ELMA — The best way to erase a bad memory is to make a new, even better one the next time around.
Last year, Nick Trenchard of Klamath Falls, Ore., led 35 of the 40 laps in the Shipwreck Beads Northwest Modified Nationals A-main event. However, too many caution laps were run and Trenchard ran out of fuel and was passed for the lead late.
On Saturday night, Trenchard had another chance and made it count — a wire-to-wire, eight-minute, 25-lap A-main final — to win the 2014 Modified Nationals title at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma.
“I didn’t know how much of a lead I had, but it was pretty smooth driving all the way around,” said Trenchard, who was passed by Jeremy Shank on lap 36 in last year’s championship A-main. Trenchard was later disqualified at the post-race technical inspection for being too light.
“All I tried to do was drive smooth and not make any mistakes.”
Jason Beaulieu, the 2010 Modified Nationals champion, was more than a half-lap behind Trenchard to finish second. Beaulieu, of Campbell River, B.C., won the inaugural “Race of the States” feature earlier in the night.
“I was looking for a caution, but even then, Nick was out of here,” Beaulieu said. “I wouldn’t have had anything for him (to challenge for the lead). We didn’t make any changes to the car. We just went with what we had and I’m pretty happy with the result.”
Well before the championship A-main was run, the field was thinned by attrition and this took care of several contenders along the way.
Friday night’s A-main winner and 2011 Modified Nationals champion, Kyle Casson, of Yreka, Calif., never made it out of the heat races. After two laps, his engine belched black smoke as he guided it into the infield. It never recovered and he was parked for the night.
Another challenger, 2000 Modified Nationals champion Gus Cooper, of Creswell, Ore., didn’t transfer out of the C-main, while other contenders were shuffled throughout the pack in the B- and A-mains.
Trenchard was the main beneficiary of a caution-free A-main — 25 laps of smooth sailing away from Beaulieu, Bubba Foster, of Dayton, Ore.; Matthew Drager, of Albany, Ore.; and, Lawrence O’Connor, of Port Hardy, B.C.
Last year, more than 10 caution flags extended the race and Trenchard was one of several drivers who ran out of gas before the race finished. There was no danger that happening on Saturday.
Beaulieu went wire-to-wire in the eight-lap “Race of the States,” a new dash race that featured the top-two qualifying drivers from each state represented in the Nationals — Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.
Beaulieu picked up the win, while his fellow Canadian, O’Connor, took second for the sweep in the six-car field.
The Pacific Hardtop Racing Association Dwarf Cars were the supporting class for both nights and delivered a quick finish to its weekend as well.
Josh King, of Medford, Ore., went wire-to-wire in the 25-lap A-main event to win on Saturday. King was followed by Brock Peters, Henry Corbin III, Eric Bergquist and Corey Estaban.
The dwarfs provided the crowd the biggest crash of the night, with all participants groggy, but safe, afterward.
In the third heat race of the night, Regie Ayres, of Medford, Ore., was launched into the air and flipped hard in a three-car crash in turn 1. Several pieces of Ayres’ car flew all over the track, including one of the tires — it cleared the turn 1 wall and came to rest deep inside the fairgrounds.
All three drivers — Ayres, Leo Ward and Rich Holbert — were cleared at the end of the night.
Friday night results
Casson was a serious contender for Saturday night’s championship race after his performance on Friday night.
For the second straight year, Casson dominated the Friday night A-main for the win.
Last year, Casson won the Race of Champions and the A-main before he took ninth overall in the championship A-main the next night.
This time around, Casson was second in the “Champions Challenge” to Beaulieu, won the trophy scramble and went wire-to-wire in the A-main.