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Cody Hoopes of Redmond, WA. capitalized on a front row starting spot and lead the Buzz Inn Steakhouse Stinger Nationals to a wire to wire victory in the 50 lap main event. Meanwhile, Chad Fitzpatrick out muscled champ Roger Drake to earn the top spot by a fender for the Les Schwab Street stocks in what was surely the best race of the year so far.
Hoopes qualified number two, earning the front row starting spot in the Nationals and never looked back as he led every lap. It wasn’t easy though as Bryce Kolar making his first Stinger 8 start of the year gave virtually all of the leaders fits as he refused to yield his Honda at the intersection for any and all conditions, breaking up the pack of racers dicing for position on a regular basis. Kolar brought the crowd to their feet time after time with his heroics, sending the leaders scrambling for a clean pass through the cross roads. The top ten settled in to position by lap thirty and spent the remainder of the race threading the needle. Nicole Pollard trailed Hooped the entire distance, closing to within striking distance in the closing laps, but had to yield one last time inside of 5 to go and the race was settled. Jessica Gray, Matt Somerville and Lance O’Grain rounded out the top five.
Roger Drake sailed into the lead of the Street Stock main from his second row starting spot to lead the first lap, the beneficiary of an attempted jump by front row starter Chuck Richard. When Richard attempted to get the jump, pole sitter Kenny Erickson didn’t bite, and Rickard ended up costing himself five positions by the end of the first lap. Fitzpatrick settled into second by lap 12. A lap 25 caution bunched the field together, giving Fitzpatrick a shot. As Drake brought the field down for the restart, Roger went first, but hazed his tires and Fitzptrick capitalized, leading the field into turn 1. Out of four for the White flag, Fitz slid up a groove allowing Drake a look inside. Drake lead down the back stretch, and Fitzpatrick inched ahead going to three. Virtually even through the final turn, Fitzpatrick had enough momentum on the outside to nose ahead of Drake by half a fender for the finish and claim the win. Darrell Lutovsky claimed the final podium spot in his first run of the year at Evergreen.
Chris Curtis took home the 30 lap Outlaw Figure 8 main, while Scott Hunt claimed the Hornet main event on the 3/8 oval and Trenton Moriarity led every lap of the Mini Stock main event to remain undefeated in his campaign to defend his championship rookie season.
Saturday night is Driver Reunion night at the speedway so there will be lots of special activities along with the Super Late Model 75 and Outlaw Compact open competition event with well over 40 entries expected. Summer Showdown is on the docket for the end of June as the summer heats up at the historic facility. You can get tickets for all these events by visiting www.EvergreenSpeedway.com.
The unstoppable Kelly Mann Express steam rolled the competition at the fifth running of the Mark Galloway Memorial Shootout. Mann took command on lap 89 of the 150 lap affair and was never seriously challenged as he cruised to a two second victory and his fourth win in a row. Kelly is undefeated in the opening three rounds at South Sound Speedway and is on a serious roll heading toward Summer Showdown and an excellent shot at the healthy $25,000 first place bounty.
The weekend started with practice on Friday night for the combined NASCAR Whelen All American Series and Tri Track Super Late Model event. The monster 5/8 mile claimed its first two victims before the night was over with Jay Sauls of Puyallup and Yakima’s Randy Marshall Jr. suffering unrepairable mechanical failures and heading home early. Saturday, Shane Harding of Vancouver BC blistered qualifying with a 22.204 and drew a 4 for the minimum invert putting Spokane’s Blake Williams on the pole for the start. Moxee, WA’s Mike Longton got the initial jump from his outside front row starting position and laid down some scorching times of his own and stretched out to a 6 car length lead. The field slowed at lap 24 for the first caution of the night, the result of Tyler Baker’s engine failure. The restart brought the first serious altercation when Marysville’s Andy Sole slowed out of two when a tire went down. The field piled up behind him and several contenders were eliminated in the melee including Gary Lewis, Ron Eaton, Daniel Moore and Parker Stephens.
Longton repeatedly chose to restart from the outside and continued his commanding pace to lead the first 48 circuits. Longton may have used up all he had however as Blake Williams closed the gap and took over just shy of lap 49 and Longton fell from the lead lap before the lap 100 break. Williams continued uninterrupted for the next 35 laps while Mann worked his way through the field from his fourth row starting spot until John Boyatt had a catastrophic failure in the drive train, sending the transmission up through the floor and Boyatt hard into the turn one wall driver’s side first. The red flag was immediate so EMS crews could get to the scene quickly. Fortunately Boyatt was uninjured, but the car not so much. The restart allowed Mann to close the gap and he disposed of Williams a few laps later to lead the final 10 laps before the break for fuel and a pair of tires.
Mann once again chose the inside for the restart and got the jump, but was slowed a few moments later when Luke Selliken and Jeff Knight got together in Turn 1. Mann continued to dominate through a few more restarts, all for broken components suffering their demise from the rough ride modern set ups provide. First time visitor Mitch Kleyn as well as Longton, after having fought his way back on to the lead lap, suffered suspension failures in the closing laps while running in the top 10. The final green flag flew on lap 142 and Mann cruised to his first major win as Williams and Mike Holden rounded out the podium. K&N Pro Series West Rookie contender Gracin Raz crossed fourth and young Selliken completed the top 5 after starting dead last in his first attempt on the 5/8 oval, the result of missing qualifying while making repairs.
Roger Drake, John Grosvenor and Garrett Archer won the preliminary mains in Street Stocks, FSCRA Super 4’s and Legends respectively. Archer has been tearing up the Legends events as he keeps his feet wet, waiting for a return to Super Late Model racing, possibly in the Summer Showdown at the end of June.
Saturday night is Driver Reunion night at the speedway so there will be lots of special activities along with the Super Late Model 75 and Outlaw Compact open competition event with well over 40 entries expected. Summer Showdown is on the docket for the end of June as the summer heats up at the historic facility. You can get tickets for all these events by visiting www.EvergreenSpeedway.com
Late Pit Stop Brings Fans to their Feet
Cody Hoopes of Redmond, WA. capitalized on a lucky starting draw for the Interstate Batteries March Madness enduro at Evergreen Speedway and led every lap to claim his first 3 Hour Enduro victory, but not before the drama of a late race pit stop nearly cost him the win. Mark Hubbard closed to within five car lengths, but didn’t have quite enough at the end to exploit Hoopes’ stop for fuel in the closing minutes of the race. A jubilant Chris Bannon finished third while Cullen Hubbard and Andy Reece rounded out the top five.
Hoopes pulled number one in the pre-race draw for starting position and never looked back as he led every lap. By the ten minute mark the top five had settled in at the front for a long afternoon of racing. Pit stops jumbled the field occasionally, but the leaders remained the same with only Reece falling as far back as 7th after pitting. The racing was exciting as the leaders stayed bumper to bumper through heavy traffic for most of the first half of the grind. As yellows flew and pit stops came into play, Hoopes remained on the point as Cullen Hubbard pitted first, staying on the lead lap. Mark Hubbard pitted a lap later and lost a lap in doing so. Later a flat tire cost Cullen a shot at the win and Mark paced himself, only pushing to get past the leader and back on the lead lap as the two hour mark came and went.
With time winding down everyone wondered if young Hoopes could go the distance on a single tank of fuel. All questions were answered as the race clicked past the five minutes to go mark and Hoopes car sputtered down the back stretch. He dashed into the pits and his crew went to work, stopping momentarily for only a splash of fuel. Hoopes charged down pit road and back into action a mere 5 car lengths ahead of M. Hubbard of Bothell. With a scant two to go, Hubbard desperately tried to close the distance, thrashing his Honda Prelude around every turn trying to reel in Hoopes, but had to settle for second in the end. Mark later admitted he had nothing for Cody. He said, “I should have pushed harder after getting by him [Hoopes] to get my lap back. I couldn’t believe it when he came out of the pits right in front of me!”
When reminded of the $500.00 first prize in victory lane, Hoopes showed the concentration and drive of a champion, saying, “I completely forgot about that. That’s awesome! I was just going for the win.” Next up at Evergreen is an open Drift event March 14th and then the NASCAR season officially kicks off April 4. Get all the details at www.EvergreenSpeedway.com.