Sprints Shoot It Out in Montana
It was a very busy week for Electric City Speedway. Hosting two of the three Montana races for the NSA Sprint Shootout the speedway held events on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 and Saturday, August 20, 2011. The Not So Pure Stocks and WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds ran in the middle of the week leaving the WISSOTA Street Stocks and WISSOTA Modifieds to run on the weekend.
The shootout consisted of drivers from Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Canada. The activities didn’t end at the track as the sprints had Thursday off and ran at Gallatin Speedway in Belgrade, Montana on Friday night. The North American Sprint Tour arrived on Wednesday after previously running three nights of the shootout in Yreka, California; Medford, Oregon and Cottage Grove, Oregon. On their off day of Thursday, August 18, 2011 some of the out of town drivers took the opportunity to work on their cars for the final two nights, see some old friends, and even attend a BBQ hosted by the Cripple Creek Casino/Longhorn Lounge in Great Falls.
With packed stands on Wednesday night the young guns of the Not So Pure Stock class treated fans to some great racing. Stephan Foley had a spin just after the start in turn four bringing out the first caution of the night. Matt O’Connell and JJ Johnson both had spins in the heat, but were able to keep going. However, Johnson suffered left front damage. In the feature, Adam Evalt lost the hood of his car just after the start to bring out a caution. Starting in the fifth position Kory Wermling picked his way through the field and by the third lap was in a position to take the lead when Matt O’Connell lost a tire in turn two. O’Connell was able to get his car around the track and into the pits without drawing a caution. Wermling never looked back. As laps wound down he gained a sizeable lead. Cody Ryan and Bill Handel fought a good clean race for second place. The lapped car of Larry Gonzales had Handel going high and Ryan low. Handle slipped back to third. Wermling had half the field lapped before the white flag. With the lapped car of JJ Johnson and a straight stretch between them, Kory claimed his eighth victory of the season.
During the first of three Midwest Modified heats, Sean McBee jumped to the lead. As McBee was leading, Vernon Hill was closing in on him. After putting Marty Harvie a lap down, McBee had a little cushion for a few laps while Hill worked his way around Harvie. Hill finally managed to get around Harvie and was closing the distance on the leader. McBee came out of turn two a little high and got into the marbles. McBee’s car shot to the backstretch in front of the field. With little time to react, Harvie clipped the back of McBee’s car when it ricocheted off the wall. Both McBee and Harvie were out of the race. Hill finished the heat ahead of the remaining field. Ron Sasek dominated the caution-free second heat. Paul Leach put the distance on the field in the third heat. Tim McCune had to pull off the track with mechanical a mechanical failure that left fluid on the top groove.
During the feature, Chris Hill grabbed the lead at the start and had put some distance on Joey Price when Kelly Blixt’s car caught fire bringing out a red flag. After the restart Price was able to keep to the back of Chris and make a pass for the lead within a few short laps. David McCune came to a stop in turn two. The caution flew. After a few more green flag laps Chris Hill got sideways in turn four hitting Paul Leach in the right rear. Though it appeared the drivers were able to continue Leach’s night came to an abrupt halt less than half a lap later. A broken birdcage had Leach losing a drive line at the entry of turn one. Chris Hill attempted to stop but to no avail. Leach hit the infield tires. Due to the initial damage being caused by Hill’s sideways actions in turn fours officials put him to the back for causing the caution. Chris was disqualified from the race for poor sportsmanship. Joey Price received his second victory in as many weeks.
As the sprints took to the track for their hot laps fans were greeted with a pleasant change in the number of the only Great Falls based car, owned by Nubby and Richie Peterson. In honor of long time friend and retired driver Gary Wagner the Petersons changed the number on the wing of their car to 130. Stephen Allard of Sacramento, California was in the driver’s seat. After having four major surgeries in the past year and a current battle with cancer, benefit to help with medical expenses was held for Wagner on Saturday afternoon as well. Wagner, who is one of the pioneers of sprint car racing in Montana, was in attendance on both nights.
After running timed qualifying laps and the running of the non sprint class heat races, the time arrived for the sprint cars to run their heats. A caution came out early in the first heat as Shane Ainscough spun in the entry of turn three. Jerry Brown Jr. pulled out of the race early and Ainscough had come to a stop in turn four. This caution tightened up the field eliminating Joe Ramaker’s large lead over second place Jason Solwold. Ramaker jumped out on the restart and captured the checkers. The second heat head David Hoiness in the early lead. Working his way around Mike Monahan, Allard began closing the distance on Hoiness, but had to settle for second in the heat race. The final heat race went all green flag laps with Jeremy McCune taking the victory.
A trophy dash set by a pill draw had Allard starting on the pole. The dash would set the first six starting positions for the feature. Allard was victorious and would start on the pole for the feature. Damon McCune brought out the first caution of the feature when his car spun to a stop at the entry to turn three. With one lap complete Allard led the field down to the restart. Ainscough spun in turn four with five laps complete grouping the field up yet once again. Jason Solwold made a bid for the lead on the backstretch just after the green flew again, but Allard was too strong and began putting lengths between them. While battling for position, David Hoiness and Jeremy McCune got together coming out of turn four. McCune’s car ended up flipped over just in front of the grandstands. Track officials quickly had McCune right side up and reported the driver was okay. Hoiness suffered damage and was unable to continue the event as well. Getting a few more laps in Allard, made his way through a couple of lapped cars when Damon McCune spun in the middle of three and four. The fifth caution flag flew when TJ Hartman suffered some heavy front end damage and was stopped on the track just out of two. As they were quickly ticking off the final laps, Solwold closed the distance between him and Allard. However, it was all Allard all the way.
Back in victory lane fans were treated to a special guest as Wagner was able to watch the event and see the car that was numbered in his honor victorious over the rest of the class. Wagner made his way to the front stretch and accepted the trophy with Allard. A very special night was had by all.
As Saturday rolled around many of the drivers and fans attended the benefit for Wagner. There is nothing like good food and great friends to put people in the racing mood. The final night of the NSA Shootout held standing room only in the grandstands and lots of racing action on the dirt.
The WISSOTA Street Stocks started the evening with their heats. Paul Lease maneuvered around Mike Anderson and captured the first heat. Beau Brown took heat two. Kenneth Hunter landed in the tires in turn two bringing out the first caution in the feature. Tom Miesmer had to pit for damage due to an incident with Michael Price. Nick Hunter brought out a caution with a spin in turn two. Miesmer was able to rejoin the field after repairs. Beau Brown got sideways on the front stretch in front of the field. After getting pin balled by the remaining drivers he came to a stop just in front of the flag stand. Marvin Gonzales lost the lead to Mike Anderson on the restart. Behind him the “Deer Lodge Street Gang” battled for second place. Brown cleared the other two drivers and was on Anderson’s bumper as the white flag flew. Brown and Lease battled for second as Mike Anderson was only the second driver to shut down the Deer Lodge guys this season.
The WISSOTA Modifieds got off to a rough start as Mark Fowler spun in turn two on the start of the first heat. Maurice Myre, Mark Wermling and Gary Hill battled for a few laps three wide for the lead. Hill got the advantage while Wermling and Myre battled, but a bobble in turn two on the final lap allowed Myre and Wermling to catch back up. As they were coming through turns three and four, Myre hit Hill sending him up the track and into the wall. Though Mark Wermling crossed the checkered flag first, track officials scored the field back a lap giving Hill the win. Chad Johnson captured heat two.
In the feature tight quarters made for getting through treacherous turn two difficult. Maurice Myre gets loose and turned around. Drivers stack up as they were slowing down. Mark Fowler goes around on his own on the back stretch bringing out caution number two. Chad Johnson and Gary Hill raced for the lead after the restart. Johnson was successful in getting the lead while Hill slipped back to fourth place. After a few laps Johnson then had to contend with Vernon Hill for the top spot. Gary spins on the back stretch for a caution. Joey Price managed to stick to Vernon’s side for second. After a few laps, Price was successful in taking the position. A few laps later as they were entering turn three Vernon clips Price with his right front sending Joey spinning through the turn. Vernon was disqualified for rough driving. Maurice Myre gets sideways down the back straight away after the restart. With a few laps remaining, Joey manages to get by Johnson as he checked up to get through turns three and four. Getting sideways exiting the final corner, Price hits Johnson and was unable to correct it, giving Johnson the opportunity to win the event.
During the two lap qualifying Roger Crockett broke Phil Dietz’ track record for the fastest time.
Ivan Worden led most of the first heat race, but Stephen Allard got by him with two laps to go. During heat two Josh Ostermiller spun to a stop outside of turn two bringing out the caution. Jeremy McCune held off Kelly Miller in the final laps. Damon McCune goes around in turn two on the start. Trever Kirkland clips him and has to go to pits for some damage repair. Kirkalnd gets back out. Restart had to be restarted as flagman didn’t like the start.
Kelly Miller draws the pole for the dash with Joe Ramaker starting on the outside. With a final lap pass Jason Solwold finished the dash ahead of Ramaker.
After the final four wide parade lap of the shootout Jason Solwold led the field of 21 to the green flag. Clearing Ramaker, Solwold jumps to the high side and in turns one and two Ramaker makes a dive to the bottom and blows by Solwold. Within a few laps the leaders came up on the slower car of Damon McCune and put him a lap down. As McCune was going around turn two, Trever Kirkland makes contact and McCune comes to a stop on the track. For laps Ramaker led with Solwold closely behind. Working through lapped traffic until a group of slower cars allowed Trever Kirkland to catch Solwold. Just after Ramaker put the 77 of Russ Yeager down a lap, Kirkland used it to his advantage hugging the bottom groove. Solwold had to check up behind Yeager giving Kirkland his chance to take second place. With three laps to go Yeager flips in the bottom of turn one bringing out the red flag. Joe Ramaker had the cushion of Mike Monahan between first and second place Joe Ramaker was unstoppable. Leading all of the laps in front of his hometown fans on his favorite track, Joe Ramaker became the sixth and final feature winner in the 6 night NSA Shootout.
The sprints will be returning to Electric City Speedway Labor Day Weekend in a make-up event from earlier in the season. Next week: Not So Pure Stocks, Street Stocks, Midwest Modifieds, and Super Stocks.
08-17-2011 @ Electric City Speedway
Not So Pure Stock
Heat – Cody Ryan, Kory Wermling, Patrick Harvie, Matt O’Connell, Bill Handel, Larry Gonzales, Shannon Cote, Stephan Foley, JJ Johnson, Adam Evalt (DNF)
Feature – Wermling, Ryan, Handel, Harvie, Foley, Johnson, Gonzales, Cote, Evalt, O’Connell (DNF)
WISSOTA Midwest Modified
Heat #1 – Vernon Hill, Joey Price, Jeramy Myers, Michael Shure, Marty Harvie (DNF), Sean McBee (DNF)
Heat #2 – Ron Sasek, Kelly Blixt, Chris Hill, Jerry Sangrey Jr., Jake Tacke, Joey Ray
Heat #3 – Paul Leach, Zach Olson, Jonathan Scarber, David McCune, Tim McCune
Feature – Price, V. Hill, Myers, McBee, Tacke, Scarber, D. McCune, Shure, Olson, Leach (DNF), Ray (DNF), Sangrey Jr. (DNF), Sasek (DNF), Blixt (DNF), T. McCune (DNS), Harvie (DNS), C. Hill (DQ)
Heat #1 – Joe Ramaker, Jason Solwold, Trever Kirkland, Joe Perry, Shane Ainscough, Jerry Brown Jr., Bob Peterson
Heat #2 – David Hoiness, Stephen Allard, Mike Monahan, TJ Hartman, Kelly Miller, Damon McCune
Heat #3 – Jeremy McCune, Craig Smith, Phil Dietz, Ivan Worden, Chip Roe, Loren Rogers
Dash – Allard, Solwold, Miller, Smith, Dietz, Ramaker
Feature – Allard, Solwold, Miller, Ramaker, Smith, Dietz, Kirkland, Perry, Monahan, Roe, Worden, Hartman, Rogers, Brown Jr., D. McCune, J. McCune, Hoiness, Ainscough, Peterson
08-20-2011 @ Electric City Speedway
WISSOTA Street Stocks
Heat #1 – Paul Lease, Mike Anderson, Ron Mattern, Maurice Myre, Michael Price
Heat #2 – Beau Brown, Tom Miesmer, Nick Hunter, Marvin Gonzales, Kenneth Hunter (DNS)
Feature – Anderson, Brown, Lease, Gonzales, Mattern, Myre, Miesmer, Price, N. Hunter (DNF), K. Hunter (DNF)
Heat #1 – Mark Wermling, Gary Hill, Joey Price, Maurice Myre, Mark Fowler II, Pat Wallace, Dana Lerum
Heat #2 – Chad Johnson, Vernon Hill, Paul Donnelly, David Azure, David McCune, Tommy Bush, Paul Leach (DNF)
Feature – Johnson, Donnelly, Azure, G. Hill, Bush, McCune, Price, Leach (DNF), Myre (DNF), Fowler II (DNF), Lerum (DNF), Wermling (DNF), Wallace (DNF), V. Hill (DQ)
Heat #1 – Stephen Allard, Ivan Worden, Joe Ramaker, Roger Crockett, Russ Yeager, Mike Monahan, Jerry Brown Jr., Shane Ainscough
Heat #2 – Jeremy McCune, Kelly Miller, David Hoiness, Stuart Selby, Chip Roe, Josh Ostermiller, Loren Rogers.
Heat #3 – Jason Solwold, Jesse Dakus, Colin Baker, Trever Kirkland, Phil Dietz, Damon McCune, Wheeler Boys (DNS)
Dash – Jason Solwold, Joe Ramaker, Kelly Miller, Phil Dietz, Roger Crockett, David Hoiness
Feature – Ramaker, Kirkland, Solwold, Crockett, Hoiness, Dietz, Allard, Dakus, Ostermiller, Miller, J. McCune, Worden, Monahan, Brown Jr., Roe, Selby, Ainscough, Rogers, Yeager, Baker, D. McCune, Wheeler Boys (DNS)