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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Richards, Garber will attempt to top classic

Paul Delaney Correspondent

Two Saturdays ago, Kevin Richards and Dave Garber put on a race that those in attendance will probably remember and talk about for years.

Richards won not by a fender or a bumper, but by a half-foot or less.

They’ll go at it again Saturday at Stateline Speedway in the next-to-last race for the Inland Northwest Superstocks. Hobby Cars and Early Stocks will share the bill with time trials set for 6 p.m.

“I guess the burnout will get better if we win,” said Richards, referring to the new tradition of a smoky celebration that ends so many stock car races. “That’s as close as you’ll see.”

But it might not have been such a heart-stopping finish if it hadn’t been for a caution flag with 15 laps to go that bunched the field.

“David was running a good line at the bottom of the track,” said Richards, who had no other option than to work the top of the track when racing resumed.

Richards took the lead with about three laps to go, but he and Garber battled door-to-door until the end.

“I got bottled up in traffic,” Richards said.

With the help of what Richards called “a little bump in the tail,” from Garber that spun him sideways just enough, Garber took back the lead.

“Hey I would have done the same thing,” Richards said.

As he came around on a cool-down lap, Richards saw Garber parked at the finish line in anticipation of an apparent victory. A quick review of video from KXLY-TV and a digital still photo made it official: Win No. 5 on the year for Richards and another helping of disappointment for Garber.

Richards doubts it will be another two-car race on Saturday.

“There’s three or four guys who have figured the place out,” he said.

Richards holds a 25-point lead over Dan Garber and is 76 up on Garber’s brother, Dave, with two races to go.

The close-but-no-cigar routine is getting old for Garber. He was second to Mark Owens last Saturday at Kalispell.

“We ran 15 laps door-to-door with Owens and lost by 4 feet,” Garber said. “We’ve been good, but not as good as we want to be.”

Sneva makes believers

One could tell by watching Blaine Sneva dice through traffic during his heat race that he was running well during last Saturday’s Gary Miller Memorial 100. Sneva finished third, but with a few more laps in the heat he might have caught the leaders.

Not long after, the 48-year-old Sneva made believers of the crowd and the rest of the field by taking an easy win in a field that included some two dozen modifieds.

An eight-car invert at the start left Sneva with some traffic ahead of him. But it wasn’t for long. By lap 20 his Pink Lady – the same name his dad Edsol carried on a race car in the 1950s – was out in front to stay.

Leading more than two-thirds of the race by several car lengths, Sneva was untouchable in winning a race run in tribute to Miller, the late Northwest Modified series founder. The race was also a fund-raiser for the Spokane Shriners Hospital.

Four-time race winner Frankie Volz Jr. placed second and Pat Rossman, also of Spokane, was third.

Ben Reid of Orondo, Wash., capped off the winning the 50-lap Northwest Modifieds Shoot-Out Sunday. Chris Ochs of Colville was second and Post Falls driver Steve Shaffer placed third.

Northport’s season ends Sunday

Last week’s dust has probably yet to settle up at Northport International Raceway, so they’ll stir up a little more on Sunday when the track brings its season to the end.

It’s season championship Sunday with racing set in Modifieds, Street Stocks and Fever Fours. Time trials begin at 1 p.m. Info: Mark Meldrum, 509-732-1168, or AMMeldrum@aol.com.

Kopp takes a spill

After Joe Kopp climbed as high as second place, he felt as if he were headed to his third victory of the season last Saturday at Sedalia, Mo.

But a late-race wreck cost the Mica, Wash., rider another possible top finish in the AMA Ford Quality Checkered Flat Track Championship series.

“I was working the high line in turn three, and before I knew it, my rear tire got out in the dry stuff and I was down,” Kopp said of his battle for the lead with eventual winner Jared Mees.

Kopp slid into the protective hay bales that line the track, but another rider hit his motorcycle and did substantial damage.

Kopp moves on to the traditional two-day Labor Day race at Springfield, Ill.

Pit stops

Spokane Raceway Park features the Northwest Modifieds and Sportsman Superstocks Saturday night on the oval side, while bracket cars and imports compete on the drag strip. Gates open at 3 p.m. for both tracks. The WMRRA motorcycles are also on the SRP schedule Saturday and Sunday as they compete on the 2.5-mile road course. … The season’s seventh Supercross race will be held Saturday night at the Extreme Motocross track at the Spokane Motorsports Complex in Airway Heights. Gates open at 1 p.m. with racing at 6:30. Info: extmotocross.com or 218-2014.

Streaks and stats

Kennewick’s Steve Thompson took the feature win in last Saturday’s Northwest Late Model 4s race at Stateline Speedway. … Conspicuous in their absence in last week’s Gary Miller Memorial race was the contingent of modifieds out of Boise. The Spokane group had earlier traveled to their home track, Chaparral Speedway, to compete at that facility’s “Smack-Down.” No word from down south as to why the Idaho guys were no-shows.

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