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The West Coast Sprint Car Scene

By Joseph Terrell

WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…The Demon has done it again and just keeps etching his name into the southern California record books as he claimed the 2019 USAC/CRA championship. I remember 2001 when some hotshot from Northern California showed up at Perris driving a non winged sprint car like it had a wing on it. The word spread quick that he had ruffled some feathers and maybe was necessarily welcomed at the PAS. Many said it would not last and proclaimed his career in southern California would be short. Rip Williams more than once had to each him the hard way. But he persisted and almost 20 years later and eight USAC/CRA championships later Damion “The Demon” Gardner has become among the most decorated champions in the history of non winged racing on the west coast joining the legendary likes of Williams, Dean Thompson, Bubby Jones, Ron Shuman and Lealand McSpadden.

 

 

            The 2019 USAC/CRA season started way back in March at Canyon in Arizona and it was midwest regulars Josh Hodges and Hunter Schuerenberg winning. Schuerenberg would win aboard the Reinhold-Underwood sprinter and this team would enjoy much success all year including a USAC national championship with CJ Leary. A few weeks later at Perris it was Brody Roa claiming the win and the early point lead aboard his families sprinter. He spend some time in the Cheney Motorsports sprinter before returning back to him family car for the last weekend.

 

            In April it was a single race at Perris and Richard Vander Weerd would begin his great run at the track as he would pick up his first win of the year. Vander Weerd only raced part-time during the year but racked up two wins and six podiums just at Perris.

 

            May saw the series run three shows. To start the month 360 star and former Mopar Million hard charger Troy Rutherford shocked as he won utilizing a 360 in Ventura. A week later he almost pulled the feat again but ran second to Gardner at Bakersfield while Scheurenberg returned to the west coast to close out the month with a win at Perris. At this point Gardner had gained the point and would not relinquish. June saw only one race at Perris and again it was Vander Weerd leading the way followed by Jake Swanson in the Grau-Burkhart sprinter. Swanson to this point has bounced around rides but had now found a home and started making noise. He would wind up fourth in points with two wins, nine podiums and average finish 8.05.

 

            July would feature two early races at Santa Maria and Perris. Roa would roll to victory at Santa Maria over the improving Tommy Malcolm. Malcolm would finish sixth in points at seasons end.  Malcolm would follow Chris Gansen all year in points who was fifth. A week later in Perris Gardner scored his only win at the PAS as he was followed to the line by two stars from Arizona - RJ Johnson and Stevie Sussex.

            After a little break for Indiana Sprint Week the CRA stars returned in August to Perris and it was the Jake Swanson show. After having to start at the back of the A Swanson sliced and diced to the front won the race in dramatic fashion as he outraced Vander Weerd and Roa in one for the ages. Swanson used all the PAS and more to accomplish the amazing feat. The month ended just as California Speedweek started and it was Austin Williams scoring the win at Calistoga over Austin Liggett and Gardner. At the same time Williams announced his entrance into the championship point race and speedweek point race.

 

            Speedweek would be five race nine day ordeal. Saturday and Sunday at Calistoga and Monday at Petaluma. After three day break it concluded in Merced and the coastal paradise of Santa Maria. In years past it was a two day break with a Thursday show at Silver Dollar allowing this writer to attend at least one show. This year unfortunately Chico was off the schedule…it would be nice to get this fixed. The Chico show always provided a mix of the SoCal stars versus NoCal stars on a Thursday night in September that was a once a year of occurrence. But I digress.

 

            After Williams win to kickoff speedweek it was Swanson cruising back to victory lane to close out the Calistoga doubt dip over Ryan Bernal in the 360 powered Colby Copeland sprinter and forever Tulsa shootout legend Jason Mcdougal. The next night in Petaluma winged star Chase Johnson won over younger brother Colby Johnson and Williams. As speedweek headed to Merced the week championship seemed to belong to Williams or Danny Fair, Jr. who had been steering the Cheney Motorsports sprinter to consistent finishes. Merced would see Liggett win over Faria and Chase Johnson.

 

            As the series headed to Santa Maria to end speedweek it seemed like Gardner was vulnerable as he was third place and almost out of the speedweek championship contention and Williams was gaining on the season point race. But legends rise and Gardner used a huge night including a win to claim the speed week championship and show the championship was his to lose. Williams was second at Santa Maria and Swanson third.

 

            September was busy and after a week break the USAC/CRA stars were back at Perris and Williams was winning over Swanson and Gardner. A week later USAC/CRA was in Arizona at the Arizona Speedway and southwest star RJ Johnson won over Sussex and Williams.

 

            The series ran no races in October but had five in November co-sanctioned with USAC National at Perris and Arizona. At Perris it was Brady Bacon win the first two nights of the Oval Nationals while USAC national point leader CJ Leary scored the headliner last Saturday. Gardner was third. The season closed over the weekend as Tyler Courtney double dipped and won both races in the desert at Arizona Speedway and scored $18,500 for Western World triumphs. Gardner’s  sixth place run was enough to clinch the championship over Williams and Roa.. Leary won the national championship over Courtney who had series high nine wins. Overall Courtney has 19 USAC wins in the three national series on the year.

 

            Back to USAC/CRA and a quick look at the top three in points. Gardner had three wins and 17 top 10s with an average finish of 6.47. Williams had two wins and 19 top 10s wth an average finish of 6.56 as he had his best year to date. Roa rounded out the top three in points as he had two wins and 14 top 10s with an average finish of 8.52. Roa started the season with five straight top fives before fading down the stretch. Each contender started all 22 main events.

 

NEWS NOTES: 14 different drivers won a main during the USAC/CRA season. Talk about competitive…A third championship was decided Saturday and it was the USAC Southwest championship which was in its first season as a 410 series. It had been a 360 series previously. California star Roa used three different rides to score the championship over RJ Johnson and Stevie Sussex….Saturday also marked the final winged race of the year at Keller Auto Speedway and it was Mitchell Faccinto winning over brother Michael and young star Tucker Worth…For Mitchell is was the perfect bookend as he opened the west coast season in January with a win at Stockton. It was Mitchell’s eight win of the year but first since July…For brother Michael it was his best finish to date in the winged car. With extra laps at the end of the year aboard the Van Dyke sprinter Michael has shown vast improvement…Officially Andy Forsberg was the total win leader in winged sprints on the west coast as he finished with 13 wins…Justin Sanders was the only other driver in double digits with 12… Rico Abreu and Shane Golobic each finished with nine…Their is still one winged race to be ran in Arizona at the end of November and that race always gets some intriguing names to support it - I would expect at least a few west coast stars to participate.

 

            Lastly California native Mason Daniel has announced he will race with the World of Outlaws next year with former Outlaw champion Danny Lasoski turning the wrenches. Daniel got almost 30 races with Outlaws this year as he started to dabble in 410 stuff. This will be a huge jump for a driver who has been a sprint car only two full seasons and with only full season of 410 racing - not saying he will not be successful just acknowledging this is a huge jump in nighty competition. I often do wonder if drivers would be suited to race a premier series or region (All Stars, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Knoxville, NARC) and see if they truly have what it takes to get it done. Because you if can dominate any the before mentioned series this would a clue that maybe you could play with Outlaws on a nightly basis.

            With Daniels decision that adds another California driver to the national sprint car scene and bring it to four (with Brad Sweet, Carson Macedo and Daniels with the Outlaws and Cory Eliason on the All Star tour). This doesn't include Logan Seavey and Jesse Colwell (running midgets nationally), Abreu (who runs a majority of his shows in the midwest) or Buddy Koifoid who currently is shoeing a Keith Kunz Midget but spent the year in Ohio.

 

            My next column will be part one of a two part column that looks at the winged season in California in rewind.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…Last weekend the sprint car world was focused on Charlotte (ironically the home of NASCAR) as Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz settled their season long World of Outlaw point battle. In addition their was the swirling rumors surrounding David Gravel and his race car future. In the end Sweet won the championship and Gravel swept the weekend amid rumors of him going to the truck series more on that later. But that story has been mostly written and last week my attention was focused south to the annual Midwest versus West Coast battle known as the Oval Nationals at the Perris Auto Speedway.

            This tradition which dates to the late 1990s is any many ways the premier non wing race of the year. While the purse has changed over time the importance of winning this event has not. USAC National stars versus the stars of USAC/CRA on the USAC/CRA drivers home turf - it only happens once a year that the best collide at the home of sprint car racing in Southern California. While the West Coast have held strong traditionally in recent times the national driver have gained the advantage and the 2019 Oval Nationals were no different as seven of the nine podium spots went to USAC national stars.

            The weekend kicked off with two of the premier sprint drivers in the non winged world - Alabama’s Kevin Thomas, Jr. and northern California’s Damion Gardner- chasing Oval Nationals history. Thomas was seeking a record third straight Oval Nationals while Gardner was seeking a record fourth overall. But in the end neither driver achieved history as it was season long USAC national point leader C.J. Leary claiming the crown as he drove the Arizona based Reinbold-Underwood Spike to his first Oval Nationals championship ever.

            For Leary it was another step in his ascension to being one of, if not, the premier non-winged driver in the world. Despite being only his second win of the season with the USAC nationals series (he also has two USAC southwest series wins) he has racked up a series high 30 top 10s this year in 32 starts which simply amazing racing against the premier non winged drivers in the sport. This has allowed him to maintain his point leader over Tyler Courtney who has won seven mains. Courtney finished fifth Saturday aboard the Clauson-Marshall-Newman Spike.

            Chris Windom chased Leary to the finish but the former Oval nationals champion could not get close enough to contend down the stretch and settled for second in the Parallax-Goacher Twister. Wisdom also ran second Thursday night.

            The two drivers reaching for history had up and down weekends. Gardner had a solid first night finishing fourth, wrecked on the opening lap of Fridays main and finished the weekend by making a strong move at the end to finish third ahead of early leader Chase Stockon. As usual Gardner was  aboard the Alexander Motorsports Spike. Stockon was fourth aboard the TBI Racing DRC. Thomas struggled all weekend by his standards and had to run the semi on Saturday before winding up sixth in the final tally aboard the Hayward-Thomas DRC. With that mentioned Thomas did score top 10s all three nights.

            A new Oval Nationals tradition has become sweeping the first two nights. What do I mean? Last year Justin Grant won the first two nights. This year is was Brady Bacon doing the trick as he scored the first two wins of his career at the PAS. It took Bacon 27 starts to get that first win and he it liked so much he did it twice aboard the Hoffman Dynamics XXX. Bacon ran up front most of Saturday night but came home 12th after a late race incident with Stockton as cars slowed for a yellow. Grant had an uninspiring Oval Nationals as he was sixth and second the first two nights before being a non factor Saturday night in the TOPP Motorsports entry.

            Richard Vander Weerd and Austin Williams were two of the locals that put together solid weekends and each finished in the top 10 all three nights. Vander Weerd who competes on a limited basis had a weekend best third Thursday aboard his fathers Maxim. Williams steered the Tom and Laurie Sertich DRC to a weekend best fifth on Friday night. Other driver in the top 10 all three nights were Leary (fifth, 10th and first), Thomas, Jr. (ninth, seventh and sixth) and Courtney (eighth, third and fifth).

            That is my quick look at the Oval Nationals from 1000 miles away. This week the Midwest versus West Coast battle moves to Arizona as the USAC Nationals and USAC/CRA drivers will settle their championships. Leary and Gardner are in control of their respective point races but neither has clinched. The USAC Southwest championship is also on the line and currently Brody Roa is in control of the points battle. The USAC sprints will be joined by the USAC midgets as they start their West Coast invasion.

NEWS AND NOTES: One winged race was on the card over weekend out West and it took place at Marysville Raceway as the Civil War Series ran the last of their five race season. Andy Forsberg picked up the victory ahead of Justyn Cox and track champion Michael Ing. Koen Shaw was crowned champion of the Civil War SeriesIt was Forsbergs 13th win of the year all have taken place at Marysville, Chico and PlacervilleCox was making his initial appearance in the C&M Motorsports sprinter and picked up his eighth second place finish in California for the seasonCalifornia transplant turned non winged sprint star Chad Boespflug was announced as the new driver for the Knoxville based Troy Renfro team. Austin McCarl drove this car in 2017-2018. This will be Boespflugs first full time winged rideI dont cover a lot of mini sprint action but it is worth noting Central California star Mitchel Moles has now 43 main events this year in micro action that is Frank Flud like numbersAs of November12 57 midgets are entered for the Hangtown 100. In addition the weather looks very nice for this huge eventKalib Henry who is coming a off a solid season in which he elevated his game is actively seeking some funding or a ride so he can get into 410s more. Somebody needs to jump on this as this kid was really fast this year utilizing a variety of different rides.

            Finally back to Gravel. The rumors are swirling and have settled a little bit as he announced he would return JJR while he seeks Truck opportunities. As of now JJR is committed to the Outlaws and Gravel is committed to expanding his horizons. While this last year was a dream season for JJR and Gravel definitely wants to continue with the team I am curious how long the competing interests will last when race season takes off again in 2020.

            In addition Ian Madsen and the KPC team are going to a trueoutlaw schedule while the CJB seat remains empty (Gravel was linked to the second car before going back to JJR) and Shane Stewart has no ride. All this means we will have some changes on the tour next year and that silly season should be just that – “silly”.

            Well that is it for now. I will have a column next week looking back at the USAC /CRA season as they crown their champion. The California winged season will end Saturday at Keller and I will begin working on a California winged season in rewind. Not sure when this column will get finished but hopefully sooner than later.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 by Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…It seems like eons ago that sprint cars were actually circling the dirt in the northwest - in actuality it has been a month and half. Luckily during this time the scene in California has waged on but as I left trophy cup a few weeks ago their seemed to be sense the season was over…but it wasn’t and in reality there is still a lot of good open wheel racing remaining out west.

 

            The week after trophy cup was light as only Marysville was in action and to no one’s surprise Andy Forsberg rolled to is 12th win of the year. But this last weekend was packed full of winged action at the Stockton Dirt Track. Friday night was $2500 to win non sanctioned 360 race which Shane Golobic rolled to victory ahead of Justyn Cox who was aboard the Doug Rutz Richmond powered sprinter and the ever improving Michael Faccinto who was driving a second Harley Van Dyke sprinter.

 

            Saturday night was the headliner as it featured the final rounds of the two premier winged series on the west coast - NARC 410 and the Sprint Car Challenge Tour (SCCT). More amazingly each series point championship was in balance as top three in each series had a chance to win the championship depending on the outcome Saturday night. For the SCCT it was two defending champion Kyle Hirst trying to hold off Sean Becker and Tim Kaeding. For the NARC series DJ Netto had led the points most of the year but a late push by Bud Kaeding saw them tied entering Stockton. Dominic Scelzi was close behind in third.

 

            First NARC 410. Netto had gotten the point lead early in the year by being consistent and continued the trend all year. Nettostarted the main with the point lead after earning qualifying points and finished third ahead Scelzi who was fifth and Kaeding who was in the lower half of the top 10. Netto ultimately won the  championship with five podiums and an amazing 16 top 10s in 18 starts. His average finish was 6.2 abroad the Netto Ag KPC. Kaeding had two wins and seven podiums and 15 tops 10s. His average finish was 6.1 but he could not overcome a slow start to the season and bad last last race in the Williams Motorsports Maxim. Scelzi was by far the dominant driver in the series as he won a series high five times and had six podiums total to go with 15 tops 10s. However a few bad finishes derailed his championship run aboard the Roth Enterprise KPC.

 

            On the SCCT side going into the final night neither of the top three in points had won a race in the first 11 shows. That would not change championship night. Hirst, much like Netto, relied on consistency and an eighth place finish on the final night was enough to seal the deal as Kaeding’s sixth was enough to fill the gap. Becker was outside the top 10 in the final tally a Stockton. Overall Hirst had four podiums and 10 top 10s in 12 starts. He had an average finish of 7.4 aboard the Tiner-Hirst sprinter. Kaeding rode the Joshua Bates sprinter to three podiums and eight top 10s. Kaeding had an average finish of 8.3. Becker did his work aboard the Monhoff Racing sprinter and had one podium to go with nine top 10s. His average finish was 8.4

 

            As these six great drivers were racing for a championship two of the best in the state of California continued to dominate - Golobic and Rico Abreu. In addition to his Friday night win Golobic scored the NARC 410 win Saturday night ahead of Wille Croft and Netto and then ran second in the SCCT main to Abreu. Some Outlaw driver named Carson Macedo rounded out the podium. For Abreu and Golobic it has been a dominant run since the calendar hit September. How dominant? For Golobic since then he has four wins (including a World of Outlaw win) and 12 podiums in 18 starts and an overall second place finish at the Trophy Cup. Abreu has not been quite as consistent but he rolled to six wins and seven podiums in 17 starts in California. Most impressively though was Abreu’s dominance at Trophy Cup when he swept the weekend. Overall Golobic has nine wins on the season in California and Abreu has eight in California.

 

            Winged sprint racing is almost over for real in California with a show at Marysville this Saturday and a show at Keller the following Saturday being all that remain. But that means it is time to turn the attention to the stars of USAC as the sprints and midgets invade the west coast. The USAC sprints will be at Perris this weekend for the legendary Oval Nationals and then Arizona next weekend as they are joined by midgets.  After Arizona the sprints will head home but the midgets will head to Placerville for the mid week Hangtown 100 which is shaping up to be an event for the ages. After this the midgets head to Bakersfield on Nov. 23 and will finish their season with annual running of Turkey night at Ventura. The midgets will be joined in Ventura by the USAC West Coast sprints as they will run a two night show and I would expect a very big national presence in the sprint division.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: In addition to the top three in points only one other driver made all 12 SCCT races and that was Kyle Oflill…Eight drivers made all 18 NARC shows. It would have been nine but Ryan Bernal was busy fighting fires and could not make the race at Stockton…His replacement was Carson Macedo who used the off weekend to pull double duty Saturday night in the Tarlton Racing KPC…Buddy Koifoid who spent his season turning heads in Ohio abroad the Mike Linder prepared sprinter was aboard a second Doug Rutz sprint at Stocktokn. Unfortunately he did not return for the second night…Speaking of Rutz his primary driver Justyn Cox was second Friday night before mechanical failures derailed their Saturday night. Cox gets aboard the C&M Motorsports this weekend at Marysville…Another driver who spent some of the year driving for Rutz is Tony Gualda who has seemingly found a home in the Jim VanLare sprinter here late in the year…Cole Macedo who has spent most of the year driver the Mike Phulps 360 for SCCT was aboard Chuck Crouse sprinter at Stockton. He debuted in this ride the pervious weekend at Marysville…Justin Sanders was making an appearance aboard the Larry Antaya sprinter and struggled all weekend as he often does when he not aboard either his family ride or the VonSchriltz 410. Normal Antaya driver Colby Copeland was aboard his normal SCCT ride in the Canales sprinter…Washington star Jason Solwold made the trip to Stockton aboard the Shaylen-Raye sprinter. Solwold was fifth Friday night and a DNF Saturday…Geoff Ensign was back in the Clayton Snow sprinter on Saturday night after missing Trophy Cup and finished his first full season with NARC fifth in points and as rookie of the year…Chase Johnson who turned many heads in the winged world this year looks to compete against the stars of USAC. Johnson who has made five starts with USAC/CRA this year and will compete at the Oval Nationals aboard the Shawn Thomas sprinter and will be at USAC national midget races in the Rodela midget. Johnson won on the last weekend of October in Ventura in the Rodela midget. Johnson now has wins with NARC, SCCT, USAC/CRA, USAC West Coast, BCRA and USAC W/S midgets this season - WOW!…Look for silly season start soon and I would expect we might see some different combinations on the west coast next year.

 

            Well that is all for now.I will be observing the Oval Nationals from afar in the cozy confines of the dark northwest and have a column next week with all my thoughts about the stars USAC taking on the stars of USAC/CRA.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa…The 16 hour tow back from Tulare every October is brutal - all day in the car straight through the valley, up the hills and into the northwest. We left the sunny valley at 7am and arrived in the rainy northwest right before 11 pm. But it is no doubt worth at as Trophy Cup offers the grand finale of the season in a lot of ways and has also become arguably the biggest 360 race in the country. With $26,000 guaranteed to the overall points champions stars from all across the country appear to challenge for a piece of the Trophy Cup pie. With $4,000 going to the main winner each night plenty of money is available for teams unless…somebody does the unimaginable and win all three mains hoarding the many for themselves. And this is exactly what Rico Abreu did. Abreu made history by winning all three nights - never before had this been accomplished.

 

            Entering the Trophy Cup Abreu was third on my favorite list and had been coming into the weekend on a hot streak as he had won three straight 410 races in October. Well the hot streak continued as Abreu pounded the boards for three straight nights and now has a personal win streak of six after sweeping the weekend. It is almost impossible to just finish in the top five all three nights because the level of competition and yet Abreu was able to win all three nights after starting 10th, 6th and 17th respectively. He drove by fast car after fast car each night and once he got into second you new the the leader was in trouble.

           

            Thursday night Abreu ran down teammate and defending champion Jac Haudenschild as he just out gassed the “Wild Child”. The next night he stalked Shane Golobic and waited to the end to make his move. Finally on Saturday Abreu used the lap 33 fuel break to make his move as he roared from fourth to first over the final laps and ultimately chasing down pole sitter Aaron Reutzel to complete the sweep. Following Abreu in the Saturday finale to the stripe was Reuztel, Tim Kaeding, Jason Solwold and Jac Haudenschild.

 

            For Abreu it has been a crazy last month as he let crew chief Drew Warner go in September and has had David Robinson, Jr spinning the wrenches since and the results speak for themselves. Abreu has at times been inconsistent in his career but when he gets rolling and he can bang the cushion with the best and he is nearly unbeatable in California. Abreu acknowledged in his post race interview that sprint car racing is a tough sport and he just felt that things weren't clicking which prompted him to make the crew chief move late in the season. The Trophy Cup victory is just another feather in his cap to go along with his two Chili Bowls and two Gold Cups.

 

            Going into the Saturday finale it had become a four driver chase. Entering the main on Saturday Cory Eliason, Kyle Hirst, Abreu and Golobic were separated by one point meaning who finished first amongst the four was going to win the Trophy Cup. And amazingly unless it was Golobic it was going to be a first time winner. Elision struggled with bad luck (ultimately came home ninth), Hirst was mired in the field (finished eighth) leaving Golobic as the sole challenger to Abreu. The 2016-2017 Trophy Cup champion gave great effort but ultimately only made it to sixth and finished second in points. Golobic had a fourth, second and sixth on the weekend. Hirst would finish third in points as he used a huge heat race performance Saturday night to get himself into contention. Eliason was fourth in the final run down and Haudenschild was fifth.

 

            While those four drivers were the class of the field as we entered Saturday’s main some other drivers definitely had great weekends and performed at a level that will make fans take notice in the Trophy Cups to come. Amongst those drivers Chase Johnson, Justyn Cox, Colton Heath and Mitchel Moles.

 

            Johnson just continues to impress and get better. Known for his exploits at Petaluma Johnson has developed into a contender everywhere and was on a rail after starting fourth Saturday night. He quickly moved past Dominic Scelzi and Jason Solwold into second and hounded Reutzel for numerous laps. He would pull next to Reutzel a few times but ultimately found the turn two wall and an end to his night. However even though his Trophy Cup did not end the way he wanted it to Johnson announced his presence as a contender at tracks other than Petaluma. Johnson was in the A every night.

 

            Cox was fast time in his group each night and at times the fastest car on the track Abreu included. However Cox and his Doug Rutz Richmond powered XXX just couldn't get a complete night and were left wondering what could have been. Cox had moved into the top three on Saturday after starting 12th but was derailed with a parts failure ending his charge to the front. For all his speed Cox was a DNF all three nights and that is it what makes Trophy Cup difficult - you have to be fast and consistent. DNFs are killer at Trophy Cup and Cox had too many.

 

            Washington star Colton Heath announced his arrival last year when he put it in the A after a great Friday night. This year Heath doubled down as he struggled Thursday bur was very impressive Friday and ultimately went into the A seventh in total points. Heath however was lap two victim as he worked through the field ending his Trophy Cup early. But the LAW Motorsports SHARK powered XXX has now made in known that success at Trophy Cup is not a fluke but trend.

 

            Finally micro sprint start Mitchel Moles was impressive all weekend as he made a rare 360 sprint start. While Moles in no stranger to success (he has around 30 micro wins this year) the 360s and Trophy Cup specifically is a much different beast. Moles proved to be up to the task as he he put it in the show Thursday and then again on Saturday. This young driver just needs seat time in the 360 and he will be making waves. Moles wasn't spectacular but it was his steady driving that indicates future success at Trophy Cup and beyond - he did not seem overwhelmed or intimated which can easily happen at Trophy Cup. Moles was impressive winning the Saturday night B main as he survived and advanced.

 

            The Tulare Raceway did an amazing job with the track especially Thursday when high winds tormented the central valley. The track crew overcame and produced the best track I have ever seen at Tulare. The track had multiple grooves and did not take rubber as so often the case when the wind blows. Friday and Saturday were good but Thursday was the gold standard as the track had multiple grooves and unlimited action.

 

           

 

NEWS AND NOTES: 89 cars filled the pits Thursday - by far the highest on the West Caost this year. 86 came back Friday and an impressive 78 made all three nights…12 states were represented: California (69 entrants), Idaho (Cole Danell and Hunter Standley), Pennsylvania (Freddie Rahmer and Tim Shaffer), Texas (Aaron Reutzel), Washington (Chase Goetz, Reece Goetz, Heath, Devon Borden, Solwold, JJ Hickle and Bailey Jean), North Dakota (Ken Estenson), Oregon (Brain Boswell), Indiana (Collin Markle), Tennessee (Paul McMahon), Oklahoma (Seth Bergman), Ohio (Randy Hannagan and Jac Haudenschild) and Nebraska (Monty Ferriera)…Danell, Hannagan, McMahon, Markle, Boswell and Ferriera are all originally from California…Two big name drivers almost saw their Trophy Cup end early - Jon Allard and Reutzel. Allard borrowed an engine from Willie Croft and Reutzel borrowed one from Roth Motorsports…Tim Kaeding, Haudenschild, Eliason and Golobic finished in the top ten all three nights as did Abreu…Dominic Scelzi entered as a favorite but never found the speed and was a DNF Saturday aboard the Roth Motorsports KPC after a less than overwhelming weekend…Usually Justin Sanders races to win but this week he was happy with a fifth Friday and a top 10 point finish aboard the Dale Miller XXX. Sanders has traditionally struggled at Tulare…Sanders was able to rebound after a tough Thursday that required some support from XXX to get him back on track for the weekend…Tarlton racing seemingly had a couple ringers in Buddy Koifoid and Tim Shaffer to steer their KPCs but the rest of the field did not see it that way and neither was a contender during the weekend. Each buried themselves with below average qualifying runs each night…Freddie Rahmer competed in the 2017 Trophy Cup and returned for 2019 edition aboard the Kaeding Performance Maxim. Rahmer made Thursday’s main but found the wall. He struggled the rest of the weekend…Tony Gualda spent October hustling up a ride fro Trophy Cup and was able to land the SHARK powered Vanlare ride. Unfortunately two top wings later and Gualda was a spectator for Saturday night…One driver unable to hustle up a ride was Sean Becker. Becker spent the week spectating. Unbelievable this driver was a spectator at both Gold Cup and Trophy Cup…Another star missing was Geoff Ensign who has resided in the Clayton Snow sprinter all year. Word is this team has parted ways…Other good drivers that did not participate at Trophy Cup included Ryan Robinson, Koen Shaw, Michael Faccinto and Bobby McMahon…The car Becker was slated to drive was the Menne Motorsports Shaver powered sprinter. However they parted ways leading up to Trophy Cup…Menne then turned to ASCS national star Seth Bergman to steer his ride. Bergman struggled all weekend as the team fought motor problems and didn't make it out of Saturday’s C main…Hannagan spent the weekend aboard the Washington based Lemley owned Ostrich powered sprinter. A former outlaw winner at Tulare Hannagan transferred from the B Saturday to put it in the A…Jason Statler -one of the 13 competitors at Trophy Cup to win an Outlaw main - did some alphabet soup work to go C to B to A on Saturday night…Overall 13 drivers at Trophy Cup can claim outlaw an A main win on their resume…One driver with a bunch of huge wins just not an outlaw win is Bud Kaeding. Kaeding couldn't get his Williams Motorsports/Alviso Rock Maxim rolling and ultimately missed the A Saturday night. The only main Bud qualified for was Friday night when he worked through the B to the A…It was hard not to notice that KPC and XXX have become the chassis of the choice on the West Coast…One of the drivers utilizing a XXX chassis was JJ Ringo. Driving the Keller Motorsports sprinter the Ocean speedway champion and USAC West Coast regular had a goal of making one main event. He did just that when he qualified for the Friday A main…Three young female stars were in the field and had some tough breaks while showing a bright future…Chelsea Blevins was racing for the lead in her heat Thursday night when she found the wall and destroyed her car. With no backup car she was done for the night…305 superstar Brooklyn Holland all destroyed a car Thursday night when she drilled the infield tire on the start of her heat. Her team put a new car together for Friday and she finished out the weekend…Bailey Jean had a motor expire after the heat Friday ending the weekend early for the high school senior…All three are young, talented drivers that will keep improving…Finally Oregon native and California born Roger Crockett got his first ASCS national win not in Washington or Oregon when he won at Devil’s Bowl Saturday night.

           

            That is it for now. I am pretty sure I am done chasing races for the year but you never know - the Hangtown 100 is lingering and this is seemingly a must see event and I am all about must see west coast events. i will continue to write columns every week about the west coast scene.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…Well the wait is over. It is finally here. Trophy Cup week that is. With a car count around 100 expected which includes national stars, former trophy cup champions and overall the best of the best it is beyond difficult to pick a favorite. But I will try. So here I go with my 10 favorites (with the money line for each) to hoist the big check come Saturday night.

1)Aaron Reutzel (+25) Reutzel has had previous success at Tulare and has been unstoppable in the Midwest this year racking up win after win against stout competition. While no doubt the track and competition are different out west one thing is not – Reutzel’s talent.

2)Shane Golobic (+50) The 2016 and 2017 champion Golobic has taken the last two weeks off as he welcomed a child to the world but Golobic will be all business this weekend. Golobic tends to be the driver to beat in California and I expect when the dust settles Saturday night he will be somewhere in the mix.

3) Rico Abreu (+75) Rico will put on a show that is a given. But surprisingly for all his accolades and accomplishments Rico has never been the big winner at the Trophy Cup. He comes toTrophy Cup on the heels of winning three straight 410 races so momentum is on his side and he has reputation for banging the boards at Tulare with the best of them.

4) Tim Kaeding (+110) Amazingly the last time TK won a Trophy Cup was 2009 and that year he did it in epic fashion as he won the Saturday night main from last  as well as the overall Trophy Cup still the only one to accomplish that feat. TK has been fast all year and dont sleep on him he is still one of the best in the business.

5) GioScelzi (+115) Dominated the Asparagus Cup at Stockton in April walking away with $25,000 in two nights. Can he add another big win to his fattening resume? I would be careful to be against it as this ultra talented youngster is constantly raising the bar.

6) Buddy Koifoid (+190) Might surprise some to see this driver this high on the list but my only concern is how we will adapt to the Tarlton sprinter which he will be making his first appearance in. Besides that he is a proven winner at Tulare and has showed that he can win against any competition. Also is now starting to make a name for himself in the midgets as he fools around with the Keith Kunz camp.

7) JacHaudenschild (+225) Three time winner and defending champion who is coming off a third Saturday night at Keller in his first appearance in the Abreu sprinter this year. Haud is always a threat but has struggled a little this year that is the reason for being number seven on the list

8) Cory Eliason (+280) This guy just goes places in and wins. It is that simple. Proved this year he can run strong in the Midwest and proved years ago he can run strong on the west coast. This will be his first Trophy Cup aboard the Rudeen Racing sprinter.

9) Kyle Hirst (+390) Has taken a step back this year and has been only a part time racer as he and Steven Tiner get Tiner-Hirst Enterprises up and running. But dont be fooled he may be part time but he still possesses full time talent. Although Hirst has never been necessarily dominating at Trophy Cup dont worry. If it is a big race and he is there then Hirst is a legit contender.

10) Dominic Scelzi (+500) Was a contender last year and has been very fast all year in the Roth Motorsports sprinter scoring seven wins. Scelzi is still looking for that headline win in his career and no place better to accomplish than at Trophy Cup.

                It speaks to the talent of the field when former champions Bud Kaeding and Willie Croft aren’t among the favorites. Neither are accomplished national stars like Paul McMahon, Tim Shaffer and Seth Bergman. Even perennial California front runners were snubbed like DJ Netto, Mitchell Faccinto, Ryan Bernal, Chase Johnson, Justyn Cox and Colby Copeland. That doesn’t mean these guys can’t win – just didn’t make the cut. Somebody was going to be left out. These drivers all come in at +900.

 

 

Okay two sleepers:

        Justin Sanders (+1000) not many laps at Tulare for this driver but don’t worry. His talent is undeniable and he wins races for a living. While Sanders has yet to really be a Trophy Cup contender I have learned to respect this driver and what he can do – he is capable of completely dominating the competition at any point.

        Jason Solwod (+1500) Solwold has been electric the last two years on Thursday night. The next step is to be electric on Saturday. Can he do it – I am not sure but like Sanders it is dumb to count out Solwold when he shows up.

                               

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: Rico Abreu and Cole Macedo warmed up for the Trophy Cup with big wins during the Cotton Classic. Abreu was victorious with NARC while Macedo scored his first career win the with the Sprint Car Challenge TourFor Macedo -who operates under the shadow of his brother Carson it was another step in his development as he continues to improve. It was his second overall win of the yearChasing Abreu to the line was Bud Kaeding and Cory Eliason who was aboard the Rod Tiner sprinterKaeding, Dominic Scelzi and DJ Netto are waged in a tight war for the NARC championship. Scelzi was fifth Saturday and Netto sixthMacedo was followed by Justyn Cox and Haudenschild. Cox was back aboard his own sprinter for the weekend and continues to run strong as the season winds downCox and Kalib Henry will be teammates for the Trophy Cup as they will each steer a Doug and Kathy Rutz sprinter. Tony Gualda who has been in the Rutz cars often this year has landed a ride in the Vanlare sprinter for Trophy CupASCS National star and 2018 Dirt Cup champion Seth Bergman will pilot the Menne motorsports sprinter during Trophy Cup…Randy Hannagan who began his career in the bay area but has made a living in Ohio will return to the west coast aboard the Lemley family sprinter based out of Washington…Iowan Terry McCarl who has been a regular at Trophy Cup through the years will not be attendance…Amazingly Sean Becker is amongst the big name drivers with still has no ride for Trophy Cup. Other drivers include siblings Ryan and Jodie Robinson…Also Michael Faccinto is without a ride after an impressive four week stint aboard the Harley Van Dyke sprinter. Keith Kunz driverJessie Love returns to the seat for Trophy Cup…California native Logan Seavey continues his assault on the POWRI National Midget Series as he scored win number 12 Sunday night setting a series record. Overall Seavey has won 16 open wheel dirt track races this year…Lastly Austin Liggett continues to be impressive as he picked up his fifth non wing win of the year Saturday at Petaluma with USAC West Coast sprint cars. Liggett’s five wins are tied with Brody Roa for most non winged wins on the west coast…Tristan Guardino won the season USAC west coast season championship. He also made some cameo appearances late in the year at Ocean with the winged 360.

 

        That is it. Time to start getting packed and make the 16 hour tow south to the Trophy Cup. I will be providing updates all weekend long on twitter from Trophy Cup as the champion seeks $26,000.

        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa…Oh boy it is only two weeks away…that is Trophy Cup 2019. The biggest race on the west coast bar none is near and the hype is beginning. Most important everybody wants to handicap favorites and discuss which driver will walk away with all the money and glory Saturday night October 19 in the central valley of California. Well I decided to look at back at season to date and compile the numbers and figure out who have been the best drivers on the west coast this year. I looked at all the races on the west coast and added wins and podium finishes to determine the best drivers of the year on the west coast. This does not mean these are my favorites but just a look at the drivers that consistently finished up front on the west coast.

 

            1) Shane Golobic (33 pts)- Driving the Matt Wood sprinter Golobic has been nothing less than the best this year as he has racked up eight wins and an amazing 25 podiums on the west coast this year. In addition to being recognized as the best sprint car driver on the west coast Golobic is also a two time Trophy Cup champion. What is not to like. Golobic enters as one of the obvious favorites.

 

            2)Justin Sanders (30 pts)- Sanders has won 11 races to date in three different rides. Overall he has scored 19 podiums. He enters Trophy Cup in the Dale Miller sprinter which he has one win and three podiums on the year. Sanders is amazing but seems to do his best work in his family car or the Von Schriltz XXX. Can he be as dominant in the Miller sprinter on a track he rarely competes at?

 

            3)Andy Forsberg (29 pts) - Like Sanders Forsberg has won 11 races to date. His been in the podium 18 times as he splits time between his own ride and the F&F sprinter. Don't look for Forsberg at Trophy Cup…he will not be competing. Forsberg does all is work on the tight 1/4 miles in the northern valley. Paul McMahon will be aboard the F&F sprinter at Trophy Cup.

 

            4)Bud Kaeding (26 pts) - Kaeding flew under the radar this year but the only driver to ever win a Trophy Cup, Oval Nationals and Western World is no stranger to big wins. Overall he scored five wins and 21 podiums as he split time between his father’s Maxim and the Williams/Alviso Rock Maxim. Kaeding cannot be underestimated.

 

            5)Sean Becker (20 pts) - One of the best in California Becker traditionally does his best work north of the bay and this year he scored eight wins and 12 podiums  finishes as he split his time between three different rides. Don't be confused Becker can be a contender in the central valley and just needs a chance. Becker currently does not have a ride for Trophy Cup.

 

            Just missing the cut was Mitchell Faccinto (seven wins and 12 podiums) and Jason Solwold (four wins and 15 podiums). Faccinto had seven wins through mid-July but has been silent since, while Solwold has seemingly lived on the podium this year. Dominic Scelzi also has seven wins but has split his time between the west coast and the World of Outlaw Tour cutting into his point total.

 

New and Notes…Becker’s eighth win came over the weekend as he set a new track record and won the $5000 Adobe Cup at Petaluma aboard the Dan Monhoff sprinter… Becker outlasted Kalib Henry and Tony Gualda…Henry was aboard his father’s sprinter, while Gualda was taking his first voyage in the Worden family sprinter…Gualda is still looking for a Trophy Cup ride…Sanders won his 11th feature over the weekend at Ocean Friday night…He finished the season with five straight wins at the coastal racetrack…Sanders was the winner however was not the champion as that honor went to JJ Ringo abroad the Keller Motorsports sprinter…It was the first championship for the driver but not a first  for team owner Mike Keller. He is a former sprint car champion at Santa Maria Raceway in the 1980s…Brad Furr ran second to Sanders at Ocean while Colby Copeland rounded out the podium as he made his first appearance in Antaya Motorsports sprinters in a month… Scelzi continues to dominate the win column with NARC as he scored his fifth win of the season with the series Saturday night at Kern County Raceway…Despite his dominance in wins Scelzi still sits third in NARC points behind DJ Netto and Bud Kaeding. With two race left only eight points separate the top three…Kaeding was second Saturday night while Rya Bernal rounded out the podium. Bernal is fourth in NARC points in first full season running with series…Normally a winged driver Kaleb Montgomery picked up the USAC West Coast victory at Santa Maria Raceway. Montgomery is a very talented driver who just needs some better funding to fulfill his potential…Showing off his versatility Ringo followed securing a championship at Ocean with a third place run Saturday at Santa Maria…Although northwest season is over big news over the weekend was rookie Bailey Jean Sucich being the lucky winner of a new SHARK racing engine. She was amongst the 10 drivers to compete weekly at Skagit and Grays Harbor during the Dual Track Bonus. All ten drivers were entered into a drawing with top prize being a $45,000 SHARK ASCS engine. Sucich was the lucky winner…The Dual Track Bonus increased car counts all summer in Washington and hopefully new GHR promoter Bert Johnson will work with Steve Beitler to continue this new concept in 2020.

 

            Next week will be my last column before Trophy Cup and I will provide my 10 favorites for the race. The only sprint car race on tap this weekend on the west coast is the iconic Cotton Classic at Kings Speedway in Hanford. This is shows the ultimate double dip as it features the NARC 410 sprinters and the SCCT 360 sprinters.

 

            Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…If you live on the west coast and you like sprint car racing all eyes have turned towards California. With rain and cold weather hitting the northwest it was a quick hard reminder that summer is done and fall is here. Luckily the southern part of the west coast enjoys better weather and warmer temps and an opportunity for the season to continue for the stars of the west coast.

            The only thing on tap this weekend was the Stephen Allard Fall Nationals at Silver Dollar Speedway. The two night show has long been a staple of the west coast sprint car scene but with addition of the late Stephen Allard name this event has turned into one of the premier events on the west coast. This year saw 51 drivers compete Friday and 55 on Saturday making it the highest car count on the west coast all year to date bigger than Asparagus Cup, Dirt Cup, Platinum Cup and the Placerville Posse shootout. This shows how much drivers want to pay homage to Stephen Allard and his legacy. Although the show pays less than other big 360 races on the west coast, it is definitely one of those races where the prestige of winning is often times bigger than the money.

            This years addition saw Justyn Cox pick up his first career win at Silver Dollar on Friday night outlasting Shane Golobic while it was Tim Kaeding getting the job done on Saturday as he raced by Justin Sanders late in the race. Golobic was going for his eighth podium and third win of September unfortunately was unable to make the call Saturday ending his spectacular month in lackluster fashion.

            This time of year every race is analyzed in the lens of Trophy Cup and looking for favorites, surprises and those drivers struggling during 360 money season. Golobic has two trophy cup wins and has to date let the competition know he will be a contender. Tim Kaeding has been fast in the 410 but now seems to be getting the 360 rolling and he also has trophy cup wins in his resume. Cox is peaking and Justin Sanders looks to get the speed he needs to contend for that first trophy cup win. Rico Abreu will back on the West Coast soon and will bring a teammate and last years winner Jac Haudenschild with him. The Scelzi brothers will be potent as they have each spent a lot of the year competing against stout Midwest/Outlaw competition. The Tarlton team will be employing The Steel City OutlawTim Shaffer and young Buddy Koifoid. These are just of the few big name favorites as Trophy Cup is now less than three weeks away.

           

            But before Trophy Cup there are still some big shows on the table this next weeks action will include the season championship at Ocean Speedway on Friday night, while Saturday night features 360s at Petaluma for the $5000 to adobe cup and the 410 stars of NARC at Kern County in the central valley.

            News and Notes: Cox whose Septemer started slow finished strong with first and sixth at Placerville and then a first and fifth at Silver Dollar. He was aboard the Doug and Kathy Rutz sprinter at Silver DollarSpeaking of the Doug and Kathy Rutz Friday was the first time their car has been in victory lane in California. Cox will back aboard this weekend in PetalumaAmazingly Tim Kaedings win was his first 360 win of the year in the Joshua Bates sprinterSanders who has struggled in the 360 in September led for a while on Saturday before settling for second in the Dale Miller sprinterMichael Faccinto spent his second weekend in a row aboard the Harley Van Dyke sprinter and put it in the main each night. He best run was 10th on Saturday…Michael’s brother Mitchell was back in action after a few weeks off and brought the Stan Greenberg sprinter home fourth on SaturdayAnother driver who took the previous week off Bud Kaeding rounded out the podium Saturday in the Williams Motorsports/Alviso Rock MaximChase Madjic coming off some bad press concerning the World of Outlaws came home fifth Friday night as the outlaw kart star continues to improve in the sprintsWashington star Devon Borden started his California swing by putting his ride in the main both nights at Fall nationalsOther northwest stars competing at Fall Nationals were Skagit regular Greg Hamilton, Summer Nationals winner JJ Hickle and Cottage Grove champion Tyler ThompsonHamilton put it in the A Friday, while Hickle put it in the A Saturday after scratching FridayWillie Croft who struggled last week at Placerville rebounded with a third on Friday and a top 10 on Saturday aboard his own sprinterSilver Dollar legends Andy Forsberg and Sean Becker each had solid weekends resulting in top 10 runs each night. Ryan Robinson, Cox and Croft were the only other drivers to run top 10 both nights...California stars were well represented at the four crown nationals at Eldora. In All Star action Cory Eliason, Gio Scelzi and Buddy Koifoid were 2-3-4 in the main. In midget action Tanner Carrick, Logan Seavey and Rico Abreu ran 2-3-4Speaking of California stars Brad Sweet has reasserted control of the World of Outlaw point race after Donny Schatz had a ough weekend. Sweet looks to join Jason Meyers as the only California natives to win the Outlaw championshipDown south in Arizona RJ Johnson picked up his first USAC/CRA win of the year as he outlasted fellow Arizona star Stevie Sussex and Austin Williams. Damion Gardner ran fourth and maintained his point leadThe non-winged boys have five races left all in November all joint shows with the National guys.

            That is all for this week. While my next race isnt until Trophy Cup look for columns the next two weeks looking at the action on the west coast and previewing Trophy Cup.

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…The Northwest sprint car season came to an end this last weekend with a two day show at the Yakima Dirt Track. The season began more than five months ago at the same track in early April with a Jason Solwold sweep and ended with Grays Harbor Champion Jay Cole winning Friday night and Summer Thunder Series Champion Devon Borden Saturday night. In between battles had been waged and slides jobs exchanged and as the dust settled 19 drivers had won at least one main event in Washington and Oregon.

            For Borden it ended a magical season in the northwest as he scored one ASCS national win (preliminary night of Brownfield Classic at Grays Harbor), three Summer Thunder wins and seven wins overall as he was the winningest driver throughout Washington and Oregon. Borden marked his arrival in early May when he outraced Solwold at Skagit to score his first career Summer Thunder Series win. This win at Skagit  against the barometer of the northwest was a signal of what was to come. Borden stormed to five more wins throughout the summer often in dominating fashion. In total he racked up 10 podiums.

            While Borden was dominating the win scene Solwold was always in the mix. After  sweeping shows at Yakima and Cottage Grove to start the season Solwold would not find victory lane again despite running on the podium 15 times and top 5 in  all but three 360 races he entered. He was involved in an epic battle on Saturday night of Dirt Cup before finishing fourth and at the Summer Nationals he settled for his third bridesmaid in four years. In between he barely missed winning his first Brownfield Classic as he chased Matt Covington to the finish line. Solwold had one last act left in late August when he ran third with Outlaws on a Friday night at Skagit Speedway. Logan Schuchart would sweep the show at Skagit, Daryn Pittman scored the win at Grays Harbor and Brad Sweet won at Willamette in Oregon.

            Back to Dirt Cup, This classic which takes place in mid June provided one for the ages as the 40 lap finale ultimately turned into a trade of slide jobs and test of bravo as Solwold and ASCS National Stars Blake Hahn, Matt Covington, Robbie Price and Seth Bergman swapped spots on a lap by lap basis. Hahn lead early, Covington broke while leading late but when the checkered fell it was Canadian and former Skagit track Champion Robbie Price standing tall with the $15,000 paycheck as he outlasted Hahn and Bergman. Another northwest regular turned ASCS star Roger Crockett won Friday night over a hard charging Colton Heath. Hahn won the first night over Covington and Solwold.

            On to Heath - the northwest stalwart finished with three wins as he scored two wins (one in May over Solwold and one in mid July) at Skagit and a Summer Thunder win at Grays Harbor to open September. Despite being the only regular with multiple wins at Skagit he wasn't factor in the point battle which was won by Cam Smith. Smith won an early June main over Bergman and Solwold and then gained the point lead in late August to score his first track championship. Smith was chased in points by one-time winner Greg Hamilton. Besides his Summer Thunder win at the track in early May Borden also won at Skagit in late August.

            The other driver who one two 360 races at Skagit provided one of the biggest surprises of the year. It may have been forecasted on opening night at Skagit when JJ Hickle finally scored his first win at the track to open the season. He then endured bad break after bad break. He didn't make it to Saturday night of Dirt Cup as he struggled mightily through the weekend and was only able make it to one night of northwest speed week before heading back home. But come the end of July he was talk of the of the northwest as he shocked the Skagit faithful when he passed Solwold and Bergman in the waning laps to claim the $10,000 first prize. Hickle drove by the two as they raced each other and set sail to the biggest win of his career. Bergman won the preliminary night at Summer Nationals over…who else Solwold. Hickle is now the pedal masher for the Ivan Worden based sprinter based out of California.

            Time to talk about Seth Bergman. He arrived in late May to race in his native northwest for the summer and the competition immediately took notice. He won in early June at Grays Harbor and was second the next week at Skagit. He finished third at Dirt Cup and was seemingly a factor in every race he entered. He picked up a mid-July win at Grays Harbor then won in early August at Cottage Grove. He headed home shortly after and had won four races and scored nine podiums during his two plus month stay..

            Cole’s win Friday at Yakima was a shocker and his first career Summer Thunder Series win. Cole also won a point race in mid June at Grays Harbor during his championship run there as he enjoyed a resurgence in his career this summer. Cam Smith would finish second points after winning a feature in May at the track. In addition to his ASCS win in June Borden won in late April, early July and early September.

            While Bergman grabbed a a lot of headline he was not the only invader of the northwest this summer. California stars Justyn Cox and Tony Gualda spent ample time steering the Doug and Kathy Rutz sprinters. They each picked up a wins at Cottage Grove. Cox nabbed the win at the Grove during the Marvin Smith memorial, while Gualda took the second night of the Summer Thunder Series two night stand in August. Both drivers did their best work in Oregon as neither scored a podium in Washington.

            Gualda however could not make the call for Dirt Cup which allowed California star Justin Sanders to hop into the Rutz car and make his first appearance at the famed race. While he did not find success during the weekend returned to the northwest a month later for speed week and snagged a victory at Cottage Grove on Wednesday night in his familiar family owned sprinter. Sanders also finished second to Cox at the Marvin Smith as he steered the Willie Kahne sprinter in the Memorial Day tradition..

            On the subject of speed week California star Mitchell Faccinto completely dominated as he won three of the five races - he won at Yreka, Sunset and the finale at Cottage Grove. Faccinto never finished outside the top five and was off the podium only once during the five races. As he dominated Kyle Hirst spent the first three races of the speed week turning wrenches and drinking beer and then hopped in the drivers seat the fourth night and won at Cottage Grove. Hirst then finished third Saturday as he continues to rack up podiums in his limited starts. Colby Copeland seemingly had the Saturday finale won at Cottage Grove but bad luck bit hard on lap 38 as broke while leading. The race at Sunset will forever be remembered for a classic wheel to wheel battle between Sanders and Oregon star Jake Wheeler that lasted countless laps and involved no touhcing.

            Cottage Grove produced three different winners during speed week and overall had ten 360 races and producing nine different winners. Solwold won twice with Faccinto, Sanders, HIrst, Cox,  Wheeler (early June), Tyler Thompson (late August), Bergman and Gualda all snagging one. Thompson won the track championship.

            And that is the northwest season in review. All 19 winners are mentioned at least once. I will do the same thing for California when the season ends there.

           

NEWS AND NOTES: With the northwest season complete look for Borden pick up some races in California as he seeks to get as many laps as he can…Another young northwest star started his sprint career this weekend as Colby Thornhill made his debut at Yakima and ran in the top 10 Saturday. Thonrhill is a known commodity in mini sprint ranks from Deming to California to Tulsa…Young Oregon star Tanner Holmes made the trip to Yakima worthwhile as he ran second on Saturday night. His best finish to date with the Summer Thunder Series…Idaho based Logan Forler made a rare a northwest appearance this weekend at Yakima as he had not been seen in the northwest since April at Cottage Grove…Speaking of rare appearances Utah based Chauncey and Channing Filler made the long trek to the Yakima Dirt Track. Chauncey has a win earlier this year at Sweetwater, WY duringASCS Frontier region competition…Justyn Cox and Rico Abreu were the winners during Placerville’s season closing two night Posse Shootout…Abreu’s win was worth $7000 and combined with a second on Friday was a great rebound for Abreu who recently had a re-shuffle on his team…Golobic finished second and third over the weekend and now has 23 podium finishes on the west coast this year…Kyle Hirst was aboard the Canales sprinter and finished third Saturday night - not bad for a part timer… Placerville track champion Andy Forsberg scored two top fives during the Posse Shootout while point runner up Kalib Henry nailed down a fourth Friday night…Copeland continues to run good in high profile 360 races as of late - second at Johnny Key, third at Platinum Cup and fifth at the Shooutout. All have been aboard the Van Lare SHARK powered sprinter…Copeland was teammates to Gualda who was in the second Van Lare car…Gualda will be back in the Rutz sprinter this weekend at Chico as will as Cox…Cox who steered the Morrison Concrete/Moxie Motorsports sprinter at Placerville this weekend including the $2500 Friday night win…Sanders and fellow California star Tim Kaeding made little noise over the weekend at Placerville. That isn't normal…Michael Faccinto spent the weekend aboard the Harley Van Dyke sprinter at Placerville came home seventh on Saturday. Faccinto is a star in micros and midgets and is a legend at the Tulsa Expo Arena but still seeking that full time sprint car ride…Some of the stars absent for weekend at Placerville were Mitchell Faccinto, Bud Kaeding, Geoff Ensign, Willie Croft and DJ Netto…Normal central California competitors Kaleb Montgomery and JJ Ringo made the trip to Placerville for the two nights. Montgomery put it in the A Friday, while Ringo snagged an A spot during Saturday night…Austen Williams scored his second USAC/CRA win of the year as he won the battle over Jake Swanson and Damion Gardner…It was the last race at the Perris oval before the prestigious Oval Nationals in November…Gardner continues to lead the points over Williams and Brody Roa…Roa ran fifth in his debut in the Dwight Cheney sprinter.

 

            That is all. I am out.

 

            terrelljoseh@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa…Every year as I drive home from Gold Cup I began to realize the racing season is winding down. In the northwest the season is just about over but even in California the season starts to slow down as usually their is only one maybe two offerings each weekend as the summer turns fall and fall starts to turn to winter. And with this champions begin to get crowned.

 

                        In late August Petaluma crowned Joh Clark while over in the valley Sean Becker was crowned at Silver Dollar Speedway. Up the I-5 in Oregon Cottage Grove crowned youngster Tyler Thompson. Labor Day weekend saw Michael Ing score the championship at Marysville after an impressive six wins at the track. A week later up in Washington Jay Cole added to his already full trophy chest as he scored the honors at Grays Harbor Raceway. This last weekend saw two of the more high profile track championships on the west coast awarded as Placerville Speedway in California and Skagit Speedway in Washington ran their season championships…or tried to.

           

                        What I mean by tried to is that while Placerville was able to settle their championship on the trackSkagit Speedway had rain decide the battle. Going into Saturday night Cam Smith had a mere five point lead over Greg Hamilton as both drivers sought their first track championship. Multiple time track champion Eric Fisher was sitting 14 points behind looking for a bad night from both to score another Skagit crown. However in what has been one of the driest years in recent history in the northwest mother nature had different ideas Saturday night and she let loose early and often forcing an early cancellation and handing the championship to Smith who had only gained the point lead during the previous point race in late August. Smith aboard the Dave Smith sprinter had one win and five top five finishes on the season versus one win and four top five finishes for Hamiton who steers the Greg Hamilton Racing sprinter. Ultimately it was the final point race August 24 that settled it as Smith came home fourth and Hamilton finished seventh.

 

                        Placerville Speedway did settle theirs on the track and Andy Forsberg capped off an amazing run at Placerville to score the championship over budding star Kalib Henry. Forsberg left no doubt as he roared to his seventh win of the season at the speedway aboard the F&F Racing sprinter. Forsberg has won more championships than one can count and continues to dominate those small northern California bullrings. Henry who had won the previous two point races couldn't keep pace on championship night and settled for second in points in what has been a breakout season for the young driver who split time at the track aboard the Jensen Motorsports sprinter, the Mcculloch’s RV sprinter and even one night in his dad’s sprinter. Henry will definitely be a contender next weekend as Placerville closes out their season with their two night NorCal Posse Shootout.

 

                        While this was going on the World of Outlaws were closing out their west coast swing in Calistoga after a midweek adventure in Placerville and a Friday night rendezvous at Stockton. David Gravel closed it out in style by setting fast time and then dominating the main event to score his eighth win on the season and keep his slim championship hopes alive. Donny Schatz who finished fourth at Calistoga weathered the west coast swing and some rough nights to escape with a slim point lead over Brad Sweet who scored two wins and five podiums during the nine race swing as he put the pressure on. Daryn Pittman also scored two wins during the swing as he continues to run fourth in points ahead of Logan Schuchart who roared to three wins and five podiums during the swing. His third victory of the swing at Stockton was bittersweet as it came at the expense of his teammate Jacob Allen who seemingly had his first outlaw victory sealed when ignition problem knocked him out on lap 28. It was another heartbreak for Allen who just can’t quite seem to get over the hill and conquer a main event. And while this was the heartbreak story of the week the feel good story of the week happened Wednesday in Placerville as Shane Golobic took the popular win in the Matt Wood sprinter. It was his second outlaw win of his young career. After battling for the lead on the opening night of Gold Cup Golobic found himself back in outlaw victory lane at Placerville. Th win left him feeling confident again as he had began to doubt whether he would conquer the outlaws ever again after doing it is a teenager.

 

NEWS AND NOTES: As Golobic was scoring an outlaw win fellow California superstar Justin Sanders was again ever so close as he finished third Wednesday night at Placerville….Golobic (twice), Sanders, Tim Kaeding and Jason Solwold were only non outlaw drivers to score podium finishes during the west coast swing …Golobic, Dominic Scelzi, Rico Abreu and Bud Kaeding were the only California locals attend all five races during the outlaw swing through the California…It was Golobic’s first 410 win of the year to go with six wins in 360 competition…Forsberg leads all drivers on the West Coast with wins as he sits at 11 following his win this weekend…Tony Gualda made his second appearance aboard the Van Lare SHARK powered sprinter Saturday at Placerville and ran second…Justyn Cox whose own ride is out of engines announced he will drive the Morrison Motorsports sprinter at the Posse Shootout. Siblings Ryan and Jodie Robinson have each spent time in this car this season…California star Buddy Koifoid spent the season racing in Ohio in the Ed Neumeister owned Linder family operated sprinter has announced he is searching for a ride as this was only a one year deal. Koifoid has enjoyed much success this season including a track championship at Fremont Speedway and an All Star win. Koifoid will be in Tarlton sprinter at Trophy Cup…Also announced All Star point leader Aaron Reutzel will be in a car at Trophy Cup…Another Californian star competing in the midwest Logan Seavey continues to have a dream season as he scored his 10th POWRI National Midget series win of the year. It was 13th midget win of the year and 15th open wheel win overall. Not bad…Another young California star making noise Gio Scelzi made his pavement Late Model debut over the weekend at Irwindale and did what he does - win….Non wing star Brody Roa won the USAC southwest feature Saturday night leads the point standing and sits third in USAC/CRA points as seeks to win both championships…Fellow SoCal star Jake Swanson currently sits in the top 10 in all four western USAC series (USAC/CRA, USAC Southwest, USAC West Coast and USAC W/S Midgets)… And finally straight out of the midwest Kyle Cummins won his seventh non wing feature of the year at Tri-State speedway in Indiana. They have only had seven features all year. That is right - perfection.

 

                        Next weeks action features the Shootout at Placerville in California and the two night Summer Thunder Series finale at the Yakima Dirt Track. I will be at home in Olympia working on those chores I neglected during the summer months.

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmai.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Along the I-5…Only once a year on the west coast can a fan or driver do four nights of sprint car racing in a row at the same track. That time is of course the annual Gold Cup which happens every September at the famous Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Ca. The high banked quarter mile is action packed and it can be slick, hooked up, rough and all points in between leaving two nights never being the same. This is year was no different as fans were greeted to different track surfaces almost every night. Unexpected rains on Wednesday and non stop winds on Thursday and Saturday contributed to the wide range of track surfaces. Overall 63 different drivers competed in the four night extravaganza.

 

            This years Gold Cup took on a new form as it no longer featured the USAC/CRA sprints on Thursday night as it had for so many years but instead was essentially split into two two night shows. Wednesday and Thursday featured the 360s as they competed for $2500 on Wednesday and $4000 on Thursday in a show billed as the Platinum Cup. The format was based on the World of Outlaw format with the difference being that the first four on the preliminary night transferred directly to the dash and therefore the main on Thursday night.

 

            Wednesday night may have been the best action of the week as the 30 lap main event featured an amazing eight official lead changes but had many more as Andy Forsberg and Kalib Henry swapped the top spot on an almost turn by turn basis during the final 15 laps. Forsberg worked the bottom to perfection as he used patience to grab the lead for good at the white flag and hold on during a furious final lap aboard the F&F Racing sprinter. Henry continues to shine in the last half on the season ran the top without fear aboard the McCollouch RV sprinter and ultimately settled for second. Pole sitter Shane Golobic and 13th starting Dominic Scalzi grabbed the last two automatic transfers.

 

            Following Wednesday’s 30 lap main Thursday was to be a 40 a lap edition but mother nature had different ideas. With a non stop wind from the south that never relented the track crew battled the surface all night and ultimately the 40 lap race was shortened to 30 because of excessive tire wear. And while in the past I have been very critical of tracks shortening main events on this night this was the obvious choice. Rubber could be smelt starting about lap 11 and it was obvious excessive wear was occurring. Golobic would grab the main aboard the Matt Wood Racing sprinter as he snuck by Colby Copeland on lap 17 as Copeland hadn't found the rubber. Wille Croft also snuck by Copeland in own Amerikote sprinter to secure second. Copeland finished third aboard the Van Lare SHARK powered sprinter. Copeland was disappointed as he again came up short in his efforts to score a big win for the Van Lare family. He was leading the Oregon speed week finale when he broke in July, finished second at the Johnny Key in August and now third at the Platinum Cup in September.

 

            After two nights of 360 action it was time for the Gold Cup headliner which consisted of two nights of World of Outlaw action. Friday night featured an $8000 to win 30 lap adventure and Saturday was $15,000 to win while taking 40 trips around the Silver Dollar oval. The last few years the outlaw have struggled in Chico with California drivers displaying a major home court advantage. Rico Abreu had won two of the last three and last year led a California sweep of the podium on Saturday as Tim Kaeding was second and Cory Eliason third. In 2017 Justin Sanders finished a strong second after looking like he had the car to beat. This year the outlaws got their revenge at Gold Cup on Saturday night as they dominated the action and once again proved why they are the best drivers in the world.

 

            Friday night the California drivers looked like agin they may rule the weekend as outlaw regular and California native Brad Sweet won over fellow Californians Kaeding and Golobic. Golobic -  who has one previous career outlaw win at Antioch Speedway - started second and was strong as he raced Kaeding for the lead early until Sweet swept by both of them and took the lead on lap 17 and never looked back. Kaeding brought the Sides Motorsports sprinter home second as it was his third straight second at Gold Cup. Golobic was third, while Sanders was seventh in the Jon Von Schriltz XXX and Bud Kaeding brought the Morrie Williams sprinters home ninth.  Although the the track Friday was hooked up and passing was at a premium Sheldon Haudenschild was able to go from 14th to fourth at the checkered.

 

            Saturday the outlaw took control. it was that simple. With $15,000 on the line and 40 laps around the Silver Dollar Speedway awaiting them the outlaws dominated the action Saturday night. Early on Sanders looked like he was going to carry the torch for California but after starting sixth in the main Sanders couldn't get going and ultimately left on the hook on lap 38. Copeland started eighth in the Trevor Canales sprinter and was running fifth when a wing hydraulic derailed his effort on lap 17.

 

            From this point the outlaws laid dominance as they placed in nine out of the top positions with one exception being Tim Kaeding who ultimately finished sixth. Daryn Pittman jumped to the lead at the start aboard the California based Dennis Roth KPC and never looked back as he lead all 40 laps to secure his second career Gold Cup championship. Sweet made a few challenges and as the laps waned Logan Schuchart joined the battle after starting 12th but the lap 38 caution for Sanders reset the field and left Pittman open track which he used to his advantage. He was followed to the line by Sweet and Schuchart. David Gravel came home fourth and Sheldon Haudenschild once again charged from mudpack (this time 13th) to secure a top five position.

 

            Saturday night offered a rough track but once which offered a lot of racing and much more excitement than Pittman’s dominance would lead to believe. The heat races were competitive - especially heat three featured a wicked battle for third to seventh  - and their was great action throughout the field during Saturday’s main event. It is difficult to have four nights of racing on a track and the crew at Silver Dollar Speedway worked hard all weekend to try to give drivers and fans the best track possible. Although the track was for perfect at all times overall their each night offered plenty of action and intrigue and that is all that can be asked for.

 

WEEKEND NEWS AND NOTES: The story of the weekend in a lot of ways was Antioch Speedway local Billy Aton who made a rare 410 start a memorable one Friday night. Aton qualified 12th finished second in his heat which led to a dash appearance and ultimately a sixth place starting position in main event He came home 11th. Aton did not return Saturday night…After his win Wednesday local star Andy Forsberg struggled the rest of the weekend and did not qualify for the 40 lap main Saturday night…Golobic bid for four podiums in four nights took a hit on Saturday when he one to pits early during a caution as ran around the top five. He would finish outside the top 10 Saturday night…The World of Outlaw shows featured lower than expected car counts wit 30 and 29 respectively…Amongst the missing were Silver Dollar superstar Sean Becker (no ride), NARC point leader DJ Netto (who won Saturday’s 360 show at Kings), Mitchell Faccinto (who competed Wednesday and Thursday before heading back home to Kings for Saturday) and early season NARC point leader Ryan Bernal (he spent the weekend steering the Josh Ford sprinter in USAC/CRA competition at Merced and Santa Maria)…Geoff Ensign competed in amazing nine races in eight days as he competed in three USAC/CRA races, two NARC races, the Platinum Cup and with World of Outlaws…11 drivers competed in all four nights at Silver Dollar with Kaeding,  Sanders and Copeland using two different rides to accomplish the feat…Kaeding was in the Joshua Bates sprinter the first two nights, Sanders steered the Dale Miller sprinter Wednesday and Thursday and Copeland was in the Van Lare sprinter and then the Trevor Canales sprinter….Jon Allard and outlaw kart star Chase Madjic each competed in three nights as Allard subbed for Madjic on Wednesday in the Mittry Motorsports sprinters. Madjic was back in the ride the rest of the weekend and Allard was aboard the Olfill family Country Builders Construction sprinter Friday and Saturday…it was weird to not see California star Kyle Hirst compete the 410 version of Gold Cup although he did compete in the Platinum Cup aboard the C & M Motorsports sprinter…which speaking of the C & M sprinter former driver Tony Gualda was spotted in their pit area Thursday night. Saturday he was aboard the Van Lare sprinter in Petaluma and finished fourth. Local driver Bradley Terrell picked up the win in Petaluma…The drive of the weekend may have occurred on Thursday night when Oregon driver Jake Wheeler wheeled his sprinter to an eighth place finish after starting 18th. What was impressive about this was the fact the track had taken rubber and no could seemingly pass expect Wheeler as he used the top part of the track. Wheeler literally drove the wheels off as he had two ear flats as the race ended…Speaking of northwest drivers JJ Hickle was aboard the Worden family car for the week and could not stay out of trouble in Chico each night as lady luck was not on his side. He rebounded to finish fifth at Petaluma on Saturday…On the northwest line Devon Borden scored his sixth win of the year up at Grays Harbor as he won the season finale. Jay Cole won the championship…Other champions crowned this year include Michael (Marysville), Sean Becker (Silver Dollar) and John Clark (Petaluma)…Lastly Damion Gardner claimed the win at Santa Maria Raceway Saturday night to conclude USAC/CRA speed week and win the championship. He won the title by one point over Austen Williams who had won the previous weekend in Calistoga…Austin Liggett picked up the victory Friday in Merced but missed the races at Petaluma on Monday and Santa Maria Saturday spoiling his chance for the championship…Danny Faria, Jr. finished third in the mini series followed by NARC regular Chase Johnson (won at Petaluma) and Jake Swanson (won at Calistoga).

 

            That is all for now. I am sure there is more I want to write about but I cant think of it now. With Gold Cup in the rear view all attention is now towards Trophy Cup as that is the next race I will attend. I will continue to write every week and keep to update all things West Coast sprint car racing.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 By Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa…Well that is that. The World of Outlaws hit the state of Washington Friday night at Skagit Speedway and with a blink of the eye they were departing Grays Harbor Raceway Monday night. Throw in a Summer Thunder Series race Sunday night at GHR and it was four race weekend for those dedicated race fans and for Jason Solwold as he was the only driver to compete in all four nights. But Washington was not the only state with a lot on the menu this week as California had the big Louie Vermeil Classic (Saturday/Sunday) featuring USAC/CRA and NARC, Petaluma had USAC/CRA Mondaynight and by the way Marysville Raceway had a point race Saturday night. Yes a lot 360/410 sprint action on the west coast this week.

 

            Before I dive into all the happenings of the weekend on the west coast a big announcement was made Monday night that the World of Outlaws would be coming back to GHR on Labor Day in 2020. This come on the heels of Bert Johnson taking over the track in the beginning of August from Steve Beitler. It was big for Johnson to be able to lock in the outlaws as their had been some murmur about them not returning. No official announcement was made at Skagit but with the Outlaws signed for Monday of Labor Day weekend next year it makes sense that Skagit will have its traditional Friday and Saturday dates. Although the car counts were lower than years past the crowds for the all three outlaw races in Washington show why the series keeps coming back to the northwest. Huge crowds greeted the outlaws each night.

 

            While it was great news to hear GHR confirmed for next year the track will definitely need to step up its program when it comes to hosting two day shows. The first night was marred by numerous scoring delays during the modified main and a push truck running over Cam Smith’s back tire. Monday night was more of the same as the track changed the format on ford focus midgets without warning and sprint qualifying saw at least three instances where the push truck had pushed off a sprint car to early creating some close calls. Also while Monday nights main was much better than Sunday track conditions both nights left something to be desired as huge ruts were visibly evident in turns three and four. The power of the 410s helped them navigate these obstacles better than the 360s which allowed them to put on a better show but the GHR staff needs to produce a better racing surface for the outlaws.

 

            One more quick item to discuss. A lot was made - especially by fans in the northwest - about NARC running the same weekend in Calistoga and how that hurt car count. And while it would have been nice if their was no conflict truth is NARC has to do what is best for their schedule and drivers and that really only two or three drivers would have come up to race with outlaws in Washington meaning car counts would still have been in the low 20s.

 

WEEKEND NEWS AND NOTES: Daryn Pittman won the first two World of Outlaw races of the year but since then has been blanked. He changed that Monday night as took the lead early from Shane Stewart and never looked back. Pittman continues to run fourth in points…Pittman’s pass for the lead Monday was the only pass for the lead over the weekend. Schuchart led all 70 laps at Skagit and Colton Heath led all 30 laps of the Summer Thunder Series main on Sunday…For Heath it was his first Summer Thunder win of the year as he tries to win his second championship in a row. Unfortunately point leader Devon Borden finished second. Two point races remain…For all intent and purposes Jay Cole cliched his 10th track title in the 360 class Sunday night with one race remaining…Donny Schatz closed his weekend with a second at GHR after running second at Skagit Saturday. In both races Donny came on late. In each instance he was running fifth before making his charge…Schatz second place finish came at the expense of Carson Macedo who had to settle for third in his first trip to GHR…Down in Marysville Saturday night Carson’s little brother Cole picked up the win the Tarlton Racing sprinter…The NARC Calistoga shows were won by Rico Abreu and Dominic Scelzi. For Scelzi it was his series leading fourth win of the year…Bud Kaeding was the only driver on the podium each night as he finished third and second…With three races left Kaeding trails DJ Netto by five points. Scelzi sits it third 12 points behind Netto. Willie Croft and Ryan Bernal round out the top five…Bernal joined Kaeding, Geoff Ensign and Chase Johnson in running both divisions at Calistoga. He finished second Saturday in the Colby Copeland owned sprinter with USAC/CRA…Austen Willaiams won Saturday with USAC/CRA while Jake Swnson took the win Sunday. For Swanson it was third win in as many weekends…Johnson won Monday at Petaluma with USAC/CRA after a strong weekend at Calistoga where results didn't show his speed. Johnson continues to be the most versatile driver California as he has picked up sprint car wins with NARC, SCCT and USAC/CRA. Overall he has seven sprint car wins this year…Ensign spent the weekend aboard his normal Clayton Snow ride for NARC and Finkerbinder sprinter for the USAC/CRA portion. His best finish over the weekend was seventh Sunday at Calistoga in the USAC/CRA main…Johnson (in the Thomas sprinter for each division) and Ensign were the only drivers to compete in both NARC shows and all three USAC/CRA shows over the weekend…The Canadian based Doug and Kathy Rutz owned team had an interesting weekend as they employed three drivers in three nights…Friday Borden made his 410 debut, Saturday featured Tony Gualda and Justyn Cox as did Sunday. Borden was the only driver to finish a main as the team battled lady luck all weekend. They had planned to run GHR Monday and Willamette Wednesday with Cox but a change of plans had them head home Monday morning and Cox return to California to run the first two nights of Gold Cup…As previously mentioned Solwold ran all four nights in Washington over the weekend. He brought the Shaylen Raye sprinter home third, ninth, fifth and 10th. Summer Nationals champion JJ Hickle ran sixth Sunday with Summer Thunder Series will head to California this week to hop into the Worden sprinter and run the first two nights of Gold Cup and then Saturday at Petaluma.

 

                        Well that is all for now. Getting ready to hit the road and head to Silver Dollar speedway for four nights of Gold Cup action. The new format should be exciting with two full nights of winged 360s and two full nights of winged 410s. In addition to Gold Cup other sprint car action on the West Coast includes season championships at GHR, point races at Petaluma and Kings Speedway and the conclusion of USAC/CRA speed week at Merced Friday and Santa Maria Saturday.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. I will be posting  updates all weekend long from Silver Dollar Speedway.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell 

 

Olympia, Wa…And just like that the World of Outlaw swing through Washington is almost done. What started Friday at Skagit Speedway will end tonight at Grays Harbor Raceway with a 30 lap $8000 to win main event. After two nights at the bullring the Outlaws will move to the wide and fast GHR for their annual visit. The outlaws have been coming to GHR since the mid-1990’s with a few missed years. The track has produced many different outlaw winners but in recent years one driver has dominated and with that the sharpies are ready to lay the odds for tonight’s race. Last nights track conditions at GHR has the sharpies concerned as the track became very rough during the Summer Thunder 360 main event. A rough track could shake the bottle up but the sharpies have moved on and are assuming track conditions will improve tonight.

 

            1) Donny Schatz (+25) The sharpies almost went even money but decided against it. With that said Schatz has been the driver to beat the last five years with three wins in four starts. Schatz struggled a little Friday at Skagit but rebounded in a big way Saturday as he roared to a second place finish after running fifth for  most of the feature. Schatz is seeking his ninth win of the 2019 campaign as he enters the night with a 26 point lead over Brad  Sweet.

 

            2) David Gravel (+75) Gravel started with a bang at Skagit Friday when he broke the existing track record but the rest of the weekend was rather average. Gravel struggled Saturday as his JJR team changed engines and replaced the front end in an attempt to gain extra speed. Gravel has never won at GHR but has been third the last two visits and currently sits third in points 114 behind Schatz. Gravel is looking for his eighth win of the year and is always dangerous at high speed joints like GHR.

 

            3)Logan Schuchart (+85) Schuchart has never been on the podium at GHR so how is he third in the odds. Easy after a dominating performance at Skagit in which he led all 70 laps in two nights the sharpies were not going to overlook Schuchart again. He comes in into the race fifth in points and is seeking his seventh win of the year.

 

            4)Brad Sweet (+115) The point leader for most of the year Sweet leads the series in wins and top five finishes. Sweet contended at Skagit Saturday before coming home third has one podium at GHR in the last five years. The sharpies almost didn't put Sweet on the list but thought better of it. Sweet has been in a draught and would like nothing better than to get win 13 as the series heads to the Golden State.

 

            5)Daryn Pittman (+140) Pittman sits fourth in points and has done it by being consistent. He only has two wins but has been up front all year long. Pittman finished second at GHR last year. Pittman had solid weekend at Skagit but really wants to make up some ground as the West Coast swing has always been good to him.

 

            Shane Stewart won in 2017 but with all the noise surrounding him and CJB Motorsports team the sharpies decided to stay away from a driver who has had much success at the GHR oval over the years including two outlaw wins and two Fred Brownfield Classic victories.

 

            A couple long shot odds for tonights show:

           

            Brent Marks (+400) For some reason the sharpies like the Pennsylvania standout Marks tonight. Maybe they just feel he is do for a good run. GHR is a little bigger than Skagit and Marks background is racing on the big high speed Pennsylvania ovals.

 

            Jason Solwold (+950) struggled a little Saturday night after his podium run on Friday. Solwold finished fifth last night as he tried to just survive the rough track has a lot confidence in his 410 program and with shuffle on the crew that has Peter Murphy turning the wrenches the sharpies see potential for the upset. Solwold missed last years race at GHR.

 

            Well that is it for now. Time to get back to the track for the final night of the outlaw swing through Washington.  I will have an article tomorrow with complete breakdown of all the action on the west coast over the weekend.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

Skagit Speedway…Outlaw weekend in the northwest is always huge. It is the most anticipated racing weekend of the year amongst fans and the campground and crowds proved it. Friday night saw the campground packed and the stands full. With 410 racing a thing of the past in the northwest fans flock to this weekend to see the premier division in all of sprint cars do its work. With 19 cars checked in (supported by 35 focus midget) the outlaws rolled the through a professionally ran program and Logan Schuchart was taking the checkered flag a little after 850 p.m.

            Fan were greeted to a super hooked up Skagit Speedway putting passing at a premium and challenging the fitness of the drivers. David Gravel admitted to being worn out after running a 10 lap heat race in about a minute and a half. Second and third place finishers Kraig Kinser and Jason Solwold both talked in post race interviews about the demanding nature of the track and the stress it put on cars and drivers. Schuchart made reference to the track being scary fast. Each start of a race was high intensity as drivers saw how important it was to get into turn one and out of two fast if they wanted to gain a position. In heat one Carson Macedo came together with Shane Stewart as they raced off turn four on the start - each big eyed to get into turn one first and gain the position. Stewart’s CJM Motorsports car was destroyed while Macedo was recipient of a few wayward punches from Stewart.

            How fast was it last night at Skagit Speedway for the World of Outlaws? An amazing six drivers qualified under the old track record led by David Gravel. With new clay put down earlier in the week Skagit Speedway was super hooked up all night long putting passing at a premium. The track widened during the 30 lap main event but still was too hooked up to see in significant movement during the A main. While it was little one lane and lacked passing the main event was amazing in its own right as the drivers were challenged by the demanding conditions and speeds. Watching the fastest sprint car drivers in the world push Skagit Speedway to its limit was an amazing sight nonetheless.

            Schuchart scored his first career outlaw win at Skagit Speedway and fifth of the year in the SHARK owned XXX. Schuchart was never challenged as he railed around the lightning fast Skagit Speedway and pulled away during the last 15 laps. Schuchart seemed to be able push the limits for more laps than other drivers as he kept a roaring pace over the second half of the race while the rest of the field fell behind. Kinser looked like he was the driver to beat during the heat and dash but lost the race into turn one in his KInser Racing owned Maxim and ran an unchallenged second all race.

            Solwold who started out outlaw weekend last year with a bang only to end with thud was super fast all night and brought home the Shaylen Raye Motorsports sprinter home third. Solwold had a scary moment late in the race as he struggled to get around slower Austen Wheatley allowing fourth place Ian Madsen to make up ground. Solwold eventually used a bonsai move in turn four to clear Wheatley and secure the spot. Madsen would finish fourth ahead of Brad Sweet.

            New and Notes: After being announced he would be parting ways with CJB Motorsports team Stewart was hoping for a big weekend at a favorite track. His first night was not what he was hoping for as he had to pull down second car to tag the A and finish 13th after his violent heat race flip…Local Justin Youngquist put together funds to rent a 410 for the weekend but trouble in the heat race caused him to scratch for A…Devon Borden’s first career run in the 410 was a learning day as he mainly tried to stay out of trouble and get laps in the Doug and Kathy Rutz owned sprinter…Justyn Cox will drive the car tonight through Willamette…Australian Jessie Attard drove from Pennsylvania to finish his American season with a run with the World of Outlaws on the West Coast. Attard crossed the line in 15th…Former World of Outlaw champion Jason Meyers was in the pits taking in the action at Skagit Speedway…Rumors about his presence were many but I am not going to speculate on these at this time…The low car count was definitely a point of conversation but most recognize it is the reality of a 410 race where 410s don't run.

            You can catch me tonight at Skagit Speedway for night two of the World of Outlaws. Down in California the Louie Vermeil Classic tips off for two night featuring NARC and USAC/CRA. Next two nights I will down in Elma Sunday for Summer Thunder Series and Monday for the World of Outlaws. This is my favorite week of the year as after Elma I head to Silver Dollar Speedway for four more nights of sprint car action.

                         terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswm. I will be providing twitter updates all night service permitting.

                       

 

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…Their was time through from 2006-2013ish that Skagit regulars provided some steep competition and won twice (Jason Sowlold-2006 and Travis Jacobson-2012) with a few stolen by lap traffic (Jayme Barnes 2008-2009). In 2011 it was local car owner Kevin Rudeen winning with soon to be Skagit speedway legend and Texan born Sam Hafertepe, Jr. takin the honors (his legend is well known at Skagit).Now Knoxville regular Trey Starks has battled the outlaws on the famed Skagit oval in previous years - before that he was winning Dirt Cup preliminary mains at an age most of us are acting dumb at. But times have changed though the fun of setting odds for Outlaw weekend hasn’t. The sharpies have set this weekends outlaw show at Skagit. They looked at history, the last five years of results at Skagit with Outlaws and then factored the current year to set the favorites.

1)      David Gravel (+50) – A little a bit of surprise given Gravel’s inconsistent history at Skagit. He did sweep in 2016 but has struggled mightily at times making it very difficult to handicap him. However given the fact that he has shown the ability to dominate at Skagit and given the run he has been on the last month the sharpies were swayed by recent results more than recent history.

2)      Donny Schatz (+75) – Like Gravel Schatz has mixed history at Skagit. He swept in 2014 but has only been on the podium twice since then in seven races. But it is Donny and like Gravel he has been running good lately and recently reclaimed the point lead. Schatz seems poised to get on a hot streak and seal the championship with some great string of wins – maybe Skagit will start the run?

3)      Brad Sweet (+100) – Has never won at Skagit. Led the Outlaw points until recently as he has struggled coming out of Knoxville. But don’t sleep on Sweet. He has three podiums in his last four mains at Skagit and has won more Outlaw races this year than anybody (12). While Sweet has been in a rut the last few weeks he thrives on the West Coast bullrings and Skagit is one he still hasn’t won at.

4)      Shane Stewart (+200) – this one is about history. Nobody runs better at Skagit in big shows than Shane Stewart. NOBODY! With this said he only has one podium in his last six A main starts at Skagit with the Outlaws and has probably not quite met expectations in the his first year with CJB team. However like Sweet Stewart feasts on the West Coast and no better track to start a West Coast run at than the place he has made his personal playground in the past

5)      Daryn Pittman (+225)- Kind of surprised this guy is fifth given the fact that he has won two of the last three main events at Skagit. With that said in Pittman’s last nine starts at Skagit he has no other podiums besides his two wins. Pittman is one of the most consistent drivers on the tour and always seems get slept on.

 

The five favorites are all Outlaw regulars as they have dominated Skagit action in recent years with the amount of non outlaw drivers dropping each year. This year looks to be the lowest as some of the drivers who have supported the Outlaws at Skagit (Rico Abreu, Willie Croft and Dominic Scelzi) will be in Calistoga running with NARC 410 series in dual show with USAC/CRA.  With that said their is two non Outlaw drivers the sharpies thought were worthy of odds.

       Tim Kaeding (+600) - Has never won a major race at Skagit and has struggled at times but sharpies looked at Kaeding’s recent performances and couldn’t overlook him. He dominated the NARC speedweek this past weekend has been a  front runner all year in the 410 division when he has ran them whether it has been in the Tiner sprinter or the Sides Motorsports sprinters. He will be driving the Sides car this weekend. He may not win but look for Kaeding to be a factor.

       Jason Solwold (+1000) - Last minute addition. Sharpies like the fact he got 410 laps in at Knoxville and think it might translate to a good run at his home track. Solwold has not won all year at Skagit but he can be break the drought in a big way with a magical run this weekend.

Even though the car count will hover around 20 for the weekend, which will disappoint some,I expect great action as Steve Beitler and his crew have had Skagit Speedway in top shape the last few years for the World of Outlaws and this year should provide more of the same.

NEWS & NOTES: A lot of action of the west coast last weekend and it was headlined by four night NARC speed week featuring Kyle LarsonLarson won the first night and immediately talk of a four night sweep started but the Kaeding brothers had something different in mind as they won the next three (Tim won two, Bud the other one)Tim Kaeding was truly dominant as he rolled the Rod Tiner sprinter to four podiums in four nightsOn Friday night both Ocean Speedway and Silver Dollar speedway had 360s on tap and couple familiar faces graced victory lane.At Ocean Justin Sanders picked up his fifth win of the year at the track and 10th overall on the West Coast to lead all drivers...At Silver Dollar Sean Becker closed out the regular season with his fourth win in last five races at the track in the Menne Motorsports sprinter to clinch the track championship. Becker was not done as he won the next night in Petaluma in the Worden sprinter. It Beckers sixth overall win of the yearRunning second to Becker at Silver Dollar was Kalib Henry in the Jensen Motorsports sprinter. Henry has been fast lately no matter the ride and seems poise to challenge for some of the big money California 360 races coming upMaking a rare appearance Friday night at Ocean was legend Brent Kaeding who drove his own sprinter to second place finishIn addition to Petaluma Saturday night saw 360 action at Marysville, in Oregon at Cottage Grove and SkagitLike Becker Andy Forsberg ran the first two nights of NARC speed week before running the 360 Friday and Saturday. After running fourth on Friday at Chico, Forsberg rebounded to win at Marysville. It was his ninth overall win of the yearYoung Oregon driver Tyler Thompson picked up his first 360 career 360 win at Cottage Grove outrunning Kyle Miller and Tony GualdaGualdas teammate for the night in Rutz sprinter was Southern Oregon star Garen LinderLastly at Skagit Devon Borden dominated as he rolled to his second win of the year at Skagit and fifth overall. Borden set fast time and stormed to the lead by lap two and was never challenged.

            That is all for now. As previously mentioned I am headed to Skagit for Friday and Saturday and then GHR Sunday and Monday. Will definitely have an article Sunday handicapping the favorites for GHR and looking back at the nights of action at Skagit. Also look for an article next Tuesday covering the action at GHR.

            terrlljoseph@hotmail.com and on twitter @idrinkiswim. Follow on twitter for updates all weekend long.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 BY Joseph Terrell - Tale of the Northwest Nomad

 Cannon Beach, Or…I am a dirt track guy. No doubt about it. Been going for more than 36 years every summer chasing dirt track racing up and down the west coast. it is my passion and the reason I started writing this column was because I spend so much time going to races and talking about races that I figured I might as well write about it. But over the last few years and have broadened my horizons and began to enjoy NASCAR at a time when it isn't cool to like NASCAR. I am now  a loyal follower and am pretty much up to speed to what is happening in the three major divisions at all times - when three years ago the only the thing i knew or cared about was Kyle Busch. So with this is mind I headed up to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wa. to take in a K&N West Pro Series 150 and the track local super late models around the monster 5/8 mile oval. This would be new to me no doubt. I have been to a few a pavement shows through the years but never a race sanctioned by NASCAR.

 

                        Until Saturday my experience with live NASCAR racing had been one night of truck qualifying years ago at Evergreen. I remember missing the Saturday night show to head to Skagit for a weekly show so I was in for a new experience on this night. First their would be no heat races. Both the K&N Series and super late models (along with the two support divisions) just qualified and then ran their main events. Where in dirt track racing we are used to show of qualifying, heat races and main event that start as the sun sets pavement racing is different as it as an all day experience.

 

                        We arrived little before 3 pm so we could catch the super late models and K&N cars qualify. From 415 to 545 pm track was quite as their was an autograph session and chance for fans to stretch their legs and take in the events of the day. The K&N cars were immediately impounded after qualifying - meaning teams could make no changes to the cars in between qualifying and the beginning of the race (I kinda wish major touring sprint car series would do this between qualifying and heats). At 545 the track came alive with the first support division and at 630 the K&N series took green. The K&N race was 150 laps with caution laps counting and on lap 75 their was five minute break to to change tires and making any necessary chassis adjustments.

 

                        Obviously one of the draws of the K&N series is young female sensation Hailie Deegan. Deegan has become a face of racing with her aggressive driving style and amazing personality and will continue to be as she has all the right ingredients to become a major star. Deegan - who finished ninth in Bristol with K&N East on Thursday - was strong during the middle of the race but slipped during the last 50 laps after getting to second. She battled an ill handling car at the end finally came home seventh. While I have not doubt Deegan has a great future I just hope the hype doesn't exceed the reality. Deegan is good - and one day might be great - but she is 18 and has a long way to go. Sometime race fans will latch onto a driver and expect what cannot be achieved. As a race fan I just want to enjoy Hailie Deegan and see where this goes and not overhype but just enjoy another young driver trying to make their way.

           

                        Just like dirt racing pavement racing is full of stars you’ve never heard of. Trevor Huddleston a little known driver nationally but an established superstar in California/Arizona pavement scene ran away with the show Saturday night to score his second win of the year. Huddleston won 22 races on pavement in 2017 running regionally. Running right behind him was 17 year old Wisconsin star Derek Kraus. Kraus is leading K&N West points and was second in K&N East points before missing Thursday’s race at Bristol. Kraus a high school wrestler has already dabbled in trucks. The pole sitter and early leader was Brittney Zamora a young star from Kennewick, Wa. who had the crowd on their feet all Saturday night. Zamora ultimately came home third in her best K&N West finish to date. Zamora, like Kraus and Deegan, competes in both K&N Series for a majority of the races.

 

                        And just like dirt racing pavement racing can be very humbling. Zamora pulled double duty and was beaming after her K&N run which she had faded to fifth before working her way to third. But in the super late models Zamora was just another driver as she ran mid pack before finally finishing sixth. She was never a factor at a track she has many laps at proving that like dirt track racing locals are fast and you can’t just show up and expect to win because your a big name.

 

                        I enjoyed my first K&N race and their will be more but it now time for this guy to back to dirt.

 

WEST COAST NEWS AND NOTES: No 360 racing in the Northwest sprint car racing this week as the ISCS limited sprint week of speed took center stage. Oregon star Tanner Holmes won the championship and winning three of the six races…Oregon drivers won the first five nights but Washington’s Kelsey Carpenter stopped the streak on the final night at GHR. Using a term often overused - why doesn't Carpenter have regular 360 ride?….Down in California three 360 races produced three different winners at Silver Dollar Speedway Friday and then Ocean and Placerville Saturday…At Chico Sean Becker did Sean Becker things and won the always emotional Tyler Wolf memorial. Becker’s win came aboard the Dan Menne #75 sprinter. In true Becker fashion he finished fifth the next night at Ocean in first voyage aboard the Antaya Motorsports #16…Speaking of the Antaya Motorsports ride normal driver Colby Copeland was behind the wheel Friday in Chico before hopping into the Van Lare #5v Saturday at Ocean and finishing second…Second to who at Ocean? Well of course that would be Justin Sanders who dominated the $5000 to win Johnny Key Classic and in the process won his west coast best ninth main event of the year aboard his families #17. Sanders finished 13th Friday night at Chico in the Dale Miller #4sa…Up at Placerville Kalib Henry won for the second straight week. It was his third win of the year as he won earlier in the year at Marysville Raceway. Henry won the week before in the McCullouch RV #17 scored his win this week in the Jensen Motorsports #5j…Henry started the year in the Worden Family #63 but that ride has recently become the stomping grounds of Skagit Summer Nationals winner JJ Hickle. Hickle was in the ride this weekend in Edmonton and I’d expect to see him in it more as the northwest season winds down…Speaking of Edmonton California ace Justyn Cox steered the Doug and Kathy Rutz #8 to win in their home country Friday night. Saturday night was spooked by rain…Back to California and the merry go around of rides and drivers. C&M Motorsports who have used a myriad of drives to fill their seat since departing with Tony Gualda in July had Kyle Hirst in the saddle Friday at SDS and Saturday at Placerville. Hirst delivered with a second and third place finish…Andy Gregg who started his season late but has been strong finished second  Saturday at Placerville in his own GUTS #16 after finishing fourth at SDS on Friday in a different ride. Gregg in putting the 410 for this weeks 410 speed week…Lastly what about the performance by Jake Swanson with the USAC/CRA at Perris as he rebounded from an early problem went to the back then roared back to win the race. All dirt track fans should go to a non wing race once at the PAS - it will change your life…My PAS moment was watching Brent Kaeding about 16-17 years ago work the top line and go from deep in the field to second on a preliminary night at the Oval Nationals - it was BK at his best and the last time I saw him truly like this…When right PAS is amazing…Speaking of the PAS besides Rip Williams no driver has been as dominant their as Damion Gardner yet he continues to struggle at the PAS this year and has yet to win.

 

                        While the west coast is dominated by 360’s the next few weeks will focus on 410s as we have 410 speed week in California and the the outlaws start their fall swing labor day weekend in Washington. My next article will look back at 410 speed week and look forward to the outlaw swing. In addition we have USAC/CRA speedweek which kicks off at Calistoga September 1.

 

                        I will be headed to GHR next weekend for their weekly show…until then I’ll be either swimming, running or cycling.

 

            E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 BY Joseph Terrell - Tales of the Northwest Nomad

 

Olympia, Wa…One of the pinnacles of July each year in the northwest is Northwest Speedwell. It has occurred early in the month and late in the month a few times but most often in the middle. Nonetheless northwest sprint car fans knew July was speed week month and more 20 years later nothing has changed. And just as that tradition has stood the test of time another speed week tradition is just beginning. Started last year the Interstate Sprint Car Series (ISCS) conducts a six race, six night , five tracks speed week for limited Sprints. After a successful inaugural campaign the Week of Speed as it has been dubbed returned again this year.

 

            Friday night I took in night five of the 2019 edition - and it also my first time spectating the ISCS series as a series. The format runs similar to Speed week in July where qualifying and heat race points are combined to determine your starting position. Then a pill draw is done amongst the top eight in points to determine the first four rows. The only difference really being that the ISCS qualifies in groups.

 

            Coming into Friday Oregon teenager Tanner Holmes had dominated the competition through the first four nights - which had been in Oregon before coming to Elma, Washington for the last two nights. Only fellow Oregon standout Jake Wheeler has been able to slow Tanner Holmes momentum as he had won Tuesday night at Cottage Grove. Besides that it had been all Holmes as he won in Coos Bay on Monday, the unplanned second night at Cottage Grove on Wednesday and then finally picked up his third win of the week on the suddenly fun Sunset Speedway in Banks. As the tour rolled into Elma on Friday to take on the mighty Grays Harbor Raceway (which had recently received some new clay) the question was could anybody stop the Tanner Holmes express. The answer…

 

            …Yes somebody could stop the Tanner Holmes express and it was fellow Oregon teenager Tyler Thompson. As Holmes was dominating Thompson had really been picking up the pace after a rough first two races. He had podium finishes on Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday he drove his families KPC flawlessly as he roared from seventh to take the lead from Skagit Speedway sportsmen ace Kelsey Carpenter on lap 16 and never looked back. Thompson was elated in victory lane commenting on the raciness of the track and how wing adjustments during the race really helped him get his car where it needed to be.

 

            Carpenter making his first Week of Speed start aboard the Bill Rude sprinter started second and led 10 laps before settling for second. He along with California’s Emily Williams looked to break the Oregon stranglehold on victory lane as Oregon drivers have now won all five races. Williams started third contended in the middle laps and then held off eighth starting Holmes for her best finish of the week.

           

            On a side note Holmes, Thompson and Williams made all five nights of 360 speed week in July and now have made the first five nights of the ISCS Week of Speed.

 

            Now back to Cottage Grove and that unplanned second night. First lets rewind to July when at the last minute Willamette Speedway cancelled their 360 speed week date because of mystery rain. Cottage Grove which was running Friday and Saturday that week stepped up and took the cancelled Willamette show giving them three nights.

 

            Now back to August and in this instance Cottage Grove was to run Tuesday and then a quick jaunt up I-5 to Willamette on Wednesday. Well the Linn County Health Department had other ideas and shut down the track Monday afternoon until further notice for numerous health violations that have not been fixed. Amongst the things to fixed was a lack of hot water in the restroom and lack of an accessible family restroom.This was supposed to be addressed by the beginning of the season in April and was not. Other issues that were to be addressed by June were not including obtaining permits to install approve fire alarm systems.

 

            At this point Willamette sits shut down as they not only have the mandates of April and June to remedy they also have issues that they need to be compliant with by 2020 race season including destroying and rebuilding a restroom. Not to mention the fire marshal has been poking around. Things are definitely shaky for the famed Linn County Oval. The World of Outlaws as of now are still on the schedule for September 4 but that time is fast approaching. And as we get closer I am sure more than a few drivers wouldn't mind seeing Cottage Grove again come to the rescue of a Willamette sprint car date. Stay tuned on this fluid issue.

 

            That is it for now. Headed to Evergreen Saturday night for K&N West and Super Late Models on the 5/8 mile paved oval. I will have a recap of my day at a pavement show and also a run down of all the happenings in the West Coast Sprint Car scene from the weekend.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

by Joseph Terrell - Tales of the Northwest Nomad

Olympia, Wa…Unless you have been abducted by aliens and taken to a place with no media you are aware the Knoxville Nationals occurred this last week. And while I spent most of the week holed up in my office at work I closely followed from afar as David Gravel finished what he started in 2017 and claimed his very first Knoxville Nationals. After a dominating performance in 2017 that was derailed by mechanical issues as he was on his way to victory, Gravel left no doubt this year as he won the Capitani Classic, his preliminary night and then topped off with a dominating performance Saturday night to bring home the $150,000.

Not only did Gravel win he spent the week being accompanied by NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon. With Gravel’s win the rumors started immediately that Gravel was headed to NASCAR. And while Gravel has been open about his interest in going South for his next career move lets not jump to conclusions. NASCAR is tricky game to get into and we all know the difficulty World of Outlaw drivers have had being successful in Cup cars. So before we bid Gravel farewell lets see how things play out. But having a person like Jeff Gordon being a supporter and believer will only keep the intrigue going as we start the final third of the sprint car season.

While Gravel deserves all the attention and accolades, I cannot ignore the job done by JJR to rebound from tragedy last year to being at the top of the sport again. Led by Phil Dietz the JJR team has quickly meshed with Gravel and now owns two Knoxville Nationals Championships as a team. That is an amazing accomplishment for this team. Dietz has become one of the best crew chiefs on the tour and I would keep your eyes on this team as they are not out of the championship hunt and obviously have tons of momentum.

Finishing second to Gravel was 22nd starting Logan Schuchart who roared through the star studded field to claim the runner-up spot. For Schuchart it was another great run in a major race that came up just short. Rewind to last month and Schuchart made a spirited charged from 12th at Kings Royal to take the lead and then ultimately finish second. That is two runner-ups and 30 passed cars in the two biggest 410 shows of the year. Not bad for Schuchart and the SHARK racing team as they continue to develop as a team and have really become a contender. Schuchart, much like Bobby Pierce in Dirt Late Models, is starting to be that driver that can come from anywhere in the field on any night to win a race – and like Pierce he has knack for doing when the field loaded. His consistency is not that of Brad Sweet, Donny Schatz and Gravel but he can race with them any night.

Rounding the top five on Saturday was Daryn Pittman (his best nationals finish), Tim Kaeding and Aaron Reutzel. Reutzel started on the pole Saturday and was my pick but faded during the race to fifth. Nonetheless his performance was another step in his ascension to stardom. While Californian Kaeding - who spends most of the year wheeling 360s in California - continues to shine whenever he is aboard the Sides Motorsports sprinter. Kaeding will definitely be a factor on the west coast swing as preliminary plans have him in the Sides car during most, if not all, of the Outlaw swing which kicks off at Skagit Speedway Labor Day weekend.

Speaking of Schatz and Sweet their could not have been a bigger surprise than seeing these two outside the top five Saturday night. Sweet hung around the top five all night until an incident late in the race forced him to hold onto sixth. Schatz was never a factor all weekend as a tough preliminary night and mechanical issue Saturday left him behind the eight ball- he was able to salvage a ninth place finish. This was the first time Schatz has been out of the top two at the Nationals since forever and just another sign of how competitive sprint car racing has become. While I thoroughly believe that Schatz and Sweet are the class of sprint car racing this last weekend proved once again that difference between one and 24 in main events is not much and that anything less than perfection could have you playing catch up with no chance of recovery.

As fans start the murmur that the Schatz era is ending I would be very careful those words. There has been behind the scenes factors contributing to Schatz’s “struggles” this year but he still has plenty of good years left and a great shot at another Outlaw championship during a down year. The Don-Don is not going anywhere soon so that noise can stop immediately.

WEST NEWS AND NOTES: The West Coast was well represented in the main event at Knoxville with California natives Sweet, Kaeding, Dominic Scelzi, GioScelzi, Cory Eliason, Rico Abreu and Washington native Trey Starks…Speaking of Starks he shrugged off what has been a tough year with on opening night win at the Nationals. Sometimes it is easy to forget that Starks is young and is just tapping his potential…Two west coast stars who did not fair as well were California hot shoe Shane Golobic and Northwest legend Jason Solwold. In six starts at Knoxville Golobic qualified for only one main event, while Solwold only made two out of six…West coast car owner Harley Van Dyke was close to getting his sprinter into both the 360 and 410 nationals. Californian Colby Copeland parked the Van Dyke ride in the 360 nationals, while Indiana native Spencer Bayston made an incredible charge Friday night and almost most secured a transfer spot – he finished sixth. Bayston’s Saturday night was not as good as it ended in awreck, fist fight and getting called out on twitter by Josh Baughman…West Coast winners over the weekend were Justin Sanders (Ocean), Greg Hamilton (Skagit), Michael Ing (Marysville), Geoff Ensign (Petaluma), Kalib Henry (Placerville) and DJ Netto (Kings)…For Sanders it was wins number eight tying him with Andy Forsberg for the most on the West Coast. Mitchell Faccinto has seven…Devon Borden joined Tony Gualda as a teammate in the revolving door that is the Rutz sprinter over in Montana – Gualda won the first night. Don’t have full results for the rest of the week…Gualda has seemingly become the primary driver for Rutz as Borden was jumping at the chance to get a few laps at a different track…Borden had mini sprint star and 2019 Clay Cup champion Jared Peterson in his ride at Skagit Saturday and Peterson set fast time and ran top three for most of the race before a late race spin…Speaking of Peterson he is one the best mini sprint drivers in the nation (he won Friday at Deming) and is always fast when given opportunities in a sprint – their have been rumors swirling about Peterson landing another sprint ride in the future. Only time will tell.

This week I will be at GHR on Friday catching night five of ISCS sprintweek. Last year this week long series provided great racing and strong car counts. The week goes Monday thru Saturday with last two nights at GHR. On Saturday I am doing something completely different and headed up to Evergreen Speedway to take in the K & N West series race. This will be my first ever K & N race.

With that said my next article will be a little different as I will commentate on the K & N West Series and the show they put on.

terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

THE WEST COAST SPRINT CAR SCENE

 

By Joseph Terrell - The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

 

Olympia, Wa…What an interesting week on the west coast sprint car scene. As all the eyes of the spring car world turned towards Knoxville, Iowa the west coast scene plowed forward and produced many storylines on a weekend that saw some new blood grace victory lane. Even though I spent my weekend in Eastern Washington on a family vacation as always my eyes and ears were peeled to the racing world giving me ample topics to write about.

 

                        I’ll start in Chico on Friday as young driver Kyle Olfill finally scored his first 360 win. It had been elusive for Olifill as he had competed against the best of California with the SCCT and NARC series. With guidance from Jonathan Allard Olfill has shown steady improvement this year and going into Friday nights show at Chico was the weekly point leader. Olfill struggled the next night at Merced for the SCCT show but nonetheless was a successful weekend for the younger driver aboard his families #2k sprinter. This is a family that is used to victory lane as their history includes such successful drivers as Ronnie Day and Terry McCarl. Something says that might get used to victory lane again.

 

                        Speaking of the SCCT in Merced a new winner was again produced. While Olfill’s win had been long coming as he had spent the last two plus years racing against the best in California honing his skills Saturday’s nights winner at Merced come as much more of a surprise as 16 year old Jodie Robinson shocked the SCCT field as she captured the 30 lap main event aboard the Morrison Concrete/Moxie Motorsports #97. Robinson has been a regular at Placerville most of the year aboard the Rick Spencer #34 but was making only her second start of the season with the SCCT and she made it count as she outlasted two of the best in California in Justyn Cox and Tim Kaeding. Robinson who has made cameo appearances the last few years in sprinters, Keith Kunz midgets and stock cars seems like she is really starting to settle into the sprint car. Not only was this her first SCCT win it was her first ever sprint car podium. She will be back in the Spencer sprinter next week at Placerville.

 

                        Also on Saturday night a former SCCT regular Tony Gualda was scoring his first Summer Thunder Series sprint win and also his first career win in Oregon. Gualda was aboard the Doug Rutz XXX #8r as he roared to his victory of the year. Gualda has now finished in the top four in his last four starts aboard the Rutz sprinter and as he looks for options look for him to continue to occupy this seat. Gualda still sits fifth is SCCT points so he still has a shot at a top five finish in SCCT points if can get ride a in the for the final two shows. Nonetheless Gualda has been a pleasant addition to he northwest scene the last few weeks as he searches for a ride in California.

 

                        Friday night Seth Bergman rolled to the victory in Cottage Grove with the STSS as scored his fourth victory of the summer in the northwest. Aboard the always potent Bergman Racing Baylor Racing Engines powered XXX Bergman finished second on Saturday as he as ran his streak to six of consecutive podium finishes. Bergman just welcomed his second child to the world this last week continues to hang out in the northwest for family reasons. Look for his to return back to the southwest sooner than later after an up and down northwest stay that nonetheless has produced four wins.

           

                        Noteworthy for the STSS weekend in Oregon was the absence of point leader Jason Solwold as he competed in Knoxville. His absence allowed 16 year old Devon Borden claim the point lead and the inside track on the championship as three races remain. However Oregon star Kyle Miller ran Solwold’s  number all weekend which allowed the Shaylen Raye team to retain the lead in owner points. This set off a storm of controversy as Miler was just painting on the numbers and not running the actual car as Shaylen Raye team was in Knoxville. I stated my opinion on twitter on this subject and do not want to go down that rabbit hole again but I find the whole situation lame. If the team is absent they should not receive points.

 

                        And finally at Antioch Speedway on Saturday night Danny Wagner claimed not only the 360 feature but also won the modified main event. You just don't see that very often.

 

                        West Coast News and Notes: More than a few of the best form the west coast are trying their hand at Knoxville - of course National WoO drivers Carson Macedo and Brad Sweet will be in town, as will be All Star regular Cory Eliason, WoO winner Gio Scelzi and Washington native Knoxville regular Trey Starks. NARC will be represented by Willie Croft, Dominic Scelzi, Shane Golobic and Chase Johnson. Kaeding will be in a second Sides sprinter. National star Rico Abreu will be in the house and as will be California native Mason Daniel. Solwold will try to make his 6th National A Main start… Speaking of Knoxville James McFadden dominated as he won the 360 nationals. Elision, Gio Scelzi, Daniel and Colby Copeland (aboard the Van Dyke #5h) each put it in the A Saturday night representing the West Coast . Solwold finished seventh in the B… As mentioned Tony Gualda has found a semi-residence in the Doug Rutz British Columbia based sprinter. This relationship was very part time for most of the season but Gualda’s status has changed since he no longer occupies the seat of the C & Motorsports #7c. Justyn Cox has also spent a lot of time in the Doug Rutz car this year so I am still not quite sure what Gualda’s schedule will look like in the Rutz ride…Speaking of the  C & M Motorsports sprinter DJ Netto wheeled it to a fourth place run Saturday night and word seems to be he might steer that wheel a few more times. The team had used Steven Tiner for a few weeks but he is a part time fill in as he concentrates on THE (Tiner-Hirst Enterprises). Netto on the other hand could find it beneficial as he could concentrate his Netto Ag team on the 410 ranks and steer the C & M sprinter in the 360 ranks…After Saturday’s show in Merced only four drivers had made every show this year (Kyle Hirst, Kaeding, Sean Becker and Olfill)…34 cars at Merced was a nice car count for the SCCT and represented one of their best of the year…Robinson was the eighth different on the SCCT this year…In Oregon the STSS struggled with car counts under 20 each night. Previously the series had always pulled 20 plus in Oregon…Only six drivers have made every STSS series show (Borden, Colten Heath, Cam Smith, Lance Sargent, Bailey Jean Sucich and Chris Bullock)…Bergman now sits in the top 10 in points with STSS after missing the first three races. His three wins now lead the series while Borden and Solwold each have two…Gualda was ninth different winner with STSS this year.

           

                        Well that is it. Until next time if you can’t ind me at a race track you can fid me swimming, running or cycling.

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  or follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

                       

 

 

 

NARC RETURNS TO SMR AND PROMISES MORE

 

TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

 

By Joseph Terrell

 

San Luis Obispo, Ca…I spent my youth going to Santa Maria Speedway so returning was definitely going to a rush of emotions. The pits had changed, the stands had been redone and it is now called Santa Maria Raceway. And more specifically it is called Santa Maria Raceway at Stadium 805. But times change and unlike some of the old faithful I refuse to judge any of the change except as an objective observer. And i like them as the seating was great and the track perfect.

 

                        Cut into the rolling hills Santa Maria Raceway is truly cut out of hill which creates great viewing as the spectator feels like they are looking down on the track as they are perched above. Upon entering Santa Maria Raceway I notched that it is Santa Maria Raceway at Stadium 805 as the huge micro brewery located in Paso Robles has stepped up and become a huge sponsor at the central coast oval.

 

                        It had been four plus years since the winged 410 sprint cars has appeared at the Santa Maria Raceway and as usual whenever winged 410 sprint are in the house a huge crowd awaits. Filling in early as they always do at SMR the stands were full and the drivers were quick recognize all night long the huge crowd.  One big difference is from before is the lap times as the track surface has changed drastically over the years with qualifying times in the mid 12 seconds instead of the low 11 seconds they had been previously. No matter though as most drivers and crew members seemed to like the slower times as it provided a little more racier of surface.

 

                        Much like Grays Harbor Raceway in Washington SMR is drastically effected by the switch from day to night. Getting cars on the track early and conducting qualifying before 6 pm the track was dry and dusty as the cars completed qualifying. Qualifying was to be followed by a wheelie contest but the wheelie contest never got on track as the dry track conditions lacked the traction needed to give the fans a true wheelie contest. Bud Kaeding, Dominic Scelzi, Kaleb Montgomery and Jenna Frazier all tried but ultimately Kaeding’s half wheelie and excessive burnouts were enough for the $1000 top prize. But once the sun set the moisture literally re-appeared on the track changing the surface to the more tacky SMR that I grew up on.

 

                        Just like the night before at Ocean Speedway the team at SMR did an excellent job of rolling through the show and keeping the action going. In addition to the other four classes 20 NARC sprint cars filled the pits. Jim Allen and his team at NARC are working really hard to keep 410 racing alive on the west coast and while the car counts have varied the NARC group has been able to get at least 20 cars for all shows which provides enough cars to put on a full show for the fans.

 

                        The NARC format rewards fast qualifying and heat race wins. This always allows a chance for a little shakeup at the top as solid heat race performance and good pill draw for the dash can put a unexpected driver up front and ultimately in victory lane - example Sean Watts a few weeks ago. This night it was 17 year old Nathan Rolfe who had the Dennis Rolfe sprinter on the pole for the first time ever to start the A main. After getting a quick jump Chase Johnson immediately got by Rolfe and Rolfe’s dream night started to slip away. Rolfe though held on for sixth as he is amongst the many young California stars that continue to improve.

           

                        Speaking of Chase Johnson he looked like he was going to score his second NARC win of the year aboard the Cyndi Thomas sprinter but in the end Dominic Scelzi was to strong on a late race restart as he stormed by Johnson on his way to his third NARC win of the year abroad the Dennis Roth Beef Packers sprinter with the famed Scotty Martin turning the wrenches. Scelzi who has his eyes pointed towards Knoxville (as does Johnson) now has four wins on the season in California.

 

                        Another driver making a late race charge was wheelie contest winner and fast time Bud Kaeding. After winning the previous night at Ocean speedway in his dad’s car Bud was looking for a double dip weekend spending Saturday night aboard the Morrie Williams Maxim. Kaeding whose family has a long history at SMR always looks to put on a show in front of the crowd that is always favorable to him. Kaeding had a few chances to make move in heavy traffic but never could get a run on Scelzi and Johnson and settled for third.

 

                        Rounding out the top five was Willie Croft aboard his Holey Smokes BBQ sprinter and DJ Netto in the Netto Ag sprinter. Both drivers started in the fourth row and ran patient races to secure top five finishes as each driver had a good points night as the series takes a little break until 410 speedweek at the end of August.

 

                        Point leader Ryan Bernal who is competing is his first full year on the NARC tour aboard the Tarlton Motorsports KPC struggled at SMR a track that he has years of experience in with the non winged sprint. Mired mid pack all race long Bernal was ultimately credited with an eighth place finish.

 

WEST COAST NOTES: A more than a few NARC drivers commented on the full house at Santa Maria and NARC guru Jim Allen said the fans can expect two events next year as their reward…After competing Friday night in Ocean Kaeding and JJ Ringo also competed on Saturday night…Young upstart Brooklyn Holland competed in the 305s Saturday at SMR after running against the 360 Friday at Ocean…Speaking of 305s longtime 410 and 360 star Blake Robertson dominated the 305 sprint A main after Holland led the first few laps…Seven time 360 winner this year Mitchell Faccinto had full night in the Stan Greenberg KPC sprinter as he had replace his rear end  after qualifying and then was struck with more gremlins in the A…No word on the new point leader but Bernal, Croft, Netto, Kaeding and Scelzi are locked in tight five car battle with six races remaining on the schedule…As Dominic was rolling at SMR his brother Gio Scelzi was getting it done in Knoxville against the All Stars…Also at Knoxville another California star shined as Cory Eliason won the 360 main event…Up on the hill Andy Forsberg took the Forini classic and the $5,000 top prize. it was sixth win of the year at Placerville and eighth overall…Speaking of big races non bigger than the Summer Nationals at Skagit Speedway this weekend and it was JJ Hickle shocking the world as he passed northwest superstars Jason Solwold and Seth Bergman to secure the $10,000 win. It Hickle’s biggest win ever and turnaround for what has been a rough summer for the Washington driver.

 

                        Well that is it for now as I conclude my quick tour of the California coast. Not sure when the next time I will be at the track as my schedule is a little mixed up but l look to make the Friday night Sportsmen sprint speedweek show at GHR August 16 and K&N West series at Evergreen Speedway the following night.

 

            e-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

THE NOMAD HEADS TO THE OCEAN

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

by Joseph Terrell

San Luis Obispo, Ca…It had been a long time since I have been to Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, Ca. At least 25 years so it is was fair to say that I don't have much memories of the dirt oval located Santa Cruz Fairgrounds. It was with anticipation that I departed from the San Jose airport to Watsonville, Ca. To get there I had cross over the small layer of coastal mountains but I had the unfortunate luck of getting stuck behind some very slow traffic prolonging the hour plus drive.

 

                        At about 2:30 pm I finally arrived at Ocean speedway and in many ways it reminds me of every other fairground track in California from the layout of the grandstands and to the pit area. It’s like Chico in many regards with maybe less banking. The pits at Ocean don't open until 2 pm and with cars on the track at 5 or so it means the pit area fills quickly. Five divisions were on tap this night and while I will continue to wish for no more than two or three division shows I understand the financial reasons behind it.

 

                        And if your going to run multiple divisions then do it efficiently and that is exactly what the Prentice Motorsports team at Ocean Speedway did. They stared qualifying at six and the final checked was waved before 830 pm. The track did a great job keeping the action going all night long. As soon as one race finished the next was already lined up and ready to go. To often tracks have unnecessary delays and the show will drags on for too long. Not at Ocean Speedway as they did a great job keeping the action going all night.

 

                        At the end of the evening it was Bud Kaeding who stood victorious. Kaeding led early and then chased down mid race leader Koen Shaw as he struggled with traffic and then withstood spirited runs by Justin Sanders and Brad Furr in the waning laps to hold on for his fifth win of the season at Santa Cruz county oval. As usual Kaeding did his Friday night work in his dad’s famous Al’s Roofing Shaver powered Maxim. Kaedng now has 10 podium finished to his credit this season at Ocean.

 

                        Shaw continue to run good as he makes the weekly tow the from the Central Valley every week to the coast and he was rewarded with his second podium of the year. After starting on the pole and leading almost half the race the team was happy with the results but were definitely wondering in the pits what would have been had lapped traffic not been such an issue. Specifically Richard Fajardo who bottled up Shaw for multiple laps as he struggled to get by Fajardo who has stuck in the low groove.

 

                        Furr started the night by setting fast time in his Brad Furr Racing Don Ott powered sprint and then winning his heat race was non factor for the entire race until late race spin by Sanders brought out a caution and set up a a two lap dash to the finish. At this point Furr was now second and the on ensuring restart Furr shot by Kaeding on the bottom in turns one and two but Kaeding would not be denied as he powered around turns three and four and shot off the top to take the win at the checkered. Furr settled for second and his second podium of the year. The former World of Outlaw A main winner continues to be a weekly stalwart at Ocean Speedway.

           

                        Speaking of Ocean Speedway stalwarts no driver has had more success at the oval than Sanders. Sanders started the night slow in his families XXX picked up the pace by winning his heat race then making several slide jobs attempts at Kaeding including one where he got by him but in the end he got bottled up behind a lapped car as he was in stuck in an indecisive moment and spun in turn two. In the pits many were talking about the rivalry that has developed between Kaeding and Sanders but while the two raced each hard and close and it was nothing out of the ordinary. Just close and great racing by two very distinguished drivers with tremendous resumes.

 

                        No driver was more than impressive than Joel Myer, Jr.. The 14 year old Petaluma/Antioch regular was making his second appearance at Ocean speedway aboard his families ART and was fast all night. After starting eighth he was was patient and finally brought his sprinter home fourth. The former go kart driver is still his early in is career but he showed a lot of promise as he raced up front all night long.

 

                        More West Coast Notes: Myers was not only driver representing the youth movement at Ocean Speedway…Among the young budding stars in attendance were Keith Day, Jr., Jake Andreotti, Tucker Worth, Joey Ancona, Jayson Bright and Brooklyn Holland…Ancona had a tough night as he flipped in turn two in is heat and was not able to get repairs made and scratched…Andreotti and Day continue to be teammates on Friday night in a pair of Keith Day Trucking KPCs…Holland a 305 driver was making her second appearance in a a 360 was impressive as she was in the mix all night…Bright was seen getting valuable tutelage from legend Brent Kaeding during the night…Worth was fast all night but just couldn't keep his Worth Harvesting KPC out of trouble and was an early DNF…Central California driver Steven Kent made a rare appearance at Ocean Speedways as he steered his Dad’s KPC sprinter to seventh place finish…Look for Ocean regular Jeremy Chisum to join the NARC field at Santa Maria tonight…The only other action of Friday night was up Skagit Speedway as Seth Bergman took the opening night of the Summer Nationals…Jason Solwold, Travis Jacobson and Tony Gualda rounded out the top four to automatically lock in for Saturday night…Speaking of Gualda with him out of C & M Motorsports sprinter look for him to possible make more appearances in Rutz sprinters…Tonight features three big races on the West Coast - $10,000 to win Summer Nationals at Skagit, $5,000 to win Forini classic at Placerville and NARC making a rare appearance Santa Maria Raceway.

 

                        Well that is it for now. Time to get some cardio in today before heading to Santa Maria Raceway tonight for NARC 410 action. This will be my first 410 race of the year.

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  and follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

The Dogs Days of Summer of Here

by Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…As I hopped on highway 101 and then quickly merged west on highway 8 to head out to Grays Harbor Raceway the sun was pounding and it was official we have hit the dog days of summer. The time of the year where the heat increases and teams struggle from week to week as the grind of the season wears on. This is the time of year where car counts can struggle as teams rebound from Dirt Cup and the Brownfield Classic and prepare for the Summer Nationals at the end of the month.

This night was no different as 13 sprint cars graced the pits at GHR - the second smallest car count of the year for the Dual Track Bonus series. DTB regulars Devon Borden (racing the clay cup nationals at Deming) and Bailey Jean Sucich missed their first DTB shows. Jake Helsel who has been driving the Bud Ashe Highline Sprinter at most DTB shows was also absent. Jason Solwold continues to sit idle as he prepares for his trip to Knoxville in Iowa. Reece Goetz who has made a few appearances at GHR was also up at Clay Cup. That is what happens in July - drivers regroup, take time off, or if they are lucky try to find somebodies else stuff to drive. These things combined with Skagit Speedways $10,000 to win Summer Nationals next week contributed to one of the smallest car counts of the year.

One driver who used this week to his advantage was Seth Bergman. Bergman had kicked around the idea of heading over to Montana for the weekend finally got one of his motors back and put it to good use as he dominated the 25 lap main after starting fourth to pick up his second win of the year at GHR. Bergman had been hit with motor problems and had been using a loaner until he finally got one of his back this week. Bergman will probably be in the northwest for one more week as he chases the big money at Skagit before heading back home to Oklahoma. Given Bergman’s success in the past at Skagit Speedway the two time Summer Nationals driver will have to be one of the favorites this week.

Speaking of the Summer Nationals one of the biggest 360 races in the nation will take place next weekend as $10,000 will go to Saturday’s nights winners. Traditionally this race has been dominated by locals and with all the racing going on everywhere else the Summer Nationals does not draw many travelers often leaving the big pay day for a local star. Nothing wrong with that as this always produces some of the best races of the year.

Another favorite will obviously be Skagit Speedway point leader Colton Heath. Heath who has been one of the most active drivers in the northwest this year in his LAW Motorsports XXX finished second to Bergman on Saturday night as he continues to be one of the fastest drivers in the northwest. After an inconsistent stretch back in June Heath has been up front consistently since then especially at Skagit Speedway. Heath will be looking for his first Summer Nationals win after having a couple near misses in the past.

Among other contenders will be Jason Solwold as he will seek his fifth Summer National title before heading back to Knoxville. Amazingly Solwold has not won a race at Skagit Speedway since last June. He will definitely look to change that.

No official word on who will be in the Doug Rutz sprinter(s) this weekend at Summer Nationals. Ruiz has used California drivers Justyn Cox, Tony Gualda and Justin Sanders in the sit this year. With a big $5000 to win race at Placerville Saturday night these three drivers will have decisions to make. The Rutz sprinter was in victory lane last year at the Summer Nationals with Californian Buddy Koifoid so whoever is in this potent machine will be a contender.

Don’t forget about Devon Borden. The 16 year old driver already has four wins this year including an ASCS National win and a Summer Thunder Series win at Skagit. To say he was been fast is an understatement and Borden has been especially lethal when starting on the front row. Borden only weakness seems to be putting together a whole weekend but if he can stay consistent during the weekend it would be no surprise to see him holding the big check on Saturday night.

Some of the locals that will look to strike it big this week will Eric Fisher, Greg Hamilton and Cam Smith. All three drivers run fast at Skagit and have a lot of laps around the bullring. Given the right circumstances and a good starting spot Saturday night any of these three could find themselves holding a big check.

One driver who dearly needs a big win is JJ Hickle. After a nice early season start Hickle has encountered nothing but bad luck. His Dirt Cup was disastrous and he unable to compete on the Saturday night. Last weekend he went to Cottage Grove and bad luck again appeared as he was unable to start on Saturday. Fast forward to this week and Hickle starts on the pole and takes the early lead then…just as Jay Cole spins to bring the yellow Hickle pulls to the infield as his sprinter caught fire. Luckily the fire was put out quickly but for Hickle it was another DNF. Hickle is capable but needs lady luck to swing to his side. Maybe his luck will change this weekend.

West Coast Notes: The big word in the northwest this week was Jason Solwold entering the Knoxville 360 Nationals in the Troy Renfro sprinter. The team will utilize an engine provided Mike Anderson. Solwold and Renfro worked together in the past with some success. It will be interesting to see if this team can have any success in this huge show…Solwold will also enter the 410 nationals aboard his own ride as he looks to start his sixth Knoxville Nationals A main…Bud Kaeding got it done Saturday night at Ocean speedway to win the Howard Kaeding classic. The HK classic featured a $5000 to win purse and had 34 cars enter. Nice showing for the 410 class…Justin Sanders who had been two for two in the NARC ranks this year finished fifth on Saturday in Ocean…Trophy entry list is now full at 112. But with many TBA’s and more than a few drivers registered who have prior racing commitments I expect this list to change over the next three months. It always does…The eyes of the mini sprint world were on the northwest this weekend as Deming Speedway held their annual Clay Cup. Local 600 star Jared Peterson got the job done defeating more than 60 open 600’s for the $10,000 win. It was his second clay cup championship.

Unfortunately next week I will miss the Summer Nationals at Skagit as I will be in California visiting family. However not all is loss - I will be at Ocean Speedway on Friday and Santa Maria Raceway on Saturday. I will be providing updates all night long from both tracks as I watch the Ocean sprints and NARC sprints over the weekend.

terrelljoseph@hotmail.com follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter.



 

 

 

MITCHELL FACCINTO…LIKE CREAM HE RISES

 BY Joseph Terrell

 Sweet Home Olympia, Wa….After Friday nights rubber down finish their was no doubt Brian Crockett and his crew would get the The Grove put to its normal condition Saturday night. And they did. Fans were greeted to a great A main with twists and turns and everything in between.

                       

                        Oregon sensation Tyler Thompson flipped landed on his wheels and retained his spot because the red had came out before his flip. He finished 7th. Another Oregon star and Grove veteran Kyle Miller had the faithful on their feet as he drove from sixth to second…but his efforts were wasted as he spun late in the race as he challenged for the lead. His spin was dramatic as he spun in turn two, hopped a huge cushion, did a 360 and kept going. That was just the beginning.

           

            Colby Copeland who had fought tough breaks the previous two nights seemed to be on his way to a $3500 payday as he took the white flag then craziness broke loose. As he took the white flag he slowed which caused second running Kyle Hirst to slow and then…

           

            Like cream Mitchell Faccinto rose to the top and leaving no doubt during northwest speedweek he was the driver to beat. In his fourth tour of northwest speedweek Faccinto and his Stan Greenberg owned #37 KPC left their mark winning on all three tracks that were raced in on in the five nights and never finishing worst than fourth all week. Overall it was Faccinto now has seven 360 main event wins on the year and has clearly established himself as the driver to beat in the 360 ranks on the west coast. Faccinto capitalized on Hirst delay to storm by and pick up the win after starting 9th. The last two nights Faccinto overcame poor starting spots in the main to finish third and first. To say this driver has come to age would be an understatement…Look out Shane Geologic, Kyle Hirst, Justin Sanders a new king is looking to take the west coast throne.

 

            Hirst who looked like he might win his second race of the weekend but settled for third abroad the THE #94. The commotion of Copeland slowing caused the second place running Hirst to slow and leading to his eventual third place finish. The Tiner-Hirst team ended with three straight podiums to end the week.

 

            One of the big winners of the late race shuffle was Seth Bergman as he was able to get second after spending most of the race out of the top five. Bergman struggled all week but was able capitalize on Copeland breaking and fourth running Justyn Cox flipping on the last lap to go from fifth to second on the last lap aboard his Bergman Racing SHARK powered XXX.

            Right behind him was Skagit Speedway and STSS champion Colton Heath. Heath continued to his trend of being inconsistent on weekend shows. After a lackluster Friday night after a good qualifying run Heath rebound Saturday and was able to be near the front and capitalize on the late race drama to go from seventh to fourth on the last lap aboard his LAW Racing SHARK powered XXX.

 

            Justin Sander was another driver able to make up ground on the last lap as he went from ninth to fifth aboard his families Rider powered XXX. Like Faccinto Sanders struggled both nights in preliminaries and had to rebound from bad starting spots. Sanders fifth place run was his fourth top five during the five night speedweek. Sanders struggled each night in qualifying at the The Grove and never was able to be much of a factor over the weekend after winning Wednesday nights show.

 

            Kudos to all that put of Northwest speedweek. It has been going more than 20 years in varying fashions and continues to be a must see event on the west coast. You never know who is going to show up as over the years many drivers such as Brent Kaeding and Jason Solwold among others have only raced some of the week while plenty others have attempted the whole week. One thing has remained the same and that is the uncertainty of who will win. Drivers like Brad Furr swept all five nights before he was even a big name, while luminaries such as Solwold have struggled to find victory lane. Although Faccinto may have won three races… this year was no different as each night was a crap shoot.

 

Speedweek News and Notes: California drivers truly dominated this edition of speedweek taking 12 of the 15 podium positions…Two went Washington native but Oklahoma resident Bergman who managed two runner up finishes…Speaking of Bergman look for him to be in Montana this weekend and back at Skagit the following for the Summer Nationals…Rising Oregon star Tanner Holmes aboard his families Bailey Bros. powered KPC looked to be in place for another strong finish on Saturday but he slowed mid race after while running in the top five…Speaking of young Oregon stars Tyler Thompson continues to impress aboard his families KPC. He had two top fives including the only podium finishes amongst northwest drivers as he contested the whole week…On the theme of Oregon stars Garen Linder returned to the track for the first time since Dirt Cup in the Seth Nunes Rodgers powered KPC. He made the main both nights…Skagit speedway regular Greg Hamilton shocked many Saturday night as he was fast time and won the dash. After starting on the pole he ran second for about half the race before fading to 6th in the final tally aboard his GHR SHARK powered XXX…Doug Rutz teammates Justyn Cox and Tony Gualda were fast all week but never landed on the podium in their Richmond powered sprinters. Very much a surprise…Only one Washington driver contested all five nights - teenage sensation Devon Borden…Like many California drivers Ryan Robinson has been in many different rides this year. He spent the week aboard the Morrison Racing Ott powered ART with his best finish second Friday night at The Grove…Washington star JJ  Hickle continues to have a tough summer as he was pulling out of the track before the B main Saturday…Copeland looked to be on the verge of victory Friday and Saturday aboard the Van Lare SHARK powered ART before tires and axles proved to be nemesis. He blew a tire Friday night and broke an axle Saturday night…Silver Dollar regular Chelsea Belvins was on Friday night but did not return Saturday…Raquel Ivy showed up Saturday night and was leading her heat before her motor let go…By my count 14 drivers contested the whole week - 10 from Califronia, 3 from Oregon and 1 from Washington.

 

 

                        That is it for an amazing weekend of racing. I will be at GHR this weekend posting up dates all night long on twitter for the sprint cars. The following weekend I am going on a a special road trip to the California coast (Ocean and Santa Maria).

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com            follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

 

THE GROVE BABY - COTTAGE GROVE

 BY Joseph Terrell

  

Cottage Grove, Or…On the east coast The Grove would be Williams Grove but here on the west coast it can only mean the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Or. A pillar of the central Oregon racing scene The Grove is widely regarded as putting on some of the best shows on all of the west coast. While it is a only a quarter mile it is wide and has multiple groves creating room for plenty passing and action.  And because of this The Grove hosts the final two nights of northwest speedweek.

 

                        We rolled into Cottage Grove about one yesterday afternoon and immediately headed to the pits to see what was going on. Generally this time of the year  at The Grove the temp is the mid 90’s and with lack of shade in the pits it can get uncomfortable during the day. This year temps are much more reasonable in the mid 80’s. The pits were already starting fill up and almost all the cars from the night before had made the trip down to Cottage Grove. In addition five regulars from the Washington scene had showed for the weekend. Their was definitely a buzz in the pits not to see Jason Solwold as he his always a contender at The Grove.

 

                        The Washington drivers making the tow for the weekend were Colton Heath in the LAW 33, JJ Hickle in his own 3, Greg Hamilton in the GHR 96, John Stuart in his 17 and Chris Bullock in his 17c. With such strong car counts in Washington this year I was little surprised to see only six cars from the state at the The Grove (Devon Borden has been running the whole week and Corbyn Fauver ran Wednesday and Thursday). But with the amount of races a driver can run just racing the dual track bonus and Summer Thunder it may have kept some drivers at home as they enjoy the off week. Don't forget the Summer Thunder Series will back at The Grove in a few weeks.

 

                        A strong 29 cars filled up the Cottage Grove pits as in addition to the five cars from Washington Garen Linder, Matt Hein, Don Waddell, young Idaho driver Tyler Drievers and chico star Chelsea Blevins had joined the field. Linder was driving the Seth Nunes 5n car. After destroying his car at Dirt Cup Linder as been MIA. It was nice to see the talented Southern Oregon driver back on the track. Drievers races out of Idaho and gets limited track time do to the lack of any dirt tracks in Idaho. This makes it hard for a young driver to improve as they don't get valuable seat time. They do have plans to run all ISCS limited sprint sprint week next month. That will help this driver develop as he definitely is very green in a sprint car.

 

                        The big word in the pits yesterday was that Steven Tiner was indeed going to step out of THE 94 for the weekend after running the first three nights and his business partner Kyle Hirst was hopping in. This paid dividends as the California star turned part time driver Hirst won the dash and main event leading every lap in each race. Hirst who has ran probably only 10-12 times this year is just one of those drivers that doesn't get rusty. This writer is hoping he has a ride for Gold Cup this year.

 

 

                        As I wrote Thursday night this speedweek is dominated by California drivers as they have dominated the car count and the results. Last night was no different as all six dash cars were from California and the top four finishers were from California. It was interesting night as stars such as Mitchell Faccinto and Justin Sanders qualified outside the top 20. Faccinto was able to rebound after starting 14th in the main worked his way to third. The first half of the main was racy especially at times up front as Hirst and Copeland raced each other through traffic. On two occasions Copeland had gotten pass HIrst but just couldn't hold the lead. But then about lap 18 Seth Bergman - who had worked his way to fourth blew - a right rear and the rubber started smelling. The track got one lane quickly. Copeland would shred his right rear on lap 27 as Hirst held on for the win over Ryan Robinson in the Morrison Concrete 97 and Faccinto in the Greenberg 37.

 

                        Much like Steve Beitler and the crew at Skagit, Brian Crockett and his track prep crew at The Grove were not going to stand for that. As soon as the races ended Crockett ands crew were on the track tilling and grading getting to work to make sure the drivers get The Grove surface they are used to Saturday night. I expect a much better surface tonight although I kind of expect the same winner.

 

A few quick notes: As mentioned Kyle Hirst will run the last two nights of speedweek in the THE 94…Jesse Love will miss tonight as he returns to California to race midgets in Madera…Tony Gualda will also return home tonight to his normal ride in Placerville…Seth Bergman who blew both of his engines last month has been running a SHARK ASCS this week as his get fixed…On Thursday at Sunset Tanner Holmes was excited to get to The Grove - it is easy to see why as he qualified third and finished fifth…Robinson was solid in the A and as others such as Copeland, Bergman and Faccinto were drawing attention Robinson was putting in solid work running smooth and was rewarded with a second…Faccinto is the only driver with a top five each night…Sanders had finished on the podium the first three nights but he struggled most of the night and finished mid pack after getting as high as sixth in the main.

 

                        Well that is it for now. The crickets are chirping and sun is coming out. Going to try to ride out to Lake Dorena this morning before filling the rest of my day walking the pits and watching races. I will be posting updates and news all afternoon and night on twitter.

 

            terrelljosseph@hotmail.com  and follow on twitter @idrinkiswim

                       

 

 

SUNSET SPEEDWAY SHOCKS US ALL

 The Tales of The Northwest Nomad

 by Joseph Terrell

  

Banks,Or….After making the two hour plus hour drive down mostly on the I-5 before snaking west out to Portland I landed in Banks, Oregon and the home of Sunset Speedway. Sunset Speedway is generously listed as a quarter mile when reality it is a fifth mile. The track is narrow and small and traditionally sprint cars have struggled to put on a decent show here. But it is sprint racing and after 10 days way from dirt track I was ready to go. Awaiting was round three of Northwest Sprint Week.

 

                        As I pulled into the grassy parking hour I encountered two die hard Northwest fans who along with myself agreed it is better to be at a race than at home but are expectations were low for this evening. We held onto the one time it was decent and every time hope it repeats itself…and it doesn’t. It is usually one lane around the bottom where the race is over as they come out of turn two. With that said I was still very excited because of the strong contenders among the 20 entries on this beautiful Oregon night.

                       

                        Justin Sanders who had won the previous night was aboard his family’s potent 17. Colby Copeland was in the Van Lare 5v. Steven Tiner in the THE 94. Justyn Cox and Tony Gualda in Rutz Sprinters. Monday night winner in Yreka Mitch Faccinto in the Greenberg 37. National star Seth Bergman in his 23. The always inconsistent but fast Jake Wheeler in WR 21w. Throw in rising stars Tanner Holmes, Tyler Thompson and Jess Love. Also recent ASCS national tour winner Devon Borden in family 8. And oh yeah former USAC national midget driver Ryan Robinson was aboard the Moxley 97. Nice field.

 

                        And then after the track record was lowered by over second by Devon Borden heat one rolled and took the green and we knew immediately tonight was going to be different. The action was fierce and especially impressive was Colby Copeland batting by Borden and Thompson in a spirited run that featured some of the best 360 action ever seen at Sunset. The action was side by side and multiple grooves were available. The second and third heats were not quite as good but is was evident that Sunset Speedway was different tonight. The racing was spirited, side by side and fans were loving it.

 

                        After a dash the 30 lap main delivered. Even though Faccinto and Tiner ran 1-2 all race long that doesn't tell the story. The battle for third between Wheeler and Gaulda and then Sanders and Wheeler was epic. Sanders finally won the battle when Wheeler clipped a small infield tire and spun late in the race. Borden faded early and then rebounded as the track got slicker and came home fourth ahead of Thompson who had started 12th but was smooth in the late going as he worked by drivers by like Bergman, Robinson and the Gualda to come home an impressive fifth at the checkered.

 

            Throughout the main the action was all over. From third back everybody was in a race for position. The cushion off turn two was at the wall. The bottom was fast even as the top worked in. Tiner stayed on the bottom exclusively while Sanders seemed prefer to be up the track a little more. Faccinto…well was just fast and was really developed into an elite driver. And rubber was not an issue as it had been in the past.

 

            Well that is why we go to the races…you never know when you will see an unexpected great race. In victory the podium drivers all complimented the racing surface and how nice it was to have two grooves. Despite previous struggles the Sunset Speedway proved tonight it can provide side by side great Sprint Car racing.

 

A few quick notes: Look for some Washington drivers to join the field tomorrow. I don't for sure who but i would expect 3-5…The 20 car field was dominated by California as they more than half in the field…Young Washington driver Corbyn Fauver was at Cottage Grove Wednesday and Sunset Thursday as he diversifies his track experience…Borden just continues to impress. Enough said about that…Drivers Justyn Cox, Seth Bergman and Colby Copeland were in unfamiliar territory as they ran mid pack all main…In the post race interview and after the race Sanders kept talking about the battle he had with Wheeler as they went wheel to wheel many times without touching. He loved it…It was announced that both Gualda and Love will head back to California to Saturday to fulfill other race commitments.

 

 

            Well that is it for now. Time to get some sleep and head down to Cottage Grove in the morning. Before driving down going to get some miles on the bicycle in Banks.

 

            terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and twitter @idrinkiswim

 

 

 

DID I HIT A NERVE….I DIDN’T MEAN TO

Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

Kitsap Peninsula…After two long weekends of chasing ASCS National Sprint racing I took last weekend off to work and as Bryan Hulbert would say it was time “save my lunch money” and get ready for another long weekend chasing the last three nights of Northwest speedweek at Sunset Speedway Thursday night and at Cottage Grove Speedway Friday and Saturday. I was going to write this article about the upcoming speedweek but then something occurred Saturday that changed my direction.

                        On Saturday evening as toiled away in my office at work I couldn’t help but see come across my twitter feed that the Sprint Car Challenge Tour only had 15 entries at Stockton Speedway. This for a series that was consistently in the 30s until this year as some where in the 20’s has become the norm. I retweeted my shock at this development and then after the show was noticed that every participant in the evening seemingly tweeted how great the series and promoters of the series are. I saw tweets saying how the surface had been so good and how Scott Russell, Matt Wood and the rest of the crew are so great. I hope this was not a response to my simple inquiry and surprise about the car count. I sure hope nobody took my tweet as a negative comment towards the SCCT as I have nothing but respect for the group that puts this premier series on.  I am shocked – like many others I am sure – at where the car count has gone though. With that said I have reasons for the low car count which has everything to do with amount of options drivers now have and nothing to do with excellent people behind the scene of SCCT.

                        The series continues to offer a great purse and after the show Saturday series regulars were rewarded with a new right rear – no small gift to a race team. It has a good point fund and encourages drivers to race every night to be eligible for more rewards and perks. Unfortunately the California scene is a little a saturated. Drivers like Mitchell Faccinto and DJ Netto now have to Kings/Tulare series they can race, while SCCT regular Andy Forsberg has recently dropped off the tour as focuses his efforts at Placerville in  the Family and Friends Sprinter and Chico in his own. Willie Croft seems focused on 410 racing.Kalib Henry and the Worden vowed to chase the whole series but split while back and both have dropped off the tour. Another previous regular Colby Copeland has ran an outlaw schedule this year as he has appeared in numerous different rides this year. Justin Sanders has done the same thing as the Dale Miller chose not to follow the tour after earlier committing. This all leads to a perfect storm of drivers taking the same weekend off.

                        And while I was shocked by the low car count I am not concerned. The sprint car scene in California and the West Coast in general is strong and one night with a low car count is not vindictive of bigger problem. On other hand it means drivers have choices and choices are good. They don’t feel bound to one series as their are plenty of tracks and series to race giving each driver more variety and creating situations where you just never know who is going to show up on any given night.

                        In addition it was nice to see so many drivers compliment the surface at Stockton as the track has taken some heat this year for track conditions and purse structure for the Asparagus Cup. This was unwarranted as like any dirt track Stockton will have their good nights and bad but the track is continuing to support sprint cars with opportunities to race so no complaints from me.

                        Do I really think my tweet set off a firestorm? Of course not. I just needed something to write up this week. lol

                        Few NW Notes: Speedweek starts tonight in Yreka – usually the first two nights are dominated by California drivers as the northwest teams don’t get into full swing until midweek…Some of the California drivers expected all week are Kyle Hirst, Mitchell Faccinto and Justyn Cox…Normally a few of the lower buck teams out California will be a surprise and do the whole week – who will they be this year?…Tony Gualda will probably run most of the week in Rutz sprinter before returning to Placerville on Saturday…Last week was the only time this year Grays Harbor and Skagit had 360s on the same night and for good reason – car counts were cut in half…Devon Borden picked up his third win of the year at GHR (and fourth overall) while Colton Heath wheeled to his second win of the year at Skagit.

                        Well that is for now. Catch me the in Oregon later this week. Look for articles following last three nights of northwest speed week.

            Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com  and @idrinkiswim on twitter

 

 

 

FIVE NIGHT, FIVE RACES, FIVE WINNERS

 THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

 BY Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa…11 days ago it began with a cheap tent and a cooler full of beer. After three days of beer and dirt at Skagit Speedway it was time for four days off before regrouping and doing it all over again and then like that the ASCS National Sprint Tour has come and gone. Five nights with five different winners.  Rubber down tracks, hooked up tracks and slick tracks all awaited the drivers the last two weekends creating some surprise results and five nights of ultra competitive racing.

 

            The Brownfield Classic may not be the same type of event as Dirt Cup but it is still a huge deal in the northwest and after a light Friday crowd the Elma faithful filed the stands Saturday night to support the Brownfield finale. After the first night in which the track was lightening fast and difficult to pass on the second night featured a slicker surface demanding a little more car control than the first nights hammer down you-lift-you-lose surface. And even though the track appeared (smelled as if it had) to take rubber an quick analysis of the tires showed that some tire was left and rubber may not have been as bad as it appeared.

 

            While the World of Outlaws are without doubt the premier Sprint touring division the invasion of the ASCS drivers is a true battle of invaders versus locals. This year the invaders won as they claimed four of the five races although in reality three of the five winners were from the Northwest. The locals were solid as Jason Solwold and Colton Heath each recorded four top tens, Devon Bordern won Friday night at GHR and had a top 10 at Dirt Cup and Austen Wheatley continues to shine at GHR as he came a hard fought fifth last night in the Brownfield Classic finale after flirting with a podium for most of the night.

 

            With his win last night Matt Covington joined Solwold, Blake Hahn and Dirt Cup winner Robbie Price as the only drivers with two podiums during the five nights - that speaks to the competitiveness of the field. Overall Covington was the class of the field as he almost won Dirt Cup before an engine failure and then rebounded to take the classic. It is fitting that Covington would run so well in the northwest as his office is a XXX chassis powered by SHARK engines - both are based in the Burlington area near Skagit Speedway.

 

            WHAT HAPPENED TO THE FAVORITES:

 

            Just like the weekend before at Skagit the sharpies were wrong on the favorites. It was basically declared a five driver race for the Brownfield Classic but that is why they race the race. The five favorites were solid but struggled to make any real noise.

           

            Sam Hafertepe, Jr who had dominated the northwest swing in recent years was only on the podium once - Friday night at GHR. Hafertepe who built a new car last weekend at Skagit seemed to be in the hole because of bad pill draws each night and was unable to make up for it. Although he did garner a third and fourth over the weekend Hafertepe, Jr. was never really in contention.

 

            Another driver with terrible draws was Roger Crockett who with the exception of Friday at Skagit spent most of the two weekends lingering in mid pack - not an usual position for the Rocket. As a critic pointed out to me a Friday night “Remember when Crockett was fast at Elma.”

 

            After a great Dirt Cup Hahn struggled all weekend at GHR and had to use a provisional to tag Saturday’s A main after a Friday night where he barely held on to a top 10.

 

            Seth Bergman had a tough draw on Friday but made the best of it to get a top 5 and Saturday seemed to be in ideal position to score his first Brownfield Classic as he won his heat and drew the number two starting position. Luck was not on his side as he blew an engine as his heat ended and after motor problems the night before elected to just push off and then pit. He was credited with 23rd. Bergman who has won Dirt Cup and the Summer Nationals but still needs the Brownfield was obviously disappointed as he talked about his tough luck in this event.

           

            Solwold was only favorite to make a run as he was on the move Saturday night coming from 6th to 2nd but just couldn't make a run on Covington after a late race caution. Solwold who had an up and down two weekends was also disappointed in that like Bergman he only needs the Brownfield to compliment his Dirt Cup and four Summer Nationals victory. Solwold was happy to be on the podium but it was evident he was little deflated as for the third time in five years he was on Saturday night podium at the Brownfield but in the wrong spot.

 

MORE BROWNFIELD/ASCS NOTES: After shocking the world Friday Night Devon Borden struggled in his heat Saturday and started dead last in the B before charging to third in the B and making the A…As mentioned earlier Heath had a great two weekends that included a second, sixth and two seventh…Reece Goetz who has made only a handful of starts this year went from sixth to second in his heat and started the main second Saturday night. He came home seventh…On the other hand Reece’s brother Chase was a no show Saturday after numerous bad breaks over the two weekends…More than a few were surprised to see Lance Sargent start 11th at Dirt Cup. He backed it up by rolling off seventh for the Brownfield finale…John Carney II was up and down during his Washington debut with his best run being Friday night at GHR when he finished second. He finished fourth in the B Saturday and was never a factor…Summer Thunder rookie Bailey Jean Sucich had nice weekend making the main both nights…Another Summer Thunder Series rookie Chris Bullock rolled off 10th Saturday night for the Classic…Travis Jacobson was coming off a solid Dirt Cup had a tough weekend and after a disappointing heat race Saturday night he and the Cook racing team packed up shop and were on the road home at 815 pm…The two weekends took their toll on Summer Thunder supporters and now only seven drivers have made every race as Chris Schmlezle, JJ Hickle and Danny Ochs all missed their first races…Also Jake Helsel who has had the Bud Ashe sprinter running as well as it ever has was a no who Saturday after experiencing some rumored engine gremlins…With only show up points available for the five nights points have not changed for the Summer Thunder Sprint Series. Solwold leads Borden, Cam Smith and Heath…On the ASCS front Hahn gained the point lead at Dirt Cup but lost it at the Brownfield and now sits third behind Hafertepe and Carney…Interestingly Solwold is 14th and Heath 15th in National points due to the strength of their five race performance.

 

            Well that is it for now. I will be taking next weekend off due to work commitments but I will be writing a piece previewing Northwest Sprint Week which kicks off the Monday July 8 in Yreka, California. I will be catching up with Speedwell on July 11 in Sunset and then the final two nights in Cottage Grove.Will probably be my only racing trip to Oregon the year.

 

            If you cant catch me at the races then catch me swimming, running and cycling.

 

            E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com follow on twitter @idrinkiswim.

           

 

 

 

FAST FIRST NIGHT AT THE CLASSIC

TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

By Joseph Terrell

 

Along  I-5, Western Washington…The first night of the Fred Brownfield Classic is in the books and boy was it a quick one – literally. Steve Beitler and his crew rolled off the 34 ASCS sprints and 19 midgets in two and a half hours. Seven heats, a B main and two 25 lap main events and the checkered had flown on the night. And not only was the show fast paced…overnight rains and a little daytime drizzle left the Grays Harbor Raceway hooked up and hammer down making passing a difficult proposition all night long.

            When the checkered fell last night a few fans were surprised when 16 year old Devon Borden went green to checkered to become the youngest winners ASCS National sprint history breaking the record set by some guy named Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. I wasn’t as Borden has scored two wins already this year and has shown that when he tarts up front he is tough to beat. This night everything fell in place for Borden as he started second in his heat and led all eight laps. He then started second in the main and again led every lap as he dominated aboard the Borden Auto Parts Don Ott powered sprinter. With yellow lags each time slower traffic started to get dicy Borden was never seriously challenged.

            Behind Borden ASCS stars John Carney II and Sam Hafertepe, Jr. were given chase but just couldn’t make up enough ground on the lightening fast track. Each driver commented in victory lane on the difficulty of passing because of the fast surface but were also quick to congratulate the emerging star who has just been the class of the field.

            Two early favorites Roger Crockett and Seth Bergman had terrible pill draws and with track conditions as they were each had a long night ahead. Crockett struggled in his heat, was okay in the B and was on the tail end of the lead lap as he never showed the prowess he usually exhibits at GHR. Bergman on the other hand made a few passes in the heat and was patient during the 25 lap main and finished 5th after being slotted to start 13th.

            A tour of the pits last night had most drivers commenting on the fast race surface and how the pill draw is everything when the heats are that hooked up. With much dryer conditions expected today and another night of racing on the track the overwhelming feeling was the track would get much racier tonight.

            Classic Notes: Young driver Bailey Jean Sucich started the A on the pole and finished a very solid 8th. She started her night be winning her first ASCS heat…Oregon cage kart star Tanner Holmes weekend ended early as his motor expired in the B. He was on the road home by 915 pm…Colton Heath continues to be solid the past two weekends and came home 7th after transferring out of the B…ASCS point leader Blake Hahn struggled all night as he was mired in a midpack battle that included Reece Goetz, Austen Wheatley and Robbie Price among others…Australian Andrew Caruana did some major front end damage after running into the back of Jason Reed during the B main. They were thrashing last night to get the car fixed…Speaking of bad luck Chase Goetz back streak continues. After a rough Dirt Cup Goetz and team worked all week to get the car together to only DNF after hot laps…Lastly notable no shows were Oregon star Garen Linder (still recovering from his Dirt Cup junking) and JJ Hickle (driving the Worden sprinter in California all weekend).

                        Well off to the grind for the day before heading back out to GHR tonight for night number two. This year no automatic lock ins so everybody will start fresh. Borden has a proven to be legit contender. Can we get a fifth different winner in five nights of ASCS in the Northwest. Drivers that still haven’t won include Hafertepe, Jr., Bergman. Heath, Carney II and Jason Solwold. I expect one of those five to win tonight.

 

                        Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com @idrinkiswim on twitter.

 

 

 

 

DIRT CUP – YOU ONLY GET TO IT ONCE A YEAR

Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

 

Kitsap PeninsulaSaturday evening as Oklahoma driver Matt Covington was getting the Dick Wilskey pole award for high points after two nights Covington could not stop talking about how great a event Dirt Cup is and the how great the northwest fans are. He made mention that it is so much more than a normal race as the money, the competition and the fans make it a very special weekend.

What a weekend it was. After an anti-climatic ending Thursday night that I detailed Friday morning, Steve Beitler and his crew went to work and had Skagit Speedway on point the last two nights. Saturdays A main had the Skagit faithful going crazy as many said it was the best race they have seen at Skagit. Saturdays 40 lap headliner featured six lead changes and more slide jobs than one could count. The battle from 1-6 was non stop as the best 360 drivers in the country literally waged a war on the Skagit oval. The most amazing thing was that even though the racing was close and the slide jobs fierce their was no dirty moves. Yes a couple of the dive bombs weretight - especially Seth Bergmans late move to pass Jason Solwold and get on the podium - but all were done clean leaving room for everybody to operate.

            When the dust settled Saturday night it was British Columbia driver and former track champion Robbie Price who had claimed the $15,000 prize as well as his first ASCS national victory. The feeling from the sharpies all week was that Price would run well and could possibly win a preliminary night but that his chances Saturday night were slim at best. Oh how the sharpies were wrong as Price raced the best I have seen him run and once he inherited the lead for the final time on lap 30 he was not going to be denied as he drove away from the field to secure the victory. Prices joy was Covingtons misery as a blown motor handed the lead back top Price and robbed Covington of his first big money race victory.

            Covington and Price both slid beneath radar all weekend as the sharpies were really into Blake Hahn, Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Bergman, Solwold and California Superstars Justyn Cox and Justin Sanders.

Hahn seemed like the driver to beat after his Thursday night run and solidified it with a solid Friday night but a midrace spin dropped him to fifth and seemingly dashed his chances. He rebounded to get second but it had to be bitter for Hahn as Dirt Cups are hard to win and if you waste the opportunity you dont know if you will get another one.

Bergman made a late move Saturday after what had been a lackluster weekend to that point to finish third and gain another Dirt Cup podium. Solwold was up front all weekend but like so many times this year just did not seem to have what it takes to win. Nothing wrong with a fourth place finish but I know Shaylen Raye Motorsports team was looking for more.

Hafertepe could just not find the speed he needed all weekend and was never really a factor. Cox and Sanders were just too inconsistent all weekend and come Saturday night just were not in a position to do too much. Although it must be mentioned after a very slow start Sanders seem pick up the pace Friday and Saturday as he seemed to get his Doug Rutz ride rolling pretty good by the end of the weekend. No word when we can expect Cox or Sanders in the Rutz sprinters again but Northwest speedweek in a few weeks seems the most likely.

In addition to the great racing some great crowds greeted the 50 sprint cars all weekend. Friday and Saturday were especially filled as parking got at a premium with all the campers that were one site. For those that have never been to Dirt Cup this just might be best part of the weekend. Campers were everywhere from tents to the most expensive RVs and all sizes in between. Saturday night after the races one of the best things to do is wander around and see what party you might end up and who just might be there. More than a few times some of the best drivers in the business have found themselves wandering the campgrounds looking to unwind after a long weekend. Word had it the hidden spot on Saturday night was the in the pits as DJ Festy texted to me late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. By that point I was winding down trying catch a few hour of sleep before packing up heading back to reality.

Luckily reality only last until Friday as we get ready to do it all over again at the Brownfield Classic with two nights of ASCS national races. Look for around 40 cars to fill the pits and take on the wide and ultra fast Grays Harbor Raceway. Early thoughts from the sharpies are varied but I would expect that the favorites this week will be among others Bergman, Hahn, Price, Hafertepe, Solwold, Australian star Scott Bogucki and Friday night preliminary winner Roger Crockett.

Dirt Cup New and Notes: 51 cars officially check in for the weekend as Dirt Cup continues to hover around 50 number for total entriesthis years format was expanded to include four qualifiers from three the previous yearsAfter last years point debacle that put more emphasis on heats and qualifiers this years point system heavily weighed the A mains . By all accounts the new system was much better receivedCrocketts Friday victory came after an awful Thursday which he did not make it of the A. Last years system would have made him a B main car but this year a bad Thursday and a win on Friday were good enough to get an 8th starting position and ultimately 11th place finish on SaturdayBogucki who was coming off a weekend sweep was seemingly checked out on Friday when he caught the cushion and destroyed his car. His crew re-built the car and Bogucki drove 13th to 5th on SaturdayAmong other drivers who had heavy car damage during the weekend were South Dakota driver Travis Reber (re-build after Thursday night), Chase Goetz (went to second car for Friday) and JJ Hickle (went home after Friday)Two young Oregon stars made their 360 debuts at Skagit were Tyler Thompson and outlaw kart star Tanner Holmes. Holmes had the most success and was running second Friday night when he had to avoid Bogucki causing severe front end damageBesides Solwold three other locals graced the Top 10 Friday night runnerup Colton Heath, former Dirt Cup runner Travis Jacobson and budding superstar Devon Borden…Lastly Lance Seargent was a surprise all weekend as he started 11th on the grid Saturday after almost not racing due to recent struggles.

Well that is wrap until this weekend at GHR. These truly are the best racing weekends of the year in the northwest. I will be writing articles after both nights races.

terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

 

RUBBER DOWN - I HAVE NEVER

 SEEN THIS BEFORE

 THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

 BY Joseph Terrell

 

Alger,Wa…The 48th annual Super Dirt Cup kicked off last night and history was made - but not the sort that I thought was going to be made. Every year Dirt Cup brings the unexpected but as the final 15 laps clicked off the board last night and sprint cars resembled a train as they cascaded around the bottom in the one big line. It took myself and most of the faithful to understand what was happening. Was it true? Yes it was. Skagit Speedway had taken rubber. In 22 years of attendance at this great track I have never seen this happen at Skagit. The track has had many critics over the years and sometimes for rightful reasons but a rubber down speedway has never been one of them.

 

                        After a six great heats, four amazing qualifiers and two very competitive B mains the Skagit faithful seemed guaranteed an amazing main event. But before the sprint main rolled out the ford focus midgets had their main and that is when it started to happen. The signs were there but many of seasoned veterans at the track just couldn't accept it. The sharpies were still saying Hafertepe was going to win from 13th or Bergman from 5th not knowing or maybe accepting the brutal reality of a rubber down follow the leader track.

 

                        Even the first few laps were inconclusive but when Matt Covington blew by Jason Solwold and almost did the same thing to eventual winner Blake Hahn it was obvious the rubber was down. Hahn moved to the bottom to thwart Covington’s move and from that point on Hahn lead Covington, Solwold and Bergamn on  high speed parade around Skagit Speedway. In victory lane even longtime track participant Solwold admitted to being surprised the track took rubber and that he reacted too slowly which allowed Covington to get by early in the race.

 

                        Hats off the Steve Beitler and his team as they obviously were not satisfied with the track and before post race interviews had been concluded he had his toys on the track going to work. Having 50 sprints and more than 30 midgets on hand definitely took its toll on the track and it will be interesting to see how Beitler and his staff navigate the weekend to prevent what happened last night from happening again.

 

First Night Notes from Dirt Cup…After running strong at Skagit each year Hahn finally scored his first win at the track…Northwest local now ASCS star Robbie Price was high point driver going into the qualifiers and eventually started 4th in the main before finishing 6th…John Carney had an eventful first night at the Skagit Speedway but survived a qualifier mishap to come home fifth…California star Justin Sanders who the sharpies were all over struggled mightily and spun twice in the B main. Sanders was looking for a heavy California cushion and their was not one to be found…His Doug Rutz teammate Justyn Cox fared better and came home with a solid top 10….After a lot of talk about the locals being strong this year the top looked pretty familiar in that it was all National drivers with the exception of Solwold. We have seen this act before…Roger Crockett who entered as a driver to beat had steering problems all night, got stuck in the back of the B and couldn't work his way out…Brock Lemely switched engines after qualifying and struggled until the B where he charged from 15th to 3rd before spinning in turn 2…For the first time I remember not one California or Edmonton based team participated in Dirt Cup…Chase Goetz making his first 360 start of the year had his night end quickly as he was stuffed in the wall in his heat race. He scratched for the rest of the night and afterwards the car was bare bones in the Goetz trailer…South Dakota traveller Travis Reber took a wild ride in the B main and may have set a height record as he flipped violently down the front stretch. But in the spirit of racer he guaranteed to be back Friday night.

 

                        Well that is it from the first night of Dirt Cup. Tonight we shake it up again and see what happens. Will Hafertepe and Crockett rise to the top? Will Solwold and Hahn re-kindle their emerging rivalry? Will Covington or Price shock the world and get it done? Or does Bergman reign supreme again? We will find out more tonight. 

 

                        The sharpies will keep the odds updated Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon will be final odds. Follow on twitter.

 

                        Until Sunday evening Mr. Dirt Cup is checking out and diving into the cooler full of Coors Light. Bingo.

 

                        terrelljoseph@hotmail.com or @idrinkiswim.

 

 

LIVING THE DIRT CUP DREAM – A WHO’S WHO
Tales of the Northwest Nomad
By Joseph Terrell

Kitsap Peninsula….The time is now. The wait is over. The hype machine has been working overtime but now it is time for the reality to hit and the hype to end. What am I talking about? Well of course it could only be the annual edition of the Jim Raper Memorial…Super Dirt Cup to the common fans. The festivities kick off this Thursday and go through Saturday as the drivers chase the dream of $15,000 payday. For more than 30 years Dirt Cup has been the premier event of the Northwest and in many ways the West Coast. The winner list has all the West Coast legends from Sills to Green, Kaeding to Kent, Allard to Solwold and many in between. The names are a roll call of hall of famers. But this is not just limited to West Coast stars as luminaries such as Wolfgang, Jeff Swindell and Sam Hafertepe. Jr. have also graced victory lane in this iconic race.
This is years edition is looking like it will be another super competitive three nights of racing with many potential winners and the sharpies have been evaluating closely during the last two months as they follow the ASCS national tour and the local northwest scene as well as keeping an eye on a couple of California invaders. This last weekend was the last tune-up and some favorites warmed up with wins, others struggled a bit, while a few (namely Jason Sowlold and Seth Bergman) took the night off – obviously they feel like they have made their cases to the sharpies and pundits.
With that said it is time to breakdown five drivers who are contenders and five who are have some work to do:
CONTENDERS (no particular order):
• Sam Hafertepe, Jr. – Great resume at Skagit Speedway with two Dirt Cup victories and a World of Outlaw win. Five wins on the ASCS national tour this year. Last year made an epic run from 18th to 3rd on the final night. Something tells might tell the sharpies he won’t have to work so hard this year.
• Seth Bergman – Defending champ won Friday night last year from 16th and then simply dominated Saturday night. What is not to like about Bergman and his chances this year. Ran second in his only appearance at Skagit this year. Sharpies have taken notice.
• Justin Sanders – first time at Skagit and Sanders is on the contender list. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with this young man as his resume is filled with wins. Swept Bradway memorial this year, has knocked on the door of Outlaws win at Silver Dollar and warmed up with a win and second over the weekend. Only question is how he will adjust to driving Doug Rutz Sprinter. Some sharpies think he might open as the favorite.
• Jason Solwold – stared the season ablaze with four straight wins. Since no wins in six starts but has been on the podium four times. Hasn’t seemed as strong the last month as he needs to but it is Skagit Speedway and it is Jason Solwold so it is hard not to have him on the contender list. Furthermore has scored four ASCS national wins in the last four years. Sharpies are skeptical as of now though.
• Roger Crockett – Led the ASCS national points for awhile but has slipped recently now resides out the top five. But Crockett is coming to familiar territory and I look for him to be really strong. Crockett has never won a Dirt Cup and traditionally has encountered tough luck but this year the stars might align for Crockett to conquer the Dirt Cup demon.

WORK TO DO:
• Colton Heath – Just hasn’t shown consistent speed this year. Always fast at Skagit Heath seemed like a favorite early in the year but now finds himself on the work do list. The sharpies want him to be a favorite but just can’t justify it.
• Justyn Cox – I don’t why but the sharpies just don’t think Justyn Cox is going to contend this week. Come Saturday night the sharpie might be wrong but Skagit is a different beast and the sharpies need to see Cox really perform before he is considered a legit contender at Skagit.
• Scott Bogucki – I know a runner up at Dirt Cup last year and two wins over the weekend and he is on the work to do list…but the sharpies are very skeptical that Bogucki will be able to repeat his success from last year. Look for good value on this driver when the odds come out.
• Devon Border – Just too young…or is he? No doubt he might make some noise and turn some heads but Dirt Cup is about consistency and the sharpies need to see it from Borden. Come Saturday night however if he starts up front he might just shake up everything.
• Robbie Price – Even though he comes home to Skagit after being on the road all year the sharpies still are not convinced this rising Canadian star is ready for the big time. But the former track champion is always fast at Skagit and if he has a strong Thursday night a pretender might become a contender.

There it is a quick run down. I will post final odds Thursday morning on Twitter.

A QUICK TRIP AROUND THE WEST COAST: Multiple time champion Jay Cole won his first main event at GHR this year. Cole has struggled in recent years but looked strong on Saturday and officially led all 25 laps…Austen Wheatley made his second start of the year and made a pass for the lead momentarily on lap 12 but an incident with slower traffic ended his night and Borden’s…Travis Jacobson continues to perform well in the Cook Family sprinter and came home second at GHR…Mini sprint and ford focus midget star Chance Crum hopped in JJ Hickle’s sprinter (he was in Montana racing over the weekend) and ran a solid 6th….Down in California five 360 mains were ran over the weekend with five different winners…Friday saw Kyle Hirst win the David Tater Memorial at Silver Dollar over surprise second place finisher Chelsea Blevins, while Justin Sanders did the honors out at Ocean…On Saturday it was DJ Netto winning the fierce SCCT main at Kings over Sanders, Kalib Henrywon up at Marysville and former Keith Kunz midget shoe Ryan Robinson got it done at Antioch…Robinson who was a surprise show at Dirt Cup last year has ran infrequently this year after competing professionally the last few years in the midget ranks…Henry spent the weekend aboard the Van Dyke #5h….The SCCT it has no doubt been a huge success but the amount drivers who actually follow the whole tour has fallen as their is so many options in California… but options are good and create competition and that is why the California winged 360 sprint scene is thriving.
Look for final Dirt Cup odds Thursday on twitter @idrinkiswim. Also I will be posting an article on Friday discussing the opening night of Dirt Cup.
As usual if I am not chasing races then I am swimming, running or cycling. Catch me at Skagit Thursday-Saturday this week.
Terrelljoseph@hotmail.com and @idrinkiswim.

 

 

The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

By Joseph Terrell

 

Olympia, Wa… With ASCS National Tour invasion less than two weeks away there is a lot of Sprint Car stuff to cover but before that a quick recognition of the local modified class at Grays Harbor Raceway. I know this website is dedicated to sprint car and open wheel racing and that often fans here use modifieds as a punching bag. I don’t share this opinion and truly believe that a perfect show is a two division sprint and mod combo. Why do I like the mods? One only needs to venture out to Grays Harbor Raceway. Last Saturday again proved that this class can be pretty awesome.

                        The mods rolled out 18 deep Saturday night and put on a 25 lap two caution classic that saw hard charges, slide jobs, different leaders and a grandstand that was on the edge of their seat when the checkered wave. The mods gave us everything on this night that we want from the sprints. What is most special is these guys are just all weekend warriors who work all week and then strap on their superman capes come Saturday and race like drivers who do it 70 times a year. Just wanted to give a shout out and recognition to the drivers that are the backbone of dirt track racing.

                        Now time to discuss Sprints. Saturday was the last tune-up at Skagit Speedway before Dirt Cup and it was Cam Smith who wheeled the family sprinter to his first win of the year at Skagit and second of the year. In the process Smith joined Devon Borden as the only driver to win at Skagit and GHR for dual track bonus. As has been discussed previously Smith has really stepped up his game and it will be interesting to see what the sharpies put his Dirt Cup odds at.

                        Speaking of Borden it was nice to see he made to Skagit for Saturday’s race. He had posted earlier in the week that the team was out of engines and were going to be out of action for a bit. Haven’t heard what changed but Borden obviously was able to hustle up some horsepower which is nice to see because this young star is too good to be sitting at home playing video games.

                        Now back to the sharpies and those Dirt Cup odds. After the previous weeks DTB at GHR the sharpies seemed in unison that Seth Bergman was going to win Dirt Cup, Brownfield and well hell every other sprint show he entered in the northwest. And after breaking the track record early in the night it seemed the sharpies were ready to put the pens down, retire the book and head out for summer vacation but that is why they run the races and as dust settled Saturday the sharpies had to start revisiting the odds. Not that they moved too much but a definite reassessment is needed.

                        Speaking of the sharpies and odds Sam Hafertepe, Jr. is starting to roll and has now got five ASCS national wins. The driver that has proven to have much success at Skagit Speedway (only himself and Jason Solwold have ever won a WoO and ASCS race at Skagit) - will definitely be one of the drivers to beat and rumor has it he might actually open as the favorite.

                        Speaking of favorites and odds it will be interesting to see where the sharpies place such intriguing picks as Solwold, Colton Heath, John Carney and JJ Hickle to name a few. As a critic texted me Saturday night from Skagit at least 15 of the 24 drivers present could win. It has been a while since the northwest scene has been that competitive and with ASCS national tour having plenty of new names and faces it could be that the sharpies favor the locals when the odds are released.

Northwest Sprint Notes: Austen Wheatley made his northwest debut Saturday night as the big shows of the northwest approach. Last year he struggled at Dirt Cup but was super competitive at GHR. You never know how Wheatley will run…Last year Justin Youngquist won the season finale for the Summer Thunder Series but had not been on the track until Saturday night…Both Wheatley and Youngquist were DNFs…For the first time in recent memory Skagit Speedway had a B main for a weekly Sprint show. The birth of the Dual Track Bonus has really paid dividends…Former Skagit champion Barry Martinez made his debut aboard the Jensen Sprinter and finished 10th..Jason Solwold ran third Saturday giving him nine podiums in 10 A main starts. His other finish was fourth…It was a rare Saturday night with two northwest tracks running 360s as Cottage Grove also had 360s on the menu…The talented but inconsistent Jake Wheeler steered to his first career Cottage Grove win and first 360 win by a local at the track since late 2017.

Now onto West Coast Sprint Notes:Andy Forsberg picked up win number five at Placerville Saturday night putting him first on west coast win list…Rico Abreu won a miracle at Tulare and with it scored a cool $11,000. I was a little disappointed the Peter Murphy classic and the huge payday only had 25 entrants…Chase Madjic rolled to his first 360 win Friday in Chico outlasting Justyn Cox…Speaking of Cox he got his first taste of Skagit Speedway Saturday night and finished fourth in the Doug Rutz sprinter. Yes the sharpies noticed when it comes to setting odds for Dirt Cup…Ryan Bernal won the Friday night 360 race at Tulare while Dominic Scelzi won Saturday night…Amazingly California had two 360 races Friday and four Saturday plus a NARC 410 race. That is seven full sprint car races for the weekend. Yes sprint car racing in California is doing oaky…And finally speaking of California for the second time in three years a driver from Golden State captured Indiana Midget Week. Congrats Logan Seavey on getting to done after Sunday was cancelled because of that rare midwest rain lol.

            Next week I will head to GHR for third straight week to catch the final 360 race before Dirt Cup and Brownfield as well as the Washington Modified Tour will roar for 30 laps as the headliner this Saturday. I have confirmed the sharpies will be at GHR Saturday for this last look and that initial Dirt Cup odds will be posted Sunday morning @idrinkiswim.

            Will probably do two articles next week as action really picks up in the northwest. Follow me @idrinkiswim. email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Tales of the Northwest Nomad

by Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa…June 1 was a Saturday and what better way to kick off the month of June than with a Summer Thunder Series Sprint Car race at Grays Harbor Raceway. Once the calendar turns to June all northwest sprint fans get a little more excited and the competition gets a little tighter as the local stars fine tune their hot rods in anticipation of the ASCS National Tour hitting land the last two weekends of the month. Those two weekends are without a doubt the best back to back weekends of racing in the northwest all year so everybody is looking to be at their best come then.

As the clock struck 6 pm Saturday night it was time to head west out GHR. As I arrived first thing I noticed is it was going to be a big crowd. The ticket line was deep and stands were much fuller than usual. Amazing how the mention of fireworks drives people to the races. But then again whatever gets fans out to the races is a plus - just this week four tracks shut down with attendance being a factor in all four. With the huge crowd and great weather I wandered into the stands a little past seven and I was greeted with 25 sprint cars - a season high in the state of Washington. Unfortunately I was also greeted to three support divisions but given my previous statement about the importance of attendance I will keep my displeasure on the subject to myself.

One of the competitors in the pits and bringing a little extra competition to the field was Washington native turned national 360 star Seth Bergman who has headed home to get a early jump on preparation for the big shows a the end of the month. Bergman has elected to not chase the ASCS national sprint tour this year and instead chase big money shows and plans in being in the northwest through the Summer Nationals at Skagit Speedway at the end of July. Seth has plenty of laps at both GHR and Skagit and the extra prep time can only be detrimental the to the rest of the field. On this Saturday it was very detrimental as Seth announced his arrival home in a loud and proud fashion.

After setting fast time and running third in his heat Seth started the main in the second row and quickly went to work. The difference was the ability of Seth to enter turn three on the top as leader JJ Hickle committed to the bottom and second place Jason Solwold started in the middle of turn three and slid to the top of turn four - as he was either unwilling or unable to enter on top coming into three. Seth paced behind the top two for a few laps as he picked up momentum running the scary high side until he finally drove by Solwold in turn four and Hickle a lap later. From this point Bergman set sail and definitely let the northwest competitors they need to step up their games if they want to be a factor.

Both Hickle and Solwold ran solid races but have a ways to go to be competitive with Bergman. His ability to navigate the track and find the fast lane is very impressive and it seemed like Saturday he knew the fast line a lap to two before the rest of the field found it. The northwest drivers were a little conservative in searching for new lines and it showed as Bergman was never challenged during the last 20 laps despite numerous restarts. With this said I fully expect the best of the northwest (Solwold, Hickle, Colton Heath, Garen Linder, Cam Smith among others) to make the necessary adjustments and close the gap quickly. The bar has been raised for the locals and I expect next week at Skagit Speedway for the best of the northwest to offer much more resistance to the Bergman train than they did this week.

As previously mentioned 25 sprints signed into the pits Saturday. This continues a strong year of resurgent car counts in the northwest. While I know 25 may not seem like a lot but given the trajectory of the last few years it is awesome to go to sprint car racing in the northwest and know a full field will greet you. After a few years where the best weekly field were 15 I will gladly take a year where the we have only one field thus far below 15.

WEST COAST ROUND UP:

 Northwest notes…Jake Helsel made his season debut in the Bud Ashe Sprinter and qualified in the top eight and ran fifth for most of the main before finishing 7th. Nice run for Helsel who has spent the last few years running micros and sportsmen sprints…Former Skagit champion Eric Fisher made a rare appearance at GHR and finished fifth with a late race run…JJ Hickle lead early as he chases his first career Summer Thunder Series victory. His second place run was his fourth podium of the year…Speaking of podiums only Colton Heath with five and Solwold with seven have more podiums in the northwest…Cam Smith qualified like junk and started 17th in the A. On a track that was difficult to pass on Smith worked himself up to 6th with a late race charge…Local driver Jason Reed had a career best qualifying effort of third. He had a hard time maintaining the momentum throughout the night and finished outside the top 10…Up at Skagit Speedway 600 star Jesse Schlotfeldt made his debut at the speedway in the Sportsman division. Schlotfeldt is a known commodity in the micro world and was the pole sitter for the headlining 600s at the Clay Cup Nationals last year. Did I mention his age is somewhere south of 16. He finished 7th…Also at Skagit were a handful drivers like Evan Margetson (winner of the ford focus midget main), Kelsey Carpenter, Jayme Barnes and Chase Goetz (all in the Sportsmen) who need to be 360 cars. JMO…Lastly speaking of Goetz his brother made Reece made a rare 360 start and after a slow start ended the night with a top 10. I once witnessed Reece Goetz win 4 main events in two nights sweeping two divisions.
California Notes: A quite week in California saw only three winged races over the weekend. Bud Kaeding won in Ocean Friday in his Dad’s car, Colby Copeland got it done with NARC Saturday at Petaluma and Shane Golobic did Shane Golobic things at Placerville winning the 360s and midget main…Golobic heads to Indiana to compete on Indiana Midget Week which starts Tuesday. He is a former champion of the IMW and is always a threat in the Matt Wood midget…Golobic will having plenty of west coast friends competing during IMW including Tanner Thorson. Thorson was scheduled to chase the whole USAC National midget tour this year aboard the Clyde Lamar Midget before suffering serious injuries in a March highway accident. He will return to racing abroad a Keith Kunz prepared midget this week…Kaeding’s win at Ocean was his third of the year at the track in his Dad’s legendary Al’s Roofing Sprinter. Bud continues to moonlight in his Dad’s car when not aboard the Morrie William’s sprinter…Copeland who has been off to a slow start this year broke out with a win at Petaluma Saturday overcoming three late race restarts. Copeland continues to exude mastery at the tricky Petaluma gumbo track…So far it looks like two California drivers will be attending Dirt Cup: Justyn Cox and Justin Sanders will both be in Doug Rutz sprinters. With $15,000 on the line will more from the Golden State throw their name in the hat?

This next week is still up in there as I try to determine whether to head to GHR or up to Skagit Speedway for the dual track bonus. This also a rare weekend with two 360 shows on the same night in the northwest as Cottage Grove will also be running the 360s Saturday night.

As usual if i am not swimming or running i am chasing races. Catch me at the race track.

Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

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The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

by Joseph Terrell

Olympia, Wa….As we enter the month of June in the Northwest it is inevitable the anticipation for the summer big shows will pick up. The Marvin Smith Classic at Cottage Grove Speedway over the weekend was the start of the northwest money season. June will the have Dirt Cup and the Brownfield Classic, July brings northwest Speedweek and Summer Nationals, August is a little light but it all concludes labor day weekend with annual World of Outlaw swing through the northwest. It will be great summer as the stars of northwest will battle ASCS invaders, California invaders and even an invader that is native to the northwest (Seth Bergman). A lot of anticipation but it fails to 2006 when the wave hit its cress in the northwest and for one moment we thought the sprint car world revolved around us.

                        20006 was the year when the promotor battle of the northwest - as Fred Brownfield (who ran Grays Harbor Raceway) formed his own National sprint tour, while Steve Beitler was able to bring the outlaws back to Skagit – seemed to go national. The traditional Outlaw weekend in August was now moving to Skagit and at the same time The National Sprint Tour booked a race at GHR for the same weekend. At first it created anxiety and nerves among the northwest locals - was it better to go GHR for the fledging National Sprint Tour or was it better go to the Outlaws and their return to Skagit Speedway. Many of my buddies were leaning towards Skagit, while I was all in at GHR. This was going to be and was a huge weekend but unfortunately that weekend and northwest sprint scene changed direction for ever on a tragic Friday night before Father’s day that many us remember like yesterday.

                        Before the NST and WoO could lay battle in the northwest their was a little race in June paying $25,000 called Super Dirt Cup that proceeded. In these days Dirt Cup was a 410 race and was becoming more and more competitive as the Washington drivers had stepped up their game making it more difficult for California drivers to cash that check. 2006 was shaping up the same way until a glitch in the schedule and the reality that NST drivers needed more races on the schedule to pay the bills. As Dirt Cup approached – at that time it was always Father’s Day weekend – the rumors started to swirl that many NST drivers might be making an appearance at Dirt Cup. First it was native Jason Solwold who announced he would be a in local ride and then Shane Stewart did the same. Not long after Jason Meyers and Tim Kaeding committed driving for teams out of California. That made four out 12 registered NST drivers at Dirt Cup. Texan Travis Rilat also made the announcement he would be making his first appearance at Skagit Speedway. In a weird the NST had come to Skagit – just Fred Brownfield was not promoting it.

                        In addition to all this the field had many future stars including USAC firestorm Robert Ballou, Seth Bergman and some young driver from California named Kyle Hirst who was desperately trying to break from his Dad shadows. The B mains that weekend were A mains and it became very evident after Thursday night this field was as deep and as competitive as any in then history of this glorious race. Their was NST star power, all the California legends (including Allard, Kaeding, Kent, Becker, Day etc.) plus a super competitive local scene including Chad Hiller and future Dirt Cup winner Jayme Barnes.

            As great as racing would be it seem the partying was determined to be better. I remember driving all around Mount Vernon on Thursday afternoon with northwest legend DJ Festy trying to find a keg beer. Our journey took us across the Skagit River into west Mount Vernon and ended at some dive bar. Before entering we surveyed the location and saw the sign we were looking for “Kegs to Go.” Before we got our keg we had few big beers to set the mood for the day. As we raced back to Skagit Speedway a skunky odor poured from the car with a full keg in back. Back at camp we got the keg in ice and the games began, In addition we had bottles of various liquors to ensure we would be well lubricated all weekend. We partied hard Thursday night but really went for it on Friday. With rain in the forecast we decided to pass the time taking shots of Jim Beam and guzzling keg cups of beer. Skagit Speedway was party central. Beer bongs, apple pie, yucca and plenty of drinks and contraptions were prevalent throughout the campground.

            By the time we headed to the track Friday night following a long rain delay the crowd was in an alcohol fueled frenzy. The Skagit faithful had spent all afternoon into the early evening indulging and now it was race time. Everyone was waiting to see what Friday night would bring as it was last chance for those struggled on Thursday to make noise and a chance for those who did well Thursday solidify their position at the front of the field for Saturday A main. The crowd was unreal that night with excitement as so many stars battled for every position. As the heats ended it was many big name drivers were looking at the B main and some even the C main. Then it happened…

            A murmur started through the crowd. Steve Beitler disappeared from his normal perch on his tower. And as the D main pushed off a dark cloud came over the speedway. Their was a buzz…but it was not good. Sitting at the top of the stands in turn four next to a passed out fan I finally got the word. Tragedy had struck at GHR. Fred Brownfield has been struck by a modified and the early indications were not good. As the dark cloud opened up and the rain poured out the energy had been sucked out of everybody. Fans were standing in groups in the heavy rain mourning with a lost look in their eyes. Racers were despondent. I remember seeing Kyle Hirst and his team standing quietly outside their trailer. Tim Kaeding was in his hauler wondering what would become of the National Sprint Tour and talking about how big of a loss this would have for the sport. Steve Beitler elected to not run Friday’s main events Saturday – in my estimation he did not want to re-live that night in any way.

            Dirt Cup would go on and Jonathan Allard would continue to build his legend as he outran the legendary field. And the weekend in August was amazing and Northwest sprint fans would have many great moments since as locals have won outlaw races, dirt cups and ascs national shows. But none of these events reached the height of that June weekend in 2006 and what was seemingly on the horizon. When Fred Brownfield died he left many voids but the biggest in racing was the loss of competition. Fred and Steve competed each week as promoters and the result was pushing Sprint Car racing in the northwest to its greatest heights. That death of competition had a lasting effect on the Northwest and the mark on that mountain can still be seen if you look just right at the rolling rolls around Skagit Speedway. Every once in a while I will get a thrill as I look back at that amazing moment and time in the northwest sprint car scene.

            But that was 2006 and it is 2019 and Sprint Car racing is alive and well in the northwest this year and is experiencing a re-birth. Maybe it is time to climb back up that hill and find a new benchmark. I always enter the month of June with so much anticipation as it is the best time in northwest with warm weather and great racing every week.

            I will be at GHR the next three weekends before Dirt Cup at Skagit and Brownfield Classic at GHR to close out the month of June.

            Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. Email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com.

           

 

 

 

 

The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

 by Joseph Terrell

 Olympia, Wa…Rarely would I have weekend during race season that I didn't have to work and at the same time didn't attend any races. Such was this weekend. Due to some commitments out of my control Saturday and the fact I was running a half marathon early Sunday morning (start time 745 am) meant no racing in the cards this weekend. That doesn't mean I don't have a lot to write about though.

 

            First and foremost nice job by Colton Heath Saturday night at Skagit. Heath started alongside Jason Solwold and trailed early on but eventually chased down Solwold and secured his first win of the year. In the eight starts in 2019 Heath has been on the podium five times - getting off to a nice start in the competitive northwest 360 scene. Heath is one of those drivers that is the backbone of sprint car racing. Aboard the LAW Motorsports XXX Heath supports both Skagit Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway while making treks down to Oregon when time allows. He is also regular competitor and and already registered for the Trophy Cup in Tulare.

 

            Heath has been on the northwest scene for a while starting in his family owned Sportsmen Sprinter before moving to 360 and 410s and finally establishing himself as a star in his current ride. As we fans we always get enamored with stars and the up and comers but often loose track those wily veterans like Heath who make the show go. He is not a professional and doesn't have some massive hauler with full back up cars. What he does have a is solid ride that is capable of winning at any track in the northwest on any night. He is one of the many drivers and cars that make the sport so special. A local driver in a local ride who has a chance at winning plenty of big races this year starting this weekend with the $4100 first prize Marvin Smith Memorial in Cottage Grove.

 

            Speaking of the Marvin Smith Memorial this weekend look for a solid field to converge upon the Cottage Grove Speedway this weekend. In addition to Heath many contenders will be on hand. Two time champion Solwold will be on hand. Idaho based Lgan Forler will be searching for his first Marvin Smith Memorial victory. Look for Oregon veterans Garen Linder and Jake Wheeler as well as young Oregon stars Tyler Thompson and Tanner Holmes to be up front. This race usually draws a few from California which begs the question  who will be in the Doug Rutz sprinter. My bet is we will see Justyn Cox in that ride and he has a long history of success at Cottage Grove. With Skagit racing Saturday night it very likely that a few cars will make the tow from Skagit to catch the second night of the weekend.

 

            In addition potentially one more big name driver could be added to the mix. Nothing is concrete as of press time but ASCS superstar Seth Bergman has indicated he might be in town for this show. Also there is a good chance Seth will spend a good part of his summer in the northwest as he not following the national series this year. Indications are he will compete in an array of shows including Dirt Cup, Brownfield Memorial and the Skagit Summer Nationals. One would also assume Northwest Speedwell is in his plans. This will definitely change the landscape of the northwest scene this summer brining another top tier contender to the already stout northwest competition.

 

West Coast Sprint Stuff: With no racing I had some time to look back at the season so far in winged sprint car racing in the northwest and west coast…first the northwest…Colton Heath became the fifth different winner in nine main events in the northwest…His five podiums trail only Solwold who has six…Youngster Devon Borden registered his third podium of the year after driving all night from  Tulare the night before…Jay Cole is the only driver with a perfect podium record - two races with two podium finishes…Amongst drivers looking for their first wins of the year are Eric Fisher, Brock Lemley, Travis Jacobson and the previously mentioned Jay Cole…Now onto the west coast in general which includes California, Oregon, Washington…Amazingly in a combined 51 410 and 360 winged races their have been 30 winners…And still Tim Kaeding, Ryan Bernal, Brad Furr, Geoff Ensign, Colby Copeland and plenty of other talented drivers have yet to taste victory lane…Mitchell Faccinto, Andy Forsberg and Sowlold continue to lead the win list with four…Kyle Hirst is also winless but in his limited starts this year has been a contender each night and currently only sits 14 points behind Shane Golobic in SCCT points…Rico Abreu finally broke into victory lane Friday night in Tulare as he has struggled to get that first win this year…And if speaking about Tulare then Trophy Cup must mentioned…preregistration is off and running with both Roth Motorsports (the Scelzi brothers) and Tarlton Motorsports (Tim Shaffer and Buddy Koifoid) already forming super teams…Lastly one of the bummers of Saturday’s rain out in Tulare was that California legend and four time Dirt Cup champion Jonathan Allard was going to make a rare start as spends most of his time these days spinning wrenches for youngster Kyle Olfill.

 

            Lastly I want to branch out nationwide and talk about the World of Outlaws this last week in Pennsylvania. With Lance Dewease winning two out of three shows he allowed the posse to reign king this weekend. In addition to his victories Ryan Smith ran second Wednesday in Lincoln and Danny Dietrich second Friday night at the Grove. After running roughshod over the California contigent early in the year and the amount of posse drivers that are no longer porch sitters it seemed like some nationally were discounting the rivalry. The locals never did however and they were right as though the Outlaws dominated the top 10 the posse dominated the top two. Their is nothing better as a fan than seeing your local stars battle and beat the outlaws and I have been fortunate to see it many times in Washington and California. With that said the Outlaws always rise to the challenge and the agitated interview with Donny Schatz makes me think the outlaws will return in July looking to show the posse up. Easier said than done though.

 

 

            Next weeks entry will be a look back at when the wave crested in Northwest Sprint Car racing and the long journey since then. Anybody who is familiar with the Northwest sprint scene will appreciate this piece.

 

            Until next time if I am not chasing races I must be running, swimming or in the summer cycling.

 

            Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.  E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

           

 

 

 

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

by Joseph Terrell    

Grays Harbor, Wa….Oh how the weather changes in the northwest. After enjoying a nice warm day in Olympia which included a long run, a couple afternoon beers and an evening BBQ it was time to head out to Grays HarborRaceway about 630 pm.  As we departed the sun was shining and the sun was warm…but I knew not to be fooled. The weather would be different in Elma. I had my cold weather clothes packed and ready to go. I threw a couple of blankets in the van and rounded up my traveling partner for the night and headed west.

            As predicted as we left Olympia and merged onto highway 8 the weather began to change. Away went the sun and in came the clouds. As we winded through the rolling hills on the way to the track the clouds got thicker and the weather cooler It was over 70 when we left Olympia and by the time we arrived in Elma it was 55. Why do I mention this? Because for the second time this year I left my bags of warm clothes at home – they are not going to do me much good there. As I got out of my car I realized this epic mistake but luckily I had an extra blanket and used that for warmth and was able to survive night without buying another desperation sweatshirt.

            This was my first time out to GHR this year. It is located in the fairgrounds in Elma and has gone through quite a transformation the last 20 years - from a run down narrow track with long straights and short turns to a track a featuring sweeping turns and high speeds on one of the best track surfaces in America. At its best GHR has multiple lanes, endless slide job and features speeds that make you hold your breath. The legend of Fred Brownfield is evident every time I walk into the raceway.

            Early in the season the GHR race surface can be a little difficult as the wet, cool climate makes it difficult for the track todry out enough to get racy. Often as the track just starts to dry and the action picks up the moisture will rise as the sun sets reverting the track to qualifying conditions – fast speeds with little lifting and even less passing. As the summer months come and it gets just enough warmer the track really comes on and provides endless action. By the time the Brownfield memorial comes in late June these will be the conditions that will be present. Tonight would be the opposite – only three divisions, lack of laps on track and very cloudy, cool evening created an endless night of hot laps.

            Both heat races and the main were won from the front row. The main featured heat race winners Cam Smith and Jay Cole on the front row and by the time they roared out of two Smith was gone. He would never be challenged during the 25 lap main event and multi time track champion Cole maintained second without much competition. The only race up front that looked interesting was JJ Hickle and Jason Solwold battling for third.  Solwold tried to use the top lane as everybody else pounded the bottom but after a handful laps he gave up and moved to the bottom and followed Hickle.

            This is not in anyways an indictment of GHR but just a reality of northwest racing in spring time. Track conditions are often determined by the weather and at no track is this more evident than GHR which battles the ocean moisture rolling in at night.

            On a positive note 15 sprints qualified as the dual track series between Skagit and GHR pays dividends. Car counts have averaged almost 17 sprints for the first four nights of the series after last year when Skagit was often around 10-12 and GHR would be lucky to get 10. This year the fields have been bigger and stronger.

            Now time to talk about Cam Smith. Smith had a relatively easy run to victory from the pole - much to the delight of my partner for the night - and continues to grow as a driver. Although the track lacked much passing up front the one lane groove made lap traffic difficult and Smith handled it with ease. Smith has been working on his craft for around a decade now and has really come into his own and tonight showed as he worked the traffic with ease - never letting the narrow track conditions hinder his progress. He has become patient and aggressive at the same time and has eliminated the mistakes that used to set back a good night. He is now a driver that is either on or near the podium each night regardless the competition.

            Smith used to bounce around from track to track and seemed to avoid Skagit for a while. In the last year he has become dedicated to running Skagit and GHR and he continues to get good results at each track. In a brief conversation with Smith at last year’s trophy cup he mentioned he specifically was focused on running good at Skagit with an eye on winning the two bigs 360 races held there -  but if he continues to up is game at GHR he may have more opportunities to win a big race than he thought.

 

West Coast Winners: First and foremost last week I forget to talk about Justin Sanders going into Silver Dollar Speedway and sweeping the weekend. He won the Brownwell memorial Friday night and then cruised to victory Saturday against King of the West competition during the historic Broadway memorial. Two 410 wins in two nights for a primarily 360 driver although he has been on the cusp of outlaw wins the last two years at Silver Dollar and seemingly wins every where. Amazingly these were his first two wins of the year and he started this weekend off in good fashion Friday with third straight at Ocean Speedway. He was in prime condition Saturday to win his fourth in a a row as he started up front at Placerville but lady luck soured on him after one lap. Sanders continues to be maybe the most underrated driver in America as he usually drives multiple cars at different tracks to a lot of wins. Although he has started slow by his standards come late September something tells me he will be at his “normal” win total of 12+…only a few drivers win 12+ races regularly and they have names like Schatz,Dover and Hagar…speaking of wins Andy Forsberg and Mitchell Faccinto continued their early season success bringing their win totals to four this week…Forsberg won for the third time at Placerville and Faccinto won his third race of the KIings/Tulare challenge…This ties them with Solwold for most Sprint wins on the west coast…Chase Johnson - maybe California’s most versatile driver - picked up his third win of the season Saturday night at Petaluma..Johnson has three 360 wins, competes full time in NARC 410, dabbles in USAC/CRA competition, does some midget racing and moonlights at Cycleland is going to get a huge win one day the question is just what division…Somewhat surprisingly Shane Golobic has only two wins this year - I say surprisingly because with the semiretirement of Kyle Hirst Golobic has become the unofficial best driver in California…Many drivers in California seemingly have many rides - Kalib Henry was in Jensen #5 this weekend and at least his third ride this year - he competes full times in the Worden #63 on SCCT; Colby Copeland was in the Van Lare #5v at Petaluma Saturday has been in at least two other rides beside the Antaya Motorsports #16a he normally pilots; Justin Cox has been in at least four rides this year; and Justin Sanders was in the three cars over the last two weekends - the Von Schriltz #121, his families #17 and his normal chariot the Dale Miller 4sa and don't forget Geoff Ensign as he has been spotted in the Snow #7 and Finkerbinder #3f amongst other rides. These are just a few of the drivers that seemingly are always present but just not sure what ride it will be.

            Well that is about is for this week. I will be MIA the next few weeks as far as attending races before a busy June but that doesn't mean the tales of this nomad stop. Next two weeks will feature special topics that are TBA.

            As usual if I am not swimming or running then I am chasing races and might land at a race track near you.

            Follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter. Email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

 

The Tales of the Northwest Nomad

 by Joseph Terrell

  5/5

Sweet Home - Olympia, Wa…As we left home and headed to the beautiful Skagit Speedway for round three of the Summer Thunder Series and Dual Track Series my mind wandered as the miles ticked away on I-5. The northwest season is just getting going but I feel the tone of the season and drivers to be beat are becoming apparent. So far northwest racing has been dominated by Jason Solwold who had scored four wins in four starts (sweeping weekends in Yakima and Cottage Grove). In addition JJ Hickle and Devon Borden had claimed Dual Track series races . Tonight it was time to see if a new winner would emerge on the season as all three winners would be present as well as host of other contenders. Or would one of the previous winners cement their status as contender in the northwest.

                         As we pulled into the Skagit parking lot at about 6:15 we could hear the 360 sprint cars working through their hot lap sessions. A quick look into the pits confirmed a strong field with seemingly all the usual suspects in the pits. We continued along to a familiar camp site and parked. My partner headed in as the sprints got ready to qualify but I stayed by the camp gabbing a little bit and stretching my legs after the two hour plus drive up. As qualifying for the sprints winded down I headed up and purchased my ticket and entered the hallowed grounds. As I walked in qualifying was just ending and 18 of the 20 cars present had taken qualifying laps. Solwold had set fast time in the Shalen Raye #18. Notably second place in points Logan Forler and last years runner up and Summer Thunder regular Oregon’s Garen Linder were not in the field.

             After opening ceremonies the the show proceeded in rapid fashion with ford focus midget heats, sprint heats and the outlaw tuner heats. The midgets had a 12 lap b main and the sprints had a pill draw for the fastest eight qualifiers to see where they would start the A main. When Solwold drew the one pill it seemed that we had seen the end of the movie. Who was going to beat him? Linder and Forler were not present and defending champion Colton Heath had struggled in qualifying and was starting 10th. Cam Smith who has been running strong was starting 6th but would he be able to catch and then pass Solwold. And surely 16 year old Devon Borden who was starting second would not muster much resistance? Would he? As the A pushed off the I openly opined I thought that Borden would at least lead early. But even I kind of assumed Solwold would track him down at some point and that would be that.

             Skagit Speedway has been the subject of much criticism over the years - some earned for sure but much more of it made up and completely unwarranted. But one thing was for sure - for much of then 2000’s and 2010’s Skagit Speedway would get super dusty. And I mean SUPER DUSTY. Only the most loyal and dedicated fans (yes I was one of them) would tolerate this. The conundrum was the dustier it got the better it got - the ultimate catch 22. But in middle of 2015 Steve Beitler flipped the script to bring in some new clay. It took some time for it to pay dividend but a year later at the 2016 Summer Nationals it was apparent the new clay was a difference maker as it had provided a dust free version of racing that included slide jobs and multiple grooves. By the time the World of Outlaws left in 2017 even long time critics from that series had been transformed into believers. Why does this matter?  Because as Solwold and Borden raced into turn one and sliding to the top of two it was obvious Skagit Speedway was in peak form this night.

             Borden would take the initial lead and even as Solwold waged relentless pursuit he seemingly had no answers for the young emerging star. About lap 11 Solwold started to work his patent bottom groove as everybody else banged the cushion but even as he pulled next to Borden on a few occasions the youngster was not be deterred and Solwold was now dealing with onslaught from Brock Lemley. At one point Borden, Solwold and Lemly were nose to tail as they raced through turn two. By lap 15 though Borden had reestablished control as Solwold and Lemley continued to battle. On lap 17 a caution flew as STSS regular Chris Schmelzle found the wall - unfortunately at the same time Lemley was spinning in turn two. Now Solwold was behind the youngster and as the green flew the crowd assumed Solwold would make a move but again Borden was up to the challenge. As the laps waned it was obvious Solwold was up in the saddle as he tried to desperately to make one last move but Borden had all the answers and held the late charge to finish a car length ahead of Solwold for the $2000 win.

             In victory lane Borden stood next to his Borden #8 and was beyond elated as all the hard work and time he and his father had put in during the last year plus was being realized. Borden has had his up and downs in both the sprint and 600s during the last year and their has been plenty of nights as I cruised the pit area and his pit was thrashing as they rebuilt a race car. But the talent that was so evident is now coming through. After a win a week earlier that some critics had said was against a weaker field and thus for not legit Borden had proven it was no fluke and that he is now a player in the northwest. We have had many teenage sensation in the northwest including Kasey Kahne, Travis Rutz and Trey Starks. Looks like it is time to add a new one to the list. And like all the previous their was some equipment torn up along the way.

             As we made that familiar drive home and cruised through Seattle and the lights shined bright I wondered if the world of Sprint Car Racing had just found another shining light tonight at Skagit Speedway.

 Northwest Sprint Notes: The Summer Thunder Sprint Series (STSS) in the brain child of Steve Beitler and is in the long line of 360 sprint touring series in the northwest. It provides a chance for drivers in the northwest to chase a touring series that races at four different tracks…In a weird turn of fate Saturday’s race had no drivers that lived out of Washington as Oregon regular Garen Linder and Canadian regular Luke Didius were not present…Travis Jacobson making another appearance in the Cook #22x was fast and competitive and brought the car home fourth after some impressive slide jobs through traffic that caught the attention of a more than a few spectators…Cam Smith continued his consistent ways to start the season in the Smith #17 and rolled home third - he inherited third after the Lemley spin and kept Borden and Solwold in sight but could never quite mount the challenge I thought he might…After starting 10th Colton Heath in his LAW Motorsports #33 used his experience to navigate to fifth - I look for Heath to pick up the pace as the summer months and big money shows arrive…Elma’s Jason Reed always seems to have an interesting night at Skagit and on this night he missed qualifying but finished fourth in his heat then started 12th in the A and finished in the top 10…In seven main events this season in the northwest the win count is as follows: Solwold - 4; Borden -2; Hickle 1…Speaking of Hickle he finished 7th and was never really a factor all night after a strong opening night at Skagit…Former track champion Eric Fisher was one spot ahead of Hickle in the A but after qualifying a stout third didn't seem to have the same speed the rest of the night…29 Northwest ford focus midgets were on hand to support the night…Former Skagit Speedway Sprint driver Nick Evans lead the whole way but the race was far from eventful…Mini Sprint star Chance Crum, Ford Focus Midget hot shot Tristan Thomas, and midwest transplant Ross Rankine went wheel to wheel to settle second through fourth…I have been a critic of the ford focus midgets in the past but I have to say that they have joined modified as my favorite support division in the northwest.

                         Before I head out I only want to say that I wish all Summer Thunder Series main events were 40 laps - especially the races at Skagit and Cottage Grove. But this is just my little rant as overall the Summer Thunder Series is a great series that provides some extra money and prestige to the northwest sprint car scene with racing at four very different tracks: the big track in Yakima, the super fast and scary track in Elma, the comfy confines and top to bottom action of The Grove and the legendary and unpredictable Skagit Speedway.

                         Headed out to Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma this Saturday. One thing is never forget your sweatshirt when going to GHR. This track is one of the true hidden gems in the dirt track world. The sprints can really fly at this wide sweeping 3/8 mile oval.

                         As always if I am not swimming or running I am chasing races and on my way to track near you.

                         Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim. Email terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

BY JOSEPH TERRELL  

 4/29

Kitsap Peninsula…It is Saturday Night and I should be at Grays Harbor Raceway catching opening night but instead I am on the Kitsap Peninsula after a long day of wok swirling an easy IPA. I am annoyed by the fact I am missing opening night and the sound of sprints of roaring into turn one. I was also missing the modifieds slice and dice like they only can on the ultra wide 3/8 mile oval.
Also down in Oregon Cottage Grove Speedway was having a two night show fearing the 360 sprints. A lot of sprint car action in the northwest this weekend and it got me thinking who are the best northwest sprint car drivers since 1990. A little trip down memory lane - the biggest criteria ismost of said drivers career has taken place in the northwest (Oregon and Washington). The decision making process was difficult and the committee of one needed a second beer to finalize the decision. After much thought and deliberation the committee decided:
The obvious answer is former USAC midget national champion and NASCAR legend Kasey Kahne. But Kasey did not spend much of his time in the Northwest despite two dominant Dirt Cup championships. So while he is no doubt the biggest name too come from the Northwest - he was not eligible. The vote was so close that the committee decided on a split decision:

1a) Jason Solwold - Won an amazing 23 races in the Northwest in 2003 (16 -360, 7-410)…2008 WoO winner at Skagit Speedway…2 career outlaw wins, 4 ASCS National wins and also wins with the All Star Circuit of Champions and the now defunct National Sprint Tour…2015 Dirt Cup Champion at Skagit Speedway…1996, 1997, 2001 and 2017 Summer Nationals Champion at Skagit Speedway…2015 and 2016 Marvin Smith memorial winner at Cottage Grove Speedway...1998 Northern Sprint Tour Champion…2010 ASCS NW Champion…2015, 216, 2017 Summer Thunder Series Sprint Champion…Has been the most dominant driver in the northwest since 1996. Has never won the Fred Brownfield Memorial at Grays Harbor but has won the prelim night in 2015 and 2018. Put on a show for the ages at the 2016 Summer Nationals to only have the next driver on this list take the win.

1b) Roger Crockett – born in California spent a majority of his career racing out of Oregon until recently moving to Oklahoma following number three on the list…While most of the drivers on the list have had their heroics at Skagit – Crockett made living at Cottage Grove and Grays Harbor…Dominated the 360 touring series in the northwest for years (NST, NSCS, ASCS Northwest)…Total of nine championships between the three touring series (2001-04, 2007, 2009, 2011-13)…ASCS National main event winner on multiple occasion including last years opener at Devil’s Bowl Speedway…1998 California Civil War Series Champion…2017 Marvin Smith Classic winner…Nationally recognized as one of the best 360 drivers in the nation…World of Outlaws winner in Minnesota…won Summer Nationals in 1998 and 2016 – beating Solwold on a classic late restart that proved to be one of great nights of racing ever at Skagit Speedway…only lacking a Dirt Cup victory…possibly the smoothest driver I have ever seen

3)Seth Bergman…ASCS National star who has spent most of his career on the road chasing the dream…but has spent enough his career at home with major wins that I couldn’t leave him off the list…2014 and 2015 Summer Nationals Champion…2018 Super Dirt Championship in dominating fashion…won the 2018 Dirt Cup Friday night preliminary main from 16th in a historical run…three major wins is enough to get you on this list…Still looking for a Fred Brownfield Memorial win…Consistently wins 10 + races every year…If he raced in the northwest consistently he would probably be number one on the list.

4)Travis Jacobson…maybe a little bit of surprise but like Bergman it is his work in the big shows that solidifies his spot on this list…3 consecutive Summer Nationals Championships from 2010-12...but it is his 2012 World of Outlaw race that cemented his legend…led all 35 laps repealing all challengers as he joined Solwold as locals who have won an Outlaw race at Skagit…his struggles at Dirt Cup are well noted but he did have a runner up finish in 2005 chasing Jon Allard throughout the latter half of the race. Maybe the best drive I have ever seen at Skagit Speedway – unbeatable when he is on.

The final spot on this list was heavily debated but in the end it is performances in the big shows that win out…

5)Jayme Barnes…not the most consistent driver ever…but nobody can do the things he can when he is in the zone…2008 ASCS Northwest Champion…runner up in 2008 World of Outlaw race at Grays Harbor Raceway…20th to 2nd at 2001 Summer Nationals…but it is Dirt Cup that gets this driver on this list…back to back Dirt Cups wins in local low buck rides in 2008-09 and third in 2010…could have won outlaw races in 2009 and 2010 at Skagit but lady luck was not his friend…while he has had big lulls in his career and some failed adventures in bigger and better financed rides Barnes work at Dirt Cup is legendary… Legend has it someone told Danny Lasoski “They are running 10 second laps around Skagit”and he said “no they aren’t…Barnes is running 10 seconds lap.”… That is enough is for me.

Travis Rutz gets a special spot on this list. Though his career was cut short he did manage two Summer Nationals championships and enough thrilling moments for a lifetime.

Many names did not make the list just because of space and they are in no order: 1991 Dirt Cup Champion Bobby Burrow, Chad Hillier, Marc “the Shark” Huson, Jay Cole, Shawna Wilskey, 2014 Dirt Cup Champion Brock Lemley, Danny Horner, Trey Starks, Dale Smith, Logan Forler and Ricky Fauver are just a few of the greats who didn’t make the cut.

My list is done, my beer is finished and it is time to point the car toward home roll down highway 16, cross the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and b-line for I-5.

Northwest Notes: Devon Borden picked up the first win of his career Saturday night at Grays Harbor Raceway. After showing a lot of speed and a heavy right foot Borden broke through – look for more wins for this young man as confidence will only accelerate the fast learning curve...12 360’s showed up for the second night of the dual track series – less than the 20 at Skagit the previous week but up from last year…Up at Skagit Chase Goetz won his second straight Sportsmen Sprint race – talk about fighting out of your weight class…northwest drivers and cars are all over the county representing – Cory Eliason in the Rudeen ride (All Stars), Chad Kemenah in the Shannon Wheatley ride (World of Outlaws mainly), Trey Starks (Knoxville), Skylar Gee (All Stars), Seth Bergman (ASCS national) and Robbie Price (ASCS)…while I would love to see all these cars and drivers in the northwest it is always nice to local stars and car succeed…Finally in 2003 as previously mentioned Solwold had the greatest season ever in the Northwest and the 2019 season is starting to bring back memories as Solwold swept the Spring Fling at Cottage Grove…that is four wins in four starts – I am definitely keeping an eye on this and see where this might go.

Next week I will head up to Skagit Speedway for round three of the Summer Thunder series and the dual track series. Looking forward to a solid group of sprinters and whether someone can stop the Solwold train.

If I am not swimming or running I am chasing races so until next time you never know if I will be at a race track near you.

Follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter. E-mail terrelljoseph@hotmail.com

 

 

 

 

4/23

The Beautiful Skagit Valley, Wa… Racing season in April and May in the northwest is always a bit unpredictable. The weather is in constant flux and the rain gods may appear at anytime and stay for an extended visit. I have endured springs where it seems the rain will never stop even and when it doesn’t rain on Saturday you have to be the most dedicated fan to sit through the cold, wet nights. Other springs have offered nice days and cool nights - the sky is clear and the air is dry. What type of spring this season will bring only time will tell but for this last weekend it offered one of those ideal spring days that leads to a great night of racing.

            Mobbing up the I-5 towards Skagit Speedway the traffic was rather thick on this Saturday before Easter. Traffic built up at numerous locations in Seattle and its surrounding areas - plus an unplanned stop in Everett at the request of one the passengers on this trip - made a two hour trip closer to four. As we worked out of the bottleneck and headed for Skagit County the roads began to open up. Working through the rolling hills and finally the Skagit valley appeared before us. Opening up to the Puget Sound to the west the Skagit valley is an immense valley cut out the by Skagit River. Littered with small towns such as La Conner, Conway, Bow and Edison it can seem like a step back in time. As you snake through the valley and pass through the city centers of Mount Vernon and then Burlington you began to ride back into the rolling hills. And just as the Skagit Valley fades into the background we departed from I-5 and cruised on highway 99 following sprint car ace Lance Seargent until the great Skagit Speedway appeared to our left and opening night was upon us.

            As we drove up we didn't know what to expect for opening night. Last year only 11 360s had showed up and all year car counts would struggle during weekly shows in northwest at Skagit and Grays Harbor Raceway. Over the winter promoter Steve Beitler went to work and upped the weekly purses and also created the dual track challenge between Skagit and Grays Harbor raceway in Elma - this series is the northwest version of the Attica-Fremont Series. After a couple of years of struggling car counts Beitler was definitely looking to create more excitement in weekly racing. His popular Summer Thunder Series has consistently drawn nice fields and is a one of the best regional series around. Tonight though was to be the first night of dual track challenge and would it make it difference…

            ….The answer is yes - The nice crowd of avid fans were rewarded with a solid 19 360 sprints which provided 18 starters come main event time. The field was competitive and deep - providing great racing on the comfy confines of Skagit Speedway. Turns 3 and 4 turned out to be the most eventful with multiple lines containing unpredictable ruts. After an early but eventually fruitless challenge by former Word of Outlaw main event winner Travis Jacobson Washington peninsula resident JJ Hickle drove away from the field to score his first ever 360 main event at the legendary grounds. Hickle has won multiple races at Grays Harbor Raceway but before tonight had never graced victory lane at the home of the Dirt Cup. Greg Hamilton - who has shown lots improvement the last year and half - chased Hickle the last half of the race but settled for second. Hamilton is becoming a contender and could be a sleeper come Dirt Cup and Summer Nationals.

            Amazingly in the sportsmen sprint accomplished northwest sprint shoe Chase Goetz also won his first sprint car race ever at Skagit.This surprised me as Goetz has always been fast at Skagit Speedway in his 360 ride. Goetz was not the only sprint star in the sportsman field as he was joined by former two time Dirt Cup champion Jayme Barnes. I have been going to northwest racing long enough that anytime Barnes is in the house you need pay attention. After showing early speed he was a DNF. Somebody needs to get this guy in a 360 for the summer big shows.

            It was a great opening night at Skagit and the little traffic on the way out was a minor inconvenience to see so many fans out supporting dirt track racing. Yes we could have bummed around the camp sites and driven home with sun coming up but tonight we took the easy way out. We headed back down the rolling hills, through the valley, down the freeway leaving great Skagit Speedway behind us. We rolled through the cities with ease as the clocked turned the page to Sunday and the previously four drive was the two hour drive it should be. Traffic was a thing of the past and the freeway rolled with ease on this perfect northwest spring night.

Weekly Notes: Cam Smith and Hickle struggled early in qualifying but improved through the night with Hicklewinning and Smith coming home fourth…Both of these drivers expect and should compete for wins all season long…Another that will be contender all season isColton Heath who rebounded from a tough opening weekend at Yakima with quick time and a third place finish in the potent LAW motorsports sprinter…Jacobson was in the Cook family sprinter and had it rolling before incurring a DNF…another star of the past gracing the grounds was Brock Lemley as he looks to resurrect his sprint car career after a few years of not running much – if Brock puts the time in he will be a contender sooner than later this year…Canadian car owner Doug Rutz competed in California over the weekend with solid results. He had Tony Gualda and Justyn Cox in the cars Friday night and Cox in the car Saturday…

            Lastly I went a give big THANK YOU to all the promoters and race tracks (you know who you are) that are busting tail making Sprint Car racing the best it can be on the west coast. Whether it is Steve Beitler, Jim Allen (NARC), Tony Jones (USAC/CRA), the Russell family (Placerville/SCCT) or the many others I missed sprint car racing is alive and well on the west coast thanks to your hard work and dedication.

            More than likely I will not make it out to any races this weekend – work commitments and one of my racing partners is unavailable to ride along – but until next time if you can’t find me in the pool or running long distances check your local dirt track.

            Follow me @idrinkiswim on twitter.

 

4/16/19


Along I-5, West Coast…. As I roared down I-5 heading to Stockton, Californiathis past weekend for the Asparagus Festival (of which the Asparagus Cup was part of) at some point I left the northwest behind and saw the promise land of California ahead of me. I think the exact spot is somewhere in the Shasta Lake area as you wind through the mountains and eventually into the central valley. Once you land in the valley the sun arises and the climate changes immediately. It was nice to cruise through the valley, window down, pegging 80 mph leaving the dark rain clouds behind.
I arrived in Stockton mid day Thursday giving ample time to get setup and situated for the weekends asparagus cup. $25,000 if a driver could sweep – but with this tough California competition it seemed doubtful this would happen. Too many good drivers, too many good teams, too much luck needed. With such stars as Shane Golobic, Kyle Hirst , Gio Scelzi, Mitchell Faccinto, Rico Abreu and DJ Netto to name a few the weekends action was sure to be fast and furious.
Getting situated involved setting up my tent in a covered barn that I am sure houses animals during the fair. Luckily the asparagus festival doesn’t feature farm animals…meaning I did not have to share my sleeping quarters with some over sized stinking boar. On the other hand the faint smell of that oversized boar lingered.
After wasting the day Friday riding bad carnival rides over and over and eating the much anticipated fried asparagus it was time to head to the track. This was my first visit to the Stockton Dirt Track. It is cut out of an old mile horse track with the front stretch coming out onto the horse track front stretch. The turns are carved into the ground creating the banking necessary to ensure drivers can run the bottom and push the cushion. A little later as I walked the pits I noticed a few major absences – Dominic Scelzi , Chase Johnson (who won at Ocean on Friday) and Washington star Jason Solwold were MIA. Also two of the most potent rides in California were not in the house – the legendary Beef Packers machine and the Tommy Tarlton special decided home was the place to be for the weekend. Still the pits filled with 37 stout sprint cars each night (a total of 40 different drivers).
Most of the early action Friday was rather uneventful - although Jason Statler and Blake Carrick made the main through their heats after starting last which is a rare feat. The action in the B picked up but it was the A that really set off. Rico did his thing and rolled 24th to 5th while Gio Scelzi stalked Mitchell Faccinto relentlessly until finally seizing his opportunity as the leaders raced into turn one on lap 28. It was at this moment Scelzi let the slider rip. The 17 year old was $10,000 richer.
Walking back to the camp that I night mentioned maybe Gio would sweep - opinion had changed and a sweep now seemed reasonable. And he did just that. After Colby Copeland set the early pace Saturday Gio rolled by him with ease, opened the can of whooping and set sail. It was never in doubt…Gio had double dipped and got paid $25,000. What a weekend for this 17 year old young star.
Walking back to camp I decided to indulge in one last Asparagus Festival artery clogger. It has going to be the Clam Chowder with shrimp covered fries. Yes over the top…but yes super necessary for the enjoyment of the experience After a roaring crowd all day Saturday the crowd had settled late in the evening but still many lingered on the grounds. As I waited for my heart bomb order I overheard an Asparagus Festival goer talking to a friend how they should hit 99 and cruise to some other valley city on this warm summer night and ride the wave of life. I was kinda jealous and wanted to join them and ride the wave but that long ride home awaited in the morning. I got my loaded fries headed to camp and chewed the fat for a while before heading to sleep.
The drive back home is the reverse to the drive to California. From the sun to the weather cooling to inevitable spring downpour it was sad to leave but good to go back home. As I crossed that Oregon state line I waived goodbye to California and looked forward to the season in the Northwest and the inevitable spring buildup that leads to the grand daddy of them all - Super Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway.

Stockton Observations: Blake Carrick and mini sprint star Joey Ancona were representing the under 16 crowd…Ancona led most of the way the last year at the $10,000 to win Super 600 Clay Cup Nationals at Deming Speedway before a DNF…Speaking of mini sprint stars Caden Sarale was also in attendance both night s as he advances his career into sprint cars…The Keith Kunz connection was deep this week with former and current drivers including Rico Abreu, Ryan Robinson, Tanner Carrick, Blake Carrick and Logan Seavey…Speaking of Seavey he was making a rare winged appearance in the Larry Antaya sprinter however the defending USAC National Midget Champion was never a factor showing just how the stiff the competition was…Garren Linder and Jake Wheeler represented the state of Oregon during the weekend…The car count may have been lower than what would of have been expected but it didn't effect the level of competition as stars such as Justin Sanders, Rico Abreu, DJ Netto, rising midget star Tanner Carrick and NorCal legends Andy Forsberg and Sean Becker were never factors all weekend…watching Kyle Hirst is a treat - he makes it look so easy sometimes. I hope he gets behind the wheel more as the season progresses.

Looking to head to Skagit Speedway this week as long as weather permits. Until then…if I am not swimming or running I am chasing races. follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim.

 

 

THE TALES OF THE NORTHWEST NOMAD

By Joseph Terrell

4/9/19

Somewhere, Wa….The northwest sprint car season kicked off this past weekend over the hills in Yakima at the Yakima dirt track. This was the first races of the season for the regional Summer Thunder Sprint Series. Unfortunately I was unable to make it over the mountain to the valley as work commitments had me tied up all weekend. Instead I followed along on twitter over the weekend.

Jason Solwold continues to be the dominant force in the northwest. His sweep of the weekend only emphasized this point. However this doesn’t mean he is unchallenged. Garen Linder, Colton Heath and JJ Hickle to name a few are sure to offer many challenges to Solwold. Linder and Heath specifically have shown the ability to compete and beat Solwold. Also running strong over in Yakima was Logan Forler. Forler tends not to follow a series but just pick and choose and the former ASCS national regular is a threat every night he shows up. If he chooses to follow the series he will not only step up the competition level but would be a serious contender for the championship. In addition Forler is the hardest working driver in show business – don’t believe get a pit pass sometime and just observe Forler throughout the night. Race and wrench and repeat.

A couple of other drivers who stepped up last year were Cam Smith and Austen Wheatley. Smith has become super strong at Skagit Speedway especially and I look for him to compete for both Dirt Cup and Summer Nationals glory. Wheatley also came on strong last year – was really good at Elma for the ASCS national weekend – but at this time I am not sure of his racing plans for the year.

Another nugget from the Yakima weekend is the driver shuffle that often happens aboard the potent Richmond engine powered Doug Rutz sprinter. Last year this car featured among others mini sprint star Jared Peterson (mainly at Skagit), JJ Hickle and California now Midwest superstar Buddy Koifoid. Other drivers that have ventured into this ride are Trey Starks and Wheatley. At Yakima this weekend Rutz had young New Zealand star Breyton Davison in the car both nights and California high flyer Tony Gualda turning the wheels Friday night. In typical Gualda fashion he was hammer down as he set fast time and led early in the feature before finishing with A DNF. No word on how many appearances the Hollister, Ca. driver will make aboard the Rutz sprinter. Gualda would finish a close second to Justyn Cox Saturday night at Placerville.

But wait there is more….it was announced that Cox will be making numerous appearances in the Rutz sprinter throughout the year starting this week in Stockton at the mighty Asparagus Cup. Cox has also stated he would like to be in the Rutz ride in Nortwest during the summer when all the big northwest shows occur. As always the summer should be awesome in the northwest.

Of course every time I see the Rutz sprinter I can not help but think of the original shoe – Travis Rutz. Anybody from the northwest can speak of the legend that this young man is and will always be in the northwest. More talent and charisma than almost any driver I have ever seen. I will never forget seeing Travis Rutz gushing as Joey Saldana graced the campsite – Travis felt he was in company of a legend. Me and my partners new we were in the presence of two legends.

Now on to the Asparagus Cup…I am now packing and getting ready for the road trip down. This will be my first visit the Stockton dirt track and am looking forward to the watching the stars of the Golden State do battle. I think it is awesome the Nocetti Group put together this great race and purse. I know their has been some negative feedback on twitter but there is nothing wrong about promoter putting on shows that pay $10,000 and $15,000 to win. Maybe it could pay better through the field…but if aren’t first you are last J

Combine the Asparagus Cup with Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway, Summer Nationals at Skagit Speedway and Trophy Cup at the Tulare Thunderbowl and the west coast boasts many of the highest 360 ci winning purses in the United States. As I like to say the WEST COAST IS THE BEST COAST.

Follow me on twitter @idrinkiswim as I will posting different betting odds for each night of this weekends Asparagus Cup. Be pre warned though – finding the betting window is like finding Narnia (nearly impossible)

Until next week, when I will fill everybody in on the ins and outs of the Asparagus Cup which is part of the much bigger Asparagus festival (I can already taste the fried asparagus), so long and stay safe chasing races.

 


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