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Lapped traffic crash ends Allard’s bid at Dirt Cup

Photo’s by H&D Photo http://hndphoto.smugmug.com/

From Gary Thomas

Alger, Washington – June 22, 2010…In position to bring home a third career victory at the $25,000-to-win Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup Chico, California’s Jonathan Allard’s hopes at that came to a crashing halt on Saturday night, after a tangle with a lapped car just past the halfway point ended what looked to be a very good possibility at scoring the big money once again in the 39th running of the event.

Despite the tough ending to the Dirt Cup it was a consistent go of it for Allard during the inaugural running of “Western Speedweek-The Road to Dirt Cup” as he tallied four podium finishes in the six-events and ultimately claimed third in the week-long standings, behind winner Zach Zimmerly and second place Brent Kaeding.

“It was definitely disappointing to have the Dirt Cup end like that, because we had a great car all weekend and were able to rebound after getting upside down on Thursday night to put ourselves in position to win the thing on Saturday ,” Allard said. “We had a pretty good week overall and I have to thank Morrie & Katie Williams, Ashley Smith, all my guys, each and every one of our sponsors and all the fans that came out to support the racing during Western Speedweek.”

Golden State Challenge Series drivers and teams kicked off Speedweek on Friday June 11 at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway, where Allard finished second in the b-main and then charged from 10th to third in the feature, which was won by young Zach Zimmerly. “It’s cool to see Zach get his first GSC win, because he’s a great kid with a good family and I’m also happy for Duke & Scott McMillen,” Allard said after the race. “The track was really good tonight so we have to give it up to Alan and the prep crew.”

Western Speedweek then moved to the Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, OR on Saturday June 12 and the two-time King of California put together a strong night by qualifying third fastest out of 31-cars, before winning his heat race and finishing third in the dash to put the Williams Motorsports, Village Green Resort, Karsten Homes No. 0 in the second row for the main event. At the waving of the green flag Allard immediately jumped into second and ran smoothly in that spot until leader Tim Kaeding got together with a lapped car and stopped with 12-laps complete.

Inheriting the lead Allard charged away from the field and opened up a huge gap on the rest of the pack. Just as soon as it looked like he’d be headed for a sure victory “JA” began to get bottled up in traffic just enough to let young Kyle Larson close in and with seven-circuits left the Elk Grove driver slipped by for the lead in turn three. A yellow with just four to go then gave Allard one last shot at getting back by for the top-spot and he tried extremely hard to make something happen on the deteriorating surface, but came up just shy and had to settle for a very close second at the checkered flag.

After a day off on Sunday Allard then headed for the Cottage Grove Speedway on Monday June 14 and it saw him win the b-main, before carving his way to a third place finish from 10th starting, after getting up as high as second at one point in the 30-lap feature. “We had a great run in the main event until I kind of wore my tire out and just had to hang on there at the end,” said the current Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series point leader. “It’s a lot of fun to come to this place because it’s always racy and the fans usually get a great show.”

Following a rainout on Tuesday in Lebanon, OR the Williams Motorsports machine hit the Skagit Speedway 3/10 mile clay oval on Thursday evening for opening night of the 39th Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup. Allard opened the prestigious event by timing in fourth quick out of 44-cars and then scoring a runner up finish in his heat race. With a 15-car invert it put the Chico, CA driver deep in the field for the prelim main event, but he was able charge forward and get to within an arm’s reach of the top-five, when he and another car came together while battling for position at the flag stand. It resulted in Allard getting upside down and putting an end to the night.

Needing to make up points on Friday Allard did just about everything he could do as he qualified fourth fastest for the second night in a row and then drove to victory in his heat race to set him up with a row seven starting spot in the main event. A slow start to the 30-lapper was seen, but when things got into a groove the 33-year-old marched through the pack one by one and with just 10-circuits left was able to take the lead from Washington driver Glen Borden and hold off a late challenge from Zimmerly to pick up the victory. It marked Allard’s third straight win in the Friday prelim at Dirt Cup and the night as a whole was good enough to move him up to fourth in the event standings going into Saturday.

With one of the biggest Saturday night Dirt Cup crowds in many years packing the Skagit Speedway stands Allard kicked off the finale by moving from fourth to second in the A-scramble to place the K&N Filters, Red Line Oil, Platinum Powder Coating No. 0 sprinter on the front row for the 40-lap main event, alongside defending Lucas Oil ASCS National champ Shane Stewart. When the green flag was unveiled in the feature Allard blasted into the lead and quickly opened up a sizeable gap between he and the rest of the 24-car field. Easily holding the lead over the early stages of the event he then had to deal with a slight challenge from Zimmerly at one point in traffic, but Allard was able to fend off the youngster and hang onto the lead.

Having an expertly tuned car from crew chief Ashley Smith and the Williams Motorsports team, Allard once again looked to check back out while navigating through the lappers, but everything came to a crawl on lap 23, when he and a lapped car came together in turn one and it ended with “JA” stopped sideways to bring out a caution. He was able to restart at the tail of the field, but issues a handful of laps later would forced him to the pits. “It was an unfortunate way to lose the lead because I felt like we were the best car out there,” said Allard. “Lapped traffic has been kind of rough on us the last month, but we’ll move on and try to get some wins back home this weekend.”

For more news on Chico, CA’s Jonathan Allard log onto http://www.allardmotorsports.com