A tough battle between the current points leader and the driver who had won four races in a row capped off an exciting Pepsi Night at Grays Habror Raceway on Saturday.
Cory Sweatman of Cosmopolis, who was already atop the street stocks leaderboard going into the race, picked up his first win of the season and snapped Jason Tole’s four-race winning streak.
Although the street stocks highlighted the night, the hornets and midgets each provided an exciting finish to prepare race-goers for the headline event.
All three main events were won by the points leaders in their respective classes, with Reece Goetz of Snohomish taking the midget main and Chad Norton of Tenino taking the hornet feature.
Sweatman took the lead away from Hoquiam’s Tole with a slick inside move on the 16th lap. After taking the lead, Sweatman spent much of the race trying to stay in front of Tole, who was never far away.
The race featured nine yellow caution flags and the decision was made during the race to reduce from 40 laps to 30 laps due to concerns about time and fuel. The drivers had been warned in the pre-race pit meeting that a lap reduction was a possibility.
Sweatman had to overcome five cautions while he was in the lead, including one that occurred on the final turn just before the checkered flag. Sweatman felt that, even though he won, he may have been better off with a longer race.
“(Tole) was driving low and pushing up. I was arcing my way up to save my tires for later,” Sweatman said. “My car was better in the long run, but in the short run his car was a little better. If we had a longer run, it wouldn’t have been much of a race.”
Jack Parshall, also of Hoquiam, jumped into the lead in the first lap and dominated the early stages of the race while Sweatman and Tole, who both started near the back, tried to fight through other drivers to get to the front.
Parshall lost his lead when his car stalled during a caution lap with just 12 laps in the books. Parshall did return to the race, and managed a ninth-place finish.
Shane Kerrigan of Aberdeen took the lead by default when Parshall went out, but was passed by Tole just one lap later.
Kerrigan finished in third, Don Briggs fourth and Chip Haney rounded out the top five.
Garrett Thomas of McCleary took the lead away from Lee St Paul on the second lap and initially created some space between himself and the rest of the field.
Although he closed the gap on Thomas quickly, it took Goetz nearly the entire race for to pass him for his third win of the season.
Thomas held the lead from the second lap until the final circuit of the 25-lap race.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to get him,” Goetz said. “I was trying to track on both sides, and I finally got him at the end.”
Thomas finished in second place, Jared Peterson in third, Ariel Biggs in fourth and Jeremy Miller in fifth.
The night’s slimmest margin of victory came in a wire-to-wire victory by Chad Norton, which was his third of the season.
Chad Norton never relinquished his lead, but his cousin, Brian Norton, made a move on the final turn to put himself side-by-side with Chad on the homestretch. Chad managed to beat Brian by a nose.
“I think I’m going to cut that trophy in half and give it to the 43 (Brian Norton), because that was the best race all season,” Chad Norton said after his victory.
Shane Norton finished in third, Jeff Daniel in fourth and Chris Pugsley in fifth.
Each class ran two, 10-lap heat races before the main events.
Tole and Tommy Hecker won the street stock heat races, Goetz and Jeremy Miller won the midgets, Amanda Allery and Shane Turner won the hornets.
The Raceway will host the ASCS Speedweek kickoff Friday and Saturday, with the Northwest Region sprint cars and Northwest Extreme Late Models on tap.
1. Chase Goetz. 2. Garrett Thomas. 3. Jared Peterson. 4. Ariel Biggs. 5. Jeremy Miller.
1. Cory Sweatman. 2. Jason Tole. 3. Shane Kerrigan. 4. Don Briggs. 5. Chip Haney. 6. Eddie Blood. 7. Austin Kerrigan. 8. Nick Bramer. 9. Jack Parshall. 10. Tom Hecker.
1. Chad Norton. 2. Brian Norton. 3. Shane Norton. 4. Jeff Daniel. 5. Chris Pugsley.