Fauver Sweeps NST Evergreen State Sprint Challenge While many fans at The Evergreen State Sprint Challenge at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA may have been disappointed when NASCAR rookie sensation Kasey Kahne had to use a Promoter's...
Fauver Sweeps NST Evergreen State Sprint Challenge
While many fans at The Evergreen State Sprint Challenge at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA may have been disappointed when NASCAR rookie sensation Kasey Kahne had to use a Promoter's Provisional to start Saturday night's A-Feature event, Everett, WA veteran driver Rick Fauver was all smiles as in the winner's circle he picked up the $5000 check for his victory.
The biggest race of the Northern Sprint Tour season, the 2004 version had the added attraction of having NASCAR rookie Kasey Kahne racing the Rudeen Racing #26 sprint car in the 49 car field. Returning to his sprint car roots, the Enumclaw native was the 1997 NST Rookie of the Year and had 3 feature event wins in 1998, Kahne raced both Friday and Saturday nights at the three-eights high banked clay oval.
Starting on the front row next to pole sitter Brent Kaeding, Fauver took the high groove, out raced the wily Campbell, CA veteran Kaeding to the first turn and with the lead in hand at the end of the first circuit he never looked back.
"I knew I had to get the lead from Brent on the start" commented Fauver after the race. "I had to get on it hard and the drive a hard race. These guys won't give you any break." "This car was awesome tonight. The guys on the crew have worked hard all week to get it so good."
Setting a blistering pace that went green to checkered with no stoppages, Fauver had caught the slower cars by lap nine but deftly worked his way past the back markers keeping at least two and sometimes four lapped cars between his car and second place.
Keading's stint in second place was short lived as Stephen Allard used the high groove to get past on lap two. While Allard, of Chico, CA watched Fauver open a slight lead, defending NST champion Roger Crockett of Eugene, OR moved to take third from Kaeding on lap five.
Kahne, starting 21st via his Promoters Provisional, had moved swiftly toward the front the first half of the race, picking off cars at the rate of nearly one a lap, but as the mid point of the 25 laps event neared his progress slowed as the competition factor increased. Sitting in 13th on lap 11, Kahne was only able to advance to 10th at the finish line.
Tacoma's Shawn Rice ran well the first half of the race but found himself losing positions the second half as Jimmy Trulli, Randy Van Aagten, Jeff Hodgson and others worked toward the front.
By mid-point, Fauver lad 3 lapped cars as a buffer as he worked traffic with Crockett, Kaeding and Allard following through the pack. Allard nearly made a pass stick on lap 20 but couldn't hold the momentum to carry out his high side move on Kaeding.
With the crowd cheering loudly, Fauver flashed across the line with Crockett, Kaeding, Allard, Trulli and Van Aagten rounding out the top six.
"I was trying to go easy for the tire wear, but still be aggressive", said Crockett post race. "It was actually a good track as I could race just about anywhere I wanted to. Maybe we could have caught him with more laps, maybe not. Rick ran a good race."
With two wins and two seconds, third place Kaeding commented, "We had a good time running the whole week and would have liked another win. The car was just a bit too tight tonight and it didn't work out. Thanks to all the fans for coming out. It was a great week and we had a great time."
The start of the B-Main was a thriller with Sean Moran from Edmonton, AB and Raymond, WA's Glenn, Borden, Jr. trading slide jobs and the lead while Billy Nutter of Central Point, OR and Kahne diced for third place until the yellow flew on lap three for Matt Menne. On the restart, the center section of Nutter's left rear tire broke out sending Nutter up the track against Kahne and then Nutter went for a wild flip on the back straight. Several other cars were also involved with Henry Van Dam of Enumclaw also taking a rollover ride.
Along with others, Kahne went to the pits and returned, his back of the pack position not a good sign he could make the A-Feature.
Once again underway, Borden, Jr. lost second to Chad Hillier of Sedro Woolley, WA and then it was Hillier and Moran battling for the lead. Taking both high and low lines as they searched for traction, and the quickest way around the track, Hillier finally took lead on the on the seventh lap when Moran slowed and then pulled to the apron on lap nine.
Kahne, running the high groove with the right rear tire firmly planter on the berm, was up to 7th place when the yellow flag flew for Moran. Also moving through the crowd at a rapid pace was Richard Brace, Jr., who had moved from 14th starting to take third on lap 11.
With groans from the crowd, Kahne exited to the pits under a lap 15 yellow with the right rear tire going flat.
As the field ran hard to the finish with Hillier in front, the final yellow came on the white flag lap setting up a two lap dash that had Hillier low and Schmelzle high, then going wheel to wheel with Hillier taking the win by a small margin. Also making their hard night of racing worthwhile were Brace in 3rd and Josh Dewitt 4th to put them in the A-feature event.
With only two transfers to the B-Main event, at times the battle for those top two spots can make the C-Main a rugged race. Saturday night Bard Holmes wanted nothing to do with a wheel-to-wheel battle and checked out early and kept a safe lead through out the event.
At the first of two yellow flags in the 15-lap event, the lap four flag saw the Cosmopolis, WA driver with a 10-car length lead. There was another yellow on the restart when a car stopped on the apron and then it was Holmes again off and running with the checkered flag the next stop.
Bob Brooke of Southerlin, OR had the number two spot until Harrisburg, OR driver Jeff Thompson gained it on lap 10 to secure his place in the B-Main. Todd Zeitler of Medford, OR moved to third with 2 laps to go but his bid for Thompson's position was not to be. The rest of the top six finishers read Danny Horner, Brooke and Ron Reed.
In the dash, Kaeding won the good tight race for the pole position with Fauver picking off Allard, Van Aagten and Rice to take second and the outside front row position.
Heat one saw Nutter to lead on green with Kahne from sixth to third on first lap behind Wade Fleming. Fleming stopped with broken throttle linkage on a lap 5 yellow for a David Gilmore spin. On the white flag lap Nutter rolled to a stop and Kahne took the win.
A three car spin on lap one in turn four scattered the field at the start of heat two, but amazingly no contact between cars was made. On the restart Nick Evans took the lead and went to the win.
Heat three saw a wheel-to-wheel run between Dawn-L Morrison and Dallas Zuniga with Morrison getting the lead out of turn four on lap 3. Fauver moved into 2nd on lap 4 at same spot and then took the lead in turn 3 on lap seven.
In heat four, Trulli and Moran swapped position in turn four on the opening lap with Trulli regaining lead at line. Kaeding, up to 2nd on lap three, ran side by side with Trulli several times until a lap 8 yellow for a spinning car. On the restart Kaeding got a big run down the back straight to take lead through 3 and 4 and then hold off Trulli to the finish line.
Fast Time -- Kasey Kahne -- 13.879.
Heat 1 -- Kasey Kahne, Chad Hillier, Shawn Rice, Richard Brace, Jr., Danny Horner, Jeff Hodgson, George Graham, Jeff Thompson, Jeff Bell, Bob Smith, David Gilmore, Billy Nutter, Wade Fleming.
Heat 2 -- Nick Evans, Travis Hawthorne, Steven Allard, Marc Mackay, Roget Crockett, Barry Martinez, Shannon Wheatly, Matt Menne, Todd Zeitler, Dan Dunlap, Pat Desbiens, Tim Boychuck.
Heat 3 -- Rickey Fauver, Dawn-L Morrison, Brad Sweet, Eddie Evans, Dale Smith, Jay Cole, Brad Holmes, Josh Dewitt, Mike Sellers, Dallas Zuniga, Steve Vague, Bob Brooke.
Heat 4 -- Brent Kaeding, Jimmy Trulli, Henry Van Dam, Chris Schmelzle, TJ Winningham, Glenn Borden, Jr., Shawn Smith, John Youngquist, Randy Van Aagten, Ron Reed, Sean Moran, Paul Zimmerly.
Dash -- Kaeding, Fauver, Allard, Rice, Crockett, Van Aagten.
C-Main -- Holmes, Thompson, Zeitler, Horner, Brooke, Reed, Zuniga, Dunlap, Vague, Fleming, Gilmore, Sellers, Desbiens, B. Smith, Bell, Zimmerly.
B-Main -- Hillier, Schmelzle, Brace, Jr., Dewitt, Winningham, Graham, Holmes, Youngquist, Wheatly, Borden, Jr., Evans, Thompson, Kahne, Menne, Van Dam, Moran, Nutter, Mackay.
A-Main -- Fauver, Crockett, Kaeding, Allard, Trulli, Van Aagten, Hodgson, Evans, Cole, Kahne, Smith, Sweet, Rice, Hawthorne, Hillier, Morrison, Smith, Martinez, Schmelzle, Dewitt, Brace, Jr.