When Bruce Aldrich, Jr. and Ronnie Wrenn, Jr. clashed in their 12-race 'Drive-Off' at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (Dec. 12) there were no losers even though Aldrich drove six winners and Wrenn drove four. However, Aldrich out-pointed Wrenn by a score of 114-96 by the European Point System.
On that cold and clear afternoon Wrenn, number one in North America in driving victories, came in from Northfield Park just for the competition to drive the card against Bruce Aldrich, Jr. who is third in victories. And the winners were the fans who got a chance to see two masters at their trade.
After he raced Wednesday night Wrenn set out from Northfield Park in greater Cleveland, Ohio and drove across the country and didn't arrive here until early morn on Thursday and the all-night drive with his racing sulky in tow didn't seem to be detrimental to the youngster.
"My dad (Ron) drove and I did get some sleep during the night and when we arrived we took a motel room for a few hours sleep andwhen I arrived at the track I felt good," Ronnie, Jr. said about his first time ever at the Mighty M.
And evidently he was sharp because right out of the box he reined pacer Caviart Jett to a 1:58.3 triumph in the first race on the card as Aldrich missed the board and finished fourth with Nomorebets.
The second race was an anomaly of sorts and the only race where neither driver's horses made the (tote) board. However after that one, or the other, proceeded to win every race until the 12th when Wrenn's horse, Delco Tross, was beaten just a nose for win and Aldrich's mount finished third.
After two off the board finishes in the daily double races Aldrich then won the third with Billied (1:59) as Wrenn finished second. In the fourth race Wrenn was heading to victory and before his trotter Gomer took command he made a break at the top of the lane which opened the door for Aldrich's pace-setter R'lene Jetta to hold on for victory. Wrenn set Gomer back on stride and came charging but too late and they had to settle for third place.
Wrenn then won the fifth race and Aldrich copped the sixth but when Wrenn won the seventh it looked like anyone's ball game as Aldrich's 42 points was just one better than Wrenn's ,41.
And one point separated the talented reinsmen again when Wrenn won the seventh and Aldrich finished second.
Aldrich then won the eighth and Wrenn finished second but the one point differential came back in play when Wrenn won the ninth and Aldrich finished second.
However, after that Aldrich won the tenth and 11th races which guaranteed him the points trophy.
It was at that point when he stopped in the winner's circle for a photo Aldrich was told he can't be out-pointed and was asked how he felt? "I feel good now," he shouted as a broad smile engulfed his face. My ulcers have even settled down now."
And even had Wrenn's pacer survived the photo in the 12th race he still wouldn't have enough points to catch Aldrich.
"It was a very entertaining competition and I believe home track advantage had a little to do with it," track GM Shawn Wiles said. "This was our first look at young Ronnie Wrenn and he's not only a great talent but is a classy young man. And we certainly thank him for going out of his way to be with us for the Drive-Off"
"This was the first time I've ever been to Monticello and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Everyone here was just wonderful," Wrenn said.
And as they were having their pictures taken in the trophy presentation Aldrich chimed in; "I was nervous before the day started but after meeting Ronnie and driving against him I settled down. He's (Ronnie) a good guy and a really good driver but I'm sure I had a slight advantage by knowing the horses and the trainers still it was great to get a chance to drive against Ronnie, especially in this competition."
Also to be acknowledged for the success of the day are the Monticello Raceway horsemen and the judges who allowed each driver to select his mounts after the post position draw was completed on Monday.
The Thursday (Dec. 12) program consisted of six paces and six trots and at day's end Aldrich and Wrenn won 10 of the 12 races on the card. And that they chose their own mounts before the morning lines were posted shows that they are also good handicappers, too.