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Keeping Pace

Mon., July 13, 2009, 1 p.m.


 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

The 19th running of the prestigous Montana 200 gets underway on Thursday and several Inland Empire drivers including David Garber, Shelby Thompson, Kevin Richards and Braeden Havens have already pre-entered the event.

Courtesy: Montana Raceway Park Media Relations

KALISPELL, Mont. (July 13, 2009)-Drivers with championships at the local and regional level, a two-time and defending champion in the hunt for three in a row, several former Montana 200 race winners, the first female driver to attempt the 19th Annual Coors Light Montana 200, Montana Raceway Park’s late model division points leader and a pair of 16 year-olds trying to become the youngest drivers to start the prestigious race highlight an impressive list of competitors pre-entered for this weekend’s race.


The list is led by two-time and defending Montana 200 champion, Gary Lewis, who has multiple victories on the quarter-mile Montana Raceway Park surface­-a track the Snohomish, Wash. driver considers a second home. Lewis has two NASCAR Northwest Elite Series championships, an ARCA West title and several late model divisional crowns at his hometrack Evergreen Speedway, but it’s another 200 title that drives the Sign Factory USA/Nutter Racing Engines Chevrolet team in their attempt to add to an already impressive resume.


“The Coors Light Montana 200 is the most prestigious event in the Northwest if not the entire West Coast and to have two wins in the last two tries is big but getting three in a row would be one of the biggest accomplishments in my career,” Lewis said. “Our Sign Factory USA/Nutter Racing Engines Chevrolet Impala is ready to go and we can’t wait to get started this weekend.”


Lewis has collected over $28,000 in prize money at MRP since 2007 and has the chance to add another $12,000 winner’s check should he come home with the 19th Annual Coors Light Montana 200 victory.


For the first time in the race’s history a female late model driver has entered the Montana 200.


Amanda MacDonald, who hails from Ephrata, Wash., is a Rookie of the Year challenger behind the wheel of her Younger’s Welding Chevrolet on the ASA Northwest Late Model Tour. MacDonald holds down third place in the rookie driver standings and is attempting only her second super late model race in the state of Montana. MacDonald is an education major at Central Washington University and in 2008 became the first female driver to win a late model event at Stateline Speedway located in Post Falls, Idaho.


MacDonald is the ASA NWLMT eighth place driver in the chase for the 2009 championship while fellow Rookie of the Year challenger, Joey Tanner, is fifth in the championship standings. Tanner has entered the Montana 200 in past champion BJ Tidrick’s TQT Transmission’s Ford Fusion.


ASA NWLMT series points leader, Brent Harris and his Ambitions Chevrolet team are also entered in the Montana 200 with four of the top-5 drivers in the championship hunt (Harris, Lewis, Mike Longton and Tanner) taking part in this weekend’s event.


In addition to Lewis, former champions entered this weekend include Mark Owens in the Budweiser Chevrolet, Tim Elliott (Elliott Racing Chevrolet) and Cory Wolfe in the McManus Transport Ford Fusion.


Alex Lessor, who leads the MRP late model points standings, heads into this year’s Montana 200 with perhaps his best opportunity for a top finishing position. The driver of the Army-Navy Chevrolet has two wins on the quarter-mile during the 2009 season including the NAPA 100 on June 13 and leads a three-car team out of former 200 champion Bob Schweigert’s racing stable. Other Schweigert team drivers include Wrango West and Troy Schweigert.


For a pair of 16 year old drivers, Braeden Havens and Forrest Bauer, this weekend may be one of firsts as each will attempt to become the youngest driver to ever start the Montana 200. At just 17 years of age in 2008, Wrango West currently holds the distinction of youngest driver to qualify for the race.


Havens and Bauer have experience in 2009 that may bode well in their efforts to make the 24-car field. Bauer and his Lifting Technologies Ford Fusion team leads Montana Raceway Park’s late model division Rookie of the Year chase and sits ninth overall in the championship points standings while Havens’ in the Western Rail Inc. Chevrolet leads Spokane County Raceway’s late model Rookie of the Year standings and is seventh in the driver’s points chase for the half-mile’s 2009 championship.


New for the 19th Annual Coors Light Montana 200 will be the use of the ‘cone rule’ Flathead Valley style. Under a yellow flag all lead lap cars will have a choice on the front stretch to take the high groove or the low line on the restart with all lapped cars starting behind the leaders. A ‘Lucky Dog’ will be awarded to the first car one lap down and that driver will restart at the tail end of the lead lap cars. The Lucky Dog driver is not eligible to join in the cone rule restart upon taking the initial green flag after returning to the lead lap.


With 10 laps to go restarts will be single file with the lead lap cars moved to the front of the running order and the continuation of the ‘Lucky Dog’ rule through the end of the event.


The 19th Annual Coors Light Montana 200 will be broadcast live Saturday, July 18 on 106.3 FM KDBR The Bear beginning at 8:45 p.m. MST. A live webcast complete with audio and video will also be available for $3 at in conjunction with the radio broadcast.


Tickets sales are underway on the track’s website and through Montana Raceway Park’s main offices. To learn more about the 19th Annual Coors Light Montana 200 log onto or call (406) 257-RACE (7223).



0 Brent Harris
1 Agni Howell
3 Shelby Thompson
7 Mark Sundberg
09 Clint Habart
11 John Nesmith
12 Dan Obrist
14 Kevin Richards
15 Forrest Bauer
20 Jay Sauls
20 Howard Ford
21 Jared Vorse
25 Kirk Hennefer
27 Tim Elliott
29 Clayton Richert
31 Jason Fraser
36 Wrango West
37 Mike Longton
41 Junior Roddy
44 Mark Owens
51 Erick Hargraves
53 Alex Lessor
54 Mike Obrist
55 Billy Salmonsen
69 Brandon Riehl
72 Joey Tanner
73 Gary Lewis
75 Troy Schweigert
76 Amanda McDonald
77 Bodie Morton
83 Braeden Havens

88 Cory Wolfe

89 Chuck Dills
93 Dave Garber
99 Bill Royce
99 Shane Mitchell

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.