For Shelby Thompson and Nicole Behar, last weekend’s racing events served as opportunities to redeem fortunes lost.
Thompson was leading on the white flag lap in the 2014 Yakima Speedway Apple Cup when he ran out of fuel. He spent much of last year looking to overcome the tough start to his first season driving for the Killer “B” Racing Team. The Mead native pulled off a win for the group in September, but the Apple Cup heartbreak was always in the back of his mind.
This year’s Apple Cup got off to a great start for Thompson, who posted the second-quickest lap in time trials. He led much of his qualifying heat race, but a throttle linkage nut worked itself loose and Thompson, again while leading, fell out of the positioning race and was relegated to an 18th-place starting position in the main event.
Thompson was undaunted. The former Spokane 200 champion carefully weaved through traffic and found himself running among the top five as the race took its midway break. Contact between the front-row cars on the second-half restart brought about another attempt to get the race going. This time Thompson was ready.
“I knew the 15 (Tayler Riddle) and 100 (J.C. Wofford) had made some contact and all I was hoping for was the chance to hook up with Riddle and push him to the front then try and get after the lead,” Thompson said.
The plan worked, as he got past Riddle one lap into the second half and sailed to victory.
“Getting a win in the Apple Cup is very special,” said Thompson, noting his past history. “I knew J.C. was trying to catch me, but we saved the tires and when it came time to go it all worked out for us to get the win.”
Behar posted some of the fastest laps among rookie drivers during the NASCAR K&N Pro Series season opener on March 28 at California’s Kern County Raceway. Brushing the wall on a qualifying lap forced her into a backup car and a starting position from the rear of the field. She finished 21st after an incident near the end of the race and returned to Spokane with both of her cars in need of major repairs before last Saturday’s race in Irwindale, California. The team came through and Behar qualified fifth in her primary car.
Behar stayed in contention throughout the race and moved to second place in the closing laps. Her runner-up finish is the highest among women drivers and she also became the youngest driver to finish second in the history of NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series.
“We had a great day in Irwindale and are hoping it can continue,” said Behar, who has had a whirlwind week of radio appearances and other media commitments. “This season our goal is to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year and Irwindale sure helped. All the exposure for the team is great as it can help with potential sponsors who could see we’re capable of running up front and challenging for a win in this series.”
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