Evergreen State Sprint Challenge Hy-per-lube Northern Sprint Tour -- Northwest Speedweek Grays Harbor Raceway Park-- Elma, WA July 20, 2002 The final night of the 6th annual "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" at Grays Harbor Raceway Park in...
Evergreen State Sprint Challenge
Hy-per-lube Northern Sprint Tour -- Northwest Speedweek
Grays Harbor Raceway Park-- Elma, WA
July 20, 2002
The final night of the 6th annual "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" at Grays Harbor Raceway Park in Elma, WA, had action a plenty as the crowning race of the hy-per-lube Northern Sprint Tour's Northwest Speedweek on Saturday, July 20. With the fall of the final flag in the 'six races in six days at five tracks' marathon, Fresno, CA veteran driver Steve Kent's win made it four in a row and was sending him home with over $13,000 of the more than $84,000 paid out during the weeks racing.
The top three finishers for both nights of the Evergreen State Sprint Challenge were the same with three time Northern Sprint Tour champion Shawna Wilskey of Lake Stevens, WA and 1997 champion Rick Fauver of Everett, WA repeating their second and third place positions of Friday.
"Boy, is that car a bad hombre or what?" was Kent's first comment after exiting the car. "Almost as good as the one we used to call the Cadillac. It just runs so good. Roger (Henderson) has done a great job all week giving me a great car to drive." "I'd also like to thank hy-per-lube for putting on such a great series. We really enjoy going from track to track. We might even be back up just to run a regular show"
It really wasn't the way Wilskey wanted to finish the week, but "I'm fairly happy with the week end," she said. "I got hung up behind (Ron) Myska after the yellow and never had the opening to get past."
Third place finisher Fauver said, "It's great to be back on the way up. We worked real hard trying to get back in tune with things."
At the drop of the green Kent took the lead from his pole position and by lap 5 had better than a 10-car length lead over Wilskey and Fauver with Fauver already in a battle with Barry Martinez for third.
Roger Crockett would challenge Martinez at times while just behind him a tight battle was being waged between Jeff Hodgson and Jason Solwold for 6th. Trailing Solwold a few cars back was some hot dicing for mid-pack positions between Steven Tiner, Glenn Borden, Jr. and Todd Heikes. This threesome would dance and dice until lap 17 when some one slipped, leaving Heikes and Borden sitting in the first turn.
Prior to the flying of the yellow flag, Travis Hawthorne, who had changed engines between the dash and the feature, had pulled to the infield on lap 9 with more power plant problems. Also sitting there was Dale Smith who had spun to the infield on lap 13.
With action back underway on the track, Kent quickly reopened his lead leaving Wilskey and the rest of the top runners with lapped traffic to contend with. Ron Myska was now running a fast enough pace to be the thorn in Wilskey's side as nothing she tried gave her the momentum she needed to make a pass.
Barry Martinez, who continued giving Fauver a strong fight for third, found Crockett going wing to wing with him with about eight laps to go and then making the pass with five left.
On the white flag lap the rear end in the Martinez car gave up the battle and he pulled to the infield. The yellow flew at the same time when Jason Solwold, who evidently tagged the slowing Martinez car, ended his race sitting in turn three with front end damage.
It was now a green-white-checkered race and Kent was not to be denied his fourth win in a row. Wilskey, Fauver and Crockett were all able to get past Myska in the final two laps, but Kent was untouchable.
Bill Nutter got the jump for the lead on the "B" main opening lap but it was a short lived lead for the Central Point, OR driver. The amber light flashed on the second lap when Jayme Barnes spun in turn four and collected several cars with John Youngquist flipping.
Also involved were Jay Cole, Geoff Beck and Richie Peterson. After some quick repairs Beck and Cole were able to continue but the other three were out for the night.
On the restart it was Andy Forsberg going to the point with Myska and Nutter behind dicing for the number two spot. Myska and Nutter were trading the number two spot about every two laps until Nutter was able to make his back straight pass on lap 12 put an end to the swapping.
Forsberg saw his near straight away length lead disappear with five laps to go when Geoff Beck came to a stop in turn two. On the restart the top three strung out with the battle for fourth drawing most of the attention.
The last transfer position to the "A" feature, fourth place, was once again being hotly contested, this time between Dan Menne and Joe Ramaker. For the final four laps they were never more than a car length apart with Menne leading only by inches most of the time and the crowd enjoying every second of the race.
At the finish it was Forsberg, Nutter, Myska, Menne and Ramaker. Dave Smith challenged Ron Reed for the "C" Main lead early on and then again midway through the 15 lap race, but Reed held the front place from start to finish and was moving away at the finish. Followed to the line by Robert McNulty and Dan Dunlap, Smith held on to second place.
Mark Hinkle missed the "B" by one spot after moving to 5th on lap nine. Dunlap and Tony Menard had some close racing for fourth place early in the race with Menard mixing it up also with Hinkle before dropping back again. Jim Cress never made the start of "C" Main, flipping hard in turn two while taking his warm-up hot lap.
Heat one was a fast paced race with few changes and Tiner into the lead on the start and staying to the end.
Scott Aumen took the second heat win with Cole getting second from Ramaker. With two to go on a restart, Cole went inside from 5th getting past Ramaker, Forsberg and Myska. Forsberg drifted high out of two and Ramaker and Rodriguez slipped by putting Forsberg to the "B" main.
Heat three was a wide-open race that stretched out around the track with Solwold wire to wire for the win. Heikes, Dale Smith and Chad Hillier made the cut.
The final heat had the closest most exciting call of the week for the win as Rick Smith and Kent came out of four and ran dead even to the checkered flag. Smith was called the winner by both the flagman and the lap counter but the arguments were still going at the end of the night. Following Smith and Kent were Dave Smith and Borden, Jr.
Setting of the top six in the "A" feature, the dash results read Kent, Wilskey, Fauver, Martinez, Hawthorne and Crockett. Hawthorne led the first five laps but with a smoking motor he went high in turn two on the last lap and he dropped back.