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Late Models return to spotlight at SCR

Spokane County Raceway had a big week, with the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series providing some of the best straight-line action in years.

Now the focus turns to the oval track with the area’s second major Late Model race of 2012, the running of a 100-lap feature paying $3,000 to the winner.

Leading the charge will be one of the Northwest’s hottest drivers, Owen Riddle, who has won all but one main event this season, including the SCR opener and a victory at Yakima Speedway. Also in the mix will be current Inland Northwest Super Stock Association points leader Erick Hargraves and last season’s champion, Braeden Havens.

Hargraves leads Newman Lake teenage phenom Blake Williams by nine points with the top five drivers separated by 20 markers.

A Late Model race in Montana last weekend brings a wrinkle to Saturday’s event, as third-place points driver Ryan Wells suffered damage that will force him to miss the 100-lap race. Also missing this weekend’s race will be local favorite David Garber (fifth in INSSA points). His Concrete Cutters Pontiac hung a throttle while leading the Can-Am 125 and made contact with the retaining wall that resulted in damage beyond repair. Garber was cleared by medical personnel, but his race car may be out of competition for many months.

“To not have Wells and Garber out there this weekend will be tough, because they’re some of the best in the business,” Hargraves said, “but I expect (Owen) Riddle, Blake Williams, (Braeden) Havens, Andy Brown, Mike Longton and a few more to be up to the challenge.”

Hargraves had a top-three points finish in the now-defunct ARCA West Late Model Series championship wars and was the rookie of the year in 2008. INSSA represents one of the few regional touring Late Model shows he can compete on with a chance to claim an elusive championship.

“We have won track championships in Yakima and last year in Spokane, but this INSSA title is something our team would really like to take home, especially when you look at the talent that runs on the series from week to week.”

For Havens, the chance to compete on his home track while taking a break from racing on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series is a welcome opportunity. Grabbing a victory at SCR, something he did last year over a deep field that included Hargraves, would be a great way to close out June with some of the country’s biggest Late Model races on his schedule, including the Montana 200 just around the corner in July.

“We haven’t had the chance to run a lot here at home this year and when we do it seems that rain has always gotten the best of everyone so we’re looking forward to good weather this weekend,” Havens said.

Sprint cars at Stateline

Sprint car racing returns to the Inland Northwest this weekend as the Washington Econo Sprint Car Organization makes the first of two stops at Stateline Speedway. The series features sprint cars that can lap the quarter-mile facility in just less than 13 seconds with two of the area’s best, Justin Popple and Tony Berry, out for bragging rights on the historic series.

After a second-place run in the series season-opener at Wenatchee Valley’s Super Oval, Berry is out to move his B&B Motorsports sprint car up one more position for a potential victory.

“Prior to Wenatchee, we didn’t have a chance to get the car on the track and my crew worked all day as they always do to give me a great car,” Berry said. “Now we’ve had some time to test and we’re prepared to protect our home turf this weekend.”

The Gonzaga University graduate has reason to be optimistic. In his last two starts at Stateline, the driver of the No. 53 Whitey’s Wrecking entry picked up victories on the WESCO series.

Follow The Spokesman-Review’s motorsports coverage online at Contact Doug Pace at or follow him on Twitter @racingnewsource

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