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Nichols bags first NWWT win at Willamette

By Andrew Kunas

LEBANON, Ore. – Mark Nichols earned his first career sprint car main event victory on Friday night when he took the checkered flag in the IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour 360 sprint car event at Willamette Speedway.

The Eagle Creek, Ore. driver motored from the inside second row to take the lead on the start of the event and led all 25 laps to win it in his own No. 64 Shark-powered Zeitler. Nichols never had any sizeable lead as Hillsboro, Ore.’s Theo McCarty stayed close throughout the main event. Despite staying right behind Nichols, however, McCarty had difficulty passing as changing track conditions during the night eventually resulted in most cars, including both Nichols and McCarty, hugging the bottom of the track in the turns.

McCarty’s most threatening challenge came on a Lap 7 restart as he tried to make a run on McCarty just past the restart cone, but was thwarted by Nichols. From there, McCarty was virtually forced to wait and see if Nichols would make a mistake that would result in McCarty racing by for the lead. Nichols never made that mistake, but McCarty settled for a strong second place finish in the Ron Brown No. 14 Chevy-powered JohnBoy.

Hometown driver Jeff Rivers, the outside pole-sitter, moved into the third position on Lap 10 and stayed there the rest of the race in the John Rivers No. 45 Rocket. Eugene’s Raquel Ivie turned in an impressive performance in her family’s No. 1v Maxim, moving by Kyle Mehner to take the fourth position on Lap 12 and would finish there ahead of Gardena, Calif. visitor Greg Alexander, who finished fifth in the John Butler No. 54 Pick-powered Maxim.

Tony Thomas, Mehner, Mike Romig, Dylan Olsen and Mike Gable rounded out the Top 10.

Prior to winning the main event, Nichols, who finished third in the NWWT point standings in 2009, won the second heat race over Mehner and Sterling Kane. McCarty won the evening’s first heat race over Rivers and Alexander. Romig, out of Vancouver, Wash. topped Ivie, Alexander and Thomas in the trophy dash, which featured the four fastest qualifiers.

Alexander, making his first visit to Willamette Speedway, posted the fastest time in qualifying with a lap of 15.489 seconds around the 3/10-mile, semi-banked clay oval.

The IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour is scheduled to close its 2010 season at Willamette Speedway on Saturday, October 9th. More information on the IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour can be found online at http://www.nwwinglesstour.com.

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Clackamas, Ore.’s Kyle Mehner and Kelso, Wash.’s Dylan Olsen represented the NorthWest Wingless Tour as they joined Grays Harbor Raceway midget car driver Allison Journey and PHRA dwarf car driver Tristan Wood in a helmet pass through Willamette Speedway’s grandstands on Friday night, collecting donations to help injured sprint car drivers Jeff Bell and Wayne Johnson with medical costs. Bell, driving a midget, and Johnson were both severely injured in crashes at Grays Harbor Raceway in Washington on July 17th.

A total of $411 was collected by the four drivers on Friday. The money will be combined with donations from Saturday’s helmet pass at Madras Speedway and will be distributed through the appropriate channels during the coming week. It has been decided a portion of the collected funds will also go to sprint car driver Travis Rilat, the winner of the NWWT event at Grays Harbor Raceway on July 15th, who was critically burned in a methanol explosion outside a shop in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. on July 18th.

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IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour
Willamette Speedway
Lebanon, OR
July 30, 2010

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

15 cars

Fast qualifier: 54x Greg Alexander, 15.489 seconds

Heat 1: 1. 14 Theo McCarty, 2. 45 Jeff Rivers, 3. 54x Greg Alexander, 4. 1v Raquel Ivie, 5. 4 Jesse Thristle, 6. 8 Tony Offutt, 7. 54 Mike Gable, DNS – 28 Mark Herz.

Heat 2: 1. 64 Mark Nichols, 2. 7k Kyle Mehner, 3. 2k Sterling Kane, 4. 22 Mike Romig, 5. 7 Dylan Olsen, 6. 81 Tony Thomas, 7. 10 Bill Winsley.

Dash: 1. 22 Mike Romig, 2. 1v Raquel Ivie, 3. 54x Greg Alexander, 4. 81 Tony Thomas.

Feature: 1. 64 Mark Nichols, 2. 14 Theo McCarty, 3. 45 Jeff Rivers, 4. 1v Raquel Ivie, 5. 54x Greg Alexander, 6. 81 Tony Thomas, 7. 7k Kyle Mehner, 8. 22 Mike Romig, 9. 7 Dylan Olsen, 10. 54 Mike Gable, 11. 4 Jesse Thristle, 12. 8 Tony Offutt, 13. 10 Bill Winsley, 14. 2k Sterling Kane.

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IXL Metal Conditioner NorthWest Wingless Tour
http://www.nwwinglesstour.com