By Jim Clarke, Clarke Motorsports Communications/First Draft Media

It was only a matter of time.

With his car performing strong and fast and his crew dialed in, Bryan Mercer was bound to find his way to victory lane during the 2021 season. The question of when was answered Saturday night at Peterborough Speedway.

After a heat race win and second place finish during qualifying, the No. 81 team started the Late Model feature event from the inside of the front row.

From the drop of the green flag Mercer was in total control of the field. Running quick, consistent laps he was able to pull away from traffic and caught the tail-end of the pack with 15 laps on the scoreboard.

The only time his pace was slowed came when Dan McHattie — who was running second at the time — coasted to a stop between the third and fourth turns.

Mercer restarted as strong as he’d been running before the yellow flag and held on through the late stages of the race to take his first win of the year.

Obviously emotional, the driver used his post-race interview to dedicate the victory to his father Ron who passed away in 2018.

“This one is for my Dad. It’s the first feature race I’ve won since he left us,” said Mercer, with his mother Gwen and son Jake standing by his side.

“Many of you remember Dad and how much he loved to be at the racetrack. This is a great moment for our family, friends and the team.

“I really appreciate the support and encouragement we’ve received this year. Even though this is the first that I’ve raced since the 2017 season, it’s nice to see so many familiar faces stop by the trailer to say ‘hello’ when we’re at the track.”

After enduring back-to-back rainouts and weather delays fans were welcomed back by sunshine and a packed pit area.

In the Battlefield Equipment Rental Bone Stockers feature a second yellow flag with four laps remaining couldn’t keep Ryan Oosterholt from another win. Shawn Solomon, Jake Kelly, Isaiah Switzer and Christen Lavalle were the next four cars across the stripe. Oosterholt had a pair of qualifying wins with the others going to Steve Finnegan and Solomon.

In the 25-lap Ontario Modified Racing Series feature, Chad Strawn grabbed the lead on restart with 10 laps remaining. Strawn held off hard charging Alex Cuzzilla and John Baker Jr. and survived a late race yellow and to take the checkered flag over Cuzzilla, Baker Jr., Nicholas Ledson and Bob Franks.

The OMRS preliminary rounds went to Strawn with a pair Cuzzilla and Baker Jr.

Marilyn Junkin and her daughter Ember made up the mother and daughter front row for the 20 lap Jiffy Lube Mini Stock feature. Ryan Edwards-Kiss won the race to become the first Mini Stock feature winner other than Oosterholt during the 2021 season. John Lavalle had a couple of heat wins with others going to Jeremy Kelly and Edwards-Kiss.

Oosterholt added a Trent Lakes Complete Plumbing Renegade Truck main event win to his impressive 2021 stats. Stacy Switzer was second with Kyle Gordon third while Paul Boundy and Shawn Murray completing the top five. Oosterholt and Stephen Bierworth claimed the heats wins.

In the Trailers Plus Ontario Legends Series feature Matt Haufe took control as the lap counter clicked 17 and claimed the win with Kevin Foisy and Parker Travis chasing him across the stripe.

Ledson and Adam Cuthbertson rounded out the top five. Heat wins went to Haufe, who had a pair, Traves and Foisy.

Action returns Saturday with hometown classes — Bone Stock, KOD Disposal Super Stock and Late Model divisions and a 50-lap Mini Stocks feature. Grandstand opens at 5 p.m. with racing at 6 p.m.

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