The unstoppable Kelly Mann Express steam rolled the competition at the fifth running of the Mark Galloway Memorial Shootout. Mann took command on lap 89 of the 150 lap affair and was never seriously challenged as he cruised to a two second victory and his fourth win in a row. Kelly is undefeated in the opening three rounds at South Sound Speedway and is on a serious roll heading toward Summer Showdown and an excellent shot at the healthy $25,000 first place bounty.
The weekend started with practice on Friday night for the combined NASCAR Whelen All American Series and Tri Track Super Late Model event. The monster 5/8 mile claimed its first two victims before the night was over with Jay Sauls of Puyallup and Yakima’s Randy Marshall Jr. suffering unrepairable mechanical failures and heading home early. Saturday, Shane Harding of Vancouver BC blistered qualifying with a 22.204 and drew a 4 for the minimum invert putting Spokane’s Blake Williams on the pole for the start. Moxee, WA’s Mike Longton got the initial jump from his outside front row starting position and laid down some scorching times of his own and stretched out to a 6 car length lead. The field slowed at lap 24 for the first caution of the night, the result of Tyler Baker’s engine failure. The restart brought the first serious altercation when Marysville’s Andy Sole slowed out of two when a tire went down. The field piled up behind him and several contenders were eliminated in the melee including Gary Lewis, Ron Eaton, Daniel Moore and Parker Stephens.
Longton repeatedly chose to restart from the outside and continued his commanding pace to lead the first 48 circuits. Longton may have used up all he had however as Blake Williams closed the gap and took over just shy of lap 49 and Longton fell from the lead lap before the lap 100 break. Williams continued uninterrupted for the next 35 laps while Mann worked his way through the field from his fourth row starting spot until John Boyatt had a catastrophic failure in the drive train, sending the transmission up through the floor and Boyatt hard into the turn one wall driver’s side first. The red flag was immediate so EMS crews could get to the scene quickly. Fortunately Boyatt was uninjured, but the car not so much. The restart allowed Mann to close the gap and he disposed of Williams a few laps later to lead the final 10 laps before the break for fuel and a pair of tires.
Mann once again chose the inside for the restart and got the jump, but was slowed a few moments later when Luke Selliken and Jeff Knight got together in Turn 1. Mann continued to dominate through a few more restarts, all for broken components suffering their demise from the rough ride modern set ups provide. First time visitor Mitch Kleyn as well as Longton, after having fought his way back on to the lead lap, suffered suspension failures in the closing laps while running in the top 10. The final green flag flew on lap 142 and Mann cruised to his first major win as Williams and Mike Holden rounded out the podium. K&N Pro Series West Rookie contender Gracin Raz crossed fourth and young Selliken completed the top 5 after starting dead last in his first attempt on the 5/8 oval, the result of missing qualifying while making repairs.
Roger Drake, John Grosvenor and Garrett Archer won the preliminary mains in Street Stocks, FSCRA Super 4’s and Legends respectively. Archer has been tearing up the Legends events as he keeps his feet wet, waiting for a return to Super Late Model racing, possibly in the Summer Showdown at the end of June.
Saturday night is Driver Reunion night at the speedway so there will be lots of special activities along with the Super Late Model 75 and Outlaw Compact open competition event with well over 40 entries expected. Summer Showdown is on the docket for the end of June as the summer heats up at the historic facility. You can get tickets for all these events by visiting www.EvergreenSpeedway.com