Rutz Takes First Northern Sprint Tour Win "I just kept my foot to the floor and didn't let up," commented Travis Rutz when asked about the dominating run to his first Northern Sprint Tour feature event win on May 29th at Cottage Grove Speedway...
Rutz Takes First Northern Sprint Tour Win
"I just kept my foot to the floor and didn't let up," commented Travis Rutz when asked about the dominating run to his first Northern Sprint Tour feature event win on May 29th at Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, OR. Just 17 years old, the Langley, BC driver had lapped all but the second place car when the checkered flag flew at the finish of the 30-lap event. "I knew I had passed a lot of them when I got past Brock (Lemley), but I didn't know what position he was in. I just kept going".
The youngest driver to ever win a feature event with the Northern Sprint Tour, Rutz had no problem being the best of the 40 cars entered in the final race of the Memorial Day weekend trio of races. "We've had a difficult time the first three races and this is a huge win for us. We hope this will lead to a lot more wins for us."
The only car not lapped was that of Billy Nutter, who trailed by nearly a half lap at the finish. "I almost wrecked before getting started and I'm happy I was able to be able to come back to finish second", said the Central Point, OR driver. "Travis ran a great race. And, he is just one of a group of the best rookies I've ever seen since I started racing."
"It was a tough track, with turns one and two rough and really hooked up. We all have to run the same track so, there's no complaints. It's always fun to run with NST wherever we are."
The 'A' feature got underway with a tight race for the lead between Bellingham, WA driver Brock Lemley and Rutz from the green with Lemley leading the first 4 laps until Rutz out powered him on the back straight on the fifth circuit.
With Rutz running low and Lemley high, they were working the traffic by lap 8 when Dallas Zuniga of Creswell, OR went for a wild ride in turn one to light up the red light. Another victim of a track that has seen a months worth of water in the last week, Zuniga was out for the night.
With Rutz out front and Lemley looking at three lapped cars between himself and the lead, action resumed with just 10 minutes left before the curfew hour. Lemley quickly went past the lapped cars but Rutz had a half-lap lead before another 10 laps were run.
Nutter had second by lap 17 with Lemley dropping to fifth when Cottage Grove drivers Dale Smith and Danny Horner got by going through traffic and the rough stuff in turn one and two a few laps later.
While the laps counted down, Cottage Grove's Marvin Smith and Rick Fauver of Everett, WA were moving through traffic, picking up 7 and 6 positions respectively. Also moving forward was Steve Martin of Fairbanks, AK and Travis Jacobson of lake Stevens, WA, both of who moved up five spots.
With just four minutes left to the curfew, Rutz sailed to the victory followed by Nutter, D. Smith, Horner, Lemley and Cottage Grove's Brendan Boyce, the top six.
Jesse Whitney brought the red flag out on the first lap of the 'B' feature when his charge for the lead against pole sitter Braden Etchison ended with a flip after getting out of shape in turn one. Although shaken, Whitney walked back to the pits as his car was towed away.
With all cars fighting the roller coaster first turn, Joe Ramaker led the way until a lap 7 red for Ron Jantz who went for a wild ride in turn one and needed to be checked by the medical crew.
Due to the time needed to remove Jantz to a backboard and the 11:00 PM curfew, the 'B' Main was declared final with Ramaker the winner over Steve Martin, and Etchison. Several drivers were disappointed with the shortened race, among them 'C' Main winner Rice who had moved from 17th to 8th place and Van Dam from 18th to 9th place.
Henry Van Dam and Hedge Carter went side by side into turn one, fighting for the lead of the 'C' Main on lap two when Carter caught the turn one hole. By the time he and Van Dam had recovered, Shawn Rice was heading down the back straight with the lead having used the out side groove to move from fifth to first. Rice quickly opened a comfortable lead and at the finish was nearly a half-lap ahead of the field.
While Carter continued to drop back, Rob held moved forward to battle with Van Dam in the closing laps but settled for third.
Matt Steinhauer got sideways exiting turn four on the first lap of the first heat, flipped and ended up in the fence at the flagstand. On the restart it was Shawn Smith out front and going to the win.
In heat two Fauver went wire to wire over Lemley for the win with Thompson going out on lap-8 with engine woes.
Heat three saw a troublesome hole in turn one bite Zimmerly hard on lap six with him rolling three times. Marvin Smith went to the win over Randy Van Aagten.
Randy Pierce led the first seven laps of heat four until Danny Horner made a great outside run on lap 8 to go from 3rd to the lead and win as Jacobson put Pierce back to third at the same time.
Lemley took the dash win with the only challenge coming from Boyce when the leader got out of shape a bit in the first turn mid-race.
Fast time for the evening went to Travis Rutz with a 10.944 second lap.
Fast qualifier: Travis Rutz -- 10.944 Heat 1 (10 laps): Shawn Smith, Josh Dewitt, Brendan Boyce, Travis Rutz, Jesse Whitney, Alex Hantel, Nick Engberg, Henry Van Dam, David Gilmore, Matt Steinhauer.
Heat 2 (10 laps): Rick Fauver, Brock Lemley, Rob McNulty, Jay Cole, Joe Ramaker, Brian Kirkpatrick, Danny Kirkpatrick, Steve Martin, Dan Philpott, Jeff Thompson.
Heat 3 (10 laps): Marvin Smith, Randy Van Aagten, Billy Nutter, Dallas Zuniga, Brandon Johnson, Chris Schmelzle, Glenn Borden, Jr., Ron Jantz, Dan Philpott, Paul Zimmerly.
Heat 4 (10 laps): Danny Horner, Travis Jacobson, Randy Pierce, Dale Smith, Jared Ridge, Braden Etchison, Shawn Rice, Rob Held, Brad Holmes, Steve Vague.
Dash (6 laps): Lemley, Boyce, Nutter, Rutz, Zuniga, D. Smith.
C-Main (8 laps): Rice, Van Dam, Held, Schmelzle, Gilmore, Carter, D. Kirkpatrick(DNS), Philpott(DNS).
B-Main (15 laps): Ramer, Martin, Etchison, Ridge, Borden, Jr., Holmes, Held, Rice, Van Dam, Hantel, Johnson, B. Kirkpatrick, Gilmore, Vague, Jantz, Whitney.
A-Main (30 laps): Rutz, Nutter, D. Smith, Horner, Lemley, Boyce, Cole, Fauver, Ramaker, Jacobson, M. Smith, Van Aagten, Etchison, Ridge, Martin, McNulty, S. Smith, Zuniga, Dewitt, Pierce.