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 Posted: Wednesday Jun 27th, 2018 08:36 PM
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Joined: Tuesday Dec 6th, 2005
Location: Olympia, Washington USA
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It was an incredible three nights at Skagit Speedway for the 47th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup presented by the Skagit Casino Resort. The Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by Sawblade.com had one of the strongest fields in recent years. Not to be outdone, the Northwest Focus Midgets also had a very talented field of their own for their Hoosier Midget Car Challenge. I missed last year's race because I was stuck at work, and I definitely made sure I didn't miss this year. Thank goodness I didn't! Without any further ado, let's go ahead and summarize all three nights.

Let's begin with Thursday's 25-lap midget main event. Jesse Conway and Jayme Barnes led the way to the green flag, with Barnes taking off with the lead and didn't lose it. As Barnes was leading, second on down were running very close together. Nik Larson got by Conway in turn one on lap three to take second, while Evan Margeson passed Conway for third on the high side in turn four on the following lap. The race went nonstop and former Dirt Cup champion Barnes scored the victory in his first midget start. Larson held off Margeson's countless challenges for second. Tristin Thomas was fourth and Nick Evans was fifth.

Wayne Johnson sat on the pole for the ASCS 30-lap A-Main with two-time and defending Dirt Cup champion Sam Hafertepe, Jr. starting alongside. Like Barnes, Hafertepe led green to checkered. As Hafertepe pulled away, Blake Hahn stole second from Johnson in turn three on lap number ten. Johnson lost third to Travis Rilat on the 17th lap on the backstretch, and he gave fourth place to Robbie Price on the following circuit in turn four. The only yellow flag came out with four laps to go, as Rilat hooked the cushion in turn one and slapped the wall. He tried to keep going, but he came to a stop on backstretch. Hafertepe cruised to the win over Hahn, Price, Johnson, and 17th-starting Roger Crockett.

Moving on to Friday, and Margeson took advantage of the pole position and he led all 25 laps in the midget feature race. The race stayed green until the 15th lap, as Travis Jacobson spun in turn four right in front of leader Margeson. Jacobson's night came to an end four laps later when he went for another spin, this time in turn one. Thomas took second from Chance Crum on the restart, as he did so going into turn one. The red flag came out on the following lap when Brian Aune and Matt Loving came together in turn one, with Aune flipping over. Brian was okay. Margeson went on to his fourth midget win of '18 and Thomas came home second. Evans climbed from 15th to third, with Crum and Hannah Lindquist fourth and fifth.

The 25-lap ASCS main event saw a lot of destruction, as it had four yellow flags and four reds. The first attempt to start the race saw Marc Duperron flip end over end into the turn three fence after contact with Joey Saldana and Ryan Robinson also went for a nasty ride in turn three. The restart was also tossed out, as Johnny Herrera and Price both flipped big time down the frontstretch as they both got into Chris Martin. On a lap 15 restart, Michael "Buddy" Kofoid had his rear axle break in turn four and went on a roll. Then, Trey Starks took a wild ride on the backstretch with four laps remaining. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Rilat was trying to avenge his last place finish on Thursday and led the first 20 laps, but 16th-starting Seth Bergman had a rocket of a car and passed Rilat for the lead on the 21st tour with a slide job in turn four. Bergman scored the win with Rilat in second, Jason Solwold third, Scott Bogucki fourth, and Colton Heath rounding out the top five after starting way back in 21st.

Onto Saturday night we go. Thomas had the pole for the 25-lap midget main event after winning the scramble earlier in the night and Barnes started second. Margeson passed both Thomas and Barnes in turn three on the opening lap to grab the lead, but Thomas came back to take the top spot back on the following lap down the backchute. A quick yellow flag came out on lap number four, as Todd Hartmann looped it in turn two. On the restart, Crum was trying to take third from Barnes in turn four when they made contact. Crum got sideways in front of the rest of the field and lost several spots, but everybody kept going. Just seconds later, Margeson hit the turn two berm and did a very lazy tipover. Ashley Thompson and Conway both spun next to Margeson trying to put the binders on. Not only was Margeson unhurt, he was able to come back. On the restart, Larson went to the high side of Barnes down the backstretch to take second and had that spot for a while. Barnes took that spot back with a lap and a half to go, as he went around Larson on the backchute using the low line. Nobody could stop Thomas and he took the from the $1,000 top prize. Barnes finished second with Larson, Shane Smith, and Eric Turner next in line.

Bogucki had the pole for Saturday's 40-lap, $15,000-to-win ASCS A-Main and Bergman was outside of him. The first two attempts to start the race ended up in yellow flags. The first try saw Matt Covington slowing down in turn three, and the second take had Herrera stopping in turn four with a flat right rear tire after making contact with Justin Youngquist. The third try was good with Bogucki leading the first lap, but Bergman passed him in turn two on the next lap and just simply checked out. Hafertepe was looking to bounce back from a horrible Friday night and he had to race the second B-Main, which he won. Hafertepe started 18th and made his way up to fifth on lap 16, as he passed J.J. Hickle in turn two. Hafertepe also passed Logan Forler in turn two a couple of laps later to move into fourth, and he did the same thing to Rilat on lap number 30 to get third. No one could catch Bergman, as he won in front of his home crowd and collected the 15 grand. Bogucki was a stout second, followed by Hafertepe, Rilat, and Forler.

Washington reigns supreme! :cool: Dirt Cup is in the history books, but it's not over yet as the Fred Brownfield Classic presented by Little Creek Casino Resort is quickly coming up Friday and Saturday at Grays Harbor Raceway. So, here are some extra headlines to keep you busy...

Back Into the Fifties: Dirt Cup had lower car counts the last two years, but this year's race saw a resurgence. :) 53 drivers signed on Thursday, which was more than the first time the ASCS National racers came to Skagit in 2015 when 51 cars were in the pits. Thursday and Friday's formats consisted of six heat races, three qualifiers, three B-Mains, and an A-Main. With that kind of show, it's amazing who made the A and who came up short.

One More for "The Evergreen State": Bergman is the seventh driver from Washington to win Dirt Cup, and he's with some very fine company in the process. He joins Ross Fontes, Bobby Burrow, Kasey Kahne, Barnes, Brock Lemley, and Solwold that captured the DC title and kept it here in Washington. :D

Follow the New Leader: Hafertepe had a ten-point lead over Bergman and Hahn before DC. Hafertepe didn't transfer out of Friday's first B-Main, and Bergman cashed in by winning and he was the new points leader. With the Brownfield getting closer, Bergman has a 42-point edge over Hafertepe. Hahn is third, and he's only four points behind Hafertepe.

Great Scott!: Bogucki (pronounced bo-GOO-ski) had a very successful first trip to Dirt Cup, and he led everyone in DC points. He won the third qualifier on Thursday, as well as the third heat on Friday. Saturday was a stressful day for Scott and his crew, as he had mechanical problems after hot laps. :( The #28 team thought it was either a fuel pump or a magneto problem, but they decided to put in a new engine altogether. Scott led the first lap of Saturday's feature and ran second for the other 39 circuits to finish off an unforgettable weekend. He scored his first ASCS national win at the first track he raced in the States, the famed Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas on June 12 during Sizzlin' Summer Speedweek. Scott is the leading Brodix "Rookie of the Year" driver and he's currently sixth in overall points, and he's just six points behind Herrera.

It Just Got Bigger: In a historic move, Steve Beitler added four drivers as promoter's provisionals to tag the back of Saturday's A-Main. They were Crockett, Solwold, Jamie Ball, and Heath. If you do your math correctly, that's a 26-car main event. :shock: After two failed starts, the race went 40 laps nonstop and only two drivers didn't finish. Solwold was the highest finisher of the group in 16th and Crockett was 17th. Heath was next in 20th and Ball finished 21st.

Points Are Paramount: Dirt Cup had a points structure for drivers to earn points in Thursday's and Friday's heats, qualifiers, and mains. Some racers didn't race in the qualifiers or finished way back in their B-Mains, so that put them behind the eight-ball. The driver that had no problem racking up points was Bogucki, who led the way with 731 points. Austen Wheatley was in the 16th and last lock-in spot at 638 points, and that's six points more than Jared Peterson.

Fit to Be Tied: The midgets saw 32 drivers racing during Thursday's portion of Dirt Cup, and that's tied for the highest car count that they had. They also had 32 cars last July during the Bob's Burgers and Brew Summer Nationals. If you want to see midget drivers in top form, Skagit is definitely the place to be. :cool:

Jamie's Joyful June: Barnes is enjoying the month of June, as he's won twice at Skagit. He was the winner of the sportsman sprint main event on the 2nd, and that's the first victory for car owner Frank Sherman. He made his first start in a midget on Thursday and he went to wire-to-wire, giving owners Dave Mead and Ralph Irwin their first wins also. :)

Coast to Coast: National go-kart champion Robby Yow came all the way from Greensboro, North Carolina and he made his Northwest Focus Midgets debut in Shane Biles' #31 machine. After finishing third in Thursday's B-Main, Robby climbed eight spots to 11th in the A to score the hard charger award in his first night out. He was fighting for sixth with Barnes on the final lap in Friday's feature, but they tangled in turn four on the final lap and fell to 17th. Robby saved the best for last on Saturday, as he started 14th and made his way to a very respectable eighth.

Number for the Weekend: 5, for two reasons. That's where the hard chargers finished in Thursday and Friday's ASCS main events. Crockett passed twelve cars, while Heath did more damage by advancing sixteen spots. Five Northwest drivers finished in the top ten in Saturday's big dance. Along with Bergman, you have Forler (fifth), Lemley (sixth), Starks (eighth), and Hickle (ninth).

Consistency Award: Bogucki (ASCS) and Evans (midgets). South Australian racer Bogucki was eighth on Thursday and fourth on Friday before wrapping it up with a runner-up result on Saturday. As for the midgets, it's tough because four drivers were neck-and-neck. "Bad News" gets the nod with finishes of fifth, third, and ninth.

Hard Luck Award: Devon Borden. Devon's first Dirt Cup lasted for only one night, as he flipped in turn three on the third lap in Thursday's first B-Main. He ended up right side up, but took a very hard nosedive at the very end. Devon emerged uninjured, but there was just too much damage on his #8 car. :(

"Never Say Die" Award: Margeson. After doing a Tommy Tipover in turn two while running second early in Saturday's main event, Evan was part of a three-car battle for fifth at the checkered flag. He finished seventh, right behind Turner and Lindquist.

Next race: I'm coming back to Grays Harbor Raceway for the Fred Brownfield Classic presented by Little Creek Casino Resort on Friday and Saturday. The Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by Sawblade.com race both nights, as will the Northwest Focus Midgets. Matt Covington won the first night in last year's event, while Roger Crockett won the second night in the ASCS portion. Chance Crum swept the weekend in the midgets.

R.I.P. Jason Johnson (1976-2018) #Forever41

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/Twisted-Logic-Photography-1715739992067898/

Blog: http://www.shauninthedirt.com/bensblog

Avatar (new!): Greg Hamilton at Grays Harbor Raceway (taken 6/2/18).

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