hy-per-lube Northern Sprint Tour opener goes to Solwold. Sixty-three cars, many defending and past northwest champions and the return of Kasey Kahne had the fans at Skagit Speedway more than ready for Friday nights 2002 hy-per-lube Northern...
hy-per-lube Northern Sprint Tour opener goes to Solwold.
Sixty-three cars, many defending and past northwest champions and the return of Kasey Kahne had the fans at Skagit Speedway more than ready for Friday nights 2002 hy-per-lube Northern Sprint Tour season opener. They weren't disappointed as they watched Kahne, now running out of Huntersville, NC, led the first 19 laps if the 25 lap opening feature event before losing the lead to Jason Solwold of Burlington, WA on the 20th circuit and then get edged out of second at the line by Sedro Woolley, WA's Chad Hillier.
When asked by pit announcer Tyson Cross during a red flag stop if he had anything for Kahne, Solwold commented "Yeah, I think I do." Now he looks to see if he can repeat at tomorrow night's race.
Definitely the crowd favorite, Kahne grabbed the lead from the pole position at the green and was soon into a 10 - 15 car length lead over the field in the opening laps. Solwold, starting fourth, was into second on a turn two pass 3 laps into the show but it took another good 10 laps of snaking his way through traffic before hew was in a position to challenge for the lead.
Kahne drifted high into the fourth turn on lap 20 giving Solwold the opening he was looking for and from that point on it was all his race. Hillier, who had been chasing Travis Jacobson for third took the position when Jacobson exited to the pits on the 17th lap, out for the night.
While Solwold opened his lead over Kahne and the pack in the final three laps, Hillier put the pressure on edging Kahne for second at the line by .042 seconds.
This win made it two openers in a row for Solwold who won last years opener in Yakima, WA and then went on to a third place finish for the year.
Jeff Hodgson brought out the red on the 9th lap when he did an end over end flip down the front straight after tagging a spinning car. Not a lot of damage but enough to finish the St. Albert, Alberta driver's night.
Dale Smith of Cottage Grove, OR was giving most of the drivers lessons as he picked off 14 cars to move from 18th to a fourth place finish. Todd Heikes of Ladysmith, BC filled out the top five and Shelton, WA driver Jay Cole picked up 8 spots for second best in the passing lane to finish 11th.
Barry Martinez of Lynnwood, WA, Jayme Barnes of Everett, WA and three time NST champions Shawna Wilskey gave the crowd a good show as they battled for position for several laps mid race. Wilskey, of Lake Stevens, WA was running her 87th consecutive NST race.
Kahne, originally of Enumclaw, WA and the 1997 Northern Sprint Tour Rookie of the Year and runner up in points, has made a name for himself in open wheel racing throughout the country and now drives for the Robert Yates team in the NASCAR Busch Series. Definitely the crowd favorite, he is driving this weekend for the Dave Dewitt D.I.R.T. Team.
In the B-Main it was fast timer Martinez leading from green to checkered. After maintaining a fairly safe lead through most of the race, Martinez saw that drop to nothing when the yellow flew for a spinning Geoff Beck on the last lap. Martinez was able to hold off Jansma at the restart and go for the win.
With Martinez out front, the best competition was that being waged between Jeff Jansma and Jayme Barnes for second place. It lasted nearly the entire 15 laps with Jansma able to open a small gap as Todd Heikes put the pressure on Barnes in the last few laps as the Harkness brothers, Jay R. and Brandon followed Heikes to the line. Brandon held position throughout the race while Jay R. picked up 4 spots but missed the A-Main transfer by one.
Eddie Evans sat on the pole the C-Main but settled for third as a pair of California drivers took first and second. Dan Menne had the point at the end of the first lap and never looked back while it took Steve Tiner half of the 10 lap race to put Evans down a spot. Tiner made moves to get under Menne coming out of the fourth turn the last two laps, gaining ground but coming up short of the win. Filling out the top five were Richie Peterson and Jason Finley.
Heat race action saw John Tharp lead wire to wire in heat one with Jeff Hodgson giving chase the entire 10 laps. Alan Munn came on strong in the closing laps to pick up three spots to 4th behind Travis Jacobson and the last transfer.
Heat two had Glenn Borden, Jr. in the lead with Rick Fauver giving chase for 9 laps. On the final lap Fauver made his second try at a high side turn four pass work and he edged Borden at the line by a mere .044 second margin.
Defending NST champion Roger Crockett took heat three over Kahne and Dale Smith. With a 6 car length lead, Crockett let Kahne and Smith put on the show of the race.
The nights final heat went to Montana driver Joe Ramaker with Cole giving chase in second. The best race looked to be between Wilskey, Barnes and Hillier but it came to a quick end when Barnes jumped the right rear tire of Hillier's car and took a flipping ride into the turn two wall on the third lap.
When the race resumed it was Ron Myska moving to the battle but he came up one spot short of the transfer.
Two non-qualifier races were held with Melissa Yates winning the first over Richie Brown and Nick Engberg taking the second over Josh Edson.
The dash finish sets the top six lineup for the feature and at the checkered read Kahne, Tony Menard, Jacobson, Solwold, Fauver and Hillier.