While much of the racing world’s focus was on the Inland Empire’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series West stop at Stateline Speedway last weekend, the series’ Eastern Division was also in action and had a Spokane tie to its race winner.
Jesse Little, a third-generation NASCAR driver and son of Spokane’s Chad Little, scored his first career K&N Pro Series victory in the Granite State 100 held at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
With the leaders making contact entering turn No. 3 in the race’s last lap, Little hammered the throttle down and drove by the pair to take a lead that held to the checkered flag.
“I didn’t have a car that was capable of winning the last couple laps, but the leaders were racing hard and I knew there was a good chance that I was in contention so when I saw them wreck, I had a big sense of relief,” said Little. “It was a really special feeling pulling into victory lane and finally getting everybody that supports our team and sticks behind me their first win.”
Little has made two starts on the K&N Pro Series West since November and looks to compete at Phoenix later this season.
“We looked at the Stateline Speedway race and the (Aug. 16) Evergreen Speedway race in Monroe but they conflict with our K&N Pro Series East schedule,” he said. “Our family and this team sure would love to get the chance to run in Spokane and after what we heard about the success of the Stateline race we’re hoping it’s back in 2015 then maybe we’ll get the chance to come home and compete in front of so many people who have supported us over the years.”
Another youngster scoring his first main event victory over the weekend was recent West Valley High School graduate Corey McGuire, who won the 18-car late model preliminary race.
“This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid,” McGuire said. “To be able to do it on a night where I’m racing Andy Brown, Danny Garber and (late model division points leader) Justin Popple is amazing.”
McGuire’s stellar first season of racing has been a surprise.
“Winning a race was one of our main goals for the season,” he said, “but it was unexpected because it was my first year in any kind of actual race car.”
McGuire is chasing Popple for the track’s latemodel crown.
“From this point we’re going to focus on continuing to get top-three finishes and hopefully earn enough points to get us the championship,” McGuire said.
Big events on tap
The Inland Northwest’s big-purse late-model events kick off this weekend with the 24th annual Montana 200 set for Raceway Park in Kalispell. Always one of the top draws for late-model teams, the race preludes the Aug. 2 running of the Idaho 200 at Stateline Speedway.
Area drivers expected to compete this weekend include David Garber, Shelby Thompson, Joey Bird, Nicole Behar and Braeden Havens.
Thompson, who is a late-model teammate to Havens at Killer “B” Racing, has an impressive record in the Montana 200, including a third-place finish in 2008.
“I’ve been close to winning the Montana 200, struggled to make the race and everything else in between,” Thompson said. “I can’t wait to see how things turn out this weekend.”
Winning the prestigious 200-lap Montana race would be a big boost to his career, Thompson added.
“We’ve been there (close to getting a victory) a few times this year and we just missed a chance to win the (Yakima Speedway 48th Annual) Apple Cup,” he said. “The Montana 200 is a race every driver wants to win and if that happens it sure would be huge, that’s for sure.
“Only one guy from Spokane has ever one the 200 (Marc Groskreutz) and I’d love to be the next one.”