Riddle Survives Crazy Night, Wins Sunkist 100
Owen Riddle came into Spokane for the season opener of the Dr. Pepper Super Late Models looking for a win. The Naches, WA native got just that, leading more than half the race to win the Sunkist 100, holding off Mike Longton and defending series champion Erick Hargraves. Riddle becomes the eighth different winner in the Dr. Pepper Super Late Models in as many races, as each of the seven races last season had a different winner. Riddle was on top of the speed chart for most of the afternoon in practice, being fastest in four of the six 15 minute sessions. Riddle qualifyed second fastest, timing in at 18.094 seconds. Fast time went to Mike Longton, with an 18.006. The rule for the main event is; every driver who qualifies within half a second of Longton's 18.006 started in front of him. In this case, NINETEEN of the twenty-four cars were within that half a second, meaning Freeman High School Junior Jake Bisset started on the pole. Early on in the 100 lap race, it looked like it was going to be the former 4-time NASCAR Northwest Champion Gary Lewis' night. However a debris caution on lap 31 bunched the field up, and in the blink of an eye, it all changed. Two laps after the ensuing restart, Wenatchee driver Shane Mitchell had contact with another former NASCAR NW Champ, Surrey, B.C. driver Pete Harding, and collected 4 cars. The havoc continued, as crashes on the next two restarts ended the nights of Garret Evans, Dan Garber, Brent Harris, Giles Thornton, and others. In total ten of the twenty-four cars were in the pits out of the race by lap 33. No drivers were injured in any of the mishaps. Finally they got the race going again. Gary Lewis, who was caught up in one of the lap 33 incidents, took advantage of a red flag to make repairs to his damaged race car, and was climbing through the field. The battle was up front between Hargraves and Dave Garber. Hargraves came out on top, but only for a short while, as Riddle caught up and made the pass and led the rest of the way. West Valley High School junior Blake Williams fought mechanical problems all night. With 28 laps left they finally got the best of him, as he spun around off of turn 2, collecting a hard charging Lewis in the aftermath. The race went trouble free from there, as Riddle would win by 1.2 seconds over Mike Longton. Only eight of the twenty-four cars finished. Riddle, Longton, Hargraves, Alex Kerslake, Andy Brown and Jake Bisset were on the lead lap, while Dave Garber and Clint Habart finished 3 and 10 laps down respectively.
The 95.3 KPND Hobby Stocks were also in action. It was Reesen Tarr who set fast time in his Ford Torino, the only Ford in the field. John Vallone won both his trophy dash and heat in a strong showing in his #77 Pontiac. Vance Reynolds also won a heat race. In the main event it was defending series champion Brenden Tarr leading all 25 laps to his first win of the season. Brenden, who ended last season by winning 10 main events in a row, finally snapped his bad luck streak which had seen him crash in not one, not two, but THREE different cars. His championship winning Camaro, his Hot 96.9 Road Runner, AND his Zips Pony Stock cars were all damaged. Brenden, racing his older brother Treven's Monte Carlo, put his Camaro motor in his new car and went out and dominated, holding off late charges from Aaron Nevers and John Vallone.
On Friday Night it was another great night of racing. In the Zip's Pony Stocks, it was Kameron McKeehan who took home the main event win. McKeehan is sharing the car with Andy Brown, who already has two wins in that car, and was focused on nothing else but getting the win for himself. He was in for a tough time though, as he was up against 8th grader Nicole Behar, who set yet ANOTHER new track record, running a 21.523. It's Behar's 3rd track record in four weeks. The main event for the Zip's Pony Stocks started off rough, as Norm Harding Jr. pounded the front stretch wall while in a race for second with defending champion Brian McCrosky. Harding was unharmed. After a good battle between seven drivers, McKeehan finally got out front and was able to pull away from the field, taking home the win, his first of the season. Nicole Behar took second, KC Garber third, while Reesen Tarr and Brian McCrosky rounded out the top 5.
The Hot 96.9 Road Runners put on another great race. Fast time went to last week's winner Rusty Webb with a 23.93. Both Ben Cramer and Josh Biehl each took home the trophy dash and heat race wins. In the main event it was rookie Alan Goyne leading the first three laps before a caution. Cramer took the lead on the restart and it looked like the defending champion was going to be tough to beat. However, contact with lapped traffic sent Cramer spinning, giving the lead to his cousin Reesen Tarr. Tarr led the rest of the way, holding off a late charge from East Wenatchee driver Armand Franzen. It's the third time Tarr and Franzen have finished 1-2 this season, with Tarr winning 2 of the 3. Rusty Webb, Josh Biehl, and Ben Cramer rounded out the top 5.
Next week its another edition of Friday Night Fury with the Zip's Pony Stocks, Hot 96.9 Road Runners and Motion Auto Supply Bump to Pass. Then on Saturday it's all hands on deck for an event you just WILL NOT want to miss. It's the second annual Motion Auto Supply Bump to Pass BOAT RACE. The Bumpers will each set sail on the half mile while hauling around fiberglass boat hulls. The last one with a boat on the back will be the winner. Free tickets will be avaliable at all Zip's locations and all throughout Spokane. You are not going to want to miss this.