Outlaws hit Elma’s Grays Harbor Raceway on Labor Day

Over the past five years, the World of Outlaws have been snake bitten by weather more than the track at Grays Harbor Raceway.

On Monday, the national 410 sprint car tour will embark on a seven-day, seven-race West Coast stretch with its 14th official visit to the three-eighths of a mile clay oval at Grays Harbor Fairgrounds in Elma.

Last year, Sammy Swindell returned to the Elma winner’s circle for the first time since 1997 with a dominant wire-to-wire performance in the championship main event.

In 2011, the tour drove past Elma, which was left off the schedule. In 2009 and 2010, rain and generally bad weather washed out the Outlaws from running.

According to The Weather Channel (weather.com) on Friday night, morning and daytime showers are expected to clear away by nightfall on Monday.

On Friday, the Outlaws started a two-day run at Skagit Speedway in Alger. By this time Monday, the Outlaws points lead may get cloudy — Daryn Pittman (Danville, Ind.; Kasey Kahne Racing) owns a wafer-thin 24-point lead over perennial Outlaws contender Donny Schatz (Fargo, N.D.; Tony Stewart Racing) entering Friday’s races at Skagit.

Schatz leads the Outlaws with 17 wins this season and has just as many top-five finishes as Pittman (36) and three more top-10 finishes (49-46), but Pittman has 11 top qualifier honors to go with his eight wins this season.

Pittman didn’t make the trip to Elma last season, while Schatz owns a 2005 Elma title to his name and a fourth-place finish last year.

Swindell, running a full-time schedule for the first time in years, looked so good on the Elma track that the fight behind him for second place between Craig Dollansky (Elk River, Minn.; Bg Game Motorsports), Joey Saldana (Pittsboro, Ind.; Dan Motter Racing) and Schatz drew most of the grandstand’s attention.

Swindell tied the track record for the fastest qualifying time at Elma in a 410 sprint car and moved from the third starting spot past Dollansky and Saldana for the lead on the first lap. Dollansky couldn’t maneuver through lapped traffic to challenge Swindell, but kept Saldana at bay to extend his season points lead.

Dollansky finished second overall in the season points race to Schatz, who overtook Dollansky with eight wins, 20 podiums and and 24 top-five finishes in a 27-race series through October.

Also on Monday, the Northwest Extreme winged sprints will be the supporting class. Local and Northwest-based 360 sprint car drivers will also run with the Outlaws.

Today/Sunday racing

Today and Sunday, Grays Harbor Raceway will host a two-day racing card with the track’s modifieds, USAC midgets and street stocks to go with the Northwest Extreme Late Models.

The two days of racing will be a part of the divisions’ points standings race.

So far this season Craig Moore, Zack Simpson, and Joe German are the only two drivers to have scored two modified feature wins. Scott Miller, Jeremy Shank, Josh Muller, and Jesse Williamson have all achieved a single victory.

Jason Tole is the only repeat winner in the street stock ranks. Tole has six total victories, including the Cut Rate Auto Parts Iron Man 100. Three other drivers who have visited victory lane are Cory Sweatman, Austin Kerrigan, and Jack Parshall.

Chase Goetz continues to take the 2013 USAC midget season by storm. Goetz has graced the winner’s circle on five occasions during the current campaign, including last Saturday night. Jared Peterson is the only driver to have beaten him and he has won twice at Grays Harbor so far.

The main gates open at 4:30 p.m. and racing starts up at 6:30 p.m. all three nights.