Time to Review: Summer Nationals '17 throughts 
I made it up to Skagit Speedway, although I did it about a month late. I couldn't make the 46th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup presented by the Skagit Casino Resort because I had to be at work for inventory week. I played catchup by going to the Bob's Burgers and Brew Summer Nationals last Friday and Saturday with the Summer Thunder Sprint Series, outlaw tuners, and Northwest Focus Midgets.

Clint Meins was on the pole for Friday's main event for the tuners, and he was the leader for all 17 laps. The race had two yellow flags before the halfway point, as the first one happened on the second lap for debris in turn two after Intars Spunde and Vance Hibbard got together. The second yellow happened on lap six when D.J. Beaver and Spunde both spun on the backstretch. The race had to go to condition red on lap number eight, as Beaver crashed into the turn four wall. Behind him, T.J. Campbell stopped as his engine exploded in a huge way. There was a large cloud of smoke on the track, but Campbell climbed out okay. Meins, Brian Michelson, and Hibbard were the only drivers left for the end. Hibbard passed Michelson on the backstretch on lap nine, then he bumped into Meins as they went into turn three. Meins got crossed up, but managed to keep trucking and maintain the lead. Michelson got second back from Hibbard down the backchute on the following lap, but Hibbard returned the favor on the eleventh circuit in turns three and four. The finishing order went Meins, Hibbard, and Michelson.

The Summer Thunder Sprint Series was up next for their 30-lapper with the top four finishers getting locked into Saturday's A. Colton Heath sat on the pole with Eric Fisher starting alongside. This race also had trouble getting going. Defending Summer Nationals champion Roger Crockett and J.J. Hickle got into a tangle in turns three and four on the second lap for a very early yellow. Crockett was able to continue, while Hickle was done with a broken front end. On the following lap, Trevor Cook took a flip in turn four. Garen Linder, Cam Smith, and Kelsey Carpenter were also involved in the crash. Nobody was injured. Another red flag was needed on lap number eight, as Lance Sargent lost his right rear tire in turn three. The tire came across the track and it was nailed by Robbie Price. Sargent was also okay, while Price was able to continue despite considerable damage to his car. Finally, the race had some long green flag racing. Heath was still the leader until lap 15, as he slipped up and Fisher went by in turn four. Fisher and Heath were coming up on the slower car of Bud Ashe two laps later when Heath and Ashe touched wheels on the backstretch. Heath drove down low in turns three and four, but still made the pass for the lead! Just a few seconds later, Jason Solwold took second from Fisher on the next lap just past the flagstand. There wasn't a yellow flag until lap 23, as Luke Didiuk came to a halt on the backstretch. The fourth and final lock-in position changed hands on the restart, as 13th-starting Jared Peterson passed Chris Schmelzle in turn one. They made contact and Schmelzle lost numerous spots. Instead of seeing the white flag, Heath saw another yellow one as Carpenter stopped in turn four. Fifth-place running Barry Martinez stopped behind Carpenter after he made contact with the turn two wall during the caution period. Heath nailed the restart in the final two-lap dash and picked up the win over Solwold, Fisher, Peterson, and 14th-starting Travis Rilat.

Ryan Cully and Shane Smith shared the front row in Saturday's Northwest Focus Midgets A-Main. Shane got the jump on the opening lap for the 25-lap race, but he hooked the cushion in turn three and went for a quick flip. Shane was okay. Cully had the lead for the restart and paced the field for the first six laps. Garrett Thomas went to the inside of Cully going into turn three on lap number seven to take the lead, while Tristin Thomas used the high line out of turn four to steal second from Cully instants later. It was Thomas vs. Thomas for a number of laps, as Garrett used the low side and Tristin was liking the high groove. Tristin switched to the low line on the 17th circuit, and passed Garrett for the top spot in turn three. That happened just before the yellow flag came out for Thomas Walker, who spun down low in turn two. With T. Thomas out front, defending series champion Nick Evans moved up to second with three laps to go by passing G. Thomas in turn three. T. Thomas turned in another convincing performance after starting seventh and won over Evans, G. Thomas, Nate Vaughn, and Cully.

Then, it was the 40-lap $10,000-to-win feature for the STSS. Solwold had the pole and it was all him flag-to-flag. Behind Jason, Heath took third from Peterson with a slide job in turns one and two on lap seven and he did the exact same thing to Fisher three laps later at the same place. Like Friday's main event, this race had problems getting things rolling with six yellow flags by lap 22. The red flag came out for a fuel stop so everyone can go the distance. The final 18 laps went clean and green, and Solwold was in his own time zone. He passed slower cars with no trouble at all on his way to his fourth Summer Nationals title. Heath was second and Fisher was third to fill the podium. Price was able to sneak up to fourth at the very end and Peterson rounded out the top five.

With the temperatures approaching 100 degrees tomorrow (I'm supposed to reach 101 where I live), I want to get this recap posted before it gets too hot. Here's some tidbits to try to keep you cool...

Clint Closes In: Meins' last trip to Victory Lane was on May 13, but his slump came to an end on Friday with his third win of the year. Clint has closed to within 13 points of Hibbard, who also has three victories himself. Both drivers are looking for their first track championship after many years of trying, as they have four races left to go in the '17 season.

About Face from Alberta: Five sprint car teams made the very lengthy trip from Alberta to Skagit. Edmonton's Dale Melin is the car owner for former Skagit champion Fisher and Whitecourt's Richard Saumure prepared a car for Rilat. Marc Duperron also hails from Edmonton, while Casey Adams resides in Leduc and Steve Reeves brought his bright orange car from Valleyview. All five made the big dance on Saturday with Fisher leading the way in third with Rilat next in line in seventh and Duperron was ninth. Adams made his first Summer Nationals appearance in four years and finished 19th, while Reeves was a DNF in 21st.

Tight Time Trials: The sprint car racers were very close together in qualifying times both nights, as their lap times were separated by just over a second in both occasions. It was 1.067 seconds between first and 32nd on Friday, while it was a little more on Saturday at 1.151 seconds for the 29 drivers that didn't get locked in through Friday's main event.

Over the Fence: There was a very scary moment that happened with five laps to go in Friday's sprint B-Main. Brandon Harkness lost his right rear tire and it flew over the turn four catch fence. As the tire hit the grass in front of the fans, it launched high into the air! It ended up by one of the entrances to the Speedway Café, and thank goodness no one was hit nor injured.

Wrong Time of the Night: Saturday's first heat for the STSS was off to a rough and tumble start, as fast qualifier Carpenter jumped Austen Wheatley's right rear tire in turn one on the opening lap. Kelsey's car rode the wall before tipping over. Later in the heat, Devin Madonia got up in the marbles in turn four while running fourth as he came to complete lap six. After contact with Reece Goetz, Devin flew head over feet and landed very hard at the end. Kelsey and Devin were both unhurt, but their cars were demolished.

Birthday Boy: Peterson turned 26 years old on Saturday and he had a very productive weekend with two top fives driving for Jon "Muffin" Farrell. Jared advanced nine positions to fourth to get locked into Saturday's feature race, and he held off Crockett for fifth Saturday. 

Tristin's Backyard: T. Thomas' dominance at Skagit continues, as he's won the last midget four races there. The only race he didn't win was the first race of the year on May 6, where he was second to Ross Rankine. Tristin's point lead is up to 52 over Evans at Skagit with only two races remaining there.

Keeping It Over 30: In the four midget races so far at Skagit, three of them had over 30 midgets. Last Saturday's event was no different, as 32 drivers signed in and it was the highest turnout they ever had. They had hot laps/qualifying, four heat races, a B-Main, and an A-Main. All four heats were worth the price of admission alone!

Number for the Weekend: 15...the number of years since Solwold last won the Summer Nationals and that dry spell is finally over. Crockett had a longer drought of 17 years until he won last year.

Consistency Award: Fisher. Eric was third both nights (plus picking the fast time award on Friday), and he bested his finish in last year's Summer Nationals by one spot.

Hard Luck Award: Jared Ridge. Jared made the A-Main both nights via a transfer spot in the B, but pulled in very early in both main events. It resulted in back-to-back last-place finishes.

"Never Say Die" Award: Crockett. "The Rocket" motored back from his lap two tangle with Hickle and finished eighth. Roger ran as high as seventh, but lost it to Duperron just before the checkers.

Next race: The four-day Labor Day weekend swing. It begins at Skagit with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars on September 1 and 2 in the Outlaw Energy Showdown. The support divisions are the Northwest Focus Midgets on the 1st and the High Society modifieds on the 2nd. Then, it's down to Grays Harbor Raceway on the 3rd and 4th. The race on the 3rd features the Summer Thunder Sprint Series, Northwest Focus Midgets, and the Shipwreck Beads modifieds. The WoO and the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks race on the 4th. In last year's races, David Gravel won both nights for the WoO at Skagit, while Jason Solwold took the STSS race at GHR. Mark Carrell got out the brooms in the modifieds, as he topped both nights at Skagit and also the GHR event. The WoO race at GHR was lost to Mother Nature.

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

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

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