Time to Review: Dirt Cup 44 reflections 
Here were some things to do for Jason Solwold in his career. Win track championships at Skagit Speedway? He has a sportsman title and two 360 titles to his credit. Win the 360 (now Summer) Nationals? He did so three times. Beat the World of Outlaws and the National Sprint Tour? Yes on both counts (two wins in both racing bodies). Win Dirt Cup? Finally!

Solwold led all 40 laps in Saturday’s A-Main of the 44th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup presented by Jack in the Box in front of thousands of fans at Skagit Speedway, and the Dirt Cup title stays in the state of Washington. The Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by MAVTV American Real made its first ever appearance at Skagit, but Solwold had the winning hand and earned a $15,000 payday.

Nixa, Missouri’s Kyle Bellm led the first eleven laps in Thursday’s 25-lap main event. Lap twelve changed everything, as Chase Goetz slowed on the backstretch and Bellm clipped him in turn three! Bellm had to go to the pits with rear end damage and he was done for the night. That gave the lead to Solwold, with Tayler Malsam and Colton Heath advancing to second and third. Last year’s Bob’s Burgers and Brew Summer Nationals winner Seth Bergman was coming through the pack from the 12th starting spot and passed pole sitter Trever Kirkland for fourth in turn three on the restart. Seth was closing in on Malsam and Heath with four laps to go when he nearly spun in turn two, and he lost fourth to Wayne Johnson. Seth would bring out a yellow flag with a lap and a half to go when he stopped in the second corner. Heath took second from Malsam out of turn two on the restart and tried to close in on Solwold’s #18 car. The race went into overtime when the red lights blinked on the final lap, as Cam Smith tipped over in a turn one tangle with Matt Covington and Sean MacDonell. Despite going into extra innings, Solwold held everybody off. Second through fifth were Heath, Malsam, Johnson, and ASCS national points leader Aaron Reutzel (who started 16th).

Jordan Weaver and Bergman were on the front row for Friday’s 25-lapper. Weaver barely got the lead on the first lap, as she got it by a nose. Seth showed why he’s so experienced at Skagit, as he went to the inside of Jordan going into turn one and made the pass on the next lap. Solwold passed Weaver for the runner-up spot out of turn four on lap four, but he didn’t have anything for Bergman. Reutzel stopped on the frontchute on lap eight to bring out a caution, and it turned it out to be the only slowdown. Bergman had everything under control and got his third ASCS national win of 2015 with Solwold crossing the line in second. Last year’s Dirt Cup champion Brock Lemley made a successful slide job on the final corner to take third from Weaver, and we had an all-Washington podium again. Weaver settled for fourth and Travis Rilat was fifth.

Solwold started Saturday’s big dance on the pole and led all the way. The yellow flag flew after the first lap was in the books when Lemley was off the pace out of turn four, and it created a logjam. :( Greg Hamilton went for a piggyback ride on Covington’s car down the frontstretch and got some airtime, but somehow didn’t flip. The restart was no good, as Kirkland did a pirouette in turn two. Lemley went pitside during the yellow and didn’t return. Solwold still showed the way with Malsam and Willie Croft trailing. Croft passed Malsam in turn three for the second spot as they completed lap number eleven. Bergman was back into the fray, as he used the high line to pass Malsam for third out of turn four five laps later. The next yellow flag didn’t fly until lap 29, as Weaver slowed on the backstretch. Reutzel moved up to third on the 30th lap when he went down low to get by Bergman in turn three. Bergman began to fade and fell out of the top five by lap 33. Skylar Gee took a hard flip in turn four to bring out a red flag on lap number 34, then Johnson also got on his head in turn four two laps later. Both Skylar and Wayne were uninjured. Solwold had an incredible restart, while the battle was on behind him. Reutzel took second from Croft in turn three with two to go, but that happened about a half a straightaway behind Solwold. Racin’ Jason wanted to win Dirt Cup for so long and he did it at last. Reutzel finished a strong second after starting tenth with Croft in third. “Hollywood” Johnny Herrera scaled up eleven spots to fourth with Rilat in fifth for the second straight night.

In support action, the Northwest Focus Midgets had a wild 20-lap A-Main on Friday. The race had a red flag on the opening lap for a huge crash on the backstretch, as Doug Anderson climbed Jeremiah Franklin’s right rear tire and went for a nasty tumble. Garrett Thomas also got on his lid, while Todd Hartmann and Thomas Walker were also involved. All drivers would be okay. Tristin Thomas started on the pole thanks to a zero inversion and led from start to finish. Behind him, Ryan Cully fended off multiple challenges to finish in the number two spot. Lance Sargent fell to fifth early on, but got up to third as he took that spot away from Dougie James out of turn two with two laps to go. James was fourth and Nick Evans was fifth.

Redmond, Oregon veteran Mark Carrell led all 25 laps in Saturday's Shipwreck Beads modifieds feature, which had six yellow flags. Grays Harbor Raceway points leader Tom Sweatman took second from Lawrence O’Connor on a lap 18 restart and held that spot at the finish. O’Connor was third with Kevin Smith getting fourth. Kyler Moore came back from spinning in turn two on lap six to round out the top five driving Louis Nutter, Sr.’s #51 car.

It won’t be long until I go racing again, as I’m back at it this weekend. Dirt Cup 44 is in the history books and chalk up another one for the state of Washington! My thoughts on DC begin now...

A Bigger Turnout: The last three Dirt Cups had car counts of under 40 cars, but the switch to having the ASCS drivers coming over for the first time seemed to be the right call. 51 cars were in the pits for both Thursday and Friday. The last time DC had 50+ cars was in 2008, where 54 showed up. Five heat races were needed, as well as a D-Main.

Reutzel Rolls On: Aaron fell out of Friday’s A-Main when he came to a halt on the frontstretch on lap number eight, but he had solid finishes for the other two nights. He changed a motor before Thursday’s main event and had to start 16th instead of 12th, but passed eleven cars to go up to fifth. After Saturday's runner-up finish, Aaron padded his points lead from 48 to 71 points. Second place in the standings changed hands, as Bergman took that position away from Herrera.

Weaver of Life: Weaver turned a lot of heads in her first Dirt Cup. The young lady from Woodward, Oklahoma was running fourth with four laps left in Thursday’s second B-Main, but she zipped to the front. She stole the lead from Gee in turn three on the next-to-last lap and that gave her a ticket to the A, where she ended up 14th. Jordan had a stronger day Friday, as she won the fourth heat and drew the one pill to snag the pole position for the A-Main! She led the first lap before losing the top spot to Bergman and almost got third place at the finish, but got passed at the last turn by Lemley. Jordan had more than enough points to go into Saturday’s show, where she started eighth. She fell out on the 29th lap and finished 17th, but her Dirt Cup wasn't a disappointment in any way.

From the Frontier: The ASCS Frontier Region brought along the top five drivers in points to Dirt Cup. They were J.J. Hickle, Phil Dietz, Kelly Miller, Gee, and Kirkland. Kirkland started on the pole in Thursday’s main event before slipping to eighth and he had the 16th and final lock-in spot for Saturday’s A-Main. Trever had the highest finish of the Frontier guys with a 13th-place finish, as he recovered from nearly rolling over in turn two on a lap one restart. Gee was 16th after taking a jolting flip in turn four with six laps left. Hickle struggled throughout Dirt Cup and didn’t make any of the A-Mains.

Albertans and Kiwis: Dirt Cup attracts drivers from around the globe and this year is no different. Besides Gee, there were six other drivers that made the prolonged drive from Alberta. Marc Duperron came down along with MacDonell, David Miller, Kelly Miller, Steve Reeves, former Skagit 360 champ Trevor Turnbull, and Kyle van Ulden. Daniel Anderson was the only driver from New Zealand in last year’s Dirt Cup, but he was joined by NZ champion Jamie Duff in this year’s running. Jamie made his Dirt Cup debut driving a Doug Rutz-prepared car.

Passing Points: With over 50 cars, finishing at the front is very crucial as well as passing as many cars as possible with the ASCS points format in place. It’s like the Fred Brownfield Memorial at Grays Harbor Raceway in 2009 and 2010 where you can finish second in a heat race and still have to go to a B-Main. That’s what happened to Robbie Price, Gee, Duperron (both nights), Johnson, and Derek Roberts. Duperron didn’t make Friday’s main event, and neither did Johnson.

Going for a Wild Ride Again: The scariest moment occurred on the opening lap of Friday’s first B-Main, as Reeves and Kris Miller made contact down the backstretch. Steve took a horrific flip and Bellm also got upside-down by the catch fence. Travis Jacobson got a piece of Reeves’ flipping car, while Kyle Miller and Anderson got collected as well. Steve was uninjured, but his Dirt Cup was over. He has more than his share of nasty crashes on the backchute and turn three at Skagit for the past couple seasons, including both nights in last year’s Summer Nationals.

Tristin the Piston: T. Thomas collected his second midget win of '15 on Friday, which makes him third in line in the win total. G. Thomas leads with four victories and Mike Vollbrecht has three. However, Tristin is blowing everyone else away in a couple of other categories. He’s the fast time award winner in ten of the twelve races this season, and has finished in the top five in all of the races except for one (a seventh at Skagit on May 30).

Battle of the 27’s: The rivalry between O’Connor and Carrell has been brewing since Skagit‘s season opener on April 18, as Lawrence’s multi-colored #27EH modified edged out Mark’s red straight-up #27 car by an eyelash at the flagstand. Lawrence won again on May 2, but Mark has won the last three races at Skagit. That gives Mark four victories on the year, as he went to victory lane at GHR on May 9.

Kick It Out: The Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation hosted the fourth annual Kick-It for Cancer kickball game at the track’s parking lot Saturday morning. Several drivers and officials played in it, and a lot of fun was had by all. ASCS Frontier Region announcer/PR and NWRaceTalk.com’s own Andrew Kunas did a bang up job doing the play-by-play and auction. The two teams played to a 20-20 tie, and Christopher Lindor was the star of the game by going a perfect 6-for-6. Sportsman sprint driver Devin Barnes kicked a two-run homer, as the ball sailed deep into the outfield and bounced off a spectator’s car!

Number for the Weekend: 11. Drivers from Washington made up exactly half of Saturday’s A-Main lineup. Five of them ended up in the top ten. Bergman, Heath, Trey Starks, and Malsam finished in positions six through nine.

Consistency Award: Croft. Willie was the lone driver from California and he was third in Saturday's feature (third was also his finish in last year's DC). He also had a seventh on Thursday and a sixth on Friday. Rilat had a stout three days aboard Richard Saumure’s #39C car with a ninth-place run on Thursday, followed by back-to-back fifths. Also of note, Malsam had a third and two ninths in Kevin Rudeen’s #26.

Hard Luck Award: Darren Smith. After finishing 16th in Thursday’s first B-Main, Darren had mechanical problems in Friday’s hot laps and that was the end of his Dirt Cup.

“Never Say Die” Award: Travis Jacobson. T-Jac’s crew made repairs after being involved in the Reeves crash at the start of Friday’s first B-Main. Travis was definitely the one to watch as he was picking them off and putting them down after the green flag flew. The race went red with three laps to go, as Johnson and Blake Hahn got together in turn three while racing for the lead. Blake flipped into the wall and Wayne went pitside with a flat right rear tire. Roberts was the new leader, and Jacobson was up to fourth! Travis passed Dietz for third place out of turn two on the restart and got a spot in the A. T-Jac just missed transferring into Saturday’s main event with a fourth-place finish in the second B-Main, as he ran out of time to catch up to Price.

Heartbreaker Award: Cale Brooke. Cale scored a runaway victory in Friday’s second heat, but he was disqualified for having an illegal right rear tire. Instead of going to the redraw for the A-Main, he started dead last in the second B. The heat race win was awarded to fellow Canadian Luke Didiuk.

Next race: The Fred Brownfield Classic presented by Little Creek Casino Resort at Grays Harbor Raceway Friday and Saturday, as the tour through Washington continues for the Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by MAVTV American Real. The Northwest Focus Midgets are also on the program for both nights.

Pictures: http://s113.photobucket.com/albums/n205/Racer4u_2006/

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

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