Just nine months ago the ICAR Late Model Series set its third season in motion with an announcement that the 2008 series champion would earn an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas in November to compete in the Las Vegas Bullring’s annual Fall Classic.
The event attracts drivers from across the country, including Kyle Busch, who tangled with local INSSA star Shelby Thompson while both battled for a top-three position.
Barring an unforeseen debacle, Nathan Fleury is set to win the ICAR championship Saturday night at Mission Valley Speedway in Ronan, Mont.
Fleury holds a 36-point lead on Mike Eller Jr. and a 46-point spread over Colton Garber.
Garber had a strong lead at the series’ last event on Aug. 9 at Stateline, only to have a throttle linkage problem that forced him to retire for the evening. Eller also battled gremlins in that event and fell back after being forced to pit for leaking fluid on the track in the opening moments of the 75-lap main event.
All three drivers, along with Amanda Macdonald, have a mathematical chance for the championship, but Fleury has had the hot hand in Ronan in the series’ previous stops, including a May 31 win.
Garber is the only driver among the top four who has not picked up a main event victory and will be out to follow up a stellar rookie season in 2007 with a dominant closeout performance Saturday night.
The battle for fifth place in the final standings is close. Ryen Tarr holds an eight-point lead on Stacey Rogers heading to the season finale.
With the Nevada trip as an incentive, the growth of ICAR has been an eye-opener for Northwest promoters as the potential to see the series travel westward in 2009 is gaining interest from several facilities.
Another factor is the strength of the series’ car count. More than 20 cars turned out for the final event of the season at Stateline, with several more race teams preparing for 2009..
Racing starts at 6 p.m. Saturday in Ronan.
•While ICAR is crowning a champion out of state, Sunset Speedway in Airway Heights is hosting its championship night of racing. All three divisions – F200, Junior II and Junior I – have tight points battles heading into the season finale.
Joe Bird has been the hottest driver in the Junior II division this season, but a subpar evening on Aug. 23, coupled with Jereme Nereaux’s main-event victory, has set the stage for a compelling night. Bird holds a 71-point lead over Nereaux heading into this weekend’s double-points event.
Nereaux picked up a top-five finish in the 2007 championship standings while Bird grabbed the title just one year after winning the Junior I crown.
Once Bird departed the Junior I ranks, Corey McGuire captured his first title in 2007 but has had his hands full with Jerid Pickens all season. Pickens picked up the win on Aug. 23 and holds a 75-point lead on the defending divisional champion.
Nick Nereaux moved back atop the F200 standings with a strong set of races in August after trailing Jim Townsend when the month began. Townsend struggled in the Aug. 8 race and fell back to Nereaux, who used a strong run on Aug. 23 to regain the championship lead. A 60-point difference sets up a battle for both drivers as each chases their first championship at Sunset Speedway.
Racing begins at 6 p.m. Saturday with qualifying followed by racing at 7. Info: www.sunsetspeedway.org
•After a solid turnout for its annual stop on the IKF Gold Cup series, Spokane Kart Racing Association returns to local racing this weekend with the eighth event of its 10-race season at its facility. Sunday’s qualifying sessions begin at 11 a.m., followed by three flights of racing to determine the day’s overall winner.