|View single post by Racer4u|
|Posted: Thursday May 23rd, 2019 09:22 PM||
|Last Saturday, Grays Harbor Raceway had its fourth race of the year. Four different classes were ready to go to race on a gorgeous afternoon.
Mike Stryker and Shane Smith were on the front row in the A-Main for the Wicked Energy Gum Focus Midgets presented by Cognitive Warriors, but the original start was called off as Stryker jumped. The second attempt for the 25-lapper was better, and Smith took off with the lead. A.J. Fugitt grabbed second from Stryker on the opening lap in turns three and four, and went to work on "One Time". Fugitt got by Smith in turns three and four to complete lap number three, but Smith returned the favor just seconds later on the next circuit as they entered turn one. Behind them, Evan Margeson started seventh in Kenny Ferris' #28 car and he was up to third by the fourth lap with a pass on Matt Loving in turn two. On the ninth lap, Margeson dove to the inside of Fugitt in turn three and made it work for second place. All of a sudden, Smith went up in a plume of smoke out of turn four and fell off the pace! Margeson took over at the line and never looked back. The 13th lap was unlucky for Fugitt, as he went from second to fourth. Nik Larson went to the inside of Fugitt in turn two by using the slower car of Ray Stebbins as a pick. Fugitt drifted up high in turns and three and four, so "Bad News" Nick Evans got by and also passed Stebbins and Stuart Milner in the process. Evans disposed of Larson on the 16th lap in turn three to take second, just before Larson fell off the pace. This also happened before Stebbins spun in turn two for a quick yellow flag. Margeson still had everything in control and went on to win over Evans, Fugitt, Matt Loving, and Hannah Lindquist.
The Shipwreck Beads modifieds' 25-lap feature event got off to a very rough start. Tim Phillips, Jason Tole, and Tyson Blood were involved in a turn four on the opening lap. Then, Zach Fuller went for a wild flip in turn four on the second circuit. Fuller was uninjured, but his car had definitely seen better days. Polesitter Casey Smith led the first two laps, but dropped to fourth on the restart. Scott Miller went to the high side out of turn two of Smith, then Tom Sweatman (down the backstretch) and Kyler Moore (out of turn four) also went by Smith to complete lap three. The race wouldn't have another slowdown until the 11th lap when Brenton Schnitzer looped it in turn two. On the restart, Blood stopped in turn two after losing his left rear tire. On the next try, Sweatman took the lead from Miller going into turn three. Meanwhile, 14th-place starter Zack Simpson performed a slide job out of turn two and take third from Moore and this took place just before Don Martin went spinning down the backstretch. Simpson had an incredible restart, as he went by Miller for second on the frontstretch as the green flag flew and Sweatman for the lead as they raced down the backchute. Simpson had to contend with slower traffic in the final laps, but he prevailed for his first modified win of the year over Sweatman. Miller was running third on the final lap, but rear ended David Wolfard in turn three and spun out. That gave the third spot to Moore. Shane Kerrigan was fourth and Schnitzer came back for fifth after starting way back in 17th.
Next was the 25-lap A-Main for the PHRA dwarf cars. Doug Pirtle and Robert Clark were on the front row, but fourth-place starter Erin Morgenstern passed both of them out of turn two to rocket to the lead. Clark brought out a yellow flag on the second lap, as he went spinning in turn two. Morgenstern lost the top spot on lap three, as Leo Ward and Justin DeMars both got by out of turn four. Things went from bad to worse for Morgenstern, as she spun down the backstretch. DeMars stole the lead from Ward on lap number four going into turn one, but Ward didn't give up. Leo looked to the inside of Justin on the backstretch the next two laps, but Justin had a good run on the high side. DeMars was all by himself as he was passing lapped traffic, but he spun in turn four with four to go. Josh Rodgers inherited the lead and he had to deal with Rich Holbert. Holbert got by Rodgers down the backchute with two to go for the lead, but they had Ward and DeMars right behind them. Rodgers slowed down in turn one on the next-to-last lap, spoiling a promising run. Holbert was still out front on the last lap, but Ward was on his bumper and DeMars was coming with a full head of steam. The three racers drag raced to the checkers with Holbert hanging on for the win and DeMars edged Ward out for second by a nose! Morgenstern recovered for fourth and Henry Corbin, II was fifth.
The outlaw tuners had the final main event of the night, and their 15-lap affair went nonstop. There were two rookies on the front row, Marlina Sheats and Cory Lash. As Sheats was leading, Zachary Stallsmith and Max Sanford passed Lash as they reached turn one on the first lap. Stallsmith went to the high side of Sheats for the lead, and completed the pass as they raced down the backstretch on lap three. Moments later, Sanford also made the high line work as he got by Sheats for the second spot at the stripe. Stallsmith went up high in turn four on the seventh go-around, and Sanford made the pass for the lead. Sanford was still leading until the final lap, as he got sideways in turns one and two. Sanford and Stallsmith made contact in turn two, with Stallsmith taking the top spot back and Sanford driving through the mud. Stallsmith scored his first career win over Sanford, Sheats, Lash, and Chad Norton.
The final checkered flag flew right at 9:00 p.m. and it was starting to rain when I got to my car. It was a race within a race with Mother Nature, and we managed to pull it out just in time. I may sound like a skipping record, but I have some extra bits to share with everybody...
The Streak's Still Alive: I had to go onto my personal blog to find out when the last time I went to a race that was rained out. It was almost two years ago, as I was at GHR on June 17, 2017 and it was called just before warm-ups. It was a Washington Modified Tour race, and I remembered being very disappointed getting rained out as there were a lot of cars in the pits.
Plenty of Talent: None of the four classes had B-Mains, but they had strong counts across the board. The midgets led the way with 21 people and you also had 18 modifieds, 17 dwarfs, and nine tuners. All four A-Mains were entertaining, especially in the dwarfs and the tuners where things really got interesting at the very end.
Blasts from the Past: There were some drivers from the Washington Midget Racing Association (WMRA) that were in the house. Stryker was racing for the first time at GHR this year, while Ferris watched Margeson drive his car to the win. Also there was former GHR champion Brian Thomas, who was helping out rookie Elijah Gibbs. I was a young kid who watched the WMRA race at South Sound Speedway (back when it was called Olympia-Tenino Speedway) in the late '80s, and I got autographs from Ferris and Thomas.
Fugitt About It: Fugitt's 2019 season is well above his expectations, as he has finished in the top five in all three races he's participated in. His previous best finish was ninth on two different occasions last year at GHR on May 19 and Sunset Speedway on August 11. A.J. has already surpassed that with finishes of fourth and fifth at Skagit Speedway on April 27 and May 4. He did even better at GHR with a third-place result, as he was at the front throughout the A-Main and he even had the lead momentarily.
Shake It Up: Moore's points lead grew from six to 23 points over Miller, who faded to 11th after wrecking on the final lap. Dan West, Jr. is still third, but there are some new faces in fourth and fifth. Chris Beaulieu and Devan West didn't show up, so those spots are now occupied by Schnitzer and Wolfard. Sweatman, Tim Phillips, Brian Harding, and Blood are also in the hunt. The racers who are third through ninth are separated by just 18 points with plenty of racing left to go.
Zack Attack, Part II: Simpson came into the pit area on Saturday with a brand new look for his #12 modified. Instead of being all green with yellow numerals, it's now a combination of blue, black, white, and yellow. Zack started the A-Main in the 14th position, but he was already up to fifth by lap number eight. He took the lead from Sweatman just before halfway and kept it. This is Zack's third victory of '19, as he also has two wins with the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks. He leads that class by 21 points over Scott Fritts.
Meet Your New Leaders: A couple of divisions had new points leaders after last Saturday's racing. Henry Corbin, III had a 55-point lead over Morgenstern in the PHRA, but he came to a halt in turn three on lap four in the main event and didn't come back. Morgenstern now has a five-point advantage over Holbert with Corbin, III ten points out. The points lead in the tuners also changed hands, as Sundstrom came into the night with an eight-point advantage over Sanford. Sanford is now in the catbird seat with a seven-point lead over Sundstrom, who didn't start the A-Main. Thanks to his win, Stallsmith jumped to third in points just ahead of Sheats and Lash.
Number for the Weekend: 13...the number of spots that Simpson gained to win the modified feature, and he started deepest in the field out of all the winners by far. Margeson came from seventh, while Holbert and Stallsmith both started third in their respective main events.
Hard Luck Award: Gibbs. Elijah was set to make his midget debut, but he had engine and battery problems and didn't take part in any racing.
"Never Say Die" Award: DeMars and Morgenstern. DeMars nearly pulled off the ultimate comeback after spinning out of the lead with four laps left in the dwarf main event, and he finished a car length behind winner Holbert. After spinning back on lap four, Morgenstern bounced back for a fourth-place run even though her car was smoking badly towards the end.
Next race: I'll be back at GHR (June 1) with the Summer Thunder Sprint Series, Shipwreck Beads modifieds, Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks, and PHRA dwarf cars.
Avatar: Greg Hamilton at Grays Harbor Raceway (taken 6/2/18).
Last edited on Monday Jun 3rd, 2019 09:54 PM by Racer4u