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Pickens wins Springs Midget thriller


Michael Pickens' virtuoso drive from the back of the field to win the Boxing Night midget car feature at Auckland's Springs Speedway provided speedway's holiday season highlight.

Pickens started 21st in the 30-lap Heritage Shield feature and passed the in-form Shayne Alach to grab the win on the final lap.

The back row start was the result of problems in the heat races. The Don Kay-owned Breka-Ed Pink Ford was halted by a broken rocker while Pickens was leading his first heat requiring a dash back to team's workshop for spare parts.

Pickens was loaned Wayne Green's car for heat two and back in his regular ride to finish fifth from the back of the field in the semi-main.
Alach had started from pole in the 30-lapper and led the first 29 until Pickens completed an outside pass in Pinetree Bend on the final lap. Graham Standring was third after Shaun Insley was relegated one spot for passing on the grass, and the top six was completed by Michael Kendall and Steven Currie.

"It's the first race I've ever won on the last lap," said Pickens. "At the start I passed a few cars inside and out but after that I moved up to pass around the top (line on the quarter-mile oval).

"I had the benefit of seeing where the others were running and I made the most of it."

It was Pickens' third `Springs feature win of the season and gives him a commanding 29 point lead over Brad Mosen in the Springs National Series.

The win confirmed the wisdom of Pickens' decision not to race both the Midget and the Gerard Ness-owned sprint car on the same night.
"You can't give both cars 100 percent. One or the other suffers."

For the upcoming international series Pickens will step out of the Don Kay-owned car and join forces with the returning Seamount team in a new car to go up against visiting US stars including Dave Darland, Cory Kruseman and Danny Stratton.

The arrival of US stars will turn up the temperature on the already hot midget competition at the Springs.

"The quality at the Springs is unbelievable. (It's) probably better than anywhere in the world," said Pickens.

"The drivers are stepping up too. There are half a dozen drivers who can have their night."

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