Havens wins Idaho 200
Sun., Aug. 7, 2016
The NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 200 held Saturday night at Stateline Speedway featured thrills, spills and plenty of emotions. In the end, 22-year old Braeden Havens of Medical Lake stood in Stateline Speedway’s victory circle after a hard-fought battle with Ryan Wells in the closing laps.
Shane Mitchell led the 23-car field to the green-flag start of the race’s first 100-lap segment and held the point in the early stages. After suspension problems on Friday forced Mitchell to a back-up car prior to qualifying, the Orondo, Washington, native showed the strength of his team’s preparation as he kept fast-time winner and 2012 Idaho 200 champion Garrett Evans at bay for the first 65 circuits around the tight quarter-mile.
Evans who pulled an eight-car invert for the main event lineup, moved methodically through the field to get to Mitchell’s rear bumper. The 60-year-old six-time late-model touring champion kept his decades-old rival in sight then made a bold move to the inside for the lead on lap 66. Once Evans established himself as the leader of a fast moving pack, Mitchell settled into the second position for the next 13 laps.
Wells cleared Mitchell on lap 80 bringing Havens with him to the top three in the running order. From there, each driver worked together to close the gap on Evans who had moved out to a one-second lead on the pack. Wells got to Evans’ back bumper by lap 91 with Havens behind by another car length. Unable to pass Evans in the closing stages of the first half, Wells followed Evans to the pits for the halfway break.
Racing resumed for the second half with Evans moving to a 10-car-length lead by lap 120. Wells, Havens, David Garber and Trevor Christiani closed out the top five in the running order. Wells caught Evans by lap 125 with the two making contact on lap 128 sending both drivers to the rear of the field. On the ensuing restart, Havens moved to the lead followed by Christiani and Garber.
The lead was brief for Havens as Christiani nabbed the top spot three laps later.
From lap 133 to 139 Christiani, Garber and Havens traded the lead multiple times with fans cheering wildly at the tight racing of the trio. By lap 143, Garber had built a five-car length lead on Christiani as Havens trailed the leaders by two-tenths of a second. At lap 150, Havens was glued to Christiani’s back bumper as the leaders raced in heavy lapped traffic. One lap later Havens cleared Christiani for second place.
Wells, who had to advance through a layer of lapped traffic and several cars on the lead lap, managed to reestablish himself inside the top-five running order by lap 172. With Garber, Havens, Christiani and Josh Roberts formed up in a tight four-car train, Wells was able to reel in the leaders making a five-way battle for the lead. Roberts got by Christiani then worked to Havens rear bumper as Garber used the second groove to his advantage. With 15 laps to go, Havens used Garber’s racing line and retook the lead. Wells cleared Garber two laps later setting up a 10-lap dash for the $5,000 winner’s check and Idaho 200 championship.
Havens held a slim two-car length lead over Wells on lap 195 with lapped traffic opening the door for Wells to get to Havens back bumper at lap 198. With the white flag in the air, Havens used a lapped car to build a gap between him and Wells only to see it close entering turn No. 3. Wells took a look to Havens’ inside exiting turn No. 4 but was unable to make the pass work as Havens nabbed the checkered flag.
Starting his late-model career at the tender age of 15, Havens has raced in several late-model touring series, dozens of big money events and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, but until his Idaho 200 victory had yet to claim a signature win for his resume.
Going forward that will no longer be the case.
“We’ve been doing this with good cars and a great crew for the last few years and sometimes we get snakebit, other times we have troubles or come up a bit short of a big win,” Havens said. “To win the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 200 is awesome for my team led by Jim Dodson and Travis Sharpe, my parents and family, the fans that back us and the sport since it’s not often a local wins one of these races.”
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