Pace: Stateline offers full plate on Saturday
Stateline Speedway’s HyDrive Late Model series returns this weekend. With the ICAR Series closing operations for the year, many of the top drivers from both groups should be in attendance, including Blake Williams, Nicole Behar and Russ Osborne.
Joey Bird, who looks to get his late model career started after a successful stint in Stateline’s Baby Grands division, is also in the mix. Bird has multiple karting and Baby Grand main event victories along with several championships. Purchasing a car recently raced by Braeden Havens, Bird will be one to watch in the late model division.
Stateline also features its Figure 8s and popular Hobby Stock divisions. In the season debut for Hobby Stocks, Aaron Nevers left the night with the checkered flag as he bested Mike Burghard and Gerald Nash. John Vallone, who set fast time for the opening event, ran fourth in the feature.
The Figure 8 group races on the track’s infield, which offers drivers the challenge of navigating the point on the track where two directions of racing traffic come together to continue on their way. With the removal of the infield stage one year ago, the class was born and is becoming one of the many attractions at Stateline on Saturday night.
Drivers in PASS mode
Late model racing in a Northwest touring format has suffered for several seasons since NASCAR’s departure at the close of 2006. Since that time, racers have witnessed two sanctioning groups, ARCA and ASA, attempt to fill the void with little success. Each no longer exists as a series in the Pacific Northwest.
With two tracks in the Inland Empire, the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association has continued to offer a program for local drivers to compete for its championship. With ICAR folding over the winter, INSSA will continue this season but in recent years has struggled to consistently attract the top West Coast talent, including three-time Idaho 200 champion Gary Lewis and four-time NASCAR Northwest champion Garrett Evans.
One series that has been successful in the Eastern United States, the Pro All-Star Series (PASS), has worked with Wenatchee Valley’s Super Oval to bring a three-race program to the quarter-mile with plans to expand to other tracks across the Northwest in 2014.
Offering a minimum of 150 laps of main event racing and winner’s checks of more than $6,000, the new endeavor has the attention of area racers.
“I will be supporting the PASS races this year as it’s my hope as a driver to see the series come to Spokane County Raceway or Stateline for races next year,” said Lewis, who will also be competing in selected super late model races at Stateline Speedway later this season. “As a two-time NASCAR Northwest Series champion, I competed against the best of the best in this region and that is what PASS is looking to build again.”
Spokane’s Havens, who has experience on the ARCA series in his team’s late model cars, will make the trip to Wenatchee to battle the top drivers for a win this weekend.
“I’ve raced on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and those are some of the top drivers on the West Coast, but for late model drivers there hasn’t been that type of draw in a few years, so I hope to see it take off,” Havens said.
Follow The Spokesman-Review’s motorsports coverage online at spokesman.com/blogs/ keepingpace. Email correspondent Doug Pace at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @racingnewsource.