Final race @ GHR pictures are up 
I didn't get as many pictures as I should as the sun went down, but here they are. My final photo collage of '13 is ready!

http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... 5054593186

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Time to Review: 10/5 observations 
Grays Harbor Raceway ended its 2013 season last Saturday on a successful note. GHR got a majority of its races in, and canceled only five races due to rain. The final race of the year had decent car counts of 14 NW Extreme Winged Sprint Cars, 16 Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks, and ten hornets. A lot of local drivers were there, along with quite a few from far away.

After a false first start for the hornet 20-lap main, the second one was no good when Chris Pugsley hit the frontstretch wall head-on after contact with Chris Branon. Zach Dalrymple and Shane Norton were also involved. The third try was good and Jeff Daniel was the early pacesetter. By the eighth lap, Jeff felt the pressure of Matt Ploeg. Jeff and Matt got bottled up behind the slower car of Norton in turns three and four on the 11th circuit. Contact was made between Jeff and Shane in turn one on the following lap, with Shane losing his front bumper and a lot of Styrofoam! That’s something you don’t see everyday. Ploeg got his nose ahead of Daniel at the line to take the lead one lap after the restart. Jeff edged ahead on the backstretch on the next go-around, but Matt took it back coming out of turn four and didn’t relinquish it. Matt got the victory in his first ever race at Grays Harbor Raceway with Daniel in second and Olympia’s T.J. Shann in third.

The street stock main event had two veterans on the front row, Jack Parshall and defending division champion Jason Tole. It was Parshall on the point in the 25-lap race before the yellow flag came out on the second lap when Tommy Hecker slowed on the backchute. The yellow lights came on again on the next lap, as the fourth-place car of Ryen Haney slowed coming out of turn four with a flat right front tire. Canadian visitor Kenny Cloutier took second from Tole in turn two on lap four and tried to mount a challenge on Parshall. Kenny got close to Jack, but couldn’t get around him. Tole got back in the mix with eight laps to go, as he used the lapped car of Brenton Schnitzer as a pick to pass Cloutier in turn four. The top three cars were three-wide to complete the 21st lap and it set the stage for an incredible finish. It wasn’t to be, as they got together in turn one on the next lap. Tole lost a lot of bodywork and Cloutier also went pitside. The final yellow flag flew with three laps remaining for debris in turn four, and Haney retired to the infield with mechanical issues. Parshall would go on to his second win of 2013, followed by Austin Kerrigan and tenth-starting Mike Knox.

It was tough for the NW Extreme Winged Sprint Cars to get a lap in the books for their 20-lap feature, as Cory Samuelson bicycled in turn four on the first try and stayed right side up. The same can’t be said for Ashley Lewellen, as she flipped in front of Cory. Ashley was A-OK. Polesitter Rutz went to the work area under the red flag, and that gave the pole to Cory Swatzina. On the second try to start, Rude bicycled hard in turn two and almost flipped into the wall. Luckily, he kept his car upright and stopped a few feet later. The third try was not the charm, as Cale Brooke looped it in turn four and collected Samuelson. It was the fourth attempt that stuck with Swatzina leading over Steve Reeves, Robbie Price, Rutz, and Zach McCabe. The third yellow came out on the fifth lap when Brooke stopped down low on the frontstretch with engine problems, and Rutz spun in turn four in a separate incident. Price went to the inside of Reeves to take second on lap seven and went after Swatzina. Cory couldn’t get around the slower car of Justin Popple on lap 13, and Price was closing quickly. Robbie tried to make the pass in turn four on the following lap, but made contact with Cory and got on his roof. Robbie was okay. McCabe took second from Reeves in turn three on the 14th circuit, and Rutz used the cushion to also pass Reeves in turn three one lap later. Swatzina hung on for the win with McCabe in second and Rutz in third.

I went to just nine races this year, with three of them getting rained out. One race got made up on the following day to make it a doubleheader, and that would be at Dirt Cup. I hope to be at more races next year and also to go to an event that‘s far away, maybe two. Here’s my last recap for 2013, everybody…

From the Word Go: The track was very fast, as Rutz showed in time trials by setting a new NW Extreme Winged Sprints track record of 13.212 seconds. Kenny mentioned in his Victory Lane interview back on September 2 that his brother Travis would be at the last GHR race of the year, and he did indeed show up. Bring the pain, peeps! Kenny would go even quicker in the first heat on the seventh lap at 13.012 seconds. Reeves did even better in the second heat race by going around the 3/8-mile oval with a time of 12.984 seconds, and it also happened on lap number seven.

Logging in the Miles: Reeves made the longest tow from Valleyview, Alberta. Cloutier came all the way down from Edmonton, Alberta and looked very strong in his first ever trip to GHR. Rutz and Brady Janson hailed from Langley, British Columbia. Rutz’s car owner Trevor Turnbull commuted from Camrose, Alberta. Price traveled from Cobble Hill, B.C. (on Vancouver Island). Brooke is also north of the border from Pemberton, B.C. Former INSCA champion Popple made his first GHR start and he was the only driver east of the Cascades from Colbert (just north of Spokane).

Jetting Down I-5: A handful of Skagit Speedway regulars came down to GHR after they had their season finale on September 14. Ploeg was the only hornet driver to come down, but he made his trip very gratifying with a win. Three-time sportsman sprint champion Steve Parker made the trek to Elma along with Swatzina, McCabe, Rutz, Mike Murphy, Brooke, Samuelson, Rude, and Lewellen to push the NW Extreme Winged Sprints turnout to a season-high 14 cars.

The South Sound Group: Making their first GHR starts as well were South Sound Speedway regulars Shann and Branon. Both normally compete in the bumblebee division, where Chris was second in final points and T.J. was seventh. Chris was this year’s champion in the Stinger 8’s at South Sound. After finishing seventh in the heat race, T.J. bettered that with a third-place run in the main event. Chris was fifth in the heat and the feature.

It’s a Family Thing: The street stocks had two father and son combinations that raced on Saturday. Doug Brewster brought along his son Mike, while Don Briggs, Sr. raced with his son Don, Jr. Two-time and defending hornet champion Chad Norton was in competition with his brother Shane. There were five Nortons that raced in the hornets this season, as Jesarae is Chad’s wife. Brian and Jeremy are Chad’s cousins.

Number for the Weekend: 0.116. That’s the margin of victory in the street stock dash with Parshall winning over Cloutier by a little less than a car length. Jack took the lead from Kenny at the line as they took the white flag. Another close race was the hornet heat, as Amanda Allery held off a charging Ploeg by about a car length.

Hard Luck Award: Parker and Janson (tie). Both drivers lost their engines during hot laps. When Brady got done with his warm-up session, his car erupted in a huge ball of smoke. Another driver that had an early end to his night was Brad Rhodes, who went for a huge flip in turn three on the third lap of the second sprint heat. He was uninjured.

Next race: See everyone next year!

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

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


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Jumping the Start: Last race of 2013 at Grays Harbor 
Surprise! I decided to attend one more race, and it’ll be the final event for 2013 at Grays Harbor Raceway on Saturday. The NW Extreme Winged Sprints are on the program along with the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks and the hornets. It‘s all for pride for all three classes, as this is a non-points show. Grays Harbor Raceway was supposed to have its season finale last Saturday, but it got rained out.

The NW Extreme Winged Sprints wrap up their 2013 season with their fourth appearance of the year at GHR. Sammy Wright won on May 11, while Kenny Rutz took the races on September 1 and 2 for a Labor Day weekend sweep. The last race the NW Extreme Winged Sprints had was on September 7 at Cottage Grove Speedway, where Dave Hibbard was the winner. The events at Sunset Speedway Park on September 21 and Cottage Grove last Saturday were cancelled due to rain, so the sprint drivers are eager to go racing again.

Jason Tole is now a three-time champion with the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks, as he also won the title last year and in 2001. Jason had nine victories this season and won the championship by 28 markers over Cory Sweatman. Eddie Blood, Jack Parshall, and Don Briggs, Jr. were third through fifth in the final points.

The hornets have been racing at GHR for the past two years, and Chad Norton was the champion for both years. Chad won three times in ’13 and he edged Willie Wright by only four points for the title. Jeff Daniel was third in the points rundown and led the hornet division with four wins. Jesarae Norton (Chad’s wife) and Chris Pugsley were tied for fourth.

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Labor Day weekend pictures are ready to go 
I had so much fun over the Labor Day weekend, and it's great to see everyone! I just got through posting two albums' worth of pictures.

For Skagit:
http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... 8175360513

For Elma:
http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... 8244058701

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Football season is here! 
Are you ready for some football?! In a little under two hours, the Baltimore Ravens (the Super Bowl champions) and the Denver Broncos kick off the 2013-14 NFL season.

The Seattle Seahawks are one of only two teams that finished the preseason at 4-0. The Washington Redskins were the other team. The Seahawks' first game is Sunday, as they face the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I asked a question last year on how the 'Hawks are going to do. This time, it'll be a little different. Compared to last year, will Seattle do: better, worse, or about the same?

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Time to Review: Monster Meltdown/Harbor Classic Weekend tidbits 
For the seventh time in eight years, I was ready for another mini-vacation up north for the Labor Day weekend. I went to my hotel room in Bellingham to take a short nap, and then headed down to Skagit Speedway for the Monster Meltdown. Skagit had a full program for both Friday and Saturday. A great crowd was on the hand, especially for Saturday where it was packed.

Friday had the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars and the second round of three for the Outlaw Tuner Combat Series. Brandon Berg led the first lap in the Outlaw Tuner main event until Travis Meins went around him on the outside of turn four to complete lap number two. Meins got the victory over Rick Young and Thursday winner Ben Gunderson. Ben passed his dad Jon Gunderson and Matt Ploeg on the backstretch on the final lap to grab third when Jon slowed with a flat tire.

Three-time WoO champion Sammy Swindell led all 25 laps in the A-Main for his third win of the year. The first red flag came out on lap six when Trey Starks and Travis Rilat got together out of turn two. Last year's big winner Travis Jacobson had no place to go and plowed into Rilat. Things went from bad to worse for T-Jac, as he went for a hard flip coming out of turn two four laps later. Craig Dollansky brought out the yellow flag on lap 19 when he coasted to a stop in turn one. “The Madman” Kerry Madsen took second from Paul McMahan coming for the restart, but couldn’t get close enough to challenge Swindell. McMahan got third.

Saturday's Sportsman Sprint Showdown 25-lap A-Main quickly went yellow, as Colton Heath jumped the start. The second try to get it started was good and Devin Barnes paced the field for 23 laps. There was a great battle for second through fourth involving Thursday night’s winner Zach McCabe, Kenny Rutz, and Cory Swatzina. They changed positions a handful of times until Swatzina spun in turn two with two laps to go while racing in third. McCabe took the lead from Barnes on the restart, but Devin wasn’t about ready to give it up. They took the white flag side-by-side, but they made contact in turn one with Devin going for a spin. Everyone avoided him, except for Ashley Lewellen. McCabe got the win for the sweep over Rutz and 11th-starting Steve Parker.

Young led all 17 laps in the Tuner main event and won over the Gundersons (Ben in second and Jon in third). Young and B. Gunderson were tied for the points title for the Outlaw Tuner Combat Series, and were named co-champions. Rick and Ben finished in the podium in all three nights.

The Outlaws’ 35-lapper went green for 34 ¾ laps. Madsen got the jump over Joey Saldana and McMahan. “Pauls to the Wall” took second place from “The Brownsburg Bullet” in turn two on lap two. Five-time and defending champion Donny Schatz tried to go to the inside of Saldana for many laps for third, but no luck. Schatz used to the outside line down the backstretch to finally make the pass stuck on lap 15. Schatz wasn’t through, as he stole second from McMahan in heavy traffic out of turn four on the 17th lap and the lead from Madsen down the backchute the following lap. Trey Starks came to a halt out of turn two on the last lap just before Schatz took the checkered flag. A green-white-checkered finish had to be used, but Schatz had no problem getting his 18th win of the season. Brad Sweet went for a spin in turn one, but it happened after the checkers. Madsen and McMahan were second and third for the second straight night.

After taking Sunday off to recuperate, I was off to the races again on Monday to see the WoO at Grays Harbor Raceway, as part of the Harbor Classic Weekend presented by Lucky Eagle Casino and Hotel. Just before I left home, I was on Twitter that "Yung Money" Kyle Larson will race with Rico Abreu. Sure enough, they had their haulers parked next to each other. The NW Extreme Winged Sprints were the supporting class, and Cale Brooke led the first four laps of the 25-lap race. Rutz got his nose ahead at the stripe on lap five, but Cale went back by in turns one and two on the sixth lap. Cale ran downstairs, while Kenny stayed on the cushion. Kenny got the lead again on the 11th lap out of turn two before Ross Mathewson spun in turn four, and Kenny just barely avoided him. Kenny took the lead one lap after the restart and pulled away. Brooke held the runner-up position until he got sideways in turns one and two with five laps to go. He continued, but lost the spot to Steve Reeves. Despite having a sour engine towards the end, Rutz hung on to win for the second straight night at Elma over Reeves and Brooke for an all-Canadian podium.

Pittman got a good jump over Schatz and Sweet for the first try to start the 30-lap big show, but it got aborted when Swindell spun into an easy rollover coming out of turn four. Sammy rebounded to finish ninth. Schatz had the lead for take two, but the yellow came out on the second lap when Saldana spun out of turn four. McMahan and Cody Darrah were also involved. Schatz led laps two through twelve, but couldn’t pass the slower car of Henry Van Dam. Pittman powered by down low in turn three to get the lead again on lap 13. Darrah drew out another yellow flag on lap 17, as he stopped in turn one with a broken drag link and Pittman just got by. Pittman clipped the inside berm on the restart and that gave the lead back to Schatz. Meanwhile, “The King” Steve Kinser passed Sweet for third at the line to complete lap number 18. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Tim Kaeding, Larson, Madsen had a fierce battle for a top five finish behind them. The yellow lights flashed again with five to go for Abreu, who spun in turn two. Two yellow flags flew one lap later. The first time was for Larson, who spun in turn four and got tagged by Kraig Kinser. Kraig spun a complete 360, but kept going. Fifth-place running Hafertepe clipped the restart cone on the next attempt and got docked two spots. The last yellow was out with just two laps to go when Sweet lost his right rear tire while running in fourth and smacked the turn one wall. The yellow turned into a red for a fuel stop for a final two-lap dash. Schatz made no mistakes again, and he went two-for-three in Washington. Pittman was second with S. Kinser in third. For fourth, it was Kaeding by a nose over Madsen.

The Outlaws didn’t disappoint me again and they never have, as they continue their long and winding trip down Oregon and California. As they do that, it’s time to get down and dirty with my notes...

Breaking Records: There was something in the air when the sprint cars came to Skagit last week and it didn’t long before drivers tried to get into the history books. Hafertepe was the top qualifier in the 360’s in Thursday’s show at 11.462 seconds. That just missed the existing record of 11.434 seconds set by Brandon Harkness on August 31, 2003. The World of Outlaws drivers were down in the low 11-second bracket on Friday, and Jason Sides’ track record of 10.872 seconds set on September 4, 2009 was so close they could taste it. Saldana lowered it to 10.821 before Pittman took it even lower to 10.718! 18 racers ended up with times in the 10’s.

Long Dry Spells Finally Over: It’s been more than 30 years since Swindell visited the winner’s circle at Skagit with the Outlaws. The last time he’s won a race there was back on June 15, 1979 (less than nine months before I was born). Schatz had victories at Skagit and GHR already, but they‘ve also been quite some time ago. Donny had a preliminary program win at Skagit on August 25, 2006 and his last triumph at GHR was on August 27, 2005.

Summer Sizzling: Schatz is the driver on a hot streak with 12 wins since July when the Outlaws started “The Month of Money”. That includes victories at the Brad Doty Classic at Limaland Motorsports Park on July 10, one of the main events of the Don Martin Silver Cup Memorial Twins at Lernerville Speedway on July 16 (which he won the overall title), and his seventh Knoxville Nationals title in eight years at Knoxville Raceway on August 10. Pittman had a points lead well in the triple digits earlier this season, but Schatz chipped that lead to just 20 points after Monday’s racing. Schatz has been solid in the main events, even though Pittman has a huge advantage in bonus points earned in time trials.

The Alberta Army: Some racers from Alberta made the long way down to Skagit and Grays Harbor over the Labor Day weekend. Reeves and 14-year-old Skylar Gee went to both tracks. Last year’s Skagit 360 champion Trevor Turnbull didn’t race, but brought his car for Rutz to race at Skagit and Grays Harbor. Kyle Evans and Joey Duperron were at Skagit on Thursday and Saturday for the Sportsman Sprint Showdown. Mathewson made his first ever appearance at GHR for the NW Extreme Winged Sprint shows Sunday and Monday.

Super Subs: A few drivers weren’t in their usual rides at Skagit last week. I just mentioned Rutz aboard the Turnbull #38 sportsman sprinter. Meins continued to fill in for the injured Freddie Vela in the #20 Outlaw Tuner, while Howard Vos was in Jon Edwards‘ #50 Tuner Thursday and Friday. Going to Saturday, James “Cadillac” Bundy did double duty. He drove his own #57 sportsman sprint, and was also behind the wheel of Erik Vaillette’s #7M Tuner. Lastly, Heath was aboard Tyler Fox's #0 sporty.

Paulie’s in the Fast Lane: After being the top qualifier at GHR, McMahan got his series-leading 14th fast time award. He’s been one of the strongest qualifiers all season long in the CJB Motorsports #51. Pittman is right behind with 13 fast time awards (he got #13 just last night at Willamette Speedway) and Saldana is a distant third with five.

Out the Door Early: For the three nights that I saw racing action, everything got done before 10:00 p.m. Friday’s races were finished at around 9:10, with Saturday wrapping up later at 9:55. The final checkered flag flew at Elma at 9:45. Despite a small number of red flags, the track conditions were top notch at both tracks and the fans were treated to nonstop side-by-side racing. Job well done by everybody.

Number for the Weekend: 19. What can be said about Schatz and his winning ways? It’s just insane! With Monday’s win at GHR, he matched his win total in '07.

Consistency Award: Madsen. I’m sure Kerry enjoyed his trip through Alberta and Washington, as he had five straight top five finishes. He had back-to-back second-place finishes at Skagit and a fifth at GHR for a very stout Labor Day weekend. Before that, he had a win and a third at Castrol Raceway on August 23 and 24. “The Madman” moved up to eighth in points just ahead of S. Kinser.

Hard Luck Award: Jacobson and Austen Wheatley (tie). Jacobson was involved in two crashes in Friday’s main event. He wrecked with Starks and Rilat on lap six coming out of turn two, and had a close-up view of the underside of Rilat’s car. Then, T-Jac clipped the turn two wall on lap ten and went for a nasty tumble. He fought handling problems in Saturday’s B-Main and only got up to eighth, two spots short of transferring. Wheatley lost his brakes after Saturday’s time trials, then blew a motor on the backstretch on the last lap in the second heat race while running fourth. He was able to start the B, which he won. The gremlins bit Austen again on Monday, as he went to the pits after the four-wide salute for the A-Main and didn’t return.

Best Appearing Car: Saldana (Outlaws) and Barnes (sportsman). I’m not a huge fan of orange cars, but I was really looking forward to getting a few pictures of the Dan Motter-owned #71M. It’s a beautiful car for photography and also under the lights. Devin’s sportsman sprinter is a definite winner with the blue and black. I told racing chaplain Jim Sheppard, “It’s like I saw God.” Everyone knows by now that I absolutely love blue. The runners-up are a couple of sportsman drivers that have paint schemes that are very pleasing to the eye, McCabe and Evans. There’s another shout-out to Fire-Down Graphics on Zach’s #46 car.

Next race: ???

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

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

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Jumping the Start: Monster Meltdown at Skagit/Harbor Classic Weekend at Grays Harbor 
The Labor Day weekend is a weekend that racefans in the Pacific Northwest look forward to, especially if they’re fans of the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. The Outlaws have nine races in ten days to close out August and to begin September with stops in Washington, Oregon, and California.

The WoO were at Castrol Raceway near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada last Friday and Saturday for the Oil City Cup. Kerry Madsen and five-time and defending series champion Donny Schatz picked up the victories. Schatz won in a backup car after wrecking his primary car in a scary turn four flip during hot laps.

Daryn Pittman has been the points leader since the start of the season and he has eight wins to his credit. He has 7,882 points, but his points lead is shrinking. Schatz is right behind with 7,858 points and has been red hot since July. Donny leads the Outlaws with 17 wins, including his seventh Knoxville Nationals title. Paul McMahan is solidly in third with 7,682 points, followed by Craig Dollansky at 7,439 and Sammy Swindell at 7,355.

Skagit Speedway will be busy Thursday through Saturday with the Monster Meltdown. Thursday’s program consists of the fourth and final round of the Summer Thunder Series presented by SpeedMart (360 sprints), the first night of the Sportsman Sprint Showdown, and the first round of the Outlaw Tuner Car Combat Series. The World of Outlaws and the Outlaw Tuners will race Friday and Saturday. The second night of the Sportsman Sprint Showdown is set for Saturday. The winners of last year’s WoO races were Madsen and track regular Travis Jacobson. T-Jac’s victory was a very popular one for the Skagit fans.

Grays Harbor Raceway also has a full schedule with the Harbor Classic Weekend Saturday through Monday. The Shipwreck Beads IMCA modifieds, the Honda Ignite Washington Dirt midgets, the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks, and the NW Extreme Late Models compete on Saturday and Sunday. The NW Extreme Winged Sprints will be in action Sunday. The WoO and the NW Extreme Winged Sprints are on tap for Monday. Swindell won last year’s WoO event over Dollansky and Joey Saldana.

No matter where you go for racing in Washington over the Labor Day weekend, Skagit Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway have you covered.


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Mod Nats pics posted 
My pictures from Elma are up right now. It's good to see a lot of familiar and new faces as always. Check them out, along with my other albums!

http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... 8096318169

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