Five days until Christmas 
2016 has just flown and I can't believe that Christmas and New Year's Day are both around the corner. Looking back on it, I've had a very productive year. I went to 16 races (one up from last year) and just two races got rained out. I went out to the Yakima Dirt Track for the first time, as well as the Rainier Cycle Bowl for two races as a regular fan.

The tentative 2017 schedules for the Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Car Dirt Series presented by MAVTV Motorsports Network and the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars are already out. The ASCS racers return to Skagit Speedway for the 46th annual Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup on June 22-24, then head down to Grays Harbor Raceway for the third annual Fred Brownfield Classic June 30 and July 1. The WoO come to Skagit for the Outlaw Energy Showdown on September 1 and 2 before going to GHR on September 4 for their Labor Day weekend three-fer.

Hopefully, my schedule for next year will be about the same with trips to GHR and Skagit and possibly a drive back up to Deming Speedway. I also aim to take a vacation in the fall, as I didn't do one this year because I had some crazy hours at work and I stuck close to home. I had a blast at the Summer Thunder Sprint Series/Washington Modified Tour season opener in Yakima back in April for not one, but two nights of racing. If they come back for a two-night show to start off their 2017 seasons, I'll be there.

Also, I'm in the process of doing some computer shopping. The one I have is eight years old and it still works, but it's got very little memory left. I finally decided to step up and go current. If my PC lasts at least five years, then I must be doing something right.

In the meantime, have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Also, go Cougs on Tuesday as they take on Minnesota in the Holiday Bowl down in San Diego!

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Labor Day weekend pictures are up 
My shots from the WoO/Washington Modified Tour races at Skagit are finally uploaded. Check them out below!

For a little extra, the album from September 4 at GHR with the Summer Thunder Sprint Series and the Shipwreck Beads modifieds is also up and running.

For Skagit, go here:
http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... amp;page=1

For Elma, go here:
http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... amp;page=1

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Time to Review: Labor Day weekend recap 2016 
It was yet another Labor Day weekend, so it was time for another trip up north to see the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars and the Washington Modified Tour for the Outlaw Energy Showdown presented by NAPA Auto Parts. I was between Monroe and Snohomish at around 10:00 a.m. when it started pouring down. I thought there’s absolutely no way there would be any racing at all. I made it to Mount Vernon at noon and things started to look up with the sun peeking through. Sure enough, everything was completed.

Monday was only day where Mother Nature didn’t want to play nice, so I went 3-for-4. At least it was better than last year, where it was 2-for-4. I usually do a thorough recap of the races. Since I saw three nights of racing, I want to get right to the point and just do the good parts.

Friday’s WoO 30-lap feature had Logan Schuchart on the pole, and he took off with the lead with Shane Stewart tracking him down. Stewart took the lead from Schuchart in turns one and two on the sixth lap, but Schuchart tried to return the favor in three and four. Logan’s car bounced right in front of Shane and Shane spun into the turn four wall. Schuchart had his first WoO victory at New Richmond, Wisconsin’s Cedar Lake Speedway on July 8 and looked to be on his way to his second win. David Gravel moved up to second after Stewart’s spin and stayed on Schuchart’s tail as they worked through traffic. On the final lap, Gravel timed his pass perfectly as he went down low on Schuchart in turn three to get the win. Schuchart settled for second with Jason Johnson in third, Brad Sweet fourth, and seven-time WoO champion Donny Schatz fifth.

Lawrence O’Connor led the first eight laps of the 25-lap modified main, but his motor expired as he was about to enter turn one. That gave the lead to Mark Carrell, but Rick Smith took it away on the 11th lap when he used the high line to make the pass just before the finish line. That happened just before the yellow flag came out for an accident on the fronstretch involving Louis Nutter, Sr. and Tyler Ketchum. Smith slowed down out of turn two on lap 14 and Carrell got into him. Carrell managed to keep his car going, as another yellow flag was needed. Chris Beaulieu looked to have the lead, but stopped in turn four with a broken universal joint. Carrell had the lead again, but he had to contend with series points leader Kyler Moore. Carrell had a close moment on the last lap when Brandon Nutter spun in turn one. Carrell got by, but Moore wasn’t so lucky and got into Brandon. That set up a green-white-checkered finish, but Carrell came through for the win. Mike Knox did a great job moving up through the field with a 14th-to-second charge and Jeff Blanton advanced from twelfth to third. Brian Harding was running second on the final lap, but suffered a flat left rear tire and dropped to fourth. Tiana Berkeley rounded out the top five after starting 15th. There were some light sprinkles at the very end of this race, so it was a close shave.

The modifieds had the first main event on Saturday for their 25-lapper, and the early leader was Moore. Carrell used the high line to get by Austin Kerrigan for second on lap number nine and passed Moore at the same place one lap later. Carrell was the class of the field once again and scored another victory. Graham Cook moved up to second on a lap 14 restart and held onto it at the end. Don Martin used a late pass on Moore to get third with Moore falling to fourth and Kerrigan getting fifth.

The WoO went 35 laps for their feature race and Joey Saldana took the lead from the pole. Sweet tried to look to the inside of Saldana as they were coming up on slower traffic, but couldn’t make the pass. Gravel entered the fray and he took second from Sweet going into turn one on lap eleven. Saldana was still leading with Gravel, Sweet, and Daryn Pittman lurking. Sweet had second place back in turns one and two with a side job with six to go, but Gravel quickly got it back. Just moments later, Saldana got into the back of Travis Rilat on the fronstretch and Gravel took the lead away in turn one. Sweet took second from Saldana, as he made the pass stick in turn four with three laps left. It looked like the race would go nonstop, but the red lights flashed on the next lap. Austen Wheatley flipped in turns three and four and collected Trey Starks, Jacob Allen, and Paul McMahan. In a different crash, Stewart launched over Saldana’s right rear tire and tumbled down the backstretch. Nobody was injured in the two wrecks. Gravel completed the sweep and won it over Sweet, Saldana, Johnson, and Schuchart.

Let’s go south to Grays Harbor Raceway for some Sunday night racing. Brian Izzi and Del Schnitzer were on the front row in the Shipwreck Beads modifieds 25-lap main event, but third-place starter Zack Simpson passed both of them out of turn two on the opening lap. Simpson was looking to win after losing the August 27 race on the final corner to Lane Zerbin. Simpson led the first seven laps until Carrell got by out of turn four to complete lap eight. The last 17 laps of this race went nonstop and Carrell went three-for-three for his Labor Day weekend. Simpson was second once again with Tom Sweatman crossing the finish line third. Beaulieu climbed from 15th to fourth after winning the B-Main with Scott Miller in fifth.

Next up was the 30-lap was the Summer Thunder Sprint Series A-Main with Cam Smith on the pole and J.J. Hickle starting alongside. Smith shot up high in turns one and two on the first lap and fell off the pace before coming back down across the track. John Stuart got the short end of the stick, as he went upside-down on the backchute. He was unhurt. Rilat moved up to the pole and he led the first lap before Hickle passed him out of turn two on the next lap. Hickle had problems himself on the seventh lap, as he spun a 360 in turns one and two. He kept going, but he caused the yellow flag and had to drop to the back of the field. Jason Solwold cashed in on Hickle’s misfortune and went on to get the W. Starks wound up second and Evan Margeson finished a strong third. 11th place starter Henry Van Dam passed Rilat for fourth on the next-to-lap in turn two. Rilat hung onto fifth, just a few car lengths ahead of Hickle.

The Outlaws and the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks were supposed to race Monday in the Grays Harbor Grudge Match presented by NAPA Auto Parts. The rain fell before the cars got onto the track and everything was canceled.

The Labor Day weekend had a damper at the end, but the sprint car and modified drivers should be commended on some fantastic racing on the other three days. I’m not sure if I’ll back at the races in the next few weeks, but I still look back on it with a smile if I do call it a year. Let’s get right to it with my thoughts...

Nine Lives: With his weekend sweep at Skagit, Gravel is up to nine victories on the WoO circuit in his first season driving the CJB Motorsports #5 car, and he just barely hangs on to second place in points. David’s previous best was five wins in 2014 when he drove Dennis Roth's #83.

Another New Track Record: Stewart got into the history books on Friday with a new track record of 10.697 seconds. Nine other drivers were down in the 10’s in qualifying. The old record was 10.718, which was set by Pittman on August 30, 2013. It took some extra time to get the track worked in due to the rain, but it was worth the wait.

Schatz Did What?!: It’s very rare to see Schatz get involved in any crash, let alone flip. After the green flag flew in Saturday’s second heat, he and Schuchart were going at it for the lead when they touched in turn two and Donny went tumbling. :shock: He collected the KSE Hard Charger Award in the main event, as he finished seventh after started 20th. The last time Schatz flipped in a WoO race was at Castrol Raceway on August 24, 2013 when he took a scary ride when he bounced off the turn four wall in warm-ups (he jumped into a backup car and won).

Problems for Paulie: McMahan had a double trouble before time trials at Skagit with rear end troubles both nights, and he didn’t register a qualifying lap. He pulled in early in Friday’s A-Main and he was credited with 18th and did better on Saturday with an 11th-place run, but his struggles in his first year aboard the Destiny Motorsports #7 continues.

Neck and Neck for Second: Schatz still has a very comfortable points lead, as he shows the way with 9,193 points. He just won two days ago at Willamette Speedway, which brings him up to 21 victories. Three drivers are going at it for the second spot in points and it’s a close one. David Gravel has it with 8,931 points, but Sweet is just one point behind him. Sweet’s teammate Pittman is right there at 8,908, so anything can happen with over a month of racing left to go.

Scelzi on the Swing: Dominic Scelzi has raced around the nation with the Outlaws this season, as well as the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions. He turned in his career-best WoO finish of fourth in the Mini Gold Cup at Silver Dollar Speedway on April 2. Dominic had been racing with the Outlaws since August 26 at Grand Forks, North Dakota’s River Cities Speedway and has five straight finishes of 15th or better. He had a reasonable weekend at Skagit with finishes of ninth on Friday and 13th on Saturday. He also had an eighth-place run at Willamette on Wednesday to give him five top ten finishes in Outlaws competition in 2016.

Looking to Clinch: With his win on Sunday, Solwold is up to five victories this year. However, it’s his first win since July 23 at Skagit and he hasn’t won on the STSS tour since the season opener at Yakima on April 1. On the plus side, Jason has been on the consistency route with the STSS as he has eight top five finishes and ten top tens in eleven races so far. He looks to win the title for the second straight year, as the STSS and the Washington Modified Tour wrap their seasons up at Yakima on September 23 and 24. Special thanks to Mike Anderson for another new shirt!

Labor Day Vacation: Nine modified racers had a full weekend, as they competed in all three nights. They were Carrell, Beaulieu, O’Connor, Moore, Don Martin, Tim Phillips, Berkeley, Harding, and Knox.

Check Out My New Rides: After his engine grenaded while leading Friday’s A-Main, O’Connor jumped into Louis Nutter, Sr.’s car (with #27 taped on it) on Saturday and finished ninth. “Sir” Lawrence was in Jon DeBenedetti’s #21J car (a #7 was duct taped over the 1J part) for Sunday at GHR, where he came home sixth. O’Connor looked to have a top five wrapped up, but Miller passed him out of turn four as they saw the white flag.

Cosmopolis vs. Shelton: Sweatman had a 28-point lead over Miller before Sunday's race, and Tom was able to add to that advantage a little bit with a third-place finish compared to a fifth for Scott. Tom is looking for his first championship in a modified and first title at GHR since 1989 when he was in the street stock class. Scott has five mod titles to his credit (2000, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2015), and is still in the thick of things to get number six.

Number for the Weekend: 20,000. Gravel and the CJB Motorsports team were looking forward to going to the bank, as Friday’s race was a $8,000-to-win event and Saturday paid $12,000 to win.

Consistency Award: Sweet. “The Big Cat” had a fourth on Friday and a second on Saturday. Schuchart also had two top five finishes at Skagit with a second and a fifth, as his impressive season stays alive with twelve top fives (compared to six for all of 2015).

Hard Luck Award: Tayler Malsam. Tayler had a strong start on Friday, as he qualified third in the 23-car field. Unfortunately, he took a couple of somersaults in turns three and four on the opening lap of heat three to end his weekend. He suffered a concussion and Kevin Rudeen’s #26 machine had some frame damage.

“Never Say Die” Award: Hickle. After spinning out early on while leading Sunday’s STSS main event, J.J. passed cars left and right to salvage a sixth-place result.

Next race: ????

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

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

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Jumping the Start: Labor Day weekend racing at Skagit and Grays Harbor 
Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends of the year if you’re planning to do some traveling. If you happen to be a racefan, this weekend’s just for you. Skagit Speedway will have two races on Friday and Saturday, then Grays Harbor Raceway has two races Sunday and Monday.

The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars and the Washington Modified Tour compete at Skagit in the Outlaw Energy Showdown presented by NAPA Auto Parts. Defending Outlaws champion Donny Schatz has won the last four races on the tour, and his win total for 2016 is up to 20. Schatz is aiming for his eighth championship and he leads the points standings by 271 markers. Brad Sweet, Daryn Pittman, and David Gravel are in a very close race for second place in points and they’re separated by just seven tallies. Joey Saldana rounds out the top five.

Kyler Moore is the points leader for the Washington Modified Tour by 48 markers over Chris Beaulieu. Lawrence O’Connor, Tiana Berkeley, and Brian Harding sit third through fifth in points.

The first night of last year’s event was rained out after time trials, but everything was a go for the next night. Shane Stewart led wire-to-wire to win the Outlaws main event, while O’Connor took the modified race.

The racing weekend is just getting started, as it continues Sunday at Grays Harbor Raceway with the Summer Thunder Sprint Series and the Shipwreck Beads modifieds.

Jason Solwold is having a very consistent season with the STSS and he’s trying to win the championship for the second straight year. He leads Colton Heath by 112 points. Justin Youngquist, J.J. Hickle, and Cam Smith are only 20 points within one another in the battle for third. The last STSS race was at Skagit on July 29 and 30 in the Bob’s Burgers & Brew Summer Nationals, where Roger Crockett swept the weekend.

Veteran racer Tom Sweatman has a street stock title to his credit at GHR, but he’s vying for his first championship in a modified. He shows the way by 28 points over five-time champion Scott Miller. Moore, Harding, and Austin Kerrigan complete the top five. Last Saturday’s mod race at GHR saw Lane Zerbin collect his first career victory, as he passed Zack Simpson on the final corner.

Monday will see the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars back in action along with the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks in the Grays Harbor Grudge Match presented by NAPA Auto Parts.

Two-time and defending street stock champion Jack Parshall has three wins this season and he holds an 81-point advantage over former champ Jason Tole. Shane Kerrigan is third in points, but right behind him are rookie driver Tyson Blood and Brenton Schnitzer.

It looked like Paul McMahan was going to win last year’s WoO race at GHR, as he led 28 of the 30 laps. However, he got trapped behind slower traffic and Schatz made the pass on the next-to-last lap to pick up his 200th career Outlaws win. Schatz has won at GHR the last three years. A. Kerrigan was the winner in the street stock feature, as the 20-lap race was called after 15 laps due to yellow flags.

Racefans will get a chance to see the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars, modifieds, and street stocks in a four-day stretch at two tracks in Washington over Labor Day weekend. It’s a very eclectic combination that will bring you to the edge of your seat.

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Hey, football fans! 
Football season is almost here and it starts tomorrow. The Seahawks’ first preseason game is tomorrow afternoon, as they take on Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. The first regular season game for the ‘Hawks is set for September 11 at CenturyLink Field against the Miami Dolphins. The ‘Hawks were 10-6 last season and they made the playoffs the last four years. This year is the seventh under head coach Pete Carroll.

Turning to college, the Huskies’ season kicks off on September 3 when they host Rutgers. The Huskies finished the 2015-16 season with a 7-6 record and they won last year’s Heart of Texas Bowl 44-31 over Southern Miss. This will be Chris Petersen’s third year as head coach.

On the other side of the mountains to my alma mater, the Cougars also start their season on September 3 with a home game against Eastern Washington. Wazzu ended last season 9-4, and they held off the Miami Hurricanes to win the Sun Bowl 20-14. Mike Leach is at the helm for the Cougs for the fifth year.

It’s time for that popular question, are you ready for some football?! The pros go at it tomorrow, while the college teams get their seasons underway in just over three weeks!

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Modified Nationals pictures are available 
Do you want some modifieds with a side of dwarf cars? You got it! My Mod Nats pics have arrived. I'll see you in September for the Outlaws!

http://s113.photobucket.com/user/Racer4 ... amp;page=1

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Time to Review: Northwest Modified Nationals/Dwarf Car Nationals thoughts 
Grays Harbor Raceway finished off the month of July with the 17th annual Shipwreck Beads Northwest Modified Nationals, and a very strong field was in attendance. The Pacific Racing Hardtop Association had a healthy bunch of drivers as well for their Dwarf Car Nationals.

Friday’s 25-lap PHRA A-Main got off to a shaky start, as Jeremiah Hester and Brian Lee spun in turn four on the opening lap. The restart went condition red, as cars were in a logjam on the frontstretch. Drivers that were involved include Hester, Lee, Kevin Benson, Chuck Jones, John Chrisman, Jake VanOrtwick, and Jim Pavel. Corey Esteban led the field on the restart with Henry Corbin, III and Brock Peters pursuing him. Jess Turner, Sr. was fourth on the third lap, but went wide in turns one and two and dropped to seventh. Josh King drove underneath Peters for third in turn two on lap number five, then used the high line to take second from Corbin at the line on the eighth lap. Ryan Martinez also used the cushion to pass Peters for fourth at the stripe on lap nine, and got third from Corbin in turns three and and four on the next go-around. Martinez had second momentarily on the 11th lap when he passed King in turn two, but King got it back at the same place on the next lap. The yellow lights flickered on lap 13, as Jones looped it in turn two. King took the lead from Esteban at the stripe on lap 15, but Esteban regained it as they completed the following lap. Esteban was back out front, but King and Martinez were only a few car lengths behind. Peters and James Brinster were fighting for fourth in the duel of the #2 cars. Two more yellow flags came out as the laps tick away. Eric Bergquist and Andy Lemmons came together in turn four on the 20th lap. Two laps later, Benson and Marty Holmason spun out in turn four. King passed Esteban for the lead on the next-to-last lap lap in turn two and held on for the win. Esteban finished second, followed by Martinez, Brinster, and Peters.

David Soulek and Nick Trenchard were on the front row in the 25-lap Race of Champions for the modifieds. Trenchard led from the onset and had a pretty comfortable lead. Collen Winebarger used the cushion to take second from Albert Gill out of turn four on lap four. Gill lost third to Lane Zerbin on lap seven on the backchute, and Zerbin also used the high side. The first yellow of the race came out on lap nine, as Tiana Berkeley went spinning in turn two. Jesse Williamson took third from Zerbin out of turn four to complete the ninth lap and that happened just before the yellow lights came on again for debris on the frontchute. Trenchard was still leading on the restart. Winebarger, Williamson, Mark Carrell, and last year’s Mod Nats champion Jeremy Richey were running second through fifth. Winebarger once again tried the high side to take the lead from Trenchard, and made it stick at the stripe on lap 14. Another yellow flag was needed with six laps to go, as Soulek spun in turn two and collected Greg Greer. Brian Poppa also slowed things down three laps later when he spun in turn two as well. The restart was no good, as cars got bunched up in turn four and Zerbin crashed into the infield tire. Trenchard kept pace with Winebarger and tried to look for a pass as they saw the white flag. Nick had the lead in turn three, but Collen crossed over and got it back in turn four to win by a hair! Williamson was third with Carrell in fourth and 19th-starting Jason Beaulieu rounding out the top five.

King was looking for the weekend sweep and started on the pole for Saturday’s PHRA 25-lap feature. Josh had the lead over Peters and Turner at the start. Esteban started the race seventh, and he made his way up to third when he passed Turner on the backstretch on the fifth lap. Turner surrendered fourth to Martinez on the following lap in turns one and two. Things went downhill for Turner, as he fell off the pace down the backstretech on lap nine. The yellow flag flew one lap later, as Jones spun in turn two. Peters had a strong restart and he took the top spot from King out of turn four to complete lap eleven. Esteban got second from King at the stripe on the next lap, and the top three cars were running very close together. Esteban reeled in Peters and made the pass for the lead in turn four on lap 14. Another caution occurred at the halfway point when Dale Knutson spun his car around in turn four. Esteban drove on the high side to pass Peters for second on the backchute on the 16th lap before the race was slowed down again one lap later. Rich Holbert was off the pace on the backstrech, as was Josh Rodgers. King wasn’t happy with second and he passed Esteban for the lead in turn four to complete lap 19. Esteban returned the favor two laps later at the flagstand, but King regained it back on the backchute on the next lap. The final caution happened with two laps left, as Lee spun in turn two. Esteban gave King a few more runs for his money, but Josh persevered for the sweep. Esteban, Martinez, Brinster, and Peters wound up second through fifth for the second straight night.

The 40-lap modified A-Main was exciting and it had countless twists and turns. It was also the test of endurance, as it took over 52 minutes to complete and the yellow flag flew eleven times. Richey was on the pole, but outside pole starter and former street stock champion Zack Simpson had the advantage and led the first nine laps. J. Beaulieu performed a slide job in turns three and four to take the lead from Simpson on lap ten. Simpson was still holding down second on the 12th lap, but he slowed down just past the flagstand to bring out a yellow. That gave second to Williamson, but Jesse had a terrible restart and lost four spots. Brad Martin found himself in second. Cars were running four-wide as they completed lap 13, and then trouble happened. Matthew Drager spun Winebarger around in turn one, collecting Chris Beaulieu and Tom Sweatman. B. Martin momentarily had the lead on lap 18 as he got by J. Beaulieu in turn four, but the pass was negated for a five-car crash behind them. Richey, Gill, Drager, C. Beaulieu, and Don Martin were the drivers involved. Williamson took the lead from J. Beaulieu in turns one and two on the 21st lap, and Jason looked to pass Jesse back. It was all for naught for Jason, as he spun himself out in turn three. Trenchard had an excellent restart, as he took second from B. Martin as they saw the green flag. Nick started 11th, and passed Williamson for the lead at the finish line on lap 22. Trenchard once again built some breathing room between himself and the rest of the field as the race continued. Carrell, Williamson, and B. Martin were exchanging positions left and right in a battle for second. There was also a three-car battle for fourth with 19th-starting John Campos, 18th place starter Craig Hanson, and Winebarger. Trenchard saw the yellow flag instead of the checkers on the last lap when D. Martin spun in turn four. A green-white-checkered finish was needed, but Trenchard had no trouble picking up his second Mod Nats title. Carrell brought it home second with B. Martin, Campos, and Hanson completing an all-Oregon top five for the second year in a row.

Chalk up yet another Modified Nationals for the state of Oregon. Their record for this race is unbelievable and they brought their "A" game once again. The dwarf car drivers should also be commended on two thrilling main events that came down to the very end. It’s time again to go over a few things during the Mod Nats weekend...

It Goes Up to Eleven: With Trenchard’s win, Oregon racers now have eleven Modified Nationals victories for the state of Oregon. When a very strong group of Oregon drivers show up, it’s very tough to hold them off. California is in a very distant second with three wins, while Washington and British Columbia only have one win each.

Points A-Plenty: An ASCS points format was utilized in the Mod Nats on Friday, as drivers raced two rounds of heat races. When the numbers were added up, Simpson kind of shocked everybody as he was on top with 231 points. Williamson won both of his heats and racked up 230 points. Eleven drivers picked up over 200 points. The 16th and final lock-in spot for the A-Main went to Scott Miller, who got it by half a point over Poppa.

Accepting More Transfers: In past Modified Nationals, four drivers transfer from Saturday’s B-Main to the A. That number was bumped up to six in this year’s event. The drivers who started 23rd and 24th in the A were the top two drivers in passing points to not earn a transfer spot from the B. Those spots went to D. Martin and Sam Carlisle, and both drivers were involved in a wreck in turn one just after the first lap of the main event was in the books. Don was able to restart, but Sam’s night was over.

Deep in the Field: The hard chargers in the Race of Champions and Saturday’s main event both came from the 19th starting spot. J. Beaulieu soared from 19th to fifth in the R.O.C., while Campos surged from 19th to fourth in Saturday’s big dance. A couple other big movers on Saturday were Hanson (18th to fifth) and Graham Cook (22nd to eighth). Trenchard passed ten cars on his way to the win, while D. Martin also went up ten spots to 13th. C. Beaulieu improved nine positions to finish sixth.

Nowhere in Sight: If you looked at the finishing order for Friday’s Race of Champions, you’ll notice there’s no local driver in the top ten. Miller was the top Washington driver in 12th place. Only one Washington racer finished in the top ten Saturday. Seven of the top ten drivers were from Oregon (surprised, anyone?) and two reside in British Columbia.

Blair’s Back: If you’re wondering who’s the lone Washington racer in the top ten on Saturday, it’s this guy. Former track champion and Mod Nats winner Blair Shoemaker came to GHR for the first time in three years. He drove Duane D’Amico’s #27B car to a 15th-place finish in Friday’s Race of Champions, and then stayed away from all of the trouble in Saturday’s marathon main event to drive it home ninth.

Star-Studded Fields: The number of modified drivers dropped slightly from last year, but the talent was definitely still there. 51 drivers signed in on Friday and 48 were there Saturday. It was more than enough to run three very stacked main events. On the flip side, the PHRA had a bigger field than '15 and they had a total of 42 racers.

King Goes for Three: Not only is King up to three wins for this season, he also has three career victories at GHR. Josh made the very long drive from Red Bluff, California worthwhile, but he had to hold off former PHRA champion Esteban in both main events. King told Andrew Kunas in Saturday’s postrace interview that he loves racing at GHR and he might come back there on August 27.

Do a Barrel Roll, Part II: The only flip of the weekend occurred in the opening lap of Friday’s dwarf car B-Main. Gary Brogan was running second when he got sideways in turns three and four and drove into a tractor tire. He flipped three times, and the scary part was when his driver’s side door flopped open as he went tumbling. Thankfully, Gary climbed out unhurt.

Number for the Weekend: 0.026...the margin of victory between Winebarger and Trenchard in Friday’s Race of Champions. GHR fans have seen a lot of races that have gone right down to the wire this season, and they saw yet another one. Both dwarf main events were also very close, as King won over Esteban by 0.205 seconds Friday and 0.241 seconds Saturday.

Consistency Award: Carrell (mods) and Esteban (dwarfs). Mark was fourth in Friday’s Race of Champions and second in Saturday’s A-Main. His previous best finish in the Mod Nats was fifth last year. Cory was in contention to win both main events and he battled with King long and hard, but came up a little bit short in both cases.

Hard Luck Award: Dan Smith. The last time Dan was at the Mod Nats was in 2002, but his motor expired in Friday’s hot laps and that was all she wrote.

Next race: The Labor Day four-race weekend with stops at Skagit Speedway and Grays Harbor Raceway. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Cars and the Washington Modified Tour race at Skagit on September 2 and 3 in the Monster Meltdown. For GHR, the Summer Thunder Sprint Series and the Shipwreck Beads modifieds compete on the 4th. The WoO come down for the 5th with the Cut Rate Auto Parts street stocks. The winners in last year’s races at Skagit were Shane Stewart (WoO) and Lawrence O’Connor (modifieds). Donny Schatz (WoO) and Austin Kerrigan (street stocks) captured their respective main events at GHR one year ago.

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

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


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Jumping the Start: 17th Annual Shipwreck Beads Northwest Modified Nationals/Dwarf Car Nationals 
Grays Harbor Raceway is ending the month of July with the 17th annual Shipwreck Beads Northwest Modified Nationals, as well as the Dwarf Car Nationals Friday and Saturday.

The format for the Modified Nationals is revamped. Friday will have hot laps (with no qualifying), two rounds of heat races, and a Race of Champions. An ASCS points system is used for the heats and those point totals will determine the lineups for Saturday’s main events. The night finishes off with the Race of Champions where track champions, main event winners, and Mod Nats winners go at it for 25 laps. The modified racers will have just hot laps and main events on Saturday. The A-Main goes 40 laps in distance and it’s a $2,500-to-win race.

The Pacific Hardtop Racing Association (PHRA) is returning to GHR for its Dwarf Car Nationals. They’ll have warm-ups, heats, and mains for both nights.

In last year’s race, the modifieds and dwarf cars had all of their heat races completed for the first night before the rain came down. The mains were made up the next evening, and fans saw some of the best racing of the year. It looked like Nick Trenchard was going to win the first modified main event, but he was slowed down by slower traffic. That allowed Mark Carrell to sneak by on the last lap and he won by half a car length over Trenchard. Jeremy Richey captured the second mod main over Collen Winebarger, Trenchard, Jeremy Shank, and Carrell. Oregon racers swept the top five, and also finished in eight of the top ten spots. They’re no doubt the drivers to beat in the Modified Nationals, as they have won ten times.

Eric Bergquist had to come through the B-Main to transfer to the make-up PHRA main event, but he had no problem coming through the pack from the 20th starting spot. He took the lead from Ryan Martinez just before the white flag and scored the victory. The second dwarf feature was claimed by teenager Camden Robustelli. Josh King came home second, followed by Leo Ward, Kalvin Morton, and Martinez. Morton won the last PHRA race at Grays Harbor Raceway on June 14.

The Northwest Modified Nationals and the Dwarf Car Nationals are always a fan favorite at GHR. Last year had almost 60 modifieds and 40 dwarf cars for the two nights, so look for another full field for both classes in this year’s contest.

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