Dirt Cup pictures are available 
They're finally here! I apologize for the delay for my pictures from last weekend, as I had to work some very odd hours. Here they are...100 pictures and change!

To the tuners and modified drivers, I'm sorry I don't have any speed shots of you. My camera doesn't take very good pictures at night.

http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... 4919687519

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Time to Review: Dirt Cup 42 thoughts 
The 42nd running of the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup didn’t get off to a very promising start, as Thursday’s program got rained out. It was rescheduled Saturday afternooon with the evening races following, so we had a doubleheader in our hands. Friday’s program ran normally.

Two-time Dirt Cup winner Shane Stewart led from green to checkered in Friday’s 30-lap main event and finished in front of Travis Rilat, Peter Murphy, 14th-starting Jonathan Allard, and Rico Abreu. Former World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers went from 15th to sixth to pick up some extra passing points.

Austen Wheatley didn’t get his car ready in time for Friday‘s racing, but he showed up Saturday afternoon and started the A-Main on the pole position. He led the first 27 laps, but lost the top spot to Peter Murphy going into turn one and got nipped at the line by Stewart for second on lap 28. The top five were Murphy, Stewart, Wheatley, Roger Crockett, and Kyle Hirst. Like Meyers did the night before, Allard passed nine cars en route to sixth.

Allard took home Saturday night’s A Scramble and that gave him the pole for the big money show. JA led all 40 laps, but had Murphy pushing him hard in the early laps. Peter got very close, but Jonathan shut him down. The only yellow flag was displayed on lap 27 when Stewart and Crockett got together and spun coming out of turn two while fighting for third. No one had an answer for Allard after that, as he won his fourth Dirt Cup and 20 grand. Murphy was second with Abreu, Rilat, and Hirst third through fifth. Jonathan now has sole possession of second place in Dirt Cup wins, trailing only Jimmy Sills' six.

The other winners for the weekend were Rick Taylor and Leo Ward (first career win) in the Pacific Hardtop Racing Association dwarf cars, Brandon Berg and Rick Young in the Outlaw Tuners, and Craig Moore in the Shipwreck Beads IMCA Modifieds. At last, it’s time for a look at my first race of 2013...

An International Affair: This year’s combination of drivers at Dirt Cup was very diverse, as they’re from all over the globe. Most of the racers are from the United States and Canada. You also have Sydney, Australia native Murphy and Te Anau, New Zealand’s Daniel Anderson in the sprint cars. There was one dwarf car racer from the United Kingdom. You read it right...jolly old England. Ron Brewer is from Kelowna, British Columbia by way of Portsmouth, England (about a two-hour drive from London). He had finishes of 17th and 15th in the A-Mains. Ron won Friday’s B-Main with another Kelowna racer, Danny Karslake, right behind him.

Four Decades: PHRA announcer Andrew Kunas dug up some dirt on Eagle Point, Oregon’s Fred Hay, and Fred’s last appearance at Skagit was in 1971 for a Winston West race! Hay waited just for the right moment to pass Dale Knutson on the last lap out of turn four in Friday’s second heat race to get the fourth and final transfer spot to advance to the A. Fred started the main event in 14th and had third place momentarily when his trailing arm broke on lap 20 and he stopped in turn three. He dropped to last in the results. Fred had an easy win in Saturday’s second heat, and used a late charge in the A-Main to finish fifth after starting 15th. He is showing no signs of slowing down at 72 years young.

Oregon Obliterates: A lot of the PHRA regulars live in the Portland, Oregon metro area and they showed they can be a tough group anywhere they go. They won three of the four heat races on Friday, and swept all four heats Saturday. The non-Oregonian that won a heat on Friday was Penticton, B.C.’s Taylor in the first heat.

Little Fish in a Big Pond: It’s been a number of years since a driver with a smaller 360 engine made the A-Main on the final night of Dirt Cup to race with the bigger 410’s. That slump was finally snapped Saturday night, as Luke Didiuk finished seventh in the B and got a transfer spot to his first ever DC A-Main. However, he completed only six laps before pulling his car into the infield. Luke was credited with 20th, but it still paid $1,500.

Mosquito Bites: Lemoore, California up-and-comer Carson “The Mosquito” Macedo made his DC debut and ran as a teammate to Meyers. Carson (the nephew of his car owner Tommy Tarlton) was consistent all weekend and just missed the top ten in all three shows. He came home 11th Friday and Saturday afternoon, and 12th in the Saturday night finale. The lowlight came in Saturday afternoon’s B-Main when he was involved in an opening lap six-car pileup on the frontstretch that saw Jonathan Jorgenson take a nasty flip. After getting his car repaired, Carson crossed the stripe in fourth and it was more than enough to make the A.

Jayme Goes West: 2008 and 2009 Dirt Cup winner Jayme Barnes began the 2013 season driving for Rick Rogers’ Destiny Motorsports from Williston, North Dakota, but left in April and was replaced by Brandon Wimmer (the 2007 Dirt Cup champion). The Everett native got a chance to come back to his stomping grounds to drive a second Vaillant Racing entry, where he teamed up with Brock Lemley. It was a rollercoaster Dirt Cup for “The Bandit”. His finishes in the A-Mains were 22nd, ninth, and 22nd. He slowed on the frontstretch just before halfway in Friday’s main event when his power steering failed, and went straight to the pits after taking the green flag in Saturday night’s feature.

Hotfoot Back in Town: Meyers made his first Dirt Cup in seven years and still looked strong as ever. He set quick time on Friday and crossed the line in third in heat one. He passed nine cars for a sixth-place finish in the A. Saturday afternoon also started well for Jason with a victory in heat four. It didn’t end so well, as he flipped down the backstretch on the fourth lap in the A-Main. He was okay, but he ended up 22nd and last. Saturday night treated “Hotfoot” much better, as he started and finished seventh.

A Little Extra Dough: Along with Didiuk, there were four other drivers that had a 360 engine at DC. Didiuk, Colton Akerstrom, Glenn Reinstra, and Clayton Sibley took home a $300 bonus for competing in all three races. Michael Harris also raced, but his engine let go after just one qualifying lap on Friday.

Behind Schedule? No Problem: Wheatley didn’t qualify all that great Saturday afternoon, as he was just 23rd quick in the 30-car field. The Lake Stevens racer started heat three in fifth and he passed Abreu to take away the third and last transfer position for good going into turn one on lap seven. Austen looked to be on his way to the win the A, but it was not to be as he fell to third in the closing laps. He finished sixth in Saturday night’s B-Main before placing a very respectable 13th in the A.

Another Success: Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation hosted a kickball game Saturday morning at the track’s parking lot to benefit Kick-It. It was another hit (or kick) following up to last September’s event when the World of Outlaws came. A total of $4,500 was raised. The game was fun and exciting all the way through. The team led by Victoria Cantu won over the team led by Kelan Knowles (who was in the place of Derek Roberts), 11-10. Henry Van Dam scored the game-winning base kick in the last inning to bring J.J. Hickle home.

Three Cheers: With their victories in the Outlaw Tuners class, Berg and Young both have three wins in '13. Berg led all 17 laps in Friday’s main event, while Young stole the lead from Freddie Vela at the line on lap number eleven in Saturday’s race when Vela couldn‘t find a way around Erik Vaillette. Moore led wire-to-wire in the 20-lap modified feature on Saturday, and that’s win number three on the year for Craig also.

Number for the Weekend: 25. That’s how many positions Karslake improved in the PHRA A-Mains. This was Danny’s first time to Skagit and he had to race the B-Main on both occasions to get to the A, but he looked mightily impressive. He was the hard charger in both races, as he went from 18th to fourth Friday and 19th to eighth Saturday.

Consistency Award: Abreu and Rilat (tie). Abreu had finishes of fifth, eighth, and third. Rilat wound up second, tenth, and fourth. Both drivers definitely have a shot to win Dirt Cup in the future, as well as Murphy. For me, Pete is way overdue.

Hard Luck Award: Harris and John Tharp (tie). Along with Harris, Tharp’s Dirt Cup came to a screeching halt on Friday. He tagged the turn one wall on the first lap of the first heat and flipped. John was okay. The runner-ups were Barnes and Lemley. The Vaillant Racing teammates had a very eventful DC where they had multiple problems (engines, front/rear ends, power steering, and crashes). Brock got caught up in a turn two tangle with Travis Jacobson and Josh DeWitt on lap 18 in Saturday afternoon’s A-Main. Brock’s car was badly damaged, and he didn’t start the B Scramble or the B-Main later in the night.

“Never Say Die” Award: The field for Saturday afternoon’s B-Main. The first try to start it on a very dry track had a huge crash before lap one was complete, and the second attempt was more of the same. Lemley spun in turn two and four other drivers had nowhere to go. Steve Parker got upside-down with Didiuk, Kevin Smith, and Scott Parker (no relation to Steve) also involved. The track went under some very extensive maintenance, and most of the teams used the time to make all the repairs they needed. For take three, all 15 drivers returned to race.

It was great to see some familiar faces that I haven’t seen since last summer and some new faces, too! Also, how cool was it to hear Fred Rannard’s voice again? It seemed like an eternity since I last heard it! I’m trying to get my forehead healed from getting sunburned...again! I’ll try to post my pictures tomorrow or Friday.

Next race: Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by MAVTV American Real/ASCS Northwest Region Series at Grays Harbor Raceway on July 12 and 13. It was all about the 77’s in 2012, as Shane Stewart took the rain-delayed preliminary A-Main aboard Jason Finley’s #77F car over Wayne Johnson’s #77X car. Wayne barely held off Shane for the win in a one-lap showdown in the finale.

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

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

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Jumping the Start: 42nd Annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup 
The 42nd running of the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup is coming up this Thursday through Saturday at Skagit Speedway. Last year’s event was rained out on the final night and it was the first time in history where Mother Nature was the champion. Let’s hope for a different winner!

A talented field is going to be there, as they‘re going for the big $20,000 check. The Skagit regulars include Travis Jacobson, Brock Lemley, Trey Starks, Jesse Whitney, Kevin Smith, and Jonathan Jorgenson. California also has a strong group of drivers that will make the trip up north. That bunch includes three-time Dirt Cup champion Jonathan Allard, Peter Murphy, Willie Croft, Kyle Hirst, Rico Abreu, former World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers, and Carson Macedo (who will run as a teammate to Meyers).

Indianapolis, Indiana veteran and two-time DC winner Shane Stewart returns in the stout #57 sprint owned by Paul Silva. Travis Rilat from Forney, Texas makes another appearance in Richard and Lana Saumure’s #39C car. Sunnyvale, Texas’ Sam Hafertepe, Jr. will be driving the always gorgeous Kevin Rudeen-owned #26 for the third Dirt Cup in a row. Te Anau, New Zealand driver Daniel Anderson will give Dirt Cup an international flavor for the third straight year in his #44 car.

The schedule for this year’s Dirt Cup is full. The fun actually starts on the day before DC on Wednesday, June 19 with the Fan Fest Party. The fans get a chance to meet their favorite drivers, plus the rock band The Unknown will perform. It will be held at the track’s parking lot from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and the admission is free.

The Pacific Hardtop Racing Association (PHRA) dwarf cars will race on Thursday and Friday. They were at Skagit last July in the first night of the Bob’s Burgers & Brew 360 Nationals (now the Summer Nationals) and Kelly Gutches won it on the final lap. Eric Bergquist won the 2013 season opener at Madras Speedway on May 4, with Kevin Benson claiming the June 1 race at the Castle Rock Fairgrounds. Ronnie Gilmore, Jr. triumphed at Madras on June 8.

The Outlaw Tuners (formerly the Outlaw Hornets) will be in action on Friday and Saturday, while the Shipwreck Beads IMCA modifieds join in on Saturday. The Tuners have eight races in the books thus far. Defending division champ Freddie Vela has two wins this year, as do Rick Young and Brandon Berg. Tom Warner and Nick Williams have one victory apiece. The modifieds usually race at Grays Harbor Raceway, but they have made two appearances at Skagit this season. Craig Moore won the May 18 show and Blair Shoemaker was the winner on June 8.

Also on the schedule for Saturday are the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame auction and the Big Al Kids & Motorsports Foundation kickball game. A lot of collectibles are up for grabs to benefit the Hall of Fame. Many drivers will play in the kickball game, and they’re playing for a great cause to kick it for cancer.

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Scoreboard: Mother Nature 2, Grays Harbor racers and fans 0 
Both yesterday and today got rained out at Grays Harbor Raceway. I went to the track yesterday and the rain didn't let up. One of the track workers told me just before 3:00 p.m. that the races were cancelled. The plug was pulled on today's action at around 1:00 p.m.

The next race at GHR is this Saturday with the Our Community Credit Union Fan Appreciation Night. Five divisions (sprint cars, Shipwreck Beads IMCA modifieds, Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks, hornets, and USAC Ford Focus midgets) will race.

The ASCS Northwest Region Series travels down to Oregon for two races this week: Willamette Speedway on Friday and Cottage Grove Speedway on Saturday.

The next race I'm attending is the 42nd annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway on June 20-22. Let's pray that the weather gods are going to be much kinder to us!

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Jumping the Start: Spring Challenge at Grays Harbor 
The ASCS Northwest Region sprint cars are kicking their sixth year off this Saturday and Sunday. This will be their fourth year where their season begins at Grays Harbor Raceway.

Three-time and defending series champion Roger Crockett already has five wins this season and is looking to tack on that number. Mitch Olson, Henry Van Dam, Reece Goetz, and Cam Smith were second through fifth in last year’s points standings and they are trying to win one for the Washington drivers. Defending track champion and points leader J.J. Hickle won the April 20 season opener at GHR, while the May 4 feature went to Goetz. Look for drivers like multi-time track champion Jay Cole, 2010 ASCS Northwest Region Rookie of the Year Trey Starks, 2009 Fred Brownfield Memorial winner Travis Rilat, and Snohomish native Gary Taylor (who’s racing non-wing sprinters in Indiana) to race as well. Travis will be back in Richard and Lana Saumure's #39C machine, with Gary piloting the Richie and Nubby Peterson-owned #23N. Jared Ridge, another Snohomish young gun, is back on Pacific Northwest soil after racing in Ohio for the past three seasons. He’ll be driving Roger Henderson’s #7N car.

The always exciting Shipwreck Beads modifieds will also take the stage this weekend. Four-time champ Scott Miller claimed the April 20 race, while two-time and defending title holder Joe German prevailed on May 4 and 11. The modifieds made their very first appearance at Skagit Speedway last Saturday, and Craig Moore was the winner. The points chase is very tight early on at GHR with German leading. However, the top eight drivers are separated by just 12 points!

In the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks class, the drivers that visited Victory Lane already are Jack Parshall (April 20) and two-time and defending champion Jason Tole (May 11). Even though he hasn’t won yet, Cory Sweatman is the points leader thanks to a second and a third-place finish so far.

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At last! My first 2013 race is... 
...the two-night Spring Challenge at Grays Harbor Raceway on Memorial Day weekend (May 25 and 26)! The ASCS Northwest Region sprint cars start their season. The Shipwreck Beads IMCA modifieds and the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks will also be in action.

I’m looking forward to finally seeing some racing and getting a chance to chat with a lot of people I haven’t seen since last summer! I’ll have a preview in the next few days...

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I'm still kicking 
I'm so sorry for the lack of updates. I've been really busy with my job for the past few months. I'm really psyched that racing season has started and looking forward to what's in store for the Pacific Northwest this season.

I have a few ideas of what races I'm going to make. I'm primarily going to be at Elma and Skagit. My schedule includes some ASCS Northwest/National races, Dirt Cup, and a few World of Outlaws shows.

Usually, I end my racing season with a huge trip. I was down in Texas for the Cowtown Sprint Nationals in 2009. I attended Trophy Cup in California in 2010 and 2011 (plus Chili Bowl to start off 2011). Finally, I went to Pennsylvania for the National Open at Williams Grove Speedway with the WoO last year. I'm still kicking things around and we'll see how everything goes!

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Merry Xmas! 
I want to take a few quick seconds to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

With my travel plans for next year still up in the air, I hope to attend a few more races and also another trip to Pullman (to WSU, my alma mater) whenever I have some time off from my busy schedule at work.

Safe travels out there!

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