Time to Review: Modified Nationals recap 
Oh, what a weekend it was! The 16th annual Shipwreck Beads Modified Nationals presented by FinishLine Graphics and the Pacific Hardtop Racing Association’s Dwarf Car Nationals are both in the books, but everybody at Grays Harbor Raceway had to deal with Mother Nature. She was there to fight, and Friday’s races were called after the heat races were completed. The rest of the program was moved over to Saturday before the Saturday portion gets underway.

Turning the page over to Saturday, I was driving through Summit Lake just after 2:00 p.m. and it was coming down big time. I didn’t have a really good feeling that we're going to get anything in, but the sun came back out and we had a night and a half of racing to take care of.

Last year’s winner Josh King and Shane Youngren were on the front row for the PHRA 20-lap make-up A-Main, but they got together in turns one and two on the first lap. Youngren went spinning and other racers were involved in a separate crash near Shane. The wreck eliminated Brian Lee and Ren Marose from the race. King was sent to the back of the pack for rough driving, giving the front row to Ryan Martinez and Kevin Benson. Benson took off with the lead with Tim Hester taking second place from Martinez out of turn four to complete lap one. Kalvin Morton used the high line to pass T. Hester and Benson to take the lead as they completed the fourth lap, with Martinez following Morton on the cushion to jump to second. B-Main winner Henry Corbin, III started the race 17th, but charged to fifth in just five laps and was in the thick of the things. A quick yellow came out on lap number nine, as Jeremiah Hester spun out in turn two. Martinez took the lead from Morton out of turn four on the 12th lap, and Corbin went up to second down the backchute two laps later. Another driver coming from deep in the field was 20th-starting Eric Bergquist, who passed T. Hester and Camden Robustelli for fourth on the backstretch with four laps to go. Bergquist stayed on the high side and he took third away from Morton in turn four on lap 17. Eric wasn’t done, as he passed Corbin for the runner-up spot into turn three on the following lap. For the cherry on top, Eric took command from Martinez down the backstretch with a lap and a half to go. Coming to the checkers, it was Bergquist getting the win over Martinez, Corbin, Robustelli, and Morton. King rocketed from the rear of the field to finish sixth.

The modifieds’ make-up 20-lapper went green all the way, and defending event champion Nick Trenchard got the jump over Mark Carrell. Jesse Williamson took third from Lawrence O’Connor down the backstretch on lap three, and Collen Winebarger advanced to fourth two laps later as he got it over O’Connor at the flagstand. The top nine cars were running single file, but drivers tenth on back were in a huge gaggle. Trenchard had a generous lead over Carrell as he came up to the rear of the field with four laps to go, but Nick couldn’t lap anybody and that lead was gone. Nick almost lost the top spot with two laps remaining, as he went wide in turn two and Mark pulled alongside. Williamson, Winebarger, and Jeremy Shank were right there and they closed in on the top two as the white flag waved. Instead of going low, Carrell took the high road going into turn three on the last lap and he stole the win over Trenchard by half a car length. Williamson, Winebarger, and Shank were third through fifth for an all-Oregon top five.

King once again had the pole position for the evening 25-lap A-Main for the PHRA and he led the first lap ahead of Morton, Robustelli, Leo Ward, and Martinez. Robustelli took second away from Morton at the stripe on lap two and he reeled in King. A yellow flag came out on lap four for a turn four crash involving Cody Peters and Youngren. Cody was able to restart, but Shane needed the hook. The restart was a no go, as John Chrisman looped it in turn one. Robustelli used the cushion to get by King for the lead out of turn two as they completed lap number four. Robustelli stretched his lead out, as King had his hands full with Morton. The next yellow flag didn’t fly again until lap 17, as Chrisman slowed on the backstretch and T. Hester crashed into the turn four wall. Ward got a great restart, as he went from fifth to third out of turn two by passing Martinez and Morton. Things were slowed down again on the 18th lap, as Lee spun in turn three. Ward took second from King on the restart in turn two, but he used the low line this time. The final yellow was displayed on lap 20, as Marty Holmason spun in turn four and Marose stopped close by. King got the second spot back from Ward as the race was back underway, but he couldn’t get to Robustelli. Camden got the win over King, Ward, Morton, and Martinez.

Jeremy Richey started on the pole for the 25-lap modified feature and he led the distance. He finished second in the Mod Nats two years ago, but he was the man of the hour this time. Williamson went down low in turn two to pass Trenchard for second on lap three. After falling to fourth from his second starting spot, Winebarger also got by Trenchard in turn two on the next lap for third. The only yellow flag came out with four laps to go, as Williamson spun in turns three and four when he got into the lapped car of B.J. Wild. Jesse kept going and he was given the second spot back. Winebarger got second from Williamson in turn two with three to go and Williamson began to lose positions. Richey scored the victory with Winebarger in second and Trenchard rounding out the podium. Shank was fourth and Carrell was fifth. Yep, Oregon racers are in the top five spots again.

It was definitely worth the wait after the rain delay, as the modified and dwarf car racers gave the fans more than the price of admission! There were twists and turns, along with last-second moves for wins and transfer spots. If you haven’t been to the Modified Nationals yet, make sure you have it on your schedule very soon. Let's get right to my thoughts!

Back Over 50: The Mod Nats have only seen around 40 cars the last two years, but it was safe to say that we easily trampled that number well before the drivers' meeting with an enormous combination of new and old faces. 58 modifieds were in action both nights, and that was the kind of car count that was seen in years past. There were four stacked heats with 14 or 15 cars, a scramble, twin C-Mains, a B-Main, and an A-Main to make for a very full program.

Stranglehold in Place: It’s now four straight years that drivers from Oregon have won the Modified Nationals. Oregon’s dominance in this event is simply unreal, as they have won ten times. That’s compared to three for California, and just one apiece for Washington and British Columbia.

The Only One: Staying with the Oregon domination topic, seven of the top ten finishers in the make-up main event hailed from “The Beaver State”. Eight of the top ten were occupied by guys from Oregon in Saturday night's show. There's just one driver from Washington that finished in the top ten in both A-Mains. That would be three-time GHR champ Joe German, who crossed the line eighth in both main events. O’Connor was the highest non-Oregonian for the make-up A-Main in seventh, with four-time track champion Scott Miller getting tenth. The other driver who's not from Oregon who finished in the top ten in Saturday night’s feature was Kyle Casson in ninth.

A Popular Number: Six modified drivers had the number 11 on the cars and it could be very confusing at times to keep track. They were Tom Sweatman (straight-up #11), Jeremy Brookshire (#11B), Casson (#11K), Steven Sturdevant (#11S), Tom Berry, Jr. (#11X), and Brandon Potter (#111). Brandon used some duct tape to make an additional “1” to stand out from the others. In the dwarfs, four drivers carried the number 18.

Do a Barrel Roll: The only red flag of the event occurred on the second lap of Friday’s fourth heat, as Jason Beaulieu plowed into the side of Bruce Ray in turns one and two. Jason flipped over and Sam Carlisle also went spinning. Jason and Bruce’s cars had major damage, but both returned Saturday. Jason was the top qualifier for Saturday night’s card and he finished 13th in the A-Main after winning the B. Bruce was the last racer to roll into the pits and didn’t make any of the A-Mains.

Another Large Group: Not to be outdone, the PHRA brought in a qualify field of 37 drivers. They didn’t have a C-Main, but they had a full B-Main in both programs. They put on an incredible show especially in the main events, as they were running close together and two or three-wide. They spend the majority of the season at tracks all across Oregon (Cottage Grove Speedway, Madras Speedway, River City Speedway, and Sunset Speedway Park), but they’ll be coming back to GHR on August 22.

Charging from the Back: Some PHRA racers had to come to through the B-Main, but they were very notable in the A-Main. Bergquist passed 19 cars on his way to win the make-up PHRA feature, while Corbin moved up 14 spots to finish third in Clay Goben‘s car. Gary Brogan improved 14 places as well, as he took ninth place after starting back in 23rd. Peters started the nightcap main event in 20th, and rebounded from a early spin to come home seventh to get hard charger honors.

Camden Cashes In: The 16-year-old from Medford, Oregon transferred from the go-kart ranks last year to go into the dwarf cars. After finishing fourth in the make-up main event, Camden took the lead on a lap three restart in the evening A-Main en route to his first career win at GHR. You can ride along with Camden at https://www.youtube.com/user/CamdenRobo25. He’s also trying his hand in sprint cars this season, as he was at Siskiyou Motor Speedway and Southern Oregon Speedway in late June during the Western Sprint Tour’s Speedweek Northwest campaign.

Number for the Weekend: 7. That’s how many former champions of the Modified Nationals who were racing: Trenchard, Shank, Mark Wauge, Casson, Beaulieu, Williamson, and three-time winner Jon DeBenedetti. Everyone was in Saturday night’s A-Main except for Wauge. Mark struggled all weekend long and the B-Main was the best he could do in both portions.

Consistency Award: Trenchard (modifieds) and Martinez (PHRA). He didn’t defend his title, but Nick had a second and a third for his efforts. Shank and Winebarger both got fourth and fifth-place finishes. Martinez, a former limited sprint car racer at Cottage Grove, had two top fives in his first GHR start since 2011. He almost got fourth in Saturday night’s main event, but Morton got that spot in a photo finish.

Hard Luck Award: Del Schnitzer. Del swerved to avoid the spinning Kevin Smith and Sam Potter, but nailed the turn four wall hard on the third lap in Friday’s second heat. Del was okay, but his car was mangled and his Mod Nats came to a crashing end.

“Never Say Die” Award: Miller. Scott was battling with Richey for the fourth and final transfer spot in Saturday night’s second heat when they made contact at the flagstand to complete the first lap. Scott spun around and the rest of the field missed him. Scott restarted at the tail, but he was up to sixth as the white flag came out. He took fifth from Sweatman in turn one on the last lap, and he quickly went to work to try to take fourth from Matthew Drager. Scott got it by a nose at the flagstand to move on to the A!

Next race: The three World of Outlaws races during Labor Day weekend. It begins at Skagit Speedway on September 4 and 5 as part of the Monster Meltdown before they come down to GHR on the 7th. Donny Schatz won all three races last year to get wins number 18, 19, and 20. Schatz picked up his 21st win of ’15 on Sunday at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, New York. The support classes are the Shipwreck Beads modifieds at Skagit and the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks at GHR.

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

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

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