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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Area motorsports: Local drivers gear up for Montana 200

By Doug Pace Correspondent

The Montana 200 is one of the biggest late maodel races in the West and with six area drivers on the 30-person entry list, the odds are good that they all will make the 26-car field for the Saturday night race.

The first of two annual Inland Northwest big-purse late model events, the 26th running of the Montana 200 held at Raceway Park in Kalispell preludes Stateline Speedway’s 19th Annual Idaho 200 set for Aug. 6.

Area drivers are Blake Williams, David Garber, Mike Behar, Shelby Thompson, Nicole Behar and Braeden Havens. Havens is coming off a strong run in last weekend’s NASCAR stop at Stateline.

The group looks to return the Montana crown to the Spokane region for the first time since Marc Groskreutz’s 1996 triumph.

Garber has the most history at the Kalispell quartermile. In his 14 starts, the Spokane native has all but one finish inside the top 15 running order with four top 10 runs. The past Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion has a career-best seventh place run back in 2003 to go along with an eight-place effort three years ago.

Thompson and Havens, teammates at Killer “B” Racing, have 16 combined Montana 200 starts. Thompson has posted three top-five performances including a runnerup finish in 2006, a third-place run in 2008 followed by a fifth place run in 2012. Havens has four starts in the famed event with one top-5 finish (2014).

Williams at one time held the record of youngest driver to ever qualify for the Montana 200. In his five starts the driver of the McClintock and Turk Ford Fusion has posted impressive laps in time trials only to succumb to racing gremlins. The West Valley High graduate has yet to break into the top 10.

Mike Behar brings a two-car team for himself and daughter Nicole in their efforts to beomce the first father-daughter combination to make the Montana 200 field. Nicole Behar holds the distinction of being the first female driver to make the starting lineup based on qualifying time while her father has amassed success as an INSSA champion and past Idaho 200 threat.

Busy night at SCR

Spokane County Raceway’s half-mile oval will host seven classes of racing on Saturday, led by the popular Northwest Early Stocks. Also competing will be the Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Road Runners, Sportsmen, Street Stocks and Pony Stocks.

This will be the second appearance at SCR this season for the Northwest Early Stocks. In May, Shawn Priest scored the victory over Clayton Woods and Duncan Behar.

Landon Edwards has been the top driver in the Pony Stocks and comes into the weekend fresh off a victory in last month’s Auckerman/Armstrong Memorial. The victory moved Edwards into a tie with Bryce Ruppert for the top spot in the chase for the 2016 divisional championship.

Dino Olson and Michael Harper are locked in a tight battle for the Road Runner championship with eight points separating the pair. David Bauer picked up the division’s most recent main event with Olson and Harper rounding out the top-3. Olson has one main event victory to his credit this season while Harper has posted finishes inside the top-3 in each of his starts.

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