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Thursday, October 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Doug Pace on Auto Racing: This season’s chase to the championship features plenty of new faces

UPDATED: Thu., July 27, 2017

Doug Pace, S-R motorsports writer. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Doug Pace, S-R motorsports writer. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
By Doug Pace For The Spokesman-Review

The Northwest Super Late Model Series returns to the Spokane region for the final time this season with Saturday’s running of the Venom Energy 125 at Spokane County Raceway’s half-mile oval.

This season’s chase to the championship has featured plenty of new faces atop the standings and in victory circle – including two female winning drivers in the series’ last three races.

With Garrett Evans, the three-time series champion, stepping away from full-time competition this season to focus on his son Jan’s Rookie of the Year campaign, Evans’ closest competitor in the championship fight the last two seasons, Mitch Kleyn, has mounted another title run, which includes an iconic June victory at the famed South Sound Speedway.

The win was Kleyn’s first on the tour and when coupled with consistently strong finishes, the Quincy, Washington, driver trails championship leader Brittney Zamora by 18 points in the chase for the top prize.

Zamora made Northwest history last month as the Kennewick native scored a main event victory in Roseburg, Oregon, en route to becoming the first female driver to accomplish the feat anywhere in the region. The win propelled Zamora into the series points lead, a position she has held tightly despite pressure from Kleyn, Jan Evans and the series’ most recent winner, Brooke Schimmel.

Schimmel joined Zamora as a series winner with her strong performance in Meridian, Idaho last month. The Vancouver, Washington, teenager became the second female driver to score a series victory, doing so two weeks after Zamora set the mark. Schimmel’s breakthrough season has her sitting second in the series rookie standings, trailing Evans by nine markers heading into Saturday’s main event.

Locals out to defend the home turf include Medical Lake’s Braeden Havens and Lewiston’s Kameron McKeehan.

Also, David Garber joins Havens as a teammate this weekend. The Spokane veteran jumps into the Killer “B” Racing Team’s second car, which has multiple wins including Havens Idaho 200 victory last summer.

“(Team owner) Todd Havens has always been a big supporter of my racing,” Garber said. “When he came to me with an opportunity to run the No. 20 car I jumped at it. The car has been plenty successful and the team provides great equipment.

“My sponsors and I are excited to run the car this weekend,” Garber continued. “I can’t thank Todd, the team, my crew and our sponsors enough for the chance to compete this weekend with the Northwest Super Late Model Series.”

Others to watch for include past NASCAR champion Pete Harding, 2017 Leonard Evans 150 winner Shane Mitchell, Owen Riddle – who rides into Spokane fresh off a win at the Montana 200, and Riddle’s younger brother, Tayler, who has a series win at SCR (2015) and is the defending Yakima Speedway Fall Classic champion.

Hydroplanes returning

Unlimited Hydroplane Racing returns to Eastern Washington with Sunday’s 52nd Annual Columbia Cup in Kennewick.

Long known as one of the fastest race sites in the world for hydroplane racing, this year’s event also features the stars of Grand Prix and 5-Litre Hydroplane divisions and exhibition runs of Vintage Hydroplanes from years past.

During race intermissions will be the Columbia Cup’s traditional air show, this year highlighted by the Air Force’s F-22 Demonstration Team.

Jimmy Shane is the defending Columbia Cup champion, but had to wait until January to be officially declared the event’s winner. In last summer’s race, Shane and Jean Theoret made contacting exiting Turn No. 4 in the early stages of the finale, with officials penalizing Shane for encroaching on Theoret’s racing groove, a decision at the time that awarded the race win to J. Michael Kelly.

Shane’s team appealed the decision with American Power Boat Association commissioner, Charlie Strang, ultimately ruling that Shane was not the cause of the contact and should not have been stripped of the race win.

This weekend Shane, Kelly, Tom Thompson, J.W. Meyers and many more of hydroplane’s best are back to chase Columbia Cup history once again. Racing gets underway on Friday with the four-boat Dash for Cash, followed by two-heat races on Saturday and Sunday’s heat races to determine the final round’s seven-boat line-up.

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