by Geoff Rounds
STEVEN Lines produced a stellar drive to pocket $10,000 winning the Combined Waste Sprintcar Jackpot Invitational at Avalon Raceway on Saturday night.
Lines of Mount Gambier started the fifth annual 12 lap dash-for-cash from pole position after runner-up for the second consecutive year, Robbie Farr elected to start from outside the front row after he again, like last year, set a sizzling quick 11.243 lap to top the timesheets and drew the lucky number one envelope to start his earlier qualifier from pole.  
Farr had Lines’ measure on two race attempts to start the but a third go saw Lines prove too fast of the line and held on for the whole race journey despite Farr making brief challenges mid-race. Michael Cunningham who blasted from the non-qualifiers race, came from eighth in the Jackpot to finish third and stunned onlookers with the best result of his career.
Attempts to start the feature race were thwarted when last year’s Jackpot winner David Murcott sensationally rolled at the start-finish line after tangling with Darren Mollenoyux which saw Murcott out and unable to defend his title.
Lines then did everything superb to hold out Farr then came Cunningham, Jamie Veal, Domain Ramsay, Jack Lee, Darren Mollenoyux, Will Carroll and John Vogels.  
Lines said the all-important front row start was the key to winning the race.
“I threw everything at that time trial to get off the front,” Lines said.
“For me then it was all about the start and I got beaten twice by Farry off the start so I was pretty rapt to get a third go at it. There was some good gamesmanship there and Farry got away quick once and was pulled back but I knew another crack at him I’d be right.
“In the race I knew he was coming and I was glad in the end it was just 12 laps.”
For Farr it was his fourth consecutive finish in second in a major this season and he was again ruing his luck.  
“Everything was falling into place for most of the night right up until that third start in the final for us,” Farr said.
“I think we had he better race-car in a straight line and we know we’re on the pace I’m sure we’ll get a win very soon. For me though I really wanted to win the Jackpot as the Drew family have been great to me here at Avalon over the years.”
Cunningham’s stunning efforts were something he was still coming to terms with after the feature.
“I think I’ll be pinching myself all the way home, it’s a bit surreal right now. I was really just happy to make the feature race,” Cunningham said.
The shock exit of current Australian champion James McFadden in time trials was the earlier talking point of the crowd of 3000 when he had a left rear tyre blow and was bundled out of the night.
The evening opened with a pair of 25 lap qualifiers which saw Lines and Veal win, then Veal went on to blast his opposition in the semi final from Lines, Nick Lacey, Farr and McFadden.
Carl Ludeman held his opposition off to win the last chance non qualifiers when tear-away leader Dennis Jones rolled with three laps on the clock. While 18-year-old Warrnambool youngster Will Carroll again showed his superb racing talent making the Jackpot race after coming from fourth in the non-qualifiers race and making the final 12 time traillers.