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Keeping Pace

Defending ASA Rookie Of The Year Eager For 2010 Season Opener

2009 ASA Northwest Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year, Joey Tanner. (Photo courtesy of JTR)
2009 ASA Northwest Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year, Joey Tanner. (Photo courtesy of JTR)

The iRacing ASA Northwest Late Model Tour kicks off its 2010 season Saturday night at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Joey Tanner is the '09 series Rookie of the Year and will be out ot grab the championship after a seven-month season that swings through three Pacific Northwest states and British Columbia.

Courtesy: Joey Tanner Racing Media Relations

PORTLAND, Ore. (March 22, 2010)-After a non-points race to open the 2010 campaign, Joey Tanner and the Engage Energy Drink race team get back to business with the ASA Northwest Late Model Tour season opener set for March 27 at the lightning quick Evergreen Speedway.

Tanner won the 2009 series Rookie of the Year title, which included a brand new Port City Race Cars late model chassis as part of the prize package. The team went to work building the new car immediately following their win at the Yakima Speedway Fall Classic in preparation for the 2010 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

The No. 36 Chevrolet was quick right off the trailer and Tanner sprinted to a top-5 qualifying position. Some early race struggles sent the Portland native home earlier then planned that January night but as in the fall, attention quickly turned to another goal, the ASA opener and a potential run towards a championship.

Goals for this season are clear-cut, according to the 20-year old Mt. Hood Community College student.

“This year we definitely want to win races in our Engage Energy Drinks Impala and we’d like to take a shot at the championship,” Tanner explained. “I know what it takes to win in the Tour now and this year we are ready to make a statement. I know that this team and myself are ready to challenge for a title.”

Boosting that confidence is the team’s Fall Classic victory. The race is considered one of the premier short-track late model events on the West Coast and to win in just his first career start guides Tanner to expect success in 2010, he noted.

“It (the Fall Classic victory) gives me confidence. I know that this Jody’s Nothin’ But Fun Chevrolet is a great car which really has the team optimistic heading to Evergreen.”

This will be just the second event the car has raced in and Tanner knows his Tidricks Quality Transmissions pit crew still has some fine tuning ahead to gain consistency.

“We know the car reacts well to changes after running at the Showdown. It’s been fast out of the box, which has been a big help, but there are so many variables when it comes to these late models, which at the same time can make things not so easy for finding the right set-up. Working on this new car to get it just right for Evergreen is still going to be a learning curve that’s for sure,” Tanner said.

Challenges from the .675-mile Evergreen Speedway add to the mix, noted the former dirt late model star.

“The straight away speed and tight corners make Evergreen a good test for me each time I’ve been there. Finding grip to hook-up is difficult and if you make one mistake on the entrance to turn No. 1 you will be hurting for sure. You’ve got to have guts to run Evergreen Speedway hard and that’s what I really like about the place,” Tanner said.

“I know our team goes all out no matter what and this weekend will be no different at a great track like Evergreen.”

Competition from local stars such as Jason Fraser and Naima Lang will be another test, according to Tanner. Keeping up with past champions of the series and the race track is another wrinkle to the upcoming weekend, he added.

“There are so many good drivers from here in the Northwest and it’s hard to keep track of all of them when you’re on the race track. Of course everyone has to know where (2010 ASA Northwest Late Model Tour champion) Gary Lewis is at all times because he makes such smart decisions on the track then you have someone like my buddy Jay Sauls who is always tough and guys like Pete Harding, Kelly Mann, Brent Harris; the list just seems to go on and on.

“It is great to race against those guys but our main focus this year is on our own performance and not get to wrapped up in who are competition is from week to week.”

Making everything happen to get to the race track comes from the support of businesses such as Engage Energy Drink, Jody’s, Montana Raceway Park, TQT and Phobia Custom Paint & Graphics, Tanner noted.

Race day opportunities are still available for the remainder of the 2010 season, which includes a full-season on the ASA Northwest Late Model Tour, the Yakima Speedway Apple Cup and Fall Classic, the Montana 200 and Idaho 200 and a run in the Toyota International Tundra 125.

To learn more about Joey Tanner or to become involved as a business supporter jump onto the driver’s website at

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.