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Keeping Pace

Tue., June 16, 2009, 5:15 p.m.

INSCA’s Helgeson Victorious at Spokane County Raceway

Wes Helgeson picked up the Inland Northwest Sprint Car Association main event victory on June 13 at Spokane County Raceway. (Photo courtesy of RB Images) (The Spokesman-Review)
Wes Helgeson picked up the Inland Northwest Sprint Car Association main event victory on June 13 at Spokane County Raceway. (Photo courtesy of RB Images) (The Spokesman-Review)

The first two events of the 2009 season were won by 2007 INSCA Champion, Tony Berry, and therefore the track and club worked together to place a “bounty” on the driver of the #53 car. It didn’t take long in qualifying to determine that several drivers were up to the challenge on this night.

Source: INSCA Media Relations

The Inland Northwest Sprint Car Association (INSCA) took their brand of fire breathing entertainment to Spokane County Raceway on June 13th for race number three of the 2009 season.

The first two events of the 2009 season were won by 2007 INSCA Champion, Tony Berry, and therefore the track and club worked together to place a “bounty” on the driver of the #53 car. It didn’t take long in qualifying to determine that several drivers were up to the challenge on this night. Berry bettered his own qualifying effort from the season opening event where he was fast time with a 16.425 second lap around the half-mile oval. Justin Popple in the ACI Coatings, Spokane Pump, Lube Tube #19 then turned a lap at 16.343 seconds, beating the mark set by Berry. Finally Wes Helgeson, who sat out the first two races of the season, took to the track in the HEI Motorsports #23 car and laid down a blistering fast 16.095 second lap which would have been good enough for sixth quick when the open-motored ASA/NSRA cars were last at Spokane County Raceway.

After qualifying the track announced more information on the “Bounty for Berry” fundraiser that was being conducted. The INSCA drivers walked through the grandstands with their helmets accepting donations from the fans and the donating was started off by Mike Gibbons from the Rolling Thunder Big Rigs who made a $100 contribution. Half of the monies collected would go to the winner of the event and the other half would be given to the Cory Mackay Fund designed to help assist the Washington State University student’s rehabilitation from a May 7th automobile accident.

The trophy dash featured the four fastest qualifiers on the evening and had 2004 INSCA Champion Mark Jones on the pole for the start of the race. The #66 of Jones took the early lead, but Berry motored around the outside through the middle of turns one and two. Fast qualifier, Helgeson, stalked Berry and finally made a move on the outside, also through turns one and two to take over the top spot and check out for the win. Berry was second, followed by Jones and Popple.

There were two heat races for the 11 cars on hand for the night’s events. The first heat race saw a spirited battle between the 65x of Ephrata driver Donnie Kudrna in the Red Perkins owned, Inland Northwest Consultants machine and the familiar blue #43 car, traditionally driven by Ricky Nelson, but on this evening Frankie Volz, Jr. took the wheel. Ultimately the 65x of Kudrna would come out on top, Volz Jr. was second followed to the line by Rob Matherly, Butch Duren and Rafeal Kurek.

The second heat race featured the five fastest cars and saw Okanogan, WA’s Cole Tupling on the pole in the #3 Lloyds Logging sprint car. Mark Jones got a great run on the outside and moved to the lead bringing Popple in the #19 with him. Popple followed Jones attempting moves on the top and the bottom, finally prevailing on the outside coming to get the white flag. Popple won the race, Berry passed Jones in turn four to finish second, Jones was third, Helgeson and Tupling rounded out the top five.

The INSCA cars feature an invert of all cars within one second of fast time, but with the incredibly fast speeds in qualifying that meant that there would only be a six-car invert on the night.  That meant that the front row was made up of Donnie Kudrna and Cole Tupling who brought the field to the green flag in front of a packed grandstand. Tupling got by Kudrna on the outside to take the lead with Berry in tow. Berry then took his B&B Motorsports, Mackay Spinal Injury Foundation, Kodiakwebracing.com machine to the point and it looked like it might be three wins a row for the team. At the half-way point, it was Berry, Popple, Helgeson, Kudrna, Volz, Jr., Jones, Tupling, Matherly, Duren and Kurek. The #53 car was slicing through traffic, but as Berry was forced to wait for side by side lapped cars, Popple and Helgeson closed the gap.

On lap 20, Popple made the move on the outside of the Berry machine, but both drivers got loose due to the aerodynamics of these winged machines and Popple made a terrific save as he was forced to dip two wheels off the track on the backstretch. Helgeson was able to capitalize on the opportunity moving beneath Popple and around the outside of Berry for the lead. Helgeson lead the final five laps unchallenged and capped off a dominating evening with his first victory of 2009. Berry was second, followed by Popple, Kudrna was fourth and Jones fifth.

In victory lane Helgeson contributed his half of the bounty winnings to the Cory Mackay Fund which received a total of $1274 on the evening. “It was a great night. We ran well from the minute we unloaded and worked our way through traffic. It’s always more fun to win!” commented the driver of the #23 machine.

If you’d like to make contributions on your own you may do so at any US Bank location and simply tell them you’d like to contribute to the “Cory Mackay Fund” or you may send donations to: Cory Mackay Fund, PO Box 814, Redmond, WA 98073-0814.

The next event for the INSCA series will be a trip to Mission Valley Speedway in Ronan, Montana on the Fourth of July. As has been the case in the past, there will be a street fair on Main Street in Ronan Friday night, July 3rd.

For more information on the Inland Northwest Sprint Car Association visit www.INSCA.us or call either 800.336.2682 or 509.499.9582.

Fast Time: Wes Helgeson – 16.095

Heat 1: Donnie Kudrna, Frankie Volz, Jr., Rob Matherly, Butch Duren, Rafael Kurek

Heat 2: Justin Popple, Tony Berry, Mark Jones, Helgeson, Cole Tupling

Feature: Helgeson, Berry, Popple, Kudrna, Jones, Tupling, Volz, Jr.., Matherly, Duren, Kurek, Kevin Burck

Lap Leaders: Tupling (1-3), Berry (4-20), Helgeson (21-25)




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Keeping Pace

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