July 1, 2011 in Sports

Top drivers head to Spokane County Raceway

Doug Pace
Racing around the region

Spokane County Raceway


Rockstar Friday Night Drags, 7 p.m.


Team Spokane Summit Series Drag Racing, noon

Dr Pepper Super Late Models, INSCA Sprint Cars, NW Early Stocks 6 p.m.

Stateline Speedway


Street Stocks, Hobby Stocks, Vintage Modifieds, 6 p.m.

Northport Raceway

Saturday and Sunday

Tripp Dist. Liberty Weekend, noon

The Dr. Pepper Super Late Model Series returns to Spokane County Raceway Saturday night with the second race of the season featuring some of the top drivers from the Pacific Northwest.

Alex Kerslake won the season opener on June 4 but was pressed by Spokane’s Braeden Havens and Newman Lake’s Kevin Richards.

Richards hands the driving duties this weekend to 16-year-old Blake Williams. Kerslake is expected to race in Western Washington, making the 100-lap shootout a wide-open affair, with Havens in the mix along with local favorites David Garber, Andy Brown and Kameron McKeehan.

Mike Longton of Moxee, Wash., who had one of the strongest cars in the June 4 race before having to pit late for fuel, leads the contingent of out-of-town drivers looking to cash in on a $3,000 payday to the winner. For added attraction the race, set for live broadcast on SWX, has drawn a large field of early entries, including Portland’s Brandon Riehl, past Yakima Fall Classic champion Erick Hargraves and former Montana 200 winner BJ Tidrick.

Also featured will be the Inland Northwest Sprint Car Association and the Northwest Early Stocks.

INSCA sprint cars have produced some of the fastest laps turned at SCR in recent years. Tony Berry, Justin Popple and the rest of the series’ drivers should thrill the crowd Saturday night with side-by-side racing and lap times in the 15-second bracket.

The buzz of a live cable television broadcast has certainly been a welcome sign for track leaders, according to operator Larry Bertrand.

“We’ll have the live broadcast Saturday night, then it replays two more times giving those in the region an opportunity to see what the new and improved SCR is all about,” Bertrand said. “For someone checking us out on television, we hope they see a great field of cars and our fireworks show is one of the largest in Spokane that people can tune in for ahead of festivities on Monday.”

When it comes to the INSCA cars, Bertrand is excited to have them back on the half-mile track.

“They (INSCA) haven’t raced in the region in some time and we’re hoping to have a strong field of cars that can turn speeds over 140 mph down the straights and run over 2 seconds faster than the late models which will be very exciting,” he said.

Discount tickets are available at FastKart Indoor Speedway and Towners Conoco through Saturday morning. For more information log onto www.scrsuperoval.com.

Bird travels to Montana

Joe Bird takes his high-flying Baby Grands record on the road this weekend to Montana Raceway Park. For the Spokane native, it’s another chance to prove himself against the best drivers in the class as Bird will be entering a Canadian Baby Grands Series event for the first time in the U.S.

Fresh off a strong run in his last out-of-town start at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring, where he netted a pair of top-five finishes, the Stateline Speedway Baby Grands points leader should be a threat to win in his first career start in the state of Montana.

Others from Stateline making the trip include Nicole Behar and Colton Schultz.

Bird is focused on a strong start to his Saturday night.

“We need to qualify well and then run up front and keep Troy Vanderbilche in sight then look for a win late in the race.”

Coming from dirt go-karts at Sunset Speedway to the asphalt has been a big transition, Bird said.

“The handling aspect is the biggest difference between this car and the ones I ran at sunset,” he said. “I am used to drifting in the kart, but you burn the right rear off in this car with all the power they have.”

While leading the West Coast points standings for Baby Grand racing nationally, Bird has an opportunity to test in a Northwest Modified in July and potentially race the series should things go well. It sounds nice, but the goal remains to stay atop the Baby Grand standings and win a Stateline and national championship.

“I am trying to take it one week at a time and hopefully we can test Rick Gemino’s modified in a few weeks and see how it goes,” he said. “Those things are wicked to watch, but we’re focused on the Baby Grands for now and trying to win the championships. If it all goes the way we hope, maybe late this season or next I might run that series.”

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