Fast McFadden secures Kings win

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Fast McFadden secures Kings win

The biggest race on the South Australian sprintcar calendar has been run and won at Borderline Speedway with James McFadden being crowned the 2023 Kings Challenge victor in perfect conditions for the Australia Day event.

Driving the Hodges Motorsport backed NAPA Auto Parts D5, Warrnambool-born McFadden showed his true class and put on a racing clinic for some 4500 race fans who packed the high banks of the bull ring.

Right from the start of time trial hotlaps McFadden showed his pace and smooth driving style which has attributed to what he has achieved not only in Australia, but also in America driving with the World of Outlaws Series.

After reaching the chequered flag third at The Kubota Tractors Presidents Cup at Geelong’s Avalon Raceway, a relaxed McFadden was over the moon about the win going back-to-back after securing the Kings Challenge in 2022.

“As I said in the pre-race interview there was a few things that we changed around on the car just trying to get me comfortable,” McFadden said.

“We have been fast and solid, just not on the attack all the time and I and I felt like Thursday night it was.

“I could put slide jobs on cars around much of the track or make it stick and move forward without too much hassle.

“I was really happy with that.

“We have been working really hard just to try and get this new package to where I want it.”

Coming into the 2023 Kings Challenge McFadden was the in-form driver showing his skill around the country’s speedway circuits.

“I have just done a lot of laps at the moment which has helped me to get to where I am, but I would say there is a couple of other boys that have been doing more racing in Australia and one of those is Jock Goodyer. He is the guy to beat lately and to beat him Thursday night was good,” McFadden said.

“I was really confident in my car in the feature and there was still more left in it and I could have gone a bit harder.”

Although McFadden did not record the ‘top gong’ in his time trials, he took it on the chin and showed what it was all about during his two rounds of heats and the A Main feature.

Having the backing of a strong team has seen the rise of McFadden and the Hodges Motorsport team which includes sports producer Tim Hodges, sports broadcaster Gerard Whately, Richmond Tigers AFL player Jack Rewoldt and three-time Supercars champion and current Indycar Series driver Scott McLaughlin.

McFadden is not here to get peanuts and refuses to sit on his hands and is out there to get the win every time he goes out on the track.

Apart from McFadden’s flawless victory there were many other racers on track including the US contingent of Tyler Courtney, Brock Zearfoss, Corey Eliason, Chase Randell and Sheldon Haudenschild, who all put on a spectacle around the Borderline bull ring as if it was their own, showcasing great driving and ability to adapt to the Aussie conditions.

The contingent of local drivers did not disappoint either, with Steven Lines coming from the rear of the A Main feature to finish fifth, making the highline his own to push through the strong field.

However it was not a good night for other locals Glen Sutherland, who had a big crash after a car hit the wall on the main straight, clipping the wheel of the S20 sending it into trouble, while Scott Enderl drove well to get a spot in the B Main but a racing incident saw him flip on turn one.

But when all was said and done the night belonged to the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts D5 in McFadden with a supreme drive on the Borderline bull ring, ahead of Jock Goodyer and Jaime Veal.

In other racing on the night the Wingless Sprints battled out the SA v Vic Challenge and with 20 cars in a good night of racing.

Locals in Kirby Hellyer and Mitchell Broome who scored the top two placings in the first heat with a real battle trying to pass at every opportunity, but Hellyer came out on top.

In heat two, after numerous restarts, it was again another local in Rory Button who took the win with some hard charging driving on his home track.

It was the first time Button’s S17 had been out on track as a result of previous meetings washed out due to weather.

In heat three Joel Chadwick showed a clean set of wheels to take out the win from Victorian Mick Rigby in second and Button in third.

In heat four and the final round of heats for the Wingless South Australian runners, Hayden Vickers claimed the chequered flag first ahead of Jake Dooley and Luke Wheel.

In the feature for the Wingless Sprints it was the S5 of Chadwick off pole and on his outside the S17 of Button.

When the green flag dropped it was a tight battle to the first corner, but Chadwick found the groove despite stiff competition from Button.

As the race progressed Chadwick gained the upper hand while Button dropped back a few spots to allow Hellyer and Weel to take the minor placings while the other drivers jostled for positions throughout the field.

Chadwick claimed the first place ahead of an incredibly determined Hellyer and Wheel rounded out the podium in third.

Wrapping up the Kings Challenge the sprintcar runners set their sights on Victoria’s Premier Speedway for the 50th running of the Warrnambool Classic, with the winner of the three-day event securing a tasty $50,000 in cold hard cash for their efforts.

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