Kent's first season win, the "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" opener Steve Kent usually has several California wins and at least a couple of Speedweek wins under his belt by the time the tour rolls into Elma, WA for the "Evergreen State...
Kent's first season win, the "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" opener
Steve Kent usually has several California wins and at least a couple of Speedweek wins under his belt by the time the tour rolls into Elma, WA for the "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge". Not in 2003, and with only two nights of Speedweek left, Kent faced the possibility of going home empty handed. Friday night's win is the first of the year for the Fresno, CA based driver and he was more than happy to dominate the race at Grays Harbor Raceway and take the win.
"Things really haven't come together well this year, and like when you ride the winning streak, you have to ride out the non-win ones also. Hopefully ours is over now. Also, these local guys are just getting better and better and harder to beat." "I really liked the track tonight", said Kent, "it was slick in the middle with a cushion you could use. This is going to be a super facility when everything is done."
Kent, starting out side front row, got the better run at the green and took the lead from pole sitter Shawna Wilskey as they hit the back straight. Wilskey, of Mount Vernon, WA held her position until lap seven when Roger Crockett made his move to the outside exiting turn two and mad the pass for second as they raced down the back chute.
Kent's lead shrunk some as he entered lapped traffic on lap 10 as the Eugene, OR based Crockett closed the gap to about four or five car lengths. Although able to run high or low through traffic, the top five cars were spending most of their time in the fast high groove running on the cushion as slower cars stayed low.
Wednesday night winner Jayme Barnes of Everett, WA, started putting the pressure on Wilskey for third by mid race of the 25 lap feature event, gained and lost the position, and then finally made the pass for the position on the back straight of the 24th lap.
With only a single yellow on lap four the race was very fast paced. Barry Martinez of Lynnwood, WA picked up 5 spots, as did Jimmy Carter of Cloverdale, BC.
"I got close", said second place finisher Crockett, "but there was a certain lapped car I couldn't get past. I think I'll have a better chance tomorrow with the longer race that is scheduled."
"The win on Wednesday was good for us," stated Barnes. "The crew has been getting the car set good every night. We're going to be ready for the big money tomorrow."
In what announcer Fred Rannard was calling the "International B Main", Australian driver Peter Murphy took the win with Chico, CA's Steven Allard in second and Joe Ramaker of Boise, ID third. Victoria, BC's Chris Schmelzle was fourth and Morinville, AB drive Geoff Beck filled out the top five. Murphy led wire to wire in the 15-lap race with Allard in tow as Beck and Schmelzle diced behind them.
Good close racing by the top four kept the fans entertained throughout the race. Third and fourth was so close the flagman was happy to have transponders making the decision instead of him. The yellow flew on lap 6 when Drew Church of Mukilteo, WA and Tyler Pincemin of Morinville, AB made contact and Church spun. Pincemin was out while Church went to the rear of the pack.
With action again underway, the top four continued their close racing while in the pack Dawn-L Morrison continued her march forward from last place to seventh. Although a good race, the Millet, AB drive was still short of a transfer spot.
Also making good progress and picking up seven positions was C -- main winner Shawn Smith of Nampa, ID.
Smith led from green to checkered in taking his C-Main win with Mark Torres of Snoqualmie, WA following the whole ten laps. Morrison finished third with Brad Holmes getting the last transfer spot.
Wilskey took the win in the opening heat race after a great race with Jay Cole, getting by the Shelton, WA based Cole on the last lap. Crockett and Randy Van Aagten followed. Murphy brought out the red on lap 5 when something in the steering appeared to fail as he went straight to the wall in turn one and rolled.
Edmonton, AB veteran driver Marc Dupperon led the second heat until Jason Solwold made a back straight pass on a lap 6 restart. Jeff bell had rolled in the first turn to bring out the red, with Torres catching the wall and going over after trying to miss Bell.
Carter led to lap eight of the third heat when Kent took the spot as the came out of turn four. Carter regained the lead in turn two but then went hard into turn three, slid way high in turn four and Kent went by for the win. At the same time, Marvin Smith slipped by to take second from Carter.
Billy Nutter won a good race in the final heat over Chad Hillier, of Sedro Woolley, WA. Also in the dogfight for the top four positions were Eddie Evans of Marysville, WA and Barnes who finished third and fourth.
In the dash it was Wilskey, Kent, Crockett, Barnes, Solwold and Trulli at the finish line with Solwold and Wilskey swapping the lead before Solwold made a 360 spin on lap 5, dropping from 2nd to 5th. Fast time for the night went to Roger Crockett, who led a 44-car field with a 13.651 lap of the 3/10-mile oval.
The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Northern Sprint Tour's "Northwest Speedweek" concludes tomorrow night with the $5000 to win "Evergreen State Sprint Challenge" feature event at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, WA.
Fast Time -- Roger Crockett -- 13.651.
Heat 1 --Shawna Wilskey, Jay Cole, Roger Crockett, Randy Van Aagten, Joe Ramaker, Shawn Smith, Tim Boychuk, Rob Johnson, Tony Menard, Drew Church, Peter Murphy.
Heat 2 -- Jason Solwold, Marc Dupperon, Jeff Hodgson, Barry Martinez, Brad Holmes, Glenn Borden, Jr., Travis Jacobson, Tyler Pincemin, Jeff Bell, Mark Torres, Henry Van Dam.
Heat 3 -- Steve Kent, Marvin Smith, Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Trulli, Steve Walker, Chris Schmelzle, Dawn-L Morrison, Geoff Beck, Randy Pierce, Lance Sponberg, Ron Reed.
Heat 4 --Billy Nutter, Chad Hillier, Eddie Evans, Jayme Barnes, Steven Allard, Rory Price, Denny Miller, Marshall Schlenz, Melissa Yates, Dan Dunlap, David Gilmore.
Dash -- Wilskey, Kent, Crockett, Barnes, Solwold, Trulli.
C-Main --S. Smith, Torres, Morrison, Holmes, Menard, Pierce, Johnson, Sponberg. (DNS) Van Dam, Dunlap, Holmes, Gilmore, Borden, Jr.
B-Main -- Murphy, Allard, Ramaker, Schmelzle, Beck, Bell, Morrison, Miller, S. Smith, Pincemin. Torres, Boychuk, Holmes, Church, Reed, Walker, Price. (DNS) Yates.
A-Main -- Kent, Crockett, Barnes, Wilskey, Solwold, Trulli, Hodgson, Carter, Allard, Murphy, Cole, Martinez, Evans, Dupperon, Schmelzle, Nutter, Ramaker, Van Aagten, Hillier, M. Smith.