Northern Sprint Tour Set To Push-off For 11th Time The Northern Sprint Tour begins its second decade of sprint car racing action as 2006 marks the series' eleventh season. The Pacific Northwest's premiere sprint tour will compete 17 different...
Northern Sprint Tour Set To Push-off For 11th Time
The Northern Sprint Tour begins its second decade of sprint car racing action as 2006 marks the series' eleventh season. The Pacific Northwest's premiere sprint tour will compete 17 different times including visits to three tracks in Oregon, two in Washington, and one in Montana. Drivers from several U.S. states and Canadian provinces will vie for the championship between the April 28th opener and September 23rd finale.
Bill Nutter of Central Point, Oregon is set to defend his first NST title that he earned during the 2005 campaign. If that wasn't enough of a storyline, he is going to have to make his defense with a brand new team. Bill makes the return this season to encompassing the ownership capacity as well.
Perhaps the man with the biggest target on his back, however, is Roger Crockett. Nutter has been the only driver to top Crockett in the standings over the past five years. Roger now makes his home in Medford, Oregon and has spent the off-season preparing things with his new team. The Scott Fowler headed operation is well established as they are the championship winning team from last season for whom Nutter was the pilot.
Among the numerous other competitors will be many familiar faces. Washington notables are Enumclaw's Henry Van Dam, Shawn Rice from Tacoma, Travis Jacobson of Lake Stevens, Jay Cole of Shelton, and Raymond resident Glenn Borden, Jr. The Oregon contingent sees the likes of the brothers Dale and Marvin Smith from Cottage Grove, Melissa Yates residing out of Roseburg, Bandon's Bryce Fugate, and Jeff Thompson of Harrisburg. There are also several drivers out of Idaho which include Nampa's Chris Adams and Shawn Smith, Boise's Joe Ramaker, Randy Pierce of Meridian, and Brandon Johnson from Payette.
Two other names synonymous with the NST make their debuts with new teams this season. Former series champion Rick Fauver of Everett, Washington makes the transition to Rudeen racing. Team owner Kevin Rudeen vacates that seat allowing Fauver to step in as Arlington, Washington's Matt Steinhauer's new teammate. Also, Chad Hillier from Sedro Woolley, Washington returns to full time driving in the Dave DeWitt owned sprinter. The car competed briefly last season with Dave's son Josh behind the wheel.
There will also be a vast collection of young up and comers looking to continue making their marks on the series. Some of the guys to watch develop are last season's Rookie of The Year Danny Horner from Cottage Grove, Oregon, Travis Rutz of Langley, British Columbia, Jared Ridge out of Monroe, Washington, Creswell, Oregon's Dallas Zuniga, and Paul Zimmerly from Ridgefield, Washington.
If recent history continues to repeat itself, the 2006 racing year will bring with it a great competitive mix of exuberant youth and unparalleled veteran experience.
Just as it has done in past seasons, Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, Oregon will play host to the series opener on Friday, April 28th. The following night will have everyone moving north to Elma, Washington's Grays Harbor Raceway for Saturday the 29th.
There is a one month break prior to the annual Memorial Day Weekend triple-header that travels the tour up and down I-5 in Oregon. Friday, May 26th is return number one to Willamette Speedway. Saturday the 27th is the first visit to Medford's Southern Oregon Speedway as is Sunday the 28th to Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove.
Highly anticipated is the big trek east to the beautiful city of Great Falls, Montana. For the first time in many years the NST will compete in the state in consecutive seasons. As was the host last season, the teams will strut their stuff around Electric City Speedway on Friday, June 23rd and the following night on Saturday the 24th.
Perhaps the tour's unofficial trademark though is July's "Northwest Speedweek" which consists of five races in six nights at four tracks in two states. The order of stops on the schedule for that Monday thru Saturday are the 24th at Southern Oregon Speedway, the 25th at Cottage Grove Speedway, the 26th at Willamette Speedway, and the "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" on the 28th and 29th at Grays Harbor Raceway.
After a successful test run one year ago, the "Beach Hut Vacation Speedweek Fanfest Party" will make its return to Grays Harbor Raceway on Thursday, July 27th during the lone Speedweek off day. Activities include a "meet, greet, and autograph" session as well as favorite driver and best appearing car competitions. Also on hand will be live music and a live remote radio broadcast. Not to mention plenty of food and drink.
Only one race is on the schedule for the month of August, but it is most definitely a big one. Thursday the 24th kicks off the racing portion of Grays Harbor Raceway's "Big E" weekend. The night produces one of the season's biggest crowds and many surprise competitors as the race occurs just one night before the National Sprint Tour debuts on the track of GHR.
There is brief time for everyone to gasp one last breath to prepare for the season's final stretch. The NST visits the state of Oregon one last time when it stops at Willamette Speedway on Friday, September 15th, and at Cottage Grove Speedway on Saturday the 16th. One week later is the schedule's conclusion at State Fair Raceway in Yakima, Washington on Friday, September 22nd and Saturday the 23rd. Championship weekend will once again coincide with the Central Washington State Fair.