Keeping Pace

Area tracks feature weekend of special attractions

Some great auto racing events are being held in the Inland Empire this weekend as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series comes to Spokane County Raceway for the first time in 37 years while the iRacing.com ASA Northwest Late Model Tour returns, this time with a stop at Stateline Speedway.

Doug Pace

The Spokesman-Review

The beauty of having two diverse auto racing venues in the Inland Empire – Stateline Speedway and Spokane County Raceway – will be evident this weekend as the region’s elite drivers and teams descend on our area for two first-class events.

Stateline Speedway hosts its only race of the year for the iRacing.com ASA Northwest Late Model Tour on Saturday night. The last time the series came to the region was May 9 at SCR, where Gary Lewis picked up the win.

Lewis has three career starts at Stateline and each has produced considerable success with consecutive Idaho 200 victories and a runner-up finish in a 2007 touring event.

Since Lewis’ win in Spokane, the series has seen Mike Longton reel off two straight victories with a mere 90 points separating the top 10 in the chase for the 2009 championship. Lewis left Spokane with the points lead over Brent Harris, but he has fallen six points behind the hard-charging driver despite a 10th-place run in Montana three weeks ago and a runner-up finish to Longton last Saturday in Yakima.

Harris has yet to crack the win column but has finished every race this season inside the top-five running order. The East Wenatchee native has had good runs this season on quarter-mile tracks such as Stateline, including a third-place finish at the season opener in Wenatchee Valley.

Out to defend the home turf will be Mead’s Shelby Thompson and Newman Lake’s Kevin Richards.

Thompson gave Lewis all he could handle at SCR in coming up short in the finishing order while Richards had a strong run last weekend in Spokane on the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association circuit.

Richards has multiple INSSA wins at Stateline and is a past Idaho 200 champion.

Amanda MacDonald, an ASA Tour newcomer, will also be at Stateline this weekend. The quarter-mile facility was the site of her first late-model win, coming last summer in an ICAR event. MacDonald trails Joey Tanner by four points for the 2009 Rookie of the Year award.

For more information on the iRacing.com ASA Northwest Late Model Tour 125-lap race at Stateline, go to www.raceidaho.com or call (208) 773-5019.

NHRA invades Spokane

Spokane County Raceway plays host to the NHRA Division 6 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series with Top Alcohol dragsters, funny cars, sportsman and super stock racers taking to the remodeled facility for the first time in more than 37 years.

SCR has held big regional drag racing events in the past, including the former World Finals. This weekend’s show features stars from across the United States and Canada vying for a Wally – the name of the champion’s trophy which features the likeness of NHRA founder Wally Parks.

Divisional events allow drivers to earn points toward both the regional crown and a national championship, so at many of the Lucas Oil shows fans are treated to teams from across the country.

The Spokane stop is the regional series’ third event in a seven-race season. Division 6 has already sent a team of racers to last week’s NHRA Full Throttle National Event to compete in the JEGS All-Star showdown, where they came home with a seventh-place overall finish.

One driver to keep an eye on this weekend will be Shawn Cowie, the Top Alcohol dragster points leader who has three wins in the series’ first three events, including their last stop in Mission, British Columbia.

The division’s tightest points race is in Comp Eliminator where two points separate leader Clint Neff of Westminster, Colo., and second-place Patrick Byron of Hoquiam, Wash.

Neff’s best showing of the season is a runner-up finish at the season-opening event in Boise. Byron has yet to advance past the second round of competition.

Also entered in this weekend’s event and fresh off a semifinal finish in the JEGS All-Star competition in Joliet, Ill., will be Liberty Lake’s Tom Manfred and his Ford Mustang Super Street machine.

Action begins today with practice runs, followed by qualifying on Saturday and final-round action beginning at noon Sunday.

To learn more about this weekend’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, go to www.spokanecounty raceway.com or call 244-3333.




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Keeping Pace

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






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