Stateline Speedway hosts the Gary Miller 100 for the Northwest Modified Series this weekend, with a wide-open shootout featuring Zig Grunert, Shane Mitchell, Frankie Voltz Jr., Chris Ochs, Mike Roberts and many of the region’s best open-wheel drivers.
Defending champion Jeff Bird will not be entered in the race, which gives greater emphasis on crowning a new title holder, according to Northwest Modified Series director Rick Gemino.
This year’s Gary Miller 100 offers a format that breaks the 100 laps of racing into three segments. With 50 laps that award points to the season championship, followed by a 20-lap and 30-lap points-paying set of races, the overall champion will be scored after segment three.
Miller would have enjoyed the format and the racing action, Gemino said.
“(Gary) was the Modified series when he was alive,” he said. “This race he’d love because our format is unique, and with Stateline Speedway’s Randy Koch putting up $1,000 to anyone who can win all three segments, I know we’ll have a few that could do that and this is the kind of race Gary would enjoy running or watching.”
With a full house expected for the region’s premier open-wheel series, Gemino plans for an enjoyable evening of racing.
“Our races are fun for the guys in the car and for the fans and that’s what the Gary Miller 100 is all about,” he said. “We’re going to have NASCAR-type driver introductions and plenty of excitement all around.”
Part of the large following or modified racing is its history. Having started in 1984, the Northwest Modified Series is the longest continuously running tour in the region, Gemino said. That longevity has built in nearly 30 years of fans.
“The cars are fun to watch with their power-to-weight ratio and the fans love to see the side-by-side racing without either driver touching each other or using a fender to get by,” he said.
SCR hosts late models
Spokane County Raceway hosts its third late model race of the season, with plenty of action expected just one week after the region’s first big-money event was held in Montana.
Points leader Mike Longton suffered engine troubles in the Montana 200 but is expected to be in attendance with Spokane’s Braeden Havens, David Garber and Blake Williams, who are battling with Longton for the season championship.
Following a prestigious event should not impact the amount of cars arriving for the late model race, according to the oval track’s general manager, Larry Bertrand.
“If a team had bad luck last week it could impact the car count, but we know quite a few teams that brought the car home in one piece and should see right around 24 cars for the main event,” he said. “We see it being better to race one week after the (Montana) 200 than a week before when guys might be saving equipment. We’ll see a good showing of drivers from across the region,”
SCR’s late model races have a minimum of 26 cars, with a maximum of 36 in its 2011 races thus far. Many of the region’s teams have enjoyed the racing which has helped to draw competitors, Bertrand said.
“We’re keeping a strong car count (week to week), because we spend a lot of time talking with teams and inviting them to compete here,” he said. “We run promotions for each class. For example, this week we’re giving a Pony Stock driver one free tire along with their purse money. In the late model shows we have three sponsors that help along the way and that has been very helpful.”
Fans have also benefitted from SCR’s new approach to increasing its operation.
“Our team has done a great job of letting the fans know what we’re doing,” Bertrand said. “Tickets purchased in advance at FastKart or Towners Conoco for $7, it’s a big savings and we’re letting those under the age of 12 in for free. We are trying very hard to listen to our fans and provide what they’re asking for.
Action gets started tonight as SCR hosts its Friday Night Fury program featuring a Pony Stock race that pays $700, with 35 preregistered for the race vying for 36 starting positions. Also racing will be Hobby Stocks and Road Runners.