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Bird wins at Ephrata Raceway Park

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

Terrible weather interupted fun outdoor activities all over the state this Labor Day Weekend, but did not stop ERP from racing on Sunday!

Courtesy: Keith Danson, ERP Media Relations

Terrible weather interupted fun outdoor activities all over the state this Labor
Day Weekend, but did not stop ERP from racing on Sunday!  Saturday evening included
a few qualifiing laps and lots of rain, by Sunday at noon the Sprint cars had the
wings off and we got underway with qualifiing while more rain loomed to the southwest.
Jeff Bird had his #92 car sorted out and was quickest with a 13.95 run.  Heats
were fairly uneventful and finished like this:

Heat 1- #23 Dixon Helgeson, Otis Orchards
#25 Whitney Nolan, Wen
#7 Joe Smith, ML
#69 Butch Duren, Chenney
#00 Steve Prior
#36 Randy Dubois, DNS
#6 Rich Fast, Mesa

Heat 2- #53 Tony Berry, Spokane
#2x Kurt Myers, Wilson Creek
#01 Rally Root, Monroe
#28 Tom Beierman, Ephrata
#44s Scott Aumen, Dunkin, B.C.
#24 Todd Lolkus, Ephrata
#44 Rod Stump, ML, DNS

Heat 3- #92 Jeff Bird, Lake Shawnagan, B.C.
#78 Mike Fought, Othello
#55 Bobby Bird
#86 Bob Witte, Ephrata
#65 Kevin Burch, Ephrata
#85 Kevin Witte, Ephrata
#96 Britt Lorentzen, Lake Taps, DNS

The 30 lap Main Event was very eventful.  As expected, the rain cleaned the track
of it's useful rubber and everyone should have been driving with an egg under their
right foot.  That wasn't the case as the caution flag got a workout from the start
and after 25 minutes, only 11 laps had been completed under green, so the officials
cut the event to 25 laps, and racing resumed.  The local drivers did very well with
Mike Fought, Todd Lolkus and Kurt Meyers in the top 5, but it was Jeff Bird who
said he only used half throttle to take the win, here's the results:

#92 Jeff Bird
#78 Fought
#24 Lolkus
#2x Meyers
#36 Dubois
#25 Nolan
#53 Berry
#7 Smith
#28 Beierman
#23 Helgeson
#55 Bobby Bird
#65 Burch
#01 Root
#85 Kevin Witte
#6 Fast
#86 Bob Witte
#44s Aumen
#44 Stump
#00, #96, #69, DNS

Then the rain started and sent all to cover, but lasted a short time, then the crew
with some help from the sun and 53mph winds dried the track.  Then just like it
was planned, the winds settled down, cars hit the track for practice, the fans came
back and had a good time under the blankets and dressed like it was December!  Tough
fans we got!  The Kim Janke State Farm Agent Youth Hornets were ready to race, the
Ultimate Challenge 125 ended up being 5 local Street Stocks racing 40 good laps,
and the NSRA Cast Iron Nationals running the race that got rained out at the beginning
of the season.  Bart Hector Jr. rolled his #68 Youth Hornet twice last time out
and returned to have a great night winning his Trophy Dash, Heat and the Main. 
Mitch Kleyn repaired his #1 after a bad 1st lap crash at Yakima two weeks before
to post fast time with a 15.87, and Jeff Bird proved that with the wing on or not,
he was the quickest of the day with a 13.12 qualifiing run.  Trophy Dashes were
up next and here's who won:

YH- 15x Derick Burck, Ephrata
UC- #64 Ron Stewart, ML
B NSRA- #53 Tony Berry, Spokane
A NSRA- #15 Craig Deaver

Heat races were next and it was looking like Craig Deaver and Jeff Bird were going
to be the two cars to beat in the main as Deaver backed up the Trophy Dash win by
taking his heat, then Bird won his to back up his fast time in qualifiing.  Bart
Sr won his heat, but the #1 Kleyn car sat out the race to save tires since no points
were involved.  Then Bart Jr continued on his way to a three-peet by leading the
way in his heat for the Youth Hornets.  Here's how they finished:

YH- #68 Bart Hector Jr, Ephrata
#16 Taylor Blackburn, Ephrata
#11 Jatender Veenstra, RC
#72 Kelly Olsick, Soap Lake
#00 Dylan Adamson, ML
#77 Bobby Bailey, Ephrata
#32 Chase Kirk, Wen
#15 Derick Burck, Ephrata

UC- #68 Bart Hector, Othello
#64 Ron Stewart, ML
#9 Randy Pugh, ML
#84 Josh Hector, Ephrata
#1 Mitch Kleyn, Quincy, DNS

NSRA 1- #15 Craig Deaver
#15a Austin Anderson
#25 Whitney Nolan, Wen
#36 Randy Dubois
#55 Bobby Bird
#85 Kevin Witte, Ephrata

NSRA 2- #86 Britt Lorentzen, Lake Taps
#2x Kurt Meyers, Wilson Creek
#44s Scott Aumen, Dunkin B.C.
#6 Joe Smith, ML
#65 Kevin Burck, Ephrata
#28 Tom Beierman, Ephrata

NSRA 3 winner- #92 Jeff Bird, Lake Shawnagan, B.C.

The stages were set for the Main Events with the sun out, no real chance of rain,
a cool track and lots of moisture in the air to keep the engines happy.  YH points
leader Blackburn needed to keep the #68 car in his sights to keep his lead, Hector,
Stewart and Kleyn were all capable of winning the UC, and 16 year old Austin Anderson
was running on the tail of Deaver in the Sprints with locals like Myers, Fast, Fought
and Lorentzen proving that they could run with the quick Sprints from out of town,
and Bird was still the car to beat.  But the theme of the day was parts letting
go under the stress of hard racing close to the end of the season.  Bailey and Burck
got bit in the YH, Stewart's engine let go in the UC, then Fought, Berry and Bird's
cars had issues during the main to open the door for all to go for the win.  Here's
how they finished:

YH- #68 Hector
#16 Blackburn
#11 Veenstra
#72 Olsick
#00 Adamson
#32 Kirk
#77 Bailey, MBF
#15 Burck, DNS

UC- #1 Kleyn
#68 Bart Hector
#9 Pugh
#84 Josh Hector
#64 Stewart, DNF

NSRA- #15 Deaver
#15a Anderson
#44s Aumen
#2 Vincent
#6 Fast
#25 Nolan
#65 Burck
#2x Meyers
#86 Lorentzen
#36 Dubois
#92 Jeff Bird
#7 Smith
#55 Bobby Bird
#28 Beierman
#85 Witte
#01 Root
#53 Berry, DNF
#78 Fought, DNF

Congrats to the winners on Sunday, and thank you to all the racers, fans and everyone
at ERP for toughing it out all weekend, the racing made it all worthwhile.  Still
two race nights left, hope you can make at least one.  Next Saturday, September
12th, the weather looks great and we will be racing the Northwest Legends, Youth
and Adult Hornets, Mini Stocks and Streets Stocks.  Gates open at 5, racing at

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Keeping Pace

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