Hein Wins Sprint Car SpeedFest 2014
by BZ ZELLER
MONROE, WASH., — Momentum and Matt Hein are meshing. Fresh off his hometown win in Roseburg, Hein dominated the NSRA Speedfest Main Saturday night at Evergreen Speedway.
Hein began the program as the quick qualifier with a 19.191 lap turned in on the longest (5/8 mile) track on the tour. Later he went from back to front to win his respective Heat. And, after a pill draw placed him on the inside of Row 2 in the starting grid of the 30-Lap feature, he darted to the front on Lap 4 and led by more than a quarter mile during most of the race.
“We were definitely quick tonight,” Hein said. “Our car was super fast. The crew did a great job of giving me a fast car. It was a lot of fun out there.”
Johnny Giesler, Meridian, Idaho, started second in the Main, led the first four circuits and finished runner-up to Hein. Ryan Burdett, West Jordan, Utah, had the Speedfest pole and finished third ahead of Beck and Ron Larson respectively.
While Hein’s fortunes flourished, other top entrants experienced heartaches.
Season points leader Sierra Jackson, Middleton, Idaho, had mechanical issues following the practice sessions, in which her 25J was the fastest on the oval. Jackson was only able to record one lap time of qualifying and then struggled with the car after every subsequent Main green flag.
“We had a nozzle break during qualifying and blew a spark plug during the Heat,” Jackson said. “Then during the Main the car was just crap.”
Jackson, the former tour champion, entered Monroe with the season points lead, but now trails Hein by nine points as the tour heads to Canada in two weeks. She finished ninth in the Main, but did win her Heat.
The nationally ranked Jackson wasn’t the only victim of mechanical failure Saturday. During a practice session, reigning NSRA champ, Andy Alberding blew the motor in the 76 car, ending his bid to compete at one of his favorite tracks before it started.
“We won’t know until we take it apart what exactly broke,” Alberding said. It could be a rod, but regardless, whatever broke was supposed to. We were unsure about racing in Canada, now it looks like we really might not make it.”
There were 14 entrants at Monroe, with only eight running in the Main when Hein captured the checkered flag. Monroe’s own John Tharp and Jake Mann both experienced engine issues as did Greg Middendorf, Snohomish. Richie Larson, Prince George, BC. also didn’t start the Main.
Matt Mansell, Victoria, British Columbia, drew the only yellow flags of the race. He spun his No. 14 car on Lap 11 and then tagged the rear of Robert Beck, Redmond, on the backshoot of Lap 26 and sent himself into a night-ending spin.
Giesler ranks third in points ahead of Burdett who leapfrogged Alberding in the standings. Bryan Warf, who was in the top five, didn’t compete at Monroe.
Main: 1. Matt Hein; 2. Johnny Giesler; 3. Ryan Burdett, 4. Robert Beck; 5. Ron Larson; 6. Billy Kennelly, 7. Todd Coleman; 8. Sierra Jackson; 9. Greg Middendorf; 10. Matt Mansell; 11. Jake Mann.
Heat 1: Jackson; Kennelly, Ron Larson; Giesler; Mann; Richie Larson
Heat 2: Hein; Coleman; Mansell; Beck; Middendorf; Burdett; Tharp