NST Season Opener To Ramaker On Wild Night. "Wow" said one fan heading for the pits after the race, "I never though I'd get a season's worth of action in one night". A wild, long and controversial April 29th night at Willamette Speedway ...
NST Season Opener To Ramaker On Wild Night.
"Wow" said one fan heading for the pits after the race, "I never though I'd get a season's worth of action in one night".
A wild, long and controversial April 29th night at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, OR opened the 2005 season of Northern Sprint Tour racing with a field of 42 cars on hand. When the checkered flag flew on the curfew shortened race it was Joe Ramaker of Boise, ID going to the winners circle with his first NST career win.
""This feels just great! Really Great!!" commented Ramaker following the feature event, one where being first or second was costly to six drivers. "I never ever figured I'd get a win tonight, but when circumstances fell my way I was glad to take the break I was getting and make sure I used it." "I'm enjoying this win and looking forward to tomorrow at Grays Harbor."
Shawn Rice of Tacoma, WA, who already looks to be a major championship contender in 2005, grabbed the lead from the pole. Rice led the field for the first eight laps until Everett, WA veteran and past NST champion Rick Fauver went to the inside out of turn four and slipped to the lead at the flag stand as the maneuvered through slower cars.
With Fauver leading Rice and Cottage Grove, OR's Dale Smith battled for second as they moved through traffic with T.J. Winningham of Gold Hill, OR giving chase a short distance back.
A spinning car on lap 13 caused both Rice and Smith to stop, sending them to the back of the pack and putting Winningham and Billy Nutter of Central Point, OR in second and third as four time champion Roger Crocket of Eugene, OR worked to get past Nutter.
On lap 19 Brad Holmes, while trying to miss a spinning Jared Ridge, flipped in turn two in front of the leaders forcing both Fauver and Winningham to stop and bringing out the red.
Nutter now had the lead with Crocket on his tail in a battle seen several times before in Northern Sprint Tour races. After four laps of nose to tail racing, Crockett made a hard charge and tagged Nutter entering turn four with both cars spinning. Crockett was able to keep going but the contact was ruled as driving too aggressive and Crockett was blacked flagged and disqualified.
Following a few laps of ignoring the black flag, the disgruntled Crockett parked his car in turn two and walked to the pits.
With the race going over curfew, a green, white, checkered was announced with Ramaker out front as action got underway for the final time. Ramaker held off a charging Jay Cole of Shelton and Jesse Whitney of Everett, WA to garner his first Northern Sprint Tour win.
Filling out the top five were Henry Van Dam of Enumclaw, WA and Victoria, BC veteran driver Chris Schmelzle.
The evenings racing almost did not get underway as rain showers visited the track shortly after the drivers meeting. After the rain a poll of drivers showed they were willing to spend the extra time needed to roll in the track for racing. Following an hour of packing and extra hot laps, one of the best tracks ever seen at Willamette by NST was ready for the drivers with the program finally getting under way shortly after 8:00 PM.
Following the nearly incident free heats and 'C' Main, the 'B' feature event saw the red on the opening lap when Roseburg, OR driver Melissa Yates toppled on her side in turn four while trying to miss a spinning car.
Crockett, who missed the feature transfer from his heat by one spot, grabbed the lead at the green and never gave up the spot although Schmelzle did challenge early on.
A lap 8 red caused by Brian Steinhauer's contact with the turn 3 wall closed the pack and sent Shelton, WA driver Jay Cole, who was fighting for a transfer spot, to the rear for stopping.
Two additional yellows for stopped cars on laps 11 and 13 closed the pack, giving the front-runners a clear track for the last half of the 15-lap event with Crockett holding over Schmelzle, Danny Horner of Cottage Grove. Cole fought back to retake the last transfer spot edging out Chris Adams of Nampa, ID and Monroe, WA rookie Jared Ridge in a heated race.
The scariest incident of the night occurred on the opening lap of the 'C' Main event when Nick Enberg of Burlington, WA and Sutherlin, OR driver Rob Held made contact exiting turn four. Enberg got hard into the front wall, up into the catch fence and just missing the flag stand before coming to a stop.
Damage to the catch fence caused a half-hour delay in getting action underway as repairs were being made.
Once underway it was a no contest race as Alex Hantel of Everett, WA went wire to wire to notch the win. Bryce Fugate of Bandon, OR and Cottage Grove's Brandon Boyce followed Hantel.
Heat race action saw only a couple of yellow flags slow the racing with Travis Jacobson of Lake Stevens, WA, and Van Dam taking wins in the first two. Heats three and four were won by Nampa, ID driver Shawn Smith and Winningham.
Rice picked up the dash win over Nutter, Smith, Fauver, Whitney and Winningham.
Fast time of the night went to Crockett with a time of 12.252, just 0.125 sec off the track record.
Fast qualifier: 11 Roger Crockett -- 12.252
Heat 1 (10 laps): 1. Travis Jacobson, 2. Billy Nutter, 3. Glenn Borden Jr., 4. Shawn Rice, 5. Roger Crockett, 6. Danny Horner, 7. Jared Ridge, 8. David Gilmore, 9. Matt Steinhauer, 10. Paul Zimmerly.
Heat 2 (10 laps): 1. Henry Van Dam, 2. Jesse Whitney, 3. Brad Holmes, 4. Marvin Smith, 5. Bryce Fugate, 6. Rob Held, 7. Brock Lemley, 8. Danny Kirkpatrick, 9. Roger Oudman, 10. Travis Rutz.
Heat 3 (10 laps): 1. Shawn Smith, 2. Ramaker, 3. Brian Kirkpatrick, 4. Rick Fauver, 5. Jay Cole, 6. Shane Forte, 7. Alex Hantel, 8. Nick Enberg, 9. Chris Schmelzle, 10. Robert McNulty, 11. Ron Jantz.
Heat 4 (10 laps): 1. T.J. Winningham, 2. Kevin Rudeen, 3. Dale Smith, 4. Dallas Zuniga, 5. Chris Adams, 6. Josh Dewitt, 7. Brendan Boyce, 8. Mark Torres, 9. Randy Pierce, 10. Melissa Yates, DNS - 24 Braden Etchison.
C-Main (6 laps): 1. Hantel, 2. Fugate, 3. Boyce, 4. Dewitt, 5. Jantz, 6. Steinhauer, 7. Enberg.
Dash (6 laps): 1. Rice, 2. Nutter, 3. Smith, 4. Fauver, 5. Whitney, 6. Winningham.
B-Main (15 laps): 1. Crockett, 2. Chris Schmelzle, 3. Danny Horner, 4. Cole, 5. Ridge, 6. Adams, 7. Fugate, 8. Pierce, 9. Gilmore, 10. Oudman, 11. Hantel, 12. Forte, 13. Torres, 14. Steinhauer, 15. McNulty, 16. Yates, 17. Boyce, 18. Kirkpatrick. DNS - Rutz.
A-Main (23 laps): 1. Joe Ramaker, 2. Cole, 3. Whitney, 4. Van Dam, 5. Schmelzle, 6. Jacobson, 7. Horner, 8. Borden Jr., 9. Smith, 10. Winningham, 11. Fauver, 12. Rice, 13. Rudeen, 14. Kirkpatrick, 15. Nutter, 16. Smith, 17. Holmes, 18. Ridge, 19. 41 Smith, DNS - Zuniga, DQ - Crockett.