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Was J.J. Hickle's win in the Summer Nationals an upset?
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Summer Nationals recap  Rate Topic 
 Posted: Sunday Aug 4th, 2019 12:29 AM
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Joined: Tuesday Dec 6th, 2005
Location: Olympia, Washington USA
Posts: 1077
The Bob's Burgers and Brew Summer Nationals took place last Friday and Saturday at Skagit Speedway. Friday was your typical hot and unbearable summer day, whereas Saturday was much more comfortable. There were three different divisions in action: the Summer Thunder Sprint Series, Wicked Energy Gum Focus Midgets presented by Cognitive Warriors, and outlaw tuners. Let's review the main events from both nights, shall we?

A.J. Fugitt and Jesse Conway led the way in Friday's 25-lap midget main event, but Nick Evans was making moves in the early laps after starting fourth. "Bad News" went to the high side of Fugitt out of turn four to take the lead on lap five and didn't look back. The only yellow flag came out on lap seven, as Stuart Milner spun in turn two. Evans remained on top and scored the W over Shane Smith, Chance Crum, Garrett Thomas, and Tristin Thomas.

After setting quick time in his first visit to Skagit, Tony Gualda was on the pole for the 25-lap STSS A-Main and Seth Bergman was to his outside. Bergman took off the lead, and he led flag-to-flag. Behind Bergman and Gualda, Travis Jacobson passed Robbie Price for third up high in turn two and Devon Borden took fourth from Price seconds later in turn four on lap two. The race wouldn't have a caution flag until lap number 17, as Barry Martinez came to a stop in turn two. On the restart, Justyn Cox lost fifth when he spun out in turn two. Four-time Summer Nationals champ Jason Solwold started ninth, and he went by Borden in turn two with six laps to go to snag fourth. The red lights came on with three laps remaining when Cox and Justin Youngquist both flipped in turn one, while James Setters was also collected. No one was injured. On the final restart, Solwold stormed from fourth to second in a single lap. He went by Jacobson in turn two and Gualda in turn four. Bergman picked up the win with Solwold crossing the line in second. Jacobson and Gualda went back-and-forth for third, with T-Jac winning the fight in turn two on the final lap. Gualda was fourth and that was the final lock-in spot for Saturday's feature race. Borden finished fifth by a nose over Colton Heath.

The final main of the night was the 17-lap A for the outlaw tuners. Clint Meins was on the pole with Adam Holtrop alongside. Holtrop had the top spot on the second lap, but T.J. Campbell stopped in turn two and that gave the lead back to Meins. Holtrop stole the lead again on the restart going into turn one and he hung on to that position when Campbell looped it in turn three to end his night. Brian Michelson passed Meins for second place up high in turn two on lap number three, while eighth-starting Kyle Hanson charged to the third spot as he went by Meins in turn two on the sixth lap. Hanson moved up to second, as he went around Michelson at the line on the tenth circuit. The final restart took place on the following lap, and Michelson took the lead from Holtrop at the line. However, Holtrop responded by passing Michelson back on the next lap in turn three. Holtrop hung on for the win, while Hanson took second from Michelson in turn two with two laps to go. Jon Gunderson and Jon Edwards were fourth and fifth.

For Saturday's 25-lap midget main, Evans and Crum were on the front row. Before the first lap was complete, G. Thomas took second from Crum in turn four. Like Friday's main event, there was only one hiccup and it was a red flag this time on the second tour. Fugitt caught the turn three wall and Mike Stryker clipped him, sending both drivers flipping. Ashley Thompson, Hannah Lindquist, and Jamee Gardner were involved in a different crash nearby in turn four. Everyone was okay, but all of their evenings were over. Crum took second from G. Thomas on the restart as the green flag waved, and Garrett had to contend with Tristin in a battle of the Thomases for the third spot. Tristin took that position away in turn two on lap four, but Garrett answered back with a pass on Tristin two laps later in the same place. Evans turned in yet another stellar race and completed the weekend sweep with a win over Crum, G. Thomas, T. Thomas, and Jared Peterson.

The tuners came out next for their 18-lap A-Main. Gunderson led the first lap, but Howard Vos took the lead away on the next circuit out coming of turn four. Mike Thomas spun in turn two on the sixth lap to draw a yellow, then Holtrop did the same thing three laps later collecting Hanson and Tyler Ketchum in the process. Holtrop's night went from bad to worse, as he spun again in turn two on the last lap while holding down fourth. Vos led the field in the green-white-checkered finish and secured the win over Gunderson, Hanson, Meins, and Vance Hibbard.

The last race was the 40-lap affair for the STSS. Heath had the pole with J.J. Hickle starting outside the front row. Heath led the first lap with Hickle right on his tail tank. The race went red after the first lap was completed when Austen Wheatley flipped in turn two, while Jake Helsel and Youngquist were also involved. Solwold stole second from Hickle in turn two on the third lap, while Cox performed a turn three job on Hickle on the next lap to take third. Hickle dropped to fifth, as Bergman passed him down the backstretch on lap six. The yellow lights came on lap nine, as Brock Lemley scrubbed the backstretch wall and kept going. He never stopped and he stayed in seventh on the restart. Heath's midnight ride came to end after completing the 13th lap when Bailey Sucich spun in turn one. Heath had nowhere to go but into Sucich and went flipping! :( Colton was okay, but that gave the lead to Solwold. The red was an open one, so crew could work on the cars. Cox found the high groove to his liking, as he passed Solwold out of turn two on lap 16. That pass didn't count, as a crash occurred behind them in turn two involving Greg Hamilton and Tristin Spiers. Another yellow flag was needed on the next lap, as cars were going all over the place in wild fashion in turn one. Lemley and Gualda spun 360's, but kept going. Chase Goetz, Hamilton, and Cam Smith all wrecked in that vicinity. Solwold still had the top spot, but Bergman and Cox were both right there. Cox got sideways on the backstretch on the 21st lap, and that allowed Hickle to get by. Cox took third back from Hickle in turn two with seven laps to go, and was knocking on the door on both Solwold and Bergman. Turn two bit Cox yet again, as he spun for the second time with just two laps left. :( Hickle restarted third and he went to the high side for the attack in the two-lap dash. He passed Bergman as they came for the white flag, and he catapulted past Solwold out of turn two on the final lap to take home $10,000 in an epic way to end the weekend! :shock: Solwold was second with Bergman in third. Gualda and Borden were fourth and fifth for the second straight night.

What do you think? Hickle's victory: upset or no upset? Personally, I would say yes. You know very well I come up with some extra topics in my reviews, and this recap is no different. Let's dig in deeper...

Carbon Copies...Almost: All three classes had very honorable numbers at the Summer Nationals. The STSS had 35 entries both nights, which is down slightly from 38 people both nights last year. There were 26 midgets on Friday, and 25 returned on Saturday. The tuners had 13 drivers signing in for both nights.

First Main Events: A small of group of racing made it to the big dance for the first time during the Saturday portion of the Summer Nationals where a lot more money is on the line. There was a 26-car field for the show, and six drivers transferred out of the B-Main instead of four. Gualda had the best performance in this group with a fourth-place finish, followed by Kyle Miller (10th), Sucich (12th), Spiers (22nd), and Helsel (25th).

The Great Eights: Gualda's first trip to Skagit Speedway was two thumbs way up, as he had back-to-back fourth-place runs in Doug Rutz's #8R car plus getting quick time on Friday. :) Finishing one spot behind Tony both nights was the straight-up #8 sprinter of Borden. Devon was 17th in last year's Summer Nationals last year, and absolutely annihilated that previous finish. :cool:

Taking a Break: Dirt Cup champion Price found some time off from racing with the ASCS national tour to return to his home track. He qualfied eighth out of 35 people on Friday and finished second to Sucich in heat four. Robbie started the A in third, but fell to eighth at the checkers. He was right smack in the middle in Saturday's time trial order by placing 17th out of 31, but he snared the fourth and final transfer spot in the first heat race. Robbie had to start 19th in the big show, but he climbed to eighth for hard charger honors.

The Return of Ricky: Two-time Summer Nationals winner Ricky Fauver made a cameo appearance of sorts on Saturday, as the last time he raced was the Fred Brownfield Classic at Grays Harbor Raceway last June. He's started at the back of the B-Main in his son Corbyn's #F1 car. It started off shaky, as he and Ashleigh Johnson came together in turn one on the opening lap. That broke Johnson's front axle and damaged her nose wing. Ricky went to the pits to make repairs, but his crew didn't quite get them done in time. They did catch a break one lap later when the red flag flew for Chris Ochs' turn one flip, while Cory Swatzina and Chris Bullock both went for spins. Ricky was able to get back out and threw slide jobs at other drivers like crazy and he finished eighth. He didn't transfer, but he was a blast to watch.

Sensational Seven: Evans is clearly in a league of his own in the midgets, as his weekend sweep brought his win total at Skagit up to five this year. :cool: "Bad News" also has two wins in Oregon, as he scored victories at Cottage Grove on May 26 in the Marvin Smith Memorial Grove Classic and Willamette Speedway on June 15. Thanks to his dominating Summer Nationals, Nick's points lead at Skagit grew from ten to 37 points over T. Thomas.

The Inlaws Are Staying: Peterson has five races under his belt in Mark and Jolene Steen's Inlaws Racing #32 midget, and the finishes are getting better and better with each race. Jared has four top tens in five main events, and the Summer Nationals were his best races yet. He surged from 15th to sixth on Friday to win the Triple X Hard Charger Award, and improved on Saturday by coming home fifth. :)

One Is the Loneliest Number: The points battle in the tuners is even tighter after the Summer Nationals was in the books. Hibbard's points lead shrunk from seven markers to just one single point over Michelson. :shock: Vos made it a three-driver battle, as he's only five points back in third place.

Shorter Time: Speaking of Vos, he won for the first time at Skagit in 14 years of trying as he made his first visit to the winner's circle on June 8 in the John Carroll Classic. Howard didn't have to wait long to get career win number two, as he did so on Saturday as he led every lap except for the opening lap. Of all the years that Howard has raced, this year is his best year hands down and he's well in contention for the track title. :D

Number for the Weekend: 1. Hickle led a solitary lap all weekend, but it's the one that mattered the most and it's worth ten grand. :cool: Thanks J.J. for the beer-covered hug! :P

Consistency Award: Solwold (STSS), Crum (midgets), and Hanson (tuners). Solwold had two second-place finishes, but I felt awful for the whole #18 team. :( Crum had a second and a third, as did Hanson.

Hard Luck Award: Nathan Merrill and Stryker (tie). Merrill's first Summer Nationals came to a close on the fourth lap in Friday's second tuner heat, as he hit the wall in turn two head-on after trading paint with Rob Dozark. Stryker flipped over both nights in midget action, as he went for a roll at the start of Friday's third heat when he and Brenden White came together on the frontstretch. Mike was uninjured, and he drove from seventh to second in the B-Main later in the evening to get a spot in the A.

"Never Say Die" Award: Lance Sargent. Lance fell to almost last on a lap one restart in Saturday's STSS B-Main, when he and Ochs made contact in turn one. Lance fell way off the pace, but managed to keep his foot on the go pedal. He went on to record a fifth-place finish, which turned out to be enough to transfer to the A along with sixth-place finisher Spiers. :) Like Price, Sargent passed eleven cars and he ended up 14th.

Next race: The four-day Labor Day weekend stretch, starting with the Scottie's Plumbing-sponsored event at Skagit Speedway on August 30 and 31 featuring the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars and the Wicked Energy Gum Focus Midgets presented by Cognitive Warriors. Then, it's down to Grays Harbor Raceway on September 1 and 2. The Summer Thunder Sprint Series, Shipwreck Beads modifieds, and midgets are all racing on the 1st. The WoO and the midgets partner up yet again on the 2nd.

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

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

Avatar (new!): Devon Borden at Grays Harbor Raceway (taken 5/31/19).

Last edited on Sunday Aug 4th, 2019 12:32 AM by Racer4u

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