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Keeping Pace

Fri., July 31, 2009, 6 a.m.

Lewis puts major focus on Idaho 200 defense

Gary Lewis, one of the most successful late model drivers on the west coast, won his second consecutive Idaho 200 trophy. The Spokesman Review (Brian Plonka The Spokesman Review / The Spokesman-Review)
Gary Lewis, one of the most successful late model drivers on the west coast, won his second consecutive Idaho 200 trophy. The Spokesman Review (Brian Plonka The Spokesman Review / The Spokesman-Review)

Defending Idaho 200 champion, Gary Lewis, has won two straight 200's at Stateline Speedway, three consecutive Montana 200's and is looking do add a third Idaho crown this weekend in the 10th Annual running of the quarter-mile facilities premier event.

Doug Pace

The Spokesman-Review

Stateline Speedway’s 10th annual Idaho 200 kicks off tonight and runs through Sunday afternoon to wrap up the region’s big-money late model races. The event draws some of the top driving talent on the West Coast to the Inland Empire and gives local drivers a chance to test their skills against the likes of Gary Lewis, Mike Zamora, Jared Vorse, John Dillon and Jeff Jefferson for a first-place prize of $4,500.

Three races make up the format for the Idaho 200 – the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association runs a 100-lap feature tonight; a 100-lap Carbon X Rocky Mountain Challenge Series main event Saturday; and the 200-lap finale Sunday.

Lewis is the defending champion of the Idaho 200 and has won two straight races at the Post Falls facility’s annual event. Coupled with three consecutive Montana 200s, the three-time late model touring champion is on pace to go down as one of the best big-money late model drivers the Northwest has produced.

The Snohomish, Wash., driver has an impressive record in the Montana 200 – three starts with three straight $12,000 victories; a $7,500 win at Yakima Speedway’s Fall Classic (2007); two straight $5,000 paydays at Pacific Raceway’s road course; and last year won the inaugural Mission Valley Speedway Big Sky 150 that pays $10,000 to the winner.

Standing in Lewis’ way will be familiar foes in former Idaho 200 champions Jefferson and Kevin Richards along with two-time INSSA champion David Garber.

Lewis said this weekend’s race will be difficult to win.

“Our biggest obstacle is the other 25 or more teams that are also planning to win this race on Sunday,” he said. “This SEFNCO Communications Impala usually runs very well at Stateline, so we’re very excited for this weekend’s race.”

Lewis will not hesitate to pull out all the stops to make it three straight Idaho titles.

“This race is so important to our team that my shock guy, Mike Leary of Leary Racing Products, which is based in Colorado, is flying in to help us and make sure we’re set to go for another victory.”

Dillon, the RMCS points leader, understands the importance of this weekend’s racing.

Holding a 22-point lead over Jefferson heading into the Duel for the 200 on Saturday night, the Eagle, Idaho, driver is focused on points racing first and foremost.

“We did not have a good showing at Stateline last year (14th in the NAPA Duels and 11th in the 200), but we have been solid this year so far,” Dillon said. “We hope to change (our luck) this year at Stateline.”

As a past Idaho 200 champion, Jefferson returns to Stateline hungry for another win but mindful of his battle with Dillon for the RMCS championship.

“I really like racing at Stateline and have a good feel of the track,” the Naches, Wash., resident said. “I know we’ll have a good car for the race, but our focus is on winning the RMCS championship and the race on Saturday, but winning another Idaho 200 against this field would be really cool.”

For more information on this weekend’s Idaho 200: or (208) 773-5019.

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Keeping Pace

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