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 Posted: Friday May 12th, 2017 01:43 AM
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Joined: Tuesday Dec 6th, 2005
Location: Olympia, Washington USA
Posts: 1060
Grays Harbor Raceway's had its first race of 2017 last Saturday and what a night it was. There were four different classes on the program and they all put on a show for the crowd. The pits were tightly packed, as there were well over 60 cars in total.

The opening main event of the evening was the 20-lapper for the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks. Scott Fritts led from green to checkered, but three-time and reigning champion Jack Parshall was in his rear view mirror. Parshall stole second from outside pole sitter Tommy Hecker on the backchute on the opening lap, with Jason Tole following suit by passing Hecker in turn four. It didn't take long for the yellow lights to come on, as Ryen Haney and Jeff Daniel got together in turns one and two on the second lap. After driving away, Haney spun again on the backstretch in the infield mud. Fritts held onto the top spot but he had some tough company behind him with Parshall, Shane Kerrigan, Tole, and 12th place starter Kelly Fugate. Another yellow flag was needed on lap eight, as Daryl Brumfield and Brian Courts spun in turn four. At the opposite end, Tole went spinning in turns one and two and had to restart at the rear. The third yellow flag came out two laps later, as Hecker was battling for fifth with Austin Kerrigan and Hecker looped it in turns one and two. There were more problems on the restart as cars came together in turn one. A. Kerrigan, Taylor Miller, Will Madison, and Daniel were involved in the scrum. T. Miller had the worst part of the deal, as he was towed off with heavy damage to his car. S. Kerrigan made the pass stick on Parshall in turn two on the twelfth lap for second, but Parshall got the spot back in turn four. This happened just before Fugate lost fifth place when he spun in turn four. Doug Brewster got spun out on the restart by Daniel on the restart, then slowed to a crawl on the frontchute two laps later for yet another yellow. The officials cut the race to 16 laps and it set up a green-white-checkered situation. After a yellow for debris on the frontstretch, Parshall tried to look for a way to steal the win from Fritts. Jack went to the inside of Scott as they raced to the checkers, but Scott won by a nose for his first career victory! S. Kerrigan was third while Tole came back for fourth and A. Kerrigan finished fifth.

The 25-lap A-Main for the sportsman sprints was next. Bill Rude had the lead for the first two laps, but he surrendered it to former Skagit Speedway sportsman champion Kelsey Carpenter in turns one and two as they came for the third lap. As Carpenter checked out, Rude had Michael Millard and Devin Barnes all over him. Barnes passed Millard for third just before the finish line on the eighth lap, but Millard got it back two laps later at the stripe as well. There were two slowdowns in the event. Fast qualifier Derek Roberts spun out in turns one and two on the 12th lap, then Roger Oudman tagged the turn four wall on lap number 19 and went for a wild tumble. Oudman was A-OK. Carpenter was completely dominant in the race and won by over five seconds over Millard, who passed Rude on the final lap in turn one. Bailey Susich was an impressive fourth and Barnes was fifth.

Defending track champion Tom Sweatman and Skagit regular Kevin Smith shared the front for the Washington Modified Tour's 25-lap main with T. Sweatman leading wire-to-wire. They had problems getting the race going, as they had three yellows with only three laps in. The first yellow flew on the second lap for two reasons. Cory Sweatman spun in turn four, while Dan Kinnaman stopped in turn two with an expired motor and dumped a lot of fluid all over the racetrack. On the following lap, Zack Simpson made contact with Kyler Moore in turns three and four while racing for third. Simpson drove into the infield before coming back onto the track and rolled to a halt. Yellow flag number third occurred on the restart, as Tyson Blood and David Wolfard stopped in turn two. T. Sweatman still showed the way during a good stretch of green flag racing with Smith having to hold off Lawrence O'Connor, Jeremy Martin, and K. Moore. A. Kerrigan brought everything to a halt on the tenth tour when he stopped up high in turns one and two. Smith tried everything in his power to get by Sweatman for the lead, but nothing doing. He was three-wide with Martin and K. Moore as they came for lap twelve with Smith barely hanging onto second place. O'Connor brought out the last caution flag on the 15th lap when he slowed on the frontstretch. Martin got by Smith for second on the restart, but didn't have anything for T. Sweatman. Tom was victorious over Martin with K. Moore, Smith, and Scott Miller third through fifth. K. Moore passed Smith in turn four as they came for the white flag, but S. Miller was also in the thick of things in an awesome three-car battle.

C. Sweatman had the pole for the outlaw tuner 15-lap feature, but his car didn't get up to speed as the green flag flew and dropped to third. Josh Wharton nosed out George Lovell for the top spot on the opening lap, but Wharton lost power on the following circuit in turn four. Lovell and C. Sweatman were virtually dead even at the line to complete lap number two before Cory made the pass on George going into turn one. The race was clean and green until lap nine when Matthew Anderson got into the frontstretch wall and went for a spin. The restart was thrown out, as C. Sweatman and Lovell made contact in turn four with Lovell stopping with a flat right front tire. Behind them, Tyler Sundstrom was spun out by Zach Dalrymple. The final six laps went nonstop with C. Sweatman picking up the win over Don Briggs, Jr., Andy Jacaway, Sundstrom, and Dalrymple.

The Grays Harbor racers and fans evened up the score with Mother Nature, as they're tied 1-1. With the 2017 season now officially underway at Elma, it's time for a quick recap of the "delayed" season opener...

Mixing It Up: Although I was sort of disappointed with not seeing more cars in the pits, it was still a very diverse combination of those that were there. The modifieds had the highest count at 23 with the street stocks right behind with 22. The tuners had a full field of thirteen entries, while the sportsman sprint had nine people signed in. :D

Daily Double: Three people did double duty for last Saturday's race, and they had their workouts. The Kerrigans were racing in the street stock and modified divisions. Shane was third in the streets, while his son Austin was fifth. Shane came home tenth in the mods, while Austin was mired back in 17th after losing power early in the main event. C. Sweatman bowed out early in the mod main, but he drove Ryan Onasch's Vikingmobile to the win in the tuners.

Out of State, Out of Mind: Just two people in Saturday's race didn't come from Washington. Martin hails from Warren, Oregon (northwest of Portland), while O'Connor had use a ferry ride from his Port Hardy, B.C. residence (the end of the line of Highway 19 on Vancouver Island).

In the Catbird Seat: Collen Winebarger was the points leader with the Washington Modified Tour after winning both main events in Yakima on March 31 and April 1, but he was a no-show for Saturday's race. The new points leader is defending series champ K. Moore, who leads S. Miller by only six points. O'Connor is third in points and just sixteen markers behind K. Moore, despite a DNF. Craig Moore jumped twelve spots in the points to fourth thanks to his sixth-place finish, while Smith rocketed up 18 places to fifth. Another big mover in points was Tiana Berkeley, who finished a mediocre 11th on Saturday. It still propelled her from 27th to tenth in the standings. The next two races for the Washington Modified Tour will be held at Skagit this Saturday and May 27.

Chalk It Up to Ten: The number of different winners for the sportsman sprints in the GHR keeps growing. In eleven races dating back to late 2012, there were ten different winners. The only person who has more than one win is still Kenny Rutz, who doubled up in 2013. The sportsman sprinters are back at GHR on June 17 to finally have a repeat winner or even a eleventh different person go to the winner's circle. :shock:

Ready, Set, Sprint: Millard was a Northwest Focus Midgets regular and he made the switch by buying a sportsman sprinter from Dave Mead (who's now racing a midget) last summer. Michael started his 2017 season with the long haul down to Chico, California's Silver Dollar Speedway March 10 and 11 for the Silver Cup. He was at Skagit's season opener on April 22, but took a nasty flip down the backstretch on the opening lap. Michael kept it shiny side up last Saturday and crossed the finish line in second. :D On the other hand, 15-year-old Susich was a Deming Speedway graduate, and she was making just her second sportsman start. Bailey was also at Skagit's opener, where she finished a very respectable sixth. She almost won last Saturday's first heat race, but Carpenter got by her in turn one on the last lap. Bailey ran in the top five all race long in the main event, and she passed Barnes for fourth at the stripe with five laps left. :cool:

Going in Circles: A couple of sportsman drivers had some trouble during qualifying and brought the crowd to their feet. Oudman did a 360 spin in turn four on his opening lap and Bert Johnson, Jr. did the exact same thing just before taking the green flag. Just before completing his second time trial lap, Johnson clipped an infield tire in turn four and went spinning again. He kept going, but coasted down the frontstretch.

A Baker's Dozen: As mentioned earlier, there were thirteen tuner drivers that took part and I'm not sure if that's a record for them. Of those thirteen racers, five made their first career GHR start (Jacaway, Dale Speas, Amber Tock, Anderson, and Dustin Tamplen). The tuner class is going up in attendance as of late, as they had eight cars for the 2015 season opener and ten in last year's opening event.

Number for the Weekend: 0.048...the margin of victory between winner Fritts and runner-up Parshall. :shock: If there's a way to finish off the first main event of '17, there you go.

Hard Luck Award: Steve Bulpitt. Steve scratched before the modified heat races and called it a night.

"Never Say Die" Award: Tole. After spinning out on lap eight while running third, Tole came back in the top five with four laps to go and snared fourth. :) Haney and Hecker also rebounded from their spinouts for sixth and seventh, respectively.

Next race: I'll be back at GHR next Saturday (May 20) for the 360 sprints, Shipwreck Beads modifieds, outlaw tuners, and Northwest Focus Midgets.

Pictures: http://s113.photobucket.com/albums/n205/Racer4u_2006/

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

Avatar: The soundtrack album Slade in Flame (1975).

Last edited on Thursday May 25th, 2017 01:32 AM by Racer4u

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 Posted: Sunday May 14th, 2017 07:29 PM
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T. Michael

Joined: Wednesday Oct 25th, 2006
Location: Mill Creek , Washington USA
Posts: 1281
Good job on the write up.:D  Lots of sidebar interest information.

It ain't about where you're going that's important; it's all about how much fun you have getting there!
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 Posted: Wednesday May 17th, 2017 06:22 PM
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Joined: Wednesday Apr 22nd, 2009
Location: 5 Miles East Of Turn 4 @ GHR
Posts: 355
Always enjoy your write-ups! Keep up the good work!

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