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 Posted: Thursday Jun 27th, 2019 08:47 PM
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Racer4u
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If you weren't at the 48th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup presented by the Skagit Casino Resort last Thursday through Saturday, you missed out big time. DC is known for awesome finishes, plenty of crashes, and unexpected twists and turns. This year's edition saw a lot of those and if you haven't been to this race before, put it on your bucket list right now. You won't be disappointed. I've been coming to it off and on since 1998, and I got my money's worth in all of them. :) The Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by MAVTV Motorsports Network was there for all three nights, plus the Wicked Energy Gum Focus Midgets presented by Cognitive Warriors. There were 50 sprint cars and over 40 midgets that saw action in DC, so it was a full house. Without any further delay, let's recap the main events from the three nights.

Seth Hespe had the pole for Thursday's 25-lap midget A-Main, but Ross Rankine shot up to the lead from the outside pole. The first start was called off, as Chance Crum got sideways out of turn four and it stacked the rest of the field up. Fortunately, it resulted in just a minor crash with Alden Ostrom and Ray Stebbins spinning in turn four. Rankine got the jump once again on the restart, and he led wire-to-wire. Behind him, Nick Evans took second from Hespe in turn four on the opening lap. The race stayed green for a long time and Rankine was coming up on traffic on lap 17, but the slower cars were in a long freight train and those drivers were battling for position as well. The next yellow flag didn't fly until two laps to go when Jared Peterson and Michael Hodel both went for a spin in turn two. Rankine stayed out front in the final two-lap dash to get the win, but he was disqualified for being light at the scales after the race. :( Also, third-place finisher Tristin Thomas was penalized for jumping the restart with two to go. :( The final revised rundown went like this: Evans, Crum, Hespe, 16th-starting Ashley Thompson, and T. Thomas.

Let's move on to the 25-lapper for the ASCS. Blake Hahn and Jason Solwold were side-by-side on the front row, and you can give the advantage to Hahn. Matt Covington was pressuring Solwold for the second spot and he took that spot away in turn two on lap nine. Like the midget race, this had a long run of green flag racing and the only yellow happened on the second-to-last lap as Sam Hafertepe, Jr. stopped on the backstretch with a shredded right rear tire. A green-white-checkered finish was also in play, but Hahn had everything covered and he went to his first ASCS national win of the year. Covington was second, then it was Solwold, Seth Bergman, and John Carney, II.

It's time to move forward to Friday. Evans was the polesitter of the midget feature with Glenn Bittrolf to his outside. Evans got the nod with Rankine and Evan Margeson passing Bittrolf in turns one and two. This race had some spectacular racing, as the cars were three and even four-wide! The red lights came on with seven laps complete when Hannah Lindquist jumped over Bittrolf's right rear tire and spun in turn one. Just a few feet away, Hespe tipped onto his side after he got together with Nik Larson. Everyone was able to restart. The second spot changed hands on the eighth lap, as Margeson edged out Rankine for that spot at the flagstand. Evans was two-for-two for the weekend and won over Margeson, Rankine, Crum, and Garrett Thomas.

In the ASCS 25-lap main, Scott Bogucki jumped to the lead from the pole and he had young Tanner Holmes behind him. The first yellow flag came out on the ninth lap, as Tyler Thompson slowed on the backstretch. The event was red-flagged two laps later, as Garen Linder went for a huge flip down the backstretch after contact with Hahn. Linder was unharmed, but his car was junk. Bogucki was still showing the way until the 14th lap when he hooked the cushion out of turn two and he went for a wild ride! :shock: Holmes tried to avoid Bogucki, but he made hard contact with the inside guardrail. Bogucki had to go to the hospital and Holmes was okay, but it was a disappointing end of the night for both. :( That gave the lead to Robbie Price with Roger Crockett restarting second. Price went to the high side when the race went back to green, while Crockett stuck with the low side. The low road ultimately won, and Crockett took the lead out of turn two on lap 15. The yellow flag came out twice with three laps left. Fifth-place running Brock Lemley spun in turn two and got clipped by Covington, then Breyton Davison tagged the wall in turn two on the restart. Colton Heath had a fantastic restart, and he was a nose ahead of Price for second at the line with two laps to go. Price got back by on the next lap out of turn two, but Heath took it back yet again in turn two on the final lap. Crockett won for the first time in over a year with the ASCS national tour with Heath holding off Price for second. Covington was fourth and Carney was fifth for the second straight night.

Let's go into Saturday when everything's on the line. Margeson and Evans led the field in the midget A-Main and Margeson was out front for all 25 laps. Crum was on the attack very early from his fourth starting spot, as he passed Evans for second in turn three on the first lap. The race was slowed down for the first time on lap three, as Stewart Lee caught the berm in turn two and went for a spin. As Margeson pulled away, Crum was feeling the heat from Evans for second place. Behind them, Tanner Holm was holding off T. Thomas and G. Thomas for the fourth spot. The yellow lights flashed again on lap ten, as Hodel stopped down low on the frontstretch by the guardrail. Crum tried to take the lead from Margeson in turn one, but couldn't get it done. Cars were getting together behind them and once again, it somehow didn't result in a huge pileup. Rankine and Larson both spun in turns one and two, but it could've been much worse. Evans went to the outside of Crum in turn two, and he made it stick on the restart. The final yellow came out shortly after halfway, as Ostrom spun into the wall in turns one and two. On the last restart, Crum returned the favor on Evans in turn two and he had second place back. Crum was closing in on Margeson, but Margeson hung on for the win and the $1,000 payday. Crum, Evans, Holm, and T. Thomas were two through five.

It was an all-Oklahoma front row with Covington and Hahn leading the field to the green flag for the 40-lap ASCS A-Main. Covington led the first lap, but Hahn took that spot away down the backstretch on the following tour. Behind them, Price used the high line in turn two to pass Solwold for third on lap number four. Hahn was on a super fast pace and he was already in traffic by lap eight, but he got into the back of Greg Hamilton in turn one on lap 14 and he went spinning! The yellow flag inadvertently came out, as Hahn kept going. Covington was the new leader for the restart and Hahn dropped to fifth. Solwold had second for a moment on the restart as he did a slide job on Price in turn two, but Price got back by with a slider of his own in turn four. On the next lap, Solwold tried to another slide job on Price in turn two once again but it didn't work. Covington was trapped behind Justin Youngquist, and Price zipped by to grab the lead in turn one on the 22nd lap. There was a time when Price, Covington, Solwold, Heath, Hahn, Bergman, and Hafertepe were running nose to tail. It was absolutely insane! :cool: Covington caught a good bite on the high side of turn four on lap 26, and he took the lead at the stripe. Covington's night sadly came to a end on the 31st circuit, as his engine decided to quit on him in turns one and two. :( Price had the lead again and he had a clear track ahead of him. The race didn't stay green for long, as Justyn Cox spun in turn two with six laps left. Hahn made a successful slide job in turn two to get by Solwold for second with five to go, and Bergman did the exact same thing to Solwold in turn two also three laps later. Hahn tried to catch Price, but ran out of laps as Price won his first ASCS national race at his home track and took the $15,000 top price. :D Hahn was second, followed by Bergman, Solwold, and 13th-starting Bogucki.

Price made the history books by being the youngest driver to win Dirt Cup, as well as being the first Canadian-born racer to do so. :) His previous-best finish of the year with the ASCS national tour was seventh at Black Hills Speedway on June 15. Getting a victory in one of the highest-paying races in the country in front of the home crowd had to give everyone in the #21P team some new energy. Cue the music to "The Price Is Right"! :P There was so much that happened over the three days and I have a lot to share with everybody. Are you ready for some information overload? Ready or not, let's go!

Smashing Records: The midgets had 32 entries on numerous occasions at Skagit Speedway, but they knocked it of the park with higher turnouts in all three nights of Dirt Cup. 35 people signed in on Thursday, and 40 people raced in both Friday and Saturday. :) For the first time in series history, five heats and two B-Mains were contested on Friday. Two B-Mains were needed for Saturday as well. In total, 44 drivers and 42 cars raced at DC. It's just astounding on how much this series has grown now, and Dirt Cup pushed it to another level. :D

Start Us Up: There were quite a few midget drivers that made either made their first starts of the year or very first start period. PHRA dwarf car racer Kalvin Morton made his midget debut on Friday driving Ray Stebbins' #11T. Michael Millard took Thomas Walker's #19 machine for a spin on Friday and Saturday. Hodel made his 2019 debut aboard his father Randy's #25, as did Shane Biles in his #31 car. Former series champ Peterson drove Mark and Jolene Steen's #32 midget for the first time. Deming Speedway graduate Holm was filling in for the injured Shane Smith in the #44 car, while teammates Hailey Bower and Brian Aune came with the two #57 machines. Marty Rosler made his series debut in his #81 car, while Jamee Gardner ran as a teammate to Dave Mills in the #93 entry.

Terrific Tanner: As I mentioned just monents ago, Holm was called in to drive the #44 midget. S. Smith suffered a concussion in a nasty crash at Willamette Speedway on June 15 and is on the road to recovery. Tanner made the A-Main in all three nights at DC and improved as the weekend progressed. He finished a so-so tenth on Thursday before stepping up to sixth on Friday and fourth on Saturday. :)

It's Still Alive!: Friday was a very strange day for the midgets, as four people flipped over just in the heat races. :shock: Jeremiah Franklin turned over in turn one on the second lap of the third heat after tangling with Jesse Conway and A.J. Fugitt. Rosler's weekend came to a end, as he went upside-down on the frontstretch on the opening lap in heat four. The fifth and final heat had double trouble, as Chris Greene did a very slow rollover in turn one on the original start. Then, Crum tipped over in turn two after contact with Lindquist on the restart! Everyone was okay, and all but Rosler was able to refire their cars.

The Points Master: Price scored some serious passing points in the heat races, as he charged from ninth to third in Thursday's first heat and seventh to second during Friday's fifth heat. Robbie was first in total points before Thursday's qualifiers and second behind Crockett for Friday's qualifying races. He was sixth and fourth in the qualifiers, but that was more enough points to get him a spot in the A-Main both nights and it only got better from there. :)

Blake Takes the Lead: Even though he had to be disappointed for not winning DC, it's not all bad for Hahn. He's now atop of the ASCS point standings. Hafertepe came into Dirt Cup leading by 33 points, but it's presently Hahn leading Hafertepe by 37 tallies. Hafertepe also lost the points lead last year after Dirt Cup to Bergman, but gained it back after winning the Fred Brownfield Classic at Grays Harbor Raceway and kept it for the rest of the season.

Making Adjustments: ASCS officials had to change Saturday's main event lineups around due to drivers scratching. Linder was 14th in points and would've made the A-Main, but his weekend was done after Friday's vicious flip. Chris Schmelzle was ranked 17th, but he was added on to the A-Main field. He was just two points ahead of both Youngquist and Alex Hill. Youngquist and Hill also made the A by finishing second in their respective B-Mains.

Total Turnaround: Devon Borden was my Hard Luck Award choice last year after a flip during B-Main action on the first night that bent his frame, but this year's performance was a thousand times better. Devon made the big dance for all three nights and he finished in the top ten twice. He was eighth on Friday and tenth Saturday. :cool:

Justyn vs. Justin: California racers Cox and Justin Sanders were just two of a number of racers that made their first ever trips to Dirt Cup. They were part of a three-car team for Doug Rutz along with another first-time Dirt Cup entrant, New Zealander Davison. Both Cox and Sanders had up-and-down Dirt Cups, so I'll let you know on who did better for each day. Thursday definitely went to Cox, as he finished eighth. Friday was Sanders' night, as he charged from 15th to third in Friday's first B-Main and 21st to ninth in the A for hard charger honors. The edge for Saturday went to Sanders, as he went from 18th to 11th in the A. Cox dropped to 16th after spinning late.

Northwest Strong: Six of the top ten racers in Saturday's A-Main hailed from the Pacific Northwest or had ties to here. Along with Price, Bergman, and Solwold, you also have Heath (seventh), Travis Jacobson (eighth), and Borden (tenth). :D

Red Before the Green: The strangest event in DC happened in Friday's sixth and final heat race with the ASCS. Aaron Willison spun in turn one during warm-ups, and Cam Smith was at the wrong place at the wrong time as he clipped Willison and went flipping! :shock: Cam was able to come back to race the second B-Main later in the night, while Willison's first Dirt Cup came to an close. :(

Number for the Weekend: 21...not only Price's car number, but also his age. Kasey Kahne previously held the honor of being the youngest Dirt Cup winner, as he was 22 when he won it in 2002.

Consistency Award: Solwold (ASCS) and Crum (midgets). Solwold had finishes of third, sixth, and fourth over the course of DC weekend with Crum getting two seconds and a fourth.

Hard Luck Award: Chase Goetz. Chase had nothing but problems in all three nights at DC, and he's more than ready to put everything behind him. On Thursday, Andy Caruana made contact with Goetz in turn four on the first lap of the second ASCS heat and Chase went hard into the wall. Chase ended up with heavy chassis damage and it ended his night. He was leading Friday's fifth heat until he lost power on the backstretch with two laps remaining, resulting in another early exit. Saturday wrapped up in dejecting fashion as well for Chase, as he flipped in turn three on the first lap of the second B-Main after contact with Travis Reber. :( Also, Steve James' Dirt Cup ended very early in Thursday's ASCS hot laps when his motor expired on the frontstretch. :(

"Never Say Die" Award: Sanders. After not starting in Friday's fourth heat race, Justin was definitely behind the eight-ball in the first B-Main as he lined up 15th (dead last). He was passing cars like there was no tomorrow, and he passed Jake Helsel for third in turn four with three laps to go to transfer to the A. As I noted already, Sanders was the hard charger in the A by going from 21st to ninth. He nearly was the hard charger yet again on Saturday with an 18th-to-11th climb, but Bogucki passed one more car.

Next race: Tomorrow and Saturday at Grays Harbor Raceway for the Fred Brownfield Classic. The Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by MAVTV Motorsports Network and the Wicked Energy Gum Focus Midgets presented by Cognitive Warriors race both nights. Sam Hafertepe, Jr. (ASCS) and Evan Margeson (midgets) won this event a year ago.

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

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

____________________
Avatar: Greg Hamilton at Grays Harbor Raceway (taken 6/2/18).

Last edited on Thursday Jun 27th, 2019 10:05 PM by Racer4u

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