Big prize money and some large fields made for an exciting weekend of racing at Grays Harbor Speedway.
After a mid-season champion was decided in all five classes last weekend, Friday and Saturday belonged to the street stocks and the Summer Thunder Sprint Series.
Hoquiam’s Jack Parshall took advantage of the summer weather to continue the success he has had early in the season and record his fourth and fifth feature wins of the season in the street stocks over the weekend.
Enumclaw’s Henry Van Dam would weave his way through the field to take the checkered flag in the 360 sprints on Friday, but it would be Logan Forler of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, who would take home the $5,000 payday on Saturday.
Friday’s 25-lap 360 sprint feature began with mid-season champion Evan Margeson of Tacoma taking the green flag, but it wouldn’t take long before Van Dam made his way from fourth place into the lead around lap 8. A caution would come out on lap 11 as Margeson made contact with Jayme Barnes of Everett to take both of the drivers out of the top five.
Stanwood’s Jared Peterson would be hot on Van Dam’s tail on the restart, but Van Dam was able to hold off Peterson and stay in front of him through a handful of other cautions until the yellow flag came out on lap 23 to set up a final showdown. Van Dam once again proved too much for Peterson with an almost flawless restart to pull away from the field for the win.
A field of 22 drivers raced for the chance to take $5,000 home on Saturday with a win in the 360 sprint feature. Marysville’s Colton Heath and Logan Forler of Lake Havasu City, Arizona led the packed field to the start of the 30-lap feature, but the yellow flag dropped even before the field had completed one lap.
After the caution, it was Forler who worked the high side of the track to get in front of Heath whose car began smoking on lap 2. Heath pulled off midway through the race and fail to finish, but Forler only had to worry about lap traffic for much of the rest of the race.
“I started up front, which made it much easier,” Forler said. “You just got to make sure you stay on the top and get through lap traffic real quick because I knew (Travis) Rilat was right there coming for me. You can’t let lap traffic hold you up, you just got to do whatever it takes to get through them. Keep your head on and keep your nose clean.”
Rilat took over second place on lap 7 and a caution on lap 11 set up a duel between Rilat and Trey Starks of Puyallup.
Starks shot under Rilat going into one turn and Rilat slid back under Starks to regain second place coming out of the next turn. The two drivers traded spots on the race track on almost every turn for the next three laps before a caution put Rilat in second with his sights on Forler.
Rilat stayed close to Forler, but Forler’s No. 2 led the rest of the way to take the checkered.
“The car was really good up on top. It was kind of driving itself up there and that made my job a lot easier,” Forler said. “I was hoping we weren’t going to get a lot more cautions because that was the only chance Rilat had to get me, plus I didn’t know how much longer we were going to have on fuel. The car was great, the track was great and the competition was good.”
It was Parshall who would take home the top money both nights in the street stocks.
The Hoquiam driver maneuvered his No. 9 from a few rows back into the top spot on Friday. After three different drivers led in the first nine laps, Don Briggs Jr., of Wishkah and Parshall would be side by side in lap 10. Briggs slid up the track in turn one and Parshall was there to take advantage of the opening and pull even before taking the lead in turn four.
Parshall pulled away from the field after the final caution on lap 14 to secure the victory.
On Saturday, there was only one lead change. Brenton Schnitzer of Shelton raced by Eddie Blood of Olympia, who also started on the first row, to take the lead on the first lap over, but Parshall had all the right moves.
Parshall shot past Brian Izzi of Hoquiam on lap 3 and pulled even with Blood for second. Parshall and Blood raced side by side for almost two laps before Blood took second on a caution on lap 5. On the restart, Parshall stayed even with Blood until lap 6 when he shot past Blood in turn 3 of and slipped under Schnitzer in turn four to take the lead.
A caution on the next lap shortened the distance between the field once again, but Parshall was in the lead for good. Despite six yellow flags and one red flag on a four-car crash, Parshall pulled away from the field on every caution and took home the biggest payday of his 27-year racing career.
“I’ve never won $1,000 in one race,” Parshall said. “I’ve been in a lot of them and I usually get second so it feels really good. My goal all night was to hit the traction patch on the bottom coming out of the corners because most of the cars were going in and they were pushing around and missing it so I would come in a little bit wider and slow down and cross up and then hit that traction patch to try and get past them and it worked really good tonight.”
The win was the fifth for Parshall this season. The Hoquiam resident has won the last four street stock features at Grays Harbor Raceway and it is quickly becoming the best season yet for the 42-year-old driver.
“It is a pretty magical year,” said Parshall, who has been racing since he was 15. “I’ve raced a lot of years and I can’t remember one that has been so successful so quickly.”