What could have been….
Fans filing into the covered grandstands on Whelen Engineering night presented by Frontier Communications Saturday night at Evergreen Speedway had a lot of reasons to enjoy the nice weather and incredible racing ahead of them. What most fans didn’t realize was the range of emotions that the night of racing brought them when it was all said and done.
Five classes took to the various tracks that Evergreen Speedway offers. The night started off with the Interstate Battery Youth Hornet division presented by Dealership.Glass. This class is new to the Speedway in 2016, offering opportunity for young ladies and gentlemen to find out if racing for them. One of those taking the opportunity was Cassidy Sundholm, who got her first main event win in a 15-lap main event. Cassidy is the daughter of many time track Champion Lane Sundholm and her family is well known at the track for many years. No smile was broader than the “Old Mans” at the Angel of the Winds Victory Stage when Cassidy accepted her first place trophy. First time racer Bryce Bezanson finished 2nd and Dodge Smirz finished 3rd.
The Speedway Chevrolet Super Late Models were featured with double 50-lap main events. 14 cars qualified with the #65 of Tyler Tanner setting fast time with a lap of 16.577 seconds. After a week of virtually rebuilding his Northsound Racing/Foxsports 1380/Lang Autosports car from damage suffered at the Summer Showdown, points leader Naima Lang cruised to a much needed victory in the first main event. Doni Wanat finished 2nd with Tanner finishing 3rd.
The Northwest Pro 4 Trucks returned to the 3/8’s oval, and has pretty much been the scenario all season long, the #27 truck of Doug Wilkenson took the checkered flag at the end of their 25-lap main. Pete Brady continues to improve every time out and got a 2nd place finish for his efforts and Aaron Green finished 3rd.
The Foster Press Mini Stocks returned to action on a sun drenched track. Nat Barber continues to dominate the division, picking up win #6 with Michael Fritz finishing 2nd and Brad Thomas claimed the 3rd spot. It was nice to see 13 cars line up for the 25-lap main event. Gary Hannawalt had a nice race in his #9 car, and Cameron Garvin brought out his #4 car along with Jack Lamb debuting a former Hornet car converted to fit the Mini Stock rules.
Speaking of the Hornets, 19 cars lined up for the Interstate Batteries Hornets 25-lap feature. Dawson Cox continues an amazing season with the win. It was cool to see long time racer Mark Jenkins in the lineup for this race, and equally impressive was his 2nd place finish! Jenkins has a long history with Evergreen Speedway racing many different kinds of cars over the years. Michael Jenkins finished 3rd.
The Les Schwab Street Stocks lined up for their 30-lap main event. With points leader Chad Fitzpatrick and Steve Ptacek picking up heat race wins earlier in the day, fans of this popular division were looking forward to a great race. 15 cars lined up for the main, and although Ptacek crossed the finish line ahead of Fitzpatrick, officials found something not acceptable with Ptacek’s Camaro and awarded the win to the 12 of Fitzpatrick. Steve Woods finished in 2nd and Darrell Lutovsky took 3rd.
Finishing off the night was the second 50-lap main for the Speedway Chevrolet Street Super Late Models. Officials inverted the field based on the lead lap finish, which put the #8 car of John Urquhart on the pole and the 90 of Molly Helmuth on the outside of the front row. The race started and by the field went into turn 3, Helmuth put her Frontier Communications Chevrolet in the lead, and for the next 46 laps stretched out to an impressive lead over Jeff Knight and the rest of the field. As the race went on, there was a definite buzz in the crowd. Knight would cut into Helmuth’s lead ever so slightly as the race went on. The caution flag flies on lap 46 when Mike Holden spun. On the restart, Molly gets out in front of Knight, then Tyler Tanner slips into 2nd place with the previous race winner Lang taking 3rd. The caution flies again as 2-cars spin going into turn 1. Now we reset the field with Helmuth on the pole and Tanner on the outside. The green flies once more, and as the leaders are going into 3, another spin in the backstretch involving 3-4 cars brings out the yellow, the scoreboard still showing lap 47. On the restart, Tanner outruns Helmuth taking the lead going into turn 3. Molly’s momentum between 3 & 4 put her into the back of Tanner, moving both cars up the track, allowing the 00 of Lang and the 1 of Shane Sawin to gain the positions and eventually the checkered flag with Tanner recovering for 3rd. Many thanks to “Stock Car Scott” for posting this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuVJLlVIbJk of the race.
The crowd, while disappointed with Molly not getting her first win, they sure let her know how much they appreciated the effort when prompted! Naima was quick to thank his team and JZ Motorsports for the hard work on getting his car back on the track, and Sawin was thrilled to get 2nd after experiencing an illness earlier in the day.
Coming up this weekend is the return of the King of the Wing Sprint Car Series to Evergreen Speedway for the annual Rory Price Memorial. Matt Hein put on a performance that many thought was one the most impressive in the history of Evergreen Speedway. Also taking to the track will be the West Coast Vintage Modifieds, Outlaw Figure 8’s, Buzz Inn Steakhouse Stinger 8’s and the Interstate Battery Hornets.