, who finished second at the previous weekend's Gisborne-hosted national championship with now retired swinger Andrew Parker won the other heat with the Bay's Kerry Johnson as his passenger.
Stuart and Johnson also collected two second placings. Stuart pointed out while Parker had retired he will continue racing but only to train swingers new to the sport.
The Hawke's Bay trio of Tylar Flynn, Karlin Painter-Dudley and Bailey Smith along with Kihikihi visitor Regan Tyler all had wins in the 26-strong ministock class.
Hawke's Bay's Henry Steel did well to post a 20.26s lap on lap eight of the third heat in which he finished second to Smith.