The New Zealand sprint car team claimed victory after a tie-breaker decision in the two-race test series at Vodafone Speedway Western Springs last night.
New Zealand took a 19 points to 17 ;ead after the first race but Tony Stewart's Team USA equalised 19-17 in race two. The decision came down to the fastest lap which was scored by Kiwi champion Jamie Larson, 12.147s.
Micheal Pickens was lucky to escape a sprint car heat crash, which saw NASCAR star Stewart tangle and damage his car. Pickens started the 30 lap feature on pole, while Stewart had to race from near the back of the 20 car field. Pickens lead from the start and despite three race restarts went on to claim victory.
In an emotional interview after the race, Western Springs commentator Graham Standring, who is recognised as the most successful driver at the venue with over 100 feature wins, handed over his famous gold and diamond "100" ring to Pickens, who has surpassed the 100 race feature win mark.
The sprint cars head to Palmerston North on Wednesday night before returning to Western Springs next Saturday for the final of the test series.