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 Posted: Tuesday May 31st, 2016 01:59 AM
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AKunas
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McCune & Ashe take sprint car wins as Republic goes big time
by Andrew Kunas

REPUBLIC, Wash. - The remote northeast Washington town of Republic was in a major buzz as the area dirt track, Eagle Track Raceway, saw perhaps its biggest weekend of racing ever as the sprint cars came to town for two days of racing action in the first leg of the 2016 Thunder in the Valley Sprint Car Series, organized by local racer Darren Smith.

Eagle Track Raceway had hosted a handful of sprint cars a number of years back, but never the number that came this weekend. The 18 different cars that showed up over two days was by far more than they had ever seen. When the dust settled, Jeremy McCune on Saturday and Bud Ashe on Sunday were main event winners and local fans were leaving Eagle Track Raceway happy both days.

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SATURDAY

With one car out after getting wadded up in Friday practice, 15 sprint cars took to the 3/8-mile clay oval on Saturday. It turned out to be a day of domination for Shepherd, Montana's Jeremy McCune, who won his heat race and dash, and then led the main event from start to finish for a clean sweep of the afternoon.

Driving his own No. 0J machine, which was clearly the superior car on this weekend, McCune started on the pole of the main event as a result of his win in his dash. McCune was never threatened as he easily motored away from everyone and led every lap for the win in his first visit to Eagle Track Raceway.

The feature was originally scheduled for 30 laps, but was plagued by yellow flags - seven total. The seventh caution came with 20 laps completed and with the cars having run several laps under yellow and darkness starting to settle in, officials went with a green-white-checkered finish, resulting in a 22-lap race.

Billings, Mont. driver Roger Cummings ran second early in his No. 00 before being passed by McCune's son Damon. Damon's No. 72 was no match for his father's car, but still finished a strong second place after not racing at all in 2015. Despite a spinout on Lap 7 that brought out the second caution, Sedro-Woolley, Wash.'s Rodger Oudman took advantage of further attrition and mistakes by other teams and managed to drive his way back to finish third in his No. 7o.

Snohomish, Wash.'s Brett McGhie and Colville, Wash.'s Chris Ochs finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Jeremy and Damon McCune won Heat races 1 and 2, respectively. Jeremy then won the A-Dash, which featured the top three finishers of each race and earned the pole for the feature. Cummings won the B-Dash, which featured the drivers who finished fourth through sixth in the heats, and wound up outside of the elder McCune for the main.

A special match car series run in memory of racing mom Carol Smith, mother of driver Darren Smith, was run following the dashes. Ten different drivers took part and drew for their order. Two cars started and the winner of the single lap match race would face another car, and so forth, until all participants have come out. T.J. Hartman of Puyallup, Wash. was on a run, having won five straight rounds, before Jeremy McCune came on and eliminated him. McCune would last eliminate Johnny Nelson of Great Falls, Mont. to win a $300 bonus.

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SUNDAY

Not able to come on Saturday, Concrete, Wash.'s Bud Ashe made the tow with his No. 57 car on Sunday morning to visit Eagle Track Raceway for the first time, and he left a winner after a late race dual with Damon McCune that excited race fans in attendance.

Jeremy McCune, who was slated to start on the pole again, agreed to a challenge from the track and fans and elected to start at the back of the field in an effort to go after a little more bonus, while raising some money for the track itself in the process. This opened the door for Ashe, who then inherited the pole and would lead the first 23 laps.

Damon McCune and western Washington visitor Michael Bollinger's No. 20 machine battled for second while Jeremy McCune patiently worked his way through the field, getting up to fourth by the tenth circuit. Bollinger, also a Sunday morning arrival, challenged Ashe for the lead as they weaved through traffic, but Ashe kept the lead as Bollinger got caught in a bad spot behind a slower car. As the top three stayed close while working their way around slower cars, Jeremy McCune was coming and it eventually became a four-car battle.

Damon McCune got by Bollinger for second as they entered Turn 3 on Lap 15. The senior McCune then caught Bollinger and passed him on the low side going into Turn 1 on Lap 18. The next lap he passed his son for second going low into Turn 3. While that was happening, Ashe was able to put some distance, and a couple of lapped cars, between himself and his pursuers.

Disaster struck on Lap 20 for Jeremy McCune when those lapped cars, Jason Cote and Don Kynoch, got togther in Turn 3 and McCune was unable to avoid, getting collected and suffering enough damage to force him to the pit area, ending his bid for another sweep and the bonus money. Bollinger was also involved and forced to go to the work area.

Ashe and Damon McCune battled for the lead following the Lap 20 restart. Ashe made a mistake and drifted high coming out of Turn 4, allowing Damon to get underneath and establish himself as the frontrunner on Lap 24. Rodger Oudman's spinout on Lap 27 brought out the third and final stoppage to the event and put Ashe and McCune back side by side for the final double file restart. Ashe took advantage and shot back ahead.

The younger McCune fought back and the two cars even banged wheels as they entered Turn 1 with just a couple of laps left. Ashe emerged out front and held off McCune for the win, and Damon had his second runner-up finish in as many days. While disappointed in not winning, Damon McCune still called the late duel with Ashe "a lot of fun."

Bollinger took advantage of the last caution and a couple of other cars suddenly dropping out with mechanical problems and came back to finish third. McGhie finished fourth for the second straight day and Kalispell, Mont.'s Leroy Brush scored a Top 5 finish.

Ashe and Jeremy McCune took heat race victories and McCune would top Ashe in the A-Dash. Damon McCune won the B-Dash.

Jeremy McCune chose to sit out Sunday's Carol Smith Match Race Shootout, but 12 participants still took to the track for the series of one-lap match races. Damon McCune and Darren Smith came out first and it was Damon who would win the first round, and then four more matches before Bollinger came on the track and eliminated him. Bollinger would win a second round and until Oudman ousted him.

Oudman himself won a second match before 15-year-old Alberta driver Jason Cote, who had earlier rolled over in his heat race, came back on the track with his repaired car and knocked him off. Fans were excited to see the youngster have a shot at the bonus money after his earlier misfortune, but the final driver, 73-year-old Don Kynoch of Alberta, came out and stole Cote's thunder, besting his fellow Canadian in the final round to claim the $300 bonus.

Jeremy McCune's misfortune in the main event was Eagle Track Raceway's gain. The nearly $400 that the fans had put up would have been split had McCune won Sunday's feature from the back of the field. Instead, the track now gets to keep all of it and it will go towards the funds track management is scrounging up to make safety improvements to the facility, including the catch fence they plan to install around the race track in the fall.

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Darren Smith and wife Tami, who live in the small town of Curlew, about 25 miles from Eagle Track Raceway, worked tirelessly to put together the two-day sprint car special. Several businesses in and around Republic, including gas stations, coffee stands, restaurants, bars, hotels and general stores signed up as sponsors for the races. Most of the sprint cars had temporary local sponsors taped on their cars and many of the teams themselves visited those businesses during their stay in Republic.

Aside from Smith, the next closest drivers to Republic were Chris Ochs from Colville (an hour away past Sherman Pass) and Rob Matherly from the Spokane area, about two hours. A few cars, including Ashe, came from western Washington. Two came from Alberta, Canada and about eight cars came from Montana. It was almost all long distance visitors to Eagle Track Raceway this weekend.

And it will happen again. Eagle Track Raceway will welcome back the sprint cars for the second leg of the 2016 Thunder in the Valley Sprint Car Series on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, July 2nd and 3rd.

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Thunder in the Valley Sprint Car Series - Race 1
Eagle Track Raceway
Republic, WA
May 28, 2016

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

15 cars

Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. 0J Jeremy McCune, 2. 56x T.J. Hartman, 3. 25 Jason Cote, 4. 15k Don Kynoch, 5. 4n Johnny Nelson, 6. 34 Rob Matherly, 7. 13gr Glenn Reinstra, 8. 4 Junior Nelson.

Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. 72 Damon McCune, 2. 24 Leroy Brush, 3. 81 Darren Smith, 4. 66 Brett McGhie, 5. 0 Roger Cummings, 6. 54 Chris Ochs, 7. 7o Rodger Oudman.

A-Dash (4 laps): 1. 0J Jeremy McCune, 2. 72 Damon McCune, 3. 56x T.J. Hartman, 4. 25 Jason Cote, 5. 81 Darren Smith, 6. 24 Leroy Brush.

B-Dash (4 laps): 1. 00 Roger Cummings, 2. 15 Don Kynoch, 3. 66 Brett McGhie, 4. 4n Johnny Nelson, 5. 54 Chris Ochs, 6. 34 Rob Matherly.

Carol Smith Match Race Shootout: 0J Jeremy McCune wins by eliminating 4n Johnny Nelson. 56x T.J. Hartman won most rounds (5) before eliminated by McCune.

Feature (22 laps, time): 1. 0J Jeremy McCune, 2. 72 Damon McCune, 3. 7o Rodger Oudman, 4. 66 Brett McGhie, 5. 54 Chris Ochs, 6. 81 Darren Smith, 7. 4n Johnny Nelson, 8. 24 Leroy Brush, 9. 25 Jason Cote, 10. 13gr Glenn Reinstra, 11. 00 Roger Cummings, 12. 56x T.J. Hartman, 13. 15 Don Kynoch, DNS - 4 Junior Nelson, 34 Rob Martherly.

Lap leaders: Jeremy McCune 1-22

- - -

Thunder in the Valley Sprint Car Series - Race 2
Eagle Track Raceway
Republic, WA
May 29, 2016

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

16 cars

Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. 57 Bud Ashe, 2. 00 Roger Cummings, 3. 56x T.J. Hartman, 4. 72 Damon McCune, 5. 7o Rodger Oudman, 6. 20 Michael Bollinger, 7. 13gr Glenn Reinstra, 8. 25 Jason Cote (DNF).

Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. 0J Jeremy McCune, 2. 81 Darren Smith, 3. 66 Brett McGhie, 4. 34 Rob Matherly, 5. 54 Chris Ochs, 6. 4n Johnny Nelson, 7. 24 Leroy Brush, 8. 15 Don Kynoch (DNF).

A-Dash (4 laps): 1. 0J Jeremy McCune, 2. 57 Bud Ashe, 3. 81 Darren Smith, 4. 66 Brett McGhie, 5. 00 Roger Cummings, DNS - 56x T.J. Hartman.

B-Dash (4 laps): 1. 72 Damon McCune, 20 Michael Bollinger, 3. 54 Chris Ochs, 4. 7o Rodger Oudman, 5. 4n Johnny Nelson, 6. 34 Rob Matherly.

Carol Smith Match Race Shootout: 15 Don Kynoch wins by eliminating 25 Jason Cote. 72 Damon McCune won most rounds (5) before eliminated by 20 Michael Bollinger.

Feature (30 laps): 1. 57 Bud Ashe, 2. 72 Damon McCune, 3. 20 Michael Bollinger, 4. 66 Brett McGhie, 5. 24 Leroy Brush, 6. 54 Chris Ochs, 7. 34 Rob Matherly, 8. 81 Darren Smith (DNF), 9. 00 Roger Cummings (DNF), 10. 7o Rodger Oudman (DNF), 11. Jeremy McCune (DNF), 12. 13gr Glenn Reinstra (DNF), 13. 15 Don Kynoch (DNF), 14. 25 Jason Cote (DNF), 15. 4n Johnny Nelson (DNF), DNS - 56x T.J. Hartman.

Lap leaders: Bud Ashe 1-23, Damon McCune 24-26, Bud Ashe 27-30

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 Posted: Friday Jun 10th, 2016 05:33 AM
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T. Michael
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Good write up Andrew. So glad to see what Darren and his band of friends are doing with the great little facility.



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