With 47 cars in the field, plus a support group on the agenda, it took a little longer that usual for the final checkered flag to fall at State Fair Raceway in Yakima, WA on Friday, September 26th. But when it did, Roger Crockett of Eugene, OR had...
With 47 cars in the field, plus a support group on the agenda, it took a little longer that usual for the final checkered flag to fall at State Fair Raceway in Yakima, WA on Friday, September 26th. But when it did, Roger Crockett of Eugene, OR had racked up his third consecutive Northern Sprint Tour Championship and set a new record for wins in a season by racking up number 6 for 2003.
"This is great", said Crockett in the winner's circle. "Getting the championship and 6 wins is really great. I should have won a couple of others also, but now I'm just anxious to go out and win Saturday's also."
Starting on the outside of the front row, Crockett rode the cushion through turns one and two on the start to take the lead on the back chute over pole sitter Jimmy Carter of Cloverdale, BC. Never headed through the 25 lap A-Feature event, Crockett opened a 10 car length lead over Carter early on and set a pace that had him in traffic in only six laps on the large three-eights mile oval.
Once in the back markers, Carter halved the gap to the lead with Sedro Woolley, WA drivers Chad Hillier and Jason Solwold going at it for third a short distance back as Fresno, CA hot shot Steve Kent diced with Jayme Barnes of Everett, WA for fifth place close behind them.
Working the traffic well, Crockett had a 15-car length lead over Carter by lap 10 with the Hiller --Solwold and Barnes - Kent battles continuing. Not far behind Jeff Hodgson of St. Albert, Alberta, Shawna Wilskey of Mt. Vernon, WA, Boise, ID's Shawn Smith, Brandon Harkness of Acme, WA and Barry Martinez of Lynnwood, WA were all nose to tail and dicing for position.
The track was well on it's way to being dry slick at the start of the feature event and on lap 16 it may have played a part in the battle for third between Hillier and Solwold. That battle ended when Solwold made a move to the low side entering the first turn and ended up spinning and bringing out the only yellow flag of the race.
On the restart there was a lot of shuffling of position with Kent up to third and Wilskey in fifth behind Hillier at the end of the lap.
With a clear track the top three were soon setting a torrid pace with the field stringing out behind. Wilskey put a pass on Hillier, who was now in a battle with 7th place starter Rick Fauver of Everett, WA for fourth.
With four laps to go the leaders were back in traffic and Carter and Kent were both closing the gap on the leader. Wilskey spent the last laps holding off Fauver while Hillier lost a position to Smith.
At the line there were no changes with Crockett, Carter and Kent going to podium finishes and Wilskey, Fauver and Smith filling the top six.
"I have to thank the Doyle's and all of my sponsors for making this all possible," said Crockett. "I'm happy to have won all the races I have this year and we still have about ten more races till the end of the year. Then I'll start thinking about what will happen next year."
"We were good enough to win tonight", said Carter, "but I got beat on the start and Roger is too good a driver to make any mistakes. I'm a little disappointed, but we'll be back tomorrow night."
After starting eighth, third place finisher Kent said, "I think I had the fastest car at the end. The track really wasn't run in good yet in the heats and it was hard to pass. The car was really good and we were really coming on at the end. We just ran out of laps and came up short. I love the long tracks that are dry slick."
The B-Feature event was all Kent's after his opening outside run through turns one and two for the lead over Wilskey and Brian Ash of Anacortes, WA. With the top three off to a big lead the battle for position was mid pack with Mt. Vernon, WA's Rick Smith and Bill Balog of Pasco, WA going at it for a top five spot. Also in a close duel were Steve Vague of Kirkland, WA and Jason Finley of Ft. Jones, CA.
Just as the leaders were in traffic with Wilskey and Ash closing on Kent, Randy Pierce of Meridian, ID brought out the yellow flag on lap 12 to give Kent an open track on the restart.
With just three laps to the checkered, the top three were off and running with little action as the pack stretched around the track.
Top six at the line read Kent, Wilskey, Ash, Glenn Borden, Jr., Smith and Andy Jacobson.
The ten lap C-Feature was all Joe Ramaker's. Ramaker, of Boise, ID, went wire to wire for the win, opening up a quarter lap lead over second place Jeff Bell. Bell, of Marysville, WA took over second when Ferndale, WA driver Greg Kentch spun in turn three on the second lap.
With three laps to go, Ramaker was into traffic but had no problems as the field was well spread out. Following Ramaker and Bell was Dawn-L Morrison of Morinville, AB, Robert McNulty of Mt. Vernon, WA and Mike Harris of Nampa, ID.
Nick Evans of Marysville, WA took the win in the opening heat over John Youngquist of Burlington, WA. Heat two went to Carter over Crockett after they both got past early leader Chris Schmelzle of Victoria, BC mid race.
The race for the lead in the third heat was one of the best of the night. Rod Perkins of Anacortes, WA and Henry Van Dam of Enumclaw, WA battled the entire race with Perkins finally getting the lead on the back straight during the sixth lap.
The final heat saw Richie Peterson of Great Falls, MT looking like he was going to run away with the win until disaster in the for of a missing rear wheel sent Peterson flipping in turn four on lap three. Wit h Peterson out it was Solwold moving to the front with two to go and taking the win.
Carter won the dash over Crockett, Solwold, Hillier and Hodgson as Barnes headed to the pits with a collapsed wing side panel just before the green flag.
Fast time of the night went to Wilskey with a 14.953 lap of the track.
Fast Time -- Shawna Wilskey -- 14.953
Heat 1 -- Nick Evans, John Youngquist, Chad Hillier, Rick Fauver, Steve Kent, Shawna Wilskey, Dawn-L Morrison, Randy Pierce, Josh Dewitt, Stewart Selby, Mike Gable, Jason Finley.
Heat 2 -- Jimmy Carter, Roger Crockett, Chris Schmelzle, Shawn Smith, Glenn Borden, Jr., Rick Smith, Brad Holmes, Cory Chamberlain, Mark Torres, Jeff Bell, Duane Zeistra, Drew Church.
Heat 3 -- Rod Perkins, Henry Van Dam, Brandon Harkness, Jeff Hodgson, Brian Ash, Steve Vague, Jay Cole, Gaylon Stewart, Robert McNulty, Greg Kentch, David Gilmore.
Heat 4 -- Jason Solwold, Barry Martinez, Jayme Barnes, Randy Van Aagten, Andy Jacobson, Joe Ramaker, Gary Vaughn, Bill Balog, Michael Harris, Dan Pierson, Richie Peterson.
C-Main Ramaker, Bell, Morrison, McNulty, Harris, Torres, Dewitt, Gilmore, Pierson, Dan Dunlap, Kentch, Zeistra, Gable.
B-Main -- Kent, Wilskey, Ash, Borden, R. Smith, Jacobson, Balog, Chamberlain, Vague, Finley, Holmes, Cole, Stewart, Church, Ramaker, Morrison, Pierce, Selby.
A-Main -- Crockett, Carter, Kent, Wilskey, Fauver, S. Smith, Hillier, Martinez, Barnes, Harkness, Solwold, Hodgson, Youngquist, Borden, Van Dam, Evans, Ash, Perkins, Schmelzle, Van Aagten