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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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NAPA Auto Parts new INSSA sponsor

Paul Delaney Correspondent

If the excitement found in the opening race was any indicator, can the second event of the Inland Northwest Super Stock Association Saturday at Stateline Speedway get any better?

For the INSSA itself the answer is a definite yes as the new late-model sanctioning group has reeled in a new title sponsor. NAPA Auto Parts has become the title sponsor of what will now be known as the NAPA Auto Parts Northwest Late Model Series.

From the competition standpoint, the first of the eight-race schedule three weeks ago produced a heart-stopping finish with Rick Schultz staving off the last lap challenge of Darren Rupinski. A late race caution flag bunched the field up for one final sprint to the finish. Schultz and Rupinksi got together, going sideways through the first corner, but both hung on with Schultz squeaking out the win.

Eighteen cars were in the pits for the first race and series officials expect several new cars this Saturday.

After one race, Dave Garber (145 points) has a one-point lead over Schultz and is five up on Brad Allard of Sagle, Idaho.

Time trials begin at 6 p.m. with racing at 7:30. Early Stocks, Hobby Cars and Street Stocks complete the program.

Big fields expected for SRP Lilac Race

Spokane Raceway Park will host its 29th Annual Funny Car Championships this Saturday with eight car fields of six-second funny cars and dragsters coming from both locally and across the Northwest.

Funny car entries include the Spokane team of driver Ron Sellers and car owner Larry Van Unen, who registered the 2003 World Finals win. The 2003 Fox Hunt winner, Royce Taylor of St. John, Wash. and Spokane’s Mark Agire are also in the field.

Ken Krause from Great Falls, Mont., Don and Shane Harter’s “Hartbreaker” altered out of East Wenatchee along with former World Champion, Quincy’s Darrell Van Dyke, Seattle’s Forrest Le Blanc and Ron Richardson of East Wenatchee promise to make this a competitive event.

The dragster field is a talented one with defending Lilac champ Mike Austin trying to repeat against the likes of two-time defending AHRA World Champion Bill Edwards of Sumas, Wash., Bob Meeks, last year’s Fox Hunt Winner, Randy Jensen from Tacoma and Troy Clayton of Great Falls, Mont., round out the visiting drivers. Virgil Sellers, Chris Denison, Randy Scheck and nostalgia racer Chris Davis are all from Spokane. Brad Janishewski’s Honda Civic from Edmonton and Spokane’s Neil Hanson in the Brain Damage will have a 280 mph jet car showdown.

Gates open at 2 p.m. with qualifying until 7 and racing at 7:30. Because of the funny car event there is no stock car racing this week.

Mission nearly accomplished for Manfred

A year ago Tom Manfred got his championship season in NHRA’s Division Six off on the right foot by winning the Super Street title at Mission Raceway near Vancouver, B.C.

Manfred nearly did it again last weekend when he was runner-up in Super Street. The Liberty Lake racer got his weekend started on the right foot when he won the new Dave Smith Motors Super Shootout.

The Smith Motors Super Shootout takes the top eight qualifiers in Super Street (10.90), Super Gas (9.90) and Super Comp (8.90). Racers compete for points and at the end of the season the top eight race off at Medford, Oregon.

• Spokane’s Brett Hordemann won Kerker Sportsman Motorcycle. “Hordemann was involved in a scary accident at Lost Creek Raceway in Montana during the 2002 season and this was one of only a few times he has ridden since that time,” reported NHRA Division Director Mike Rice. . . . After a Top Comp win in the season opener at Boise, Spokane’s Todd Hoerner was a semi-finalist in the class at Mission. . . . In the Lucas Oil Canada/TCS Top Sportsman Shootout, Ken Tupper from Spokane took runner up honors to Shane Molinari of Vancouver, Wash.

Pit stops

Dirt track go-karts will be racing for the second straight week Saturday night at Sunset Speedway at the Spokane Motorsports Complex in Airway Heights. Qualifying begins at 6 p.m. with racing at 7. Info: Frank Schiene Jr. (509) 994-5172. . . . The Intermountain Motorcycle Club launches its 2004 seven-race flat track motorcycle season on Saturday night at Sunset Speedway, sharing time with the dirt track karts. Info: River City Automotive (487-2856), Allen’s Cycle (484-4844), Randy Whitney (276-8694) and Peggy Myers (999-5448). . . . AutoSports Northwest will stage the season’s second Autocross Sunday at Spokane Raceway Park. More info and a schedule can be found at www.autosportsnorthwest.org. . . . The first event of the PPG Certified Championship Autocross Series drew 107 entries and more are expected this weekend according to spokesman Gary Klawitter. . . . Republic’s Eagle Track opens its dirt track season Saturday at noon with Modifieds, a Full-bodied class and Fever Fours. Info: (509) 775-3680 or (509) 634-4007. . . . Neighboring track, Northport, held its opener last Sunday and races again May 23rd. . . . Last week’s N.W. Modified series race at Stateline was rained out. Next up for the Mods is May 29th at Kalispell.

Streaks and stats

Other local drivers that competed in last week’s NHRA Division Six race at Mission included Ken Nelson (Hayden) who lost in round four in Super Gas and round three in Top Comp. Mark Resen (Spokane) went to round four of Super Street. Mike Booker (Davenport) lost in round two in the West Coast Hemi Shootout and second round in the event. Alcohol dragster driver Mike Cofini went out in round one. . . . Les Billings now has two straight Fever Four wins in Stateline’s weekly Wednesday Night Fever programs.

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