The 12th annual Idaho 200, presented by NAPA Auto Parts, returns to Stateline Speedway this weekend with a few new wrinkles that are sure to bring excitement for area race fans.
In the past the race featured a three-day format for late model teams with the Inland Northwest Super Stock running a main event one night, followed by the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series the next night. Then, both groups would come together to comprise the 200 field on Sunday afternoon.
This year the race features two days of Rocky Mountain Challenge Series action with the 200 finale still set for Sunday afternoon. The 200 weekend counts for points in the RMCS series. While local drivers will contend for the 200 just as in the past, the series’ regulars will have to focus on racing to win while also thinking about earning points toward the 2011 championship.
One change to the weekend will be the format in which a driver qualifies and starts the 200 itself. Under RMCS rules, the field is inverted with the top 16 cars in qualifying reversed in their starting positions on the grid. While an emphasis is put on setting fast time, the driver who does turn the fast lap will start no higher than 16th in the 200 finale. Passing points are awarded and bonus money paid to drivers that advance their positions through the course of the race.
Winning the 200 is a simple formula – be the first driver to cross the finish line.
However, payout for the race is based on the accumulation of points earned through the weekend in qualifying, heat racing and the passing points given in the main event. A driver who earns the most points can achieve the highest purse check, which is new for 2011.
This format is used on the RMCS weekly and provides thrilling racing for the fans, according to series director Mike Minegar.
“It is a format that has worked for years,” Minegar said. “The fans will see a great show this weekend and we’re thrilled that to be back at Stateline for this great NAPA Auto Parts sponsored event.”
Fans that see an advantage to the RMCS drivers over local favorites might be surprised to find the likes of David Garber, Kameron McKeehan, Blake Williams, Braeden Havens and others having a good chance of winning the 200. With several of the region’s biggest names, including defending champion John Dillon, opting out of this weekend’s race, it becomes a wide-open event.
Garber nearly won the event in 2010 and has had top-five runs in past Rocky Mountain Challenge Series races. Havens and Williams have the distinction of being the youngest drivers to qualify for the race and each had top-10 finishes a year ago. McKeehan is the defending Inland Northwest Super Stock champion and will be out to defend the home turf with a vengeance.
The caliber of talent entered has the RMCS points leader, Jeff Hillock, eager to test his skills against the field. This weekend will mark Hillock’s first visit to Stateline Speedway as a competitor.
“I am really looking forward to this weekend,” he said. “I have so many great memories about this track and the event that we know it’s going to a lot of fun.”
Racing begins tonight with Hobby Stocks and Early Stocks leading the way into the biggest payout offered for a Road Runner race in Stateline’s history. The winning Road Runner driver could go home with $1,000 in prize money in a class that typically races for little or no purse week to week.
Saturday’s racing starts out with qualifying at 6 p.m. for the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series teams followed by trophy dashes and heat racing. Also racing will be the Northwest Pro 4 Truck Series and the Outlaw Compact Tour. Sunday brings a return of the Northwest Pro 4 trucks and compacts prior to the green flag dropping for the Idaho 200, tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m.
To learn more about this weekend’s 12th annual Idaho 200, go to raceidaho.com or call 208-773-5019.