By Andrew Kunas
COOS BAY, Ore. – Steve Vague had enough fun winning at Coos Bay Speedway in June that he decided to make the long haul back down from Kirkland, Wash. to race in Saturday’s Northwest Wingless Tour sprint car series event. It turned out to be worth the trip as Vague jumped from the third starting position to take the lead on the first lap and never looked back from there, scoring his third NWWT win of the season, a series record.
In a 30-lap race that saw only one caution flag, coming with 22 laps completed, Vague dominated as he lapped everyone but second place finisher Gary Davis. Vague, who started inside the second row after finishing third in the trophy dash event, stormed past Davis coming out of Turn 2 and then dove to the inside of pole-sitter Tony Thomas in Turns 3 and 4 and edged him at the finish line to lead the first lap. From there, it was all Vague in his No. 08 Shark-powered Rocket.
Davis, from Albany, Ore., earned his runner-up finish aboard the Robert O’Neil No. 9 Triple X. After missing the main event at Coos Bay Speedway in June following a big heat race crash that night, Davis has since won two NWWT main events and has climbed all the way up to third place in the point standings, now only 36 points back of point leader Corey Esteban with seven events remaining.
Gaston, Ore.’s Esteban, who entered the night’s program with a 23-point lead over Vancouver, Wash.’s Mike Romig, had a less than stellar night, struggling in the heat races and then stalling his in car in the feature when trying to avoid another spinning car. Esteban’s lead over Romig, however, only shrank to 19 points as Esteban finished sixth in his own No. 36 Chevy-powered Eagle.
Thomas, from Mill City, Ore., made his first appearance in a sprint car this year and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat, winning a heat race and also winning the trophy dash before taking third place in the main event in his own No. 1 Stetson-powered Stealth. Romig finished fourth in his own No. 22 Raybourn-powered Eagle and was followed by Damascus, Ore’s Kyle Mehner in the Don Mehner No. 7k Larry Fast-powered DCR. Leading NWWT Rookie of the Year contender Brad Rhodes of Aloha, Ore. finished seventh in his No. 04 Raybourn-powered Gambler.
Vague paced the field in qualifying with a lap of 15.451 seconds around the 1/4-mile, slightly-banked dirt oval. He later won the first heat race before Thomas took the checkered flag in the second heat race. Vague’s third win of the year also tied him with Kyle Miller for the most NWWT victories all-time.
The next event on the schedule for the Northwest Wingless Tour sprint car series is Saturday, August 13th at Sunset Speedway, where Davis has won twice this season. More information on the NWWT can be found online at http://www.nwwinglesstour.com
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Northwest Wingless Tour sprint car series
Coos Bay Speedway
Coos Bay, OR
August 6, 2011
Fast qualifier: 08 Steve Vague, 15.451 seconds
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. 08 Steve Vague, 2. 9 Gary Davis, 3. 1 Tony Thomas, 4. 22 Mike Romig, 5. 7k Kyle Mehner, 6. 04 Brad Rhodes, 7. 36 Corey Esteban, DNS – 58 Cole Peard.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. 1 Tony Thomas, 2. 08 Steve Vague, 3. 7k Kyle Mehner, 4. 9 Gary Davis, 5. 36 Corey Esteban, 6. 22 Mike Romig, 7. 04 Brad Rhodes.
Total heat race points: 1. Vague 27, 2. Thomas 25, 3. Davis 20, 4. Mehner 17, 5. Romig 15, 6. Esteban 13, 7. Rhodes 12. Top six point scorers earn positions in trophy dash.
Dash (6 laps): 1. 1 Tony Thomas, 2. 9 Gary Davis, 3. 08 Steve Vague, 4. 36 Corey Esteban, 5. 22 Mike Romig, 6. 7k Kyle Mehner. Finish determines first six starting positions of main event.
Feature (30 laps): 1. 08 Steve Vague, 2. 9 Gary Davis, 3. 1 Tony Thomas, 4. 22 Mike Romig, 5. 7k Kyle Mehner, 6. 36 Corey Esteban, 7. 04 Brad Rhodes.
Lap leaders: Steve Vague 1-30