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36 Hours of Spokane race this weekend

LeMans, the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and many more road racing spectacles highlight a dream list of events to see for many race fans. For Inland Empire enthusiasts, the 36 Hours of Spokane may be a far cry from those more famous events but don’t tell that to the competitors who make up this weekend’s ChumpCar World Series stop at Spokane County Raceway.

Billed as the longest closed-course endurance road race in the United States, SCR has put together another great two-show program for race fans to catch in one venue as the oval will host the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association’s third event of the season featuring a tight points chase between two of the region’s rising stars.

For ChumpCar followers, the affordable race cars are a hit for keeping it simple in their approach to racing. While safety is key, many of the cars are comparable to a Hornet-type racer with a strict limit on how much can be spent to prepare it for racing ($500). This weekend’s event will allow six drivers and two crew members or four drivers and four crew to reach a maximum of eight members per team. Each car will be equipped with headlights and taillights for visibility.

The ChumpCar World Series has gained a dedicated following for its style of racing and commitment to creating a fun atmosphere. Competing at race tracks such as Daytona, plus Watkins Glen, Laguna Seca and other famed American road courses also hasn’t hurt in attracting car count. This weekend’s race is one of just two scheduled stops in the Northwest with competition held at Portland International Raceway earlier in the year.

Beginning tonight, as many as 40 teams will tackle the tricky 2.5-mile SCR circuit which features more left-hand turns then right throughout its course as they chase over $10,500 in prize money.

Once the racing gets underway on the oval side come Saturday night, plenty will be on the line for competitors at both facilities as the ChumpCar event will be nearing its midway point while INSSA and the circle track stars will be out in force to give fans two opportunities to see racing at the county-owned complex.

Spokane Valley’s Blake Williams brings a slim 11-point margin over Naches, Wash., native Tayler Riddle as Freeman’s Jake Bisset lurks 31 points out of the top spot in the INSSA championship standings.

Other drivers in the championship mix include last season’s Rookie of the Year, Travis Allen (sixth in points), and former ICAR hot shoe Jason O’Neil (fifth).

Chris Kellogg, fourth place in the standings, suffered significant damage to his race car in the series last event and will be scrambling to make Saturday’s show with a backup car.

Williams and Medical Lake’s Braeden Havens bring plenty of motivation into the night’s main event as each had strong cars in last weekend’s Evergreen Speedway 200-lap Summer Showdown only to fall out before the midway break. For Williams and his McClintock and Turk Ford team, a damaged radiator ended his evening while running in third at lap 52. Havens, who was running ninth, was collected in an incident exiting Turn 4 on lap 85. The two drivers were the only Eastern Washington-based race teams to take part in the Evergreen event won by 2012 Spokane 200 champion, Jay Sauls of Puyallup.

Another close battle on the SCR half-mile this weekend will be in the Fever 4’s where Steve Schovaers leads Rodney Sankey by 18 points for the championship with Larry Weber, Stephen Plesek and Mike Polhamus rounding out the top 5.

Two more local classes round out the SCR program as the popular Road Runner and Bump to Pass cars join the night’s festivities.

Jason Thomas leads Pat Thompson and Buck Miller in the Road Runner points standings with the three separated by just 16 points. In the Bump to Pass division, 18 points is the gap between leader Jeff Campbell and third-place Heath Irish with Kerry Carpenter second, eight points off of Campbell’s pace.

Follow Doug Pace and area racing news at /keepingpace.