Smith Picks Up Willamette Speedway Northern Sprint Tour Win After an opening lap red, Dale Smith of Cottage Grove, OR picked his way through traffic for 29 laps to work his way to the lead and win of the Northern Sprint Tour Memorial Day weekend...
Smith Picks Up Willamette Speedway Northern Sprint Tour Win
After an opening lap red, Dale Smith of Cottage Grove, OR picked his way through traffic for 29 laps to work his way to the lead and win of the Northern Sprint Tour Memorial Day weekend trio opener at Willamette Speedway in Lebanon, OR on Friday, May 27th. With 36 cars on hand, Smith had to best the top 20 to claim his first Northern Sprint Tour feature event in nearly four years.
"Yeah, when was I going to win again had crossed my mind several times", commented Smith when asked about the long dry spell by announcer Fred Rannard. "Things really felt good, but the traffic was really tight tonight. I was hoping for a yellow and I don't even remember making the pass for the lead. I was just too busy picking my way through the other cars."
Pole sitter Billy Nutter of Central Point, OR opened a decent lead over Smith, Shawn Rice of Tacoma, WA and Creswell, OR's Dallas Zuniga early on, but by lap eight he was catching slower cars and Smith was gaining ground while running the high groove.
After swapping the lead in the previous lap, Smith made a back straight pass stick on lap 10 taking the top spot, which he never relinquished.
As the race continued under the green the leaders caught a group of cars running nearly as fast, making passing hard and creating a mini I-5 traffic jam. Picking his way through, Smith seemed to pick the holes the best and though challenged was never passed.
Nutter lost the second place position to Rice for several laps before Rice dropped back to fourth with 'B' Main winner and 8th place starter Jeff Thompson of Harrisburg, OR finishing third.
"I hate finishing second", said Nutter, "but there's no better person to lose a win to than Dale. It just seemed traffic was holding up others more than him. We're looking forward to tomorrow night now."
Thompson said he was happy with his third place finish. "This is only our second race this year and that was a tough race. The traffic was hard to get through, real hard. Now we just need to continue to run good after this start."
Along with Thompson, drivers doing great jobs of moving up were Danny Horner of Cottage Grove moving up 11 places, Everett, Wa veteran Rick Fauver picking up 8 spots, and Travis Jacobson of Lake Stevens, WA and Boise, ID driver Joe Ramaker each moving up 7 positions.
An opening lap red for a flip by Woodinville, WA driver Brian Kirkpatrick was the only stoppage of the 30-lap feature event.
The 'B' feature event suffered with three yellow flags during the 15-lap event but the action behind winner Thompson was close and exciting. Taking to the high groove on lap-4, Fauver moved from his 11th place starting position to second place on lap 7 with a strong but unsuccessful try for the lead at the finish. Bandon, OR hot shoe Bryce Fugate led the first two laps before falling to Thompson and Fauver before settling into third.
There was plenty of close racing behind the top three as Horner, Arlington, WA driver Matt Steinhauer, Paul Zimmerly of Ridgefield, WA, Placerville, CA's Jimmy Trulli and Brock Lemley diced for most of the race, swapping through positions four to eight.
Shawn Smith of Nampa, ID saw his night cut short with an opening lap heat one flip in turn two in after contact with other car. TJ Winningham took the lead on the restart and went wire to wire for the win.
The second heat win went to Hawthorne as he and D. Smith both made moves to pass leader Alex Hantel of Everett, WA on a lap eight restart.
Heat three winner Brian Kirkpatrick grabbed the lead on lap four of the 10-lap race with a back stretch pass of Brendan Boyce.
Cottage Grove's Marvin Smith walked away from the pack in the final heat with Henry Van Dam of Enumclaw, WA second.
Usually six fast laps, the dash saw Borden drop out after two spins and then Josh Dewitt headed stop mid race. The finish results read Nutter, Rice, D. Smith, Zuniga, Dewitt and Borden.
Fast time for the night went to Dallas Zuniga with a 12.975.
Fast qualifier: Dallas Zuniga -- 12.975
Heat 1 (10 laps): TJ Winningham, Dallas Zuniga, Joe Ramaker, Brandon Johnson, Jimmy Trulli, Brock Lemley, David Gilmore, Shawn Smith.
Heat 2 (10 laps): Travis Jacobson, Dale Smith, Alex Hantel, Glenn Borden, Jr., Chris Schmelzle, Danny Kirkpatrick, Ron Jantz, Travis Rutz, Danny Horner.
Heat 3 (10 laps): Brian Kirkpatrick, Brendan Boyce, Shawn Rice, Josh Dewitt, Matt Steinhauer, Rick Fauver, Bryce Fugate, Braden Etchison, Rob McNulty.
Heat 4 (10 laps): Marvin Smith, Henry Van Dam, Jay Cole, Billy Nutter, Travis Whitney, Jeff Thompson, Kelsey Carpenter, Paul Zimmerly, Jared Ridge (DNS).
Dash (6 laps): Nutter, Rice, D. Smith, Zuniga, Dewitt, Borden, Jr.
B-Main (15 laps): Thompson, Fauver, Fugate, Horner, Steinhauer, Zimmerly, Trulli, Lemley, McNulty, Schmelzle, Etchison, Whitney, D. Kirkpatrick, Pierce, Jantz, Rutz, Carpenter, Gilmore, S. Smith (DNS), Jared Ridge (DNS).
A-Main (30 laps): D. Smith, Nutter, Thompson, Jacobson, Rice, Ramaker, Cole, Borden, Horner, Winningham, Fauver, Dewitt, Van Dam, Steinhauer, M. Smith, McNulty, Hantel, Boyce, Zuniga, B. Kirkpatrick.