This week's Keeping Pace highlight's late model racing at both of the greater Spokane asphalt tracks.
After taking the holiday weekend off, Stateline Speedway resumes its racing schedule Saturday night with the HyDrive Late Model Series taking center stage. Also taking part in the evening’s program will be the Northwest Early Stocks and the second appearance of the season for the Stateline Baby Grands.
Nicole Behar has been the driver to beat in the HyDrive division as the Otis Orchards teen brings back-to-back victories into the night’s action. Behar’s chief rival from their days in Baby Grands, Joey Bird, has migrated to the Late Model class and has finished inside the top three in each of his starts. In addition to the Behar versus Bird battle, former WESCO Sprint Car series hot shoe Justin Popple has also strung together a good early-season start and will be out to challenge the youngsters for victory.
While Behar was setting a track record in qualifying during the division’s most recent event, it was Popple who brought home a win in the A-Trophy Dash and top-five finish in the fast heat to go along with a third-place finish in the main event. Popple trails Bird by five points for second place in the championship standings, with Behar holding an eight-point spread on Bird for the points lead.
Behar also leads the points standings, albeit after just one race, for the Baby Grand division as she stormed to a main event victory over her father and past Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion, Mike Behar. The Baby Grand division also features past ICAR champion Nathan Fleury along with champions from Sunset Speedway who have moved to asphalt racing, including Ashley Varner, Nick Nereaux, Harley Kellogg and Lucas Bird.
Justin Robideaux won the first appearance of the Northwest Early Stocks at Stateline in April with Shawn Priest picking up a May victory, setting up a battle for this weekend’s main event between the duo. Ken Iverson and Gill Rap Jr. have also been strong performers in the class that is based on 1950s-looking bodywork mounted to a racing chassis.
INSSA at SCR
The Inland Northwest Super Stock Association makes its second appearance of the season at Spokane County Raceway, where all eyes will be on Spokane Valley’s Blake Williams as he aims to win his second consecutive main event.
Williams debuted a new car at INSSA’s season-opener, barely having time to apply numbers to the Ford Fusion before qualifying. Not known for overall success at SCR, Williams dominated the field in the race’s second half as he stretched a lead on Braeden Havens and Mike Longton to nearly a full straightaway as the checkers fell.
With several of the region’s tracks hosting Late Model events on Saturday, Williams’ main competition may come from last season’s INSSA Rookie of the Year, Travis Allen, who ran a Northwest Pro 4 Alliance car in last weekend’s SCR feature en route to a 12th-place finish. Jason O’Neil, Jake Bisset and Chris Kellogg will also be in the mix to challenge Williams and Allen for top honors on the half-mile.
SCR continues its offering of multiple programs being featured on the same weekend as the annual Festival of Speed returns to the road course for two days of racing.
Featuring sports cars, open-wheel vintage racers and some of the most pristine road-race cars on the West Coast, the Festival of Speed was a big hit in 2012 with cars from the 1940s to present day taking part.
For more information on the Festival of Speed log onto spokanefestivalofspeed.com