Spokane County Raceway hosts a strong doubleheader program Saturday as the NAPA Auto Parts Night of Fire invades the circle track and drag racing venues.
On the drag racing side, Nitro Funny Cars, along with 300-mph jet cars, wheel standing machines and the racers of the Summit Racing Series, take to the strip for the season’s biggest event. Summit racing features five divisions of racing, including Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman, Jr. Dragster and the popular Bike/Sled class.
Alongside the quarter-mile is an equally impressive schedule for the half-mile oval that features the late model and street stock divisions with a full slate of racing.
“This is a true double feature for race fans as an admission ticket lets them see action on both sides of the facility,” SCR oval track manager Larry Bertrand said. “We set out to reignite circle track fans to what we’re doing with the oval and now we can have a chance to let the drag racers see it as well. What a great opportunity to come into Spokane County Raceway and see some of the best racing of the year at either facility.”
Bertrand and SCR drag strip manager Cindy Gibbs are co-promoting the weekend.
Braeden Havens continues to show the way in the chase for the 2011 SCR late model and Inland Northwest Super Stock championships. Looking to apply pressure this weekend will be the division’s most recent winner and second place in SCR standings, Erick Hargraves, and SCR’s third-place driver Blake Williams.
Williams led Hargraves at the halfway point of the July 23 race only to be struck by a driver running laps down to the field. The damage forced Williams to the pits and opened the door for Hargraves to drive away for his first main event victory at SCR.
Also in the late model mix this weekend will be past NASCAR champion Pete Harding, Montana’s Ryan Wells, and local favorite Andy Brown.
Bertrand said that the weekend may see more than 30 drivers take part in the 100-lap shootout, which will add to the thrills of the drag racing events.
Next up for SCR late models will be their companion event to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series on Sept. 3.
“With NASCAR coming to town, we see this weekend as good potential for late model car count as it’s the last race before the big Labor Day weekend show,” Bertrand said. “The NAPA Night of Fire allows drag racing fans the chance to see late model racing while still enjoying the quick passes on the strip.”
One driver who will be out to run the 100-lap shootout this weekend and bring plenty of momentum on his side is Spokane native David Garber.
Fresh off a sixth-place run in last weekend’s Kalispell Toyota Late Model Series that moved the driver of the Pend Oreille Mechanical Pontiac into third place in that track’s championship chase, it was his prior race that has Garber smiling.
Garber got an unexpected phone call last week from John Wood, owner of the No. 52 Reader Concrete Chevrolet, with an offer to drive in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race in Montana and follow that up with a run at his hometown track on Sept. 3.
Having just a few hours to decide if he wanted to take the seat, Garber did not hesitate in agreeing. He had just two practice sessions to figure out the car before qualifying for his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series start.
Qualifying 12th out of 20 cars entered into the Montana race, Garber completed the night in 16th place and brought the car home in one piece. Wood was impressed enough with the performance that the team has been working with Garber’s Spokane shop to prepare the car for the Sept. 3 SCR event and get some testing time in the Inland Empire prior to the race.
“We’ll have David’s NASCAR race car out here on display and it’s exciting to have a local driver entered in the upcoming K&N race,” Bertrand said. “David will be out here this weekend to race in the late model event and that can only help him get ready for his second NASCAR start.”