Arrow-right Camera
Sports

Doug Pace: Spokane County Raceway prepares for busy weekend

Medical Lake’s Braeden Havens is looking forward to the new challenge of the AutoSource 250. (Leslie McKellar / TTSLMS)
Medical Lake’s Braeden Havens is looking forward to the new challenge of the AutoSource 250. (Leslie McKellar / TTSLMS)

For the first time this season, all three facilities at Spokane County Raceway will be in operation with Saturday offering fans the chance to see drag racing and oval track action at the same time.

Up first will be the drag strip’s Street Legal series that begins Friday night at 6.

High school students and car enthusiasts have flocked for years to this series as an affordable and safe way to race their streetcars head-to-head against an opponent. Also on tap will be a test and tune session for those competing in Saturday’s Summit Racing Series event.

While the focus of Saturday night’s drag schedule is the Summit Series, the event includes Diesel Drags and 8-second Top Comp drag racers. Gaining in popularity, vehicles powered by diesel fuel are becoming a regular part of drag racing across the country. Over the years, SCR is one of the top tracks in the region for side-by-side diesel drags.

On Saturday SCR’s road course holds its first test and tune session of the month. The course opens at 10 a.m. and wraps up testing by 2 p.m.

The oval features the return of the Northwest Pro 4 Alliance for its first appearance on the half-mile in three years.

“We’re billing it as the Northwest 4-Cylinder Late Model Shootout and racing 75 laps,” Northwest Pro 4 Alliance Series director Mike Hunter said. “The race has already drawn interest from over 20 race teams, including Eddie Secord, Jay Sauls, Steve Thompson and Jeff Jones.”

Wrapping up the night’s slate will be SCR’s first demolition derby of the season. Construction rules and payouts are available at spokanesuperoval.com

Bird, Havens post strong starts

One race is not indicative of an entire season. For Spokane’s Joey Bird and Medical Lake’s Braeden Havens, their results from last weekend’s Northwest Super Late Model Series opener in Wenatchee send a clear message – each driver will be a force to reckon with all year long in the chase for the series championship.

Both drivers have been successful on quarter-mile tracks during their careers and last weekend was no different. Up next for the duo is a May 20 date at Spokane County Raceway, a half-mile where Havens got his start and Bird was impressive last season.

Bird, who qualified second last weekend to pole winner Jeremy Doss, started ninth in the 150-lap race based on a 10-car invert. By the race’s quarter mark, Bird had moved inside the top five. By lap 75, he settled into his eventual second-place position behind race winner Shane Mitchell.

“Our team went to Wenatchee with a lot of stuff that we learned from last season and it paid off,” Bird said. “We knew the car would be balanced and race really well. That’s the best the car has been at Wenatchee, but it just got a little too free toward the end of the race. We’re really looking forward to being back at SCR. The car was fast there last year but just didn’t have the long run speed. This time we should have the car dialed in to go all 125 laps and contend for the win.”

Havens qualified eighth and based on the invert started fourth. Throughout the night he was able to run among the leaders, mounting a late race charge that netted a third-place finish.

“Being patient at Wenatchee is key to having a good night and we we’re able to do that,” Havens said. “For the first race out in our new car the results were good, but there’s still work to do for us to get a win. We’ve been successful at SCR (including a win on the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series in 2015) and the (Northwest Super Late Model Series) race comes a week after we run the NASCAR event, so I’ll have plenty of seat time on the half-mile, that’s for sure.”