New chall- enges await three-time Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion David Garber as he prepares to embark this weekend on a run for the Lucas Oil Super Late Model championship at Montana Raceway Park.
For the Spokane resident, the allure of winning the high-banked oval’s prestigious title is one of many reasons to balance INSSA and the Montana events into one race season.
Past champions at Montana Raceway Park have left their mark on late model racing over the last 20 years, including Bob Schweigert, Cory Wolfe, Alex Lessor and Mark Owens.
The MRP division awards local points in some of the track’s biggest events, including the Montana 200 and Firecracker 125 – races that Garber has won (last year’s Firecracker event) or fared well at (top-three qualifying effort at the ’09 Montana 200).
“(Their races) are bigger in a lot of ways than what we’re doing around here, because each brings in so many good drivers every week,” Garber said. “When you unload out there, the competition is so tough because of the level of racing on any given weekend. The way the championship works it forces you to have good runs in all of their races, including the big shows, which gives more meaning to the championship when you win it.”
Running for Montana’s championship while taking on the INSSA regulars this year will be a tough balancing act, Garber said.
“There may be a race that conflicts later in the year … but for now we’ll focus on Montana and see how the INSSA deal goes race by race,” he said.
The potential to dial in the Rody Construction Pontiac for the summer’s premier late model event, the 20th annual Montana 200, is one reason for racing the Lucas series week to week.
“My biggest thing this year is to try and win the Montana 200, and if I can go out there and get some races under my belt before that comes, it could give me a pretty big jump on (three-time Montana 200 champion) Gary Lewis and the other guys coming to race in that show,” he said.
Garber and his Pend Oreille Mechanical race team have supported INSSA since its inception. As a three-time champion, he sees nothing but positives for running both shows in 2010. To ensure the group continues its growth regardless of where he races, Garber has mentored Braeden Havens, who is set to run for INSSA’s rookie of the year title.
“My plate has been pretty full during the offseason helping Braeden, and with the work I do with Russ Osborne (who races in the ICAR and INSSA series) there hasn’t been much of a break,” Garber said. “The INSSA group should have good turnouts for 2010, I believe, with all the excitement being generated for their opener (set for May 22 at Stateline Speedway).”
While Stateline and the Kalispell track are both quarter-mile ovals, each offers enough of a difference that a driver must prepare for them separately. Not much in the way of setups can transfer over when taking into account the higher banking in Montana or the newer pavement at Stateline, Garber said.
“I think I’m a little better out in Montana, but we’ve had quite a bit of success here at Stateline,” Garber said. “This Concrete Cutters pit crew and I hope we’re as good at both where we’ve won races in Kalispell while getting the INSSA titles here.”
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