When the checkered flag flew on the final 2003 race of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Northern Sprint Tour, Jason Solwold of Sedro Woolley, WA was leading by less than half a car length over 2003 NST champion Roger Crockett of Eugene, OR, and the...
When the checkered flag flew on the final 2003 race of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Northern Sprint Tour, Jason Solwold of Sedro Woolley, WA was leading by less than half a car length over 2003 NST champion Roger Crockett of Eugene, OR, and the Saturday night crowd at State Fair Raceway in Yakima, WA had just been treated to one great night of racing.
With more swapping of the top ten positions during the 40-lap feature event than sometimes occurs in an entire night of fast paced action, the fans had plenty to cheer about at the event and plenty of fodder for off-season bench racing during the winter months.
On the opening green flag Rick Fauver of Everett, WA beat St. Albert, AB driver Jeff Hodgson to the first corner to take the lead. Before they had finished a single lap Shawna Wilskey of Mt Vernon, WA had passed Hodgson, B-Main winner Solwold went from 7th to 4th on the inside and Fresno, CA veteran driver Steve Kent had taken the high groove to jump from 14th to 7th place.
Two laps later Jayme Barnes, also from Everett, WA took 4th from Solwold with Lynnwood, WA's Barry Martinez settling into 6th with Kent, Brandon Harkness of Acme, WA, Crockett and Joe Ramaker of Boise, ID making up the top ten.
As the field started spread Fauver opened a small gap as Hodgson and Wilskey swapped second on lap 4 with Hodgson back in the spot the next lap. These two kept the battle going as the traded the position again on lap 11 as the leaders started weaving their way through traffic. During this time it was Martinez, Kent and Crockett slicing and dicing in a long battle for 6th place.
Running into heavy traffic on lap 13, Fauver had his cushion over the competition disappear as Wilskey, Hodgson and Barnes closed on the leader. Barnes passed Hodgson on lap 14 to move to 3rd and Wilskey led lap 16 before Fauver regained the point as they exited turn 4 the next lap.
The only yellow flag of the race flew on lap 18 when Barnes spun in turn 4 while running third.
With a clear track ahead and Fauver still out front, the field began to open to 4-5 car length gaps. On lap 25 Dawn-L Morrison of Morinville, AB and Seattle, WA's Drew Church were running wing to wing with Fauver, looking for a way past was loosing his lead quickly to Wilskey and Solwold.
With ten to go Solwold found his opening for second and on lap 34 he took advantage of Fauver's traffic woes to grab the lead as they came out of turn four. At the same time Crockett was moving forward, taking third from Wilskey on lap 35 with Kent, Hodgson, Carter, Martinez, Hillier and Harkness the top ten.
With the top four running nearly nose to tail, Crockett grabbed second on lap 37 to put the pressure on Solwold for the lead. On the final lap Wilskey made the pas for third over Fauver as Crockett's wide open run out of four fell a half car length short, giving Solwold the season's final win for the second year in a row.
After the winner and his crew had settled down, Solwold commented - "This car was awesome. The track was awesome. I don't know if the fans could tell but you could almost run anywhere. It was really fun to race on. I saw Shawna and Rickey find some traction so I went for it too and it really worked"
With 12 NST event wins to his credit, Solwold was driving his last race in the Huson Bros. Racing sprint car as he plans do some traveling in 2004. "It's been a great year and the Huson's have provided me with the best equipment all year. It's been a good relationship, and we part on friendly terms."
Coming from the fourth row, Crockett to his close second place, Friday night's winner said, "I had a hard time getting past one individual but there's no excuses. Jason drove one very good race and he deserves the win."
Third place finisher Wilskey commented, "It was a good track and Jason drove a heck of a race to come from seventh and get the win. I goofed a couple of times but it was a good race."
Crossing the line behind the top three in order were Fauver, Kent, Carter, Hodgson, Martinez, Hillier and Harkness, the top ten.
The B-Feature event was all Solwold for most of the race until Joe Ramaker of Boise, ID closed the gap in the final laps, coming up just inches short of the win.
Solwold opened a big lead early on, as Gary Vaughn in second and Richie Peterson of Great Falls, MT in third. Ramaker and Hillier were dicing for fourth in a close battle that at times included Peterson. Peterson and Hillier made contact and debris on the track in the form of a front wing brought out the yellow flag on lap 5 with Peterson going to the pits at the same time with a broken shock.
The top four moved out on the restart leaving the tightest racing between Burlington, WA's John Youngquist, Jay Cole of Shelton, WA and Josh Dewitt of Snohomish, WA in a position 5 -- 7 race. Marysville, WA driver Nick Evans came from 10th and was running 4th by mid point of the 15-lap event.
Heavy traffic on the last lap slowed Solwold with Ramaker making a valiant effort to get past in his just short shot at the win. Also making the transfer to the feature event were Hillier and Evans. Cole picked up 9 spots, finishing 6th behind Youngquist.
In only his second USSTCo. Northern Sprint Tour race, Dewitt took home the C-Feature win with a commanding win over second place Bill Balog of Pasco, WA. A red flag on the original start stopped action when Dan Dunlap and Duane Zeistra tangled in turn two. Both Zeistra, of Victoria, BC and Dunlap, from Auburn, WA went out with damage.
When racing got underway, Dewitt made quick work of Balog and Ron Reed of Montesano, WA to take the lead out of turn two and never look back. With Dewitt out front the closest racing was between Greg Kentch of Ferndale, WA, Mark Torres of Snoqualmie, WA and Reed who had started dropping back by lap 4. They all traded position several times before finishing 4th to 6th behind second place Balog and Mt. Vernon, WA's Rob McNulty in third.
In heat race action it was Morrison running a strong race to take the win. Carter ran away from the field in heat two and Glenn Borden, Jr. took heat three. The final heat went to Wilskey over Kent in a close finish.
The dash had Fauver and Martinez running wheel to wheel for the first lap and a half with Fauver getting the point. Then it was Wilskey and Hodgson putting on the same kind of show for two laps, getting Martinez involved in the dicing also. At the line it was Fauver, Hodgson, Martinez Wilskey, Harkness and Barnes.
Fast time of the night went to Martinez with a lap of 14.784 seconds in a field of 46 cars.
Fast Time -- Barry Martine -- 14.784.
Heat 1 -- Dawn-L Morrison, Drew Church, Rick Fauver, Nick Evans, Richie Peterson, Ron Reed, Greg Kentch, Mike Gable, Duane Zeistra, Henry Van Dam.
Heat 2 -- Jimmy Carter, Barry Martinez, Rick Smith, Jeff Hodgson, Chad Hillier, Joe Ramaker, Jay Cole, Michael Harris, Brad Holmes, Mark Torres, Gaylon Stewart.
Heat 3 -- Glenn Borden, Jr., Cory Chamberlain, Andy Jacobson, Jayme Barnes, Jason Finley, Steve Vague, Rod Perkins, Gary Vaughn, David Gilmore, Jeff Bell, Dan Dunlap.
Heat 4 -- Shawna Wilskey, Steve Kent, Chris Schmelzle, Brandon Harkness, John Youngquist, Randy Van Aagten, Josh Dewitt, Randy Pierce, Robert, McNulty, Dan Pierson.
C-Main -- Dewitt, Balog, McNulty, Kentch, Torres, Reed, Gilmore, Pierson. Gable, Stewart, Harris, Dunlap, Zeistra.
B-Main -- Solwold, Ramaker, Hillier, Evans, Youngquist, Cole, Dewitt, Holmes, Vaughn, Van Aagten, Finley, Perkins, Vague, Bell, Pierce, Balog, Van Dam, Peterson.
A-Main -- Solwold, Crockett, Wilskey, Fauver, Kent, Carter, Hodgson, Martinez, Hillier, Harkness, Schmelzle, Chamberlain, Evans, Barnes, Borden, Morrison, Smith, Jacobson, Ramaker.