NST: 2006 Speedweek preview

Northern Sprint Tour Prepares For Annual Speedweek The calendar reads that it is just one week until the beginning of the 2006 edition of the Northern Sprint Tour's "Northwest Speedweek". Once again the series will stop at...

Northern Sprint Tour Prepares For Annual Speedweek

The calendar reads that it is just one week until the beginning of the 2006 edition of the Northern Sprint Tour's "Northwest Speedweek". Once again the series will stop at four tracks for five races over the span of six days. In addition, just as he did two years ago, Enumclaw, Wash. native and 1997 NST Rookie of The Year Kasey Kahne will compete during a rare off weekend from his NASCAR Nextel Cup career.

Kahne will climb behind the wheel of his own sprinter to race in the 10th annual "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash. on Friday, July 28th and Saturday, the 29th. Prior to that, however, the rest of the competitors will be getting things going on Monday, July 24th at Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, Ore., Tuesday, July 25th at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., and at Lebanon, Ore.'s Willamette Speedway on Wednesday, July 26th. The lone off day on Thursday, July 27th will once again include the 2nd annual "Beach Hut Vacations FanFest".

Teams and fans are more eager than ever to get the action started as the NST has only seen action once this season. That was the year's first race on April the 28th at Willamette Speedway. Since then the three scheduled races for Memorial Day weekend were all rained out, and the two events slated for late June in Great Falls, Mont. were cancelled following the sudden death of series Founder and President Fred Brownfield.

Given all of those circumstances it will be a very welcomed return to the track. Especially for Northwest drivers as over the past couple of seasons they've begun putting an end to the week's domination by Californian drivers. Last year saw California trying to reclaim the Speedweek crown with Campbell's Brent Kaeding winning three races, and California native, but Oregon resident Roger Crockett claiming the other two.

Several other Californian competitors are expected to make the trip north. Some of those include Chico's Jonathan Allard, Sacramento's Herman Klien, Steve Kent of Fresno, and Garrett Ishii from Caruthers. Others who may make for pleasant surprises could be Richard Brace, Jr., Adam Main, Dan Menne, and Andy Forsberg.

Heading up the contingent of Oregon based threats is defending series champion and current points leader Bill Nutter of Central Point. Nutter won the season's opening race having gone winless his entire title campaign one year ago. The previously mentioned Crockett is also expected to be a contender as usual, carrying with him the momentum of a just completed twelfth place finish in the American Sprint Car Series' Speedweek that was conducted on tracks in the Midwest and the South. Fellow Oregonians projected to compete are Dallas Zuniga of Creswell, Braden Etchison of Eugene, Brendan Boyce, Danny Horner, and Dale and Marvin Smith all out of Cottage Grove, and Rob Held who hails from Sutherlin.

Continuing north to the state of Washington, it too has a solid group of representatives. Chad Hillier from Sedro Woolley, Jay Cole of Shelton, Snohomish resident Jared Ridge, Everett's Rick Fauver, Henry Van Dam out of Enumclaw, and Robert McNulty who resides in Mt. Vernon. Across the Canadian border, Victoria, British Columbia's Chris Schmelzle is a potential front-runner candidate as well as Langley's Travis Rutz.

Once again displaying their support of the series are the eastern most competitors from Idaho and Montana. Jay Burns of Huntley, Mont. could make the long haul. Along with him are expected to be Idaho's Randy Pierce from Meridian, Nampa based Chris Adams and Shawn Smith, and Boise's Joe Ramaker.

As always, all of the competitors will be vying for the ultimate goal as Speedweek champion. Along the way they hope to garner the best results available; none greater than being victorious in the two night finale at Grays Harbor Raceway. Not only establishing one's team as "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" winners, but the $5,000 check that goes along with it makes for a nice way to cap off the week.

The "Beach Hut Vacations FanFest" is a new addition that has also become a staple of the week's events. Started last season, the event consists of a car show as well as the chance for fans to interact with their favorite drivers and teams. The highlight of the evening is the voting for "Best Appearing Car" and "Favorite Driver" awards.

Any way you look at it, the week shapes up to be yet another thrilling roller coaster of emotions for all involved; from the fans to the teams and everyone in between. With what has become a shortened season, drivers will be looking to establish themselves well within the series championship hunt.

But the drivers who are making their only appearances of the season during this one week will look to play a factor in spoiling the plans of the Northwest's elite.

-nst-

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About this article
Series Sprint
Drivers Kasey Kahne , Jonathan Allard , Adam Chris , Andy Forsberg , Roger Crockett , Shawn Smith