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– COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (Sept. 6) – To be honest, it was a weekend that Austen Wheatley could only shake his head at.
After spending most of the summer in the Midwest and East racing against some of the best drivers in the country, Wheatley returned home with the World of Outlaws last weekend at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash., and the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore.
The results were less than satisfying for Wheatley, who finished 16th and 18th and failed to advance to the feature on Saturday.
“It was a really disappointing weekend honestly,” the 18-year-old from Lake Stevens, Wash., said. “After being on the road with those guys for two months, we learned a lot and I feel like we got better. Just to come home and have two cars not make the show at Skagit on Saturday and to be one of those is pretty frustrating. Just a really rough weekend.”
Wheatley said he lacked speed at the 3/10-mile Skagit Speedway, where he picked up a top 10 earlier this season and finished 15th in the prestigious Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup in June.
“We were getting beat all over the place,” he said. “We qualified terrible. We’re normally pretty good there.”
On Friday, Wheatley qualified second to last – 27th – and missed an automatic transfer to the feature after finishing eighth in his heat race. He drove from seventh to place fifth in the B Main, which earned him a transfer to the back of the feature. Wheatley had his best race of the weekend by driving from 23rd to 16th.
Saturday was even more of a frustration as Wheatley qualified 25th, finished ninth in his heat race and ended the night eighth in the B Main – two spots out of a transfer.
The bad luck continued on Monday at the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., where the engine broke a valve during qualifying.
“It didn’t sound good in hot laps and then we qualified with it and there was no speed,” Wheatley said after qualifying 21st. “We got the engine out and then the generator in our trailer quit. So we had to run over to Chad Kemenah’s pit and use his trailer to change engines.
“John Starks let us use one of his engines and a couple of things didn’t line up the same, so we missed our heat race.”
After failing to compete in the heat race, Wheatley started the B Main in third. He finished second in a spirited battle with Bill Rose and track champion Roger Crockett to earn a transfer to the main event.
“The car felt good, but the track rubbered down pretty early in the feature,” Wheatley said. “We started really far back and I think we were one of the first guys to find the rubber. But I used up my tires getting by cars early and some of those drivers got by me at the end.”
Wheatley finished 18th after starting 21st.
“I can’t thank John Starks and his team enough for letting me use their engine,” Wheatley said. “Also, a big thanks to Chad Kemenah and his team for their help with the trailer.”
Wheatley will have a fresh Shaver engine for this weekend’s World of Outlaws competition at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., for the Gold Cup Race of Champions. He will also compete with the World of Outlaws on Monday at Antioch Speedway in Antioch, Calif.
QUICK RESULTS –
Sept. 2 – Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash. – Qualifying: 27; Heat race: 8 (8); B Main: 5 (7); Feature: 16 (23).
Sept. 3 – Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash. – Qualifying: 25; Heat race: 9 (9); B Main: 8 (7).
Sept. 5 – Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore. – Qualifying: 21; Heat race: DNS (7); B Main: 2 (3); Feature: 18 (21).
SEASON STATS –
42 races, 27 features, 0 wins, 1 top five, 6 top 10s, 13 top 15s, 21 top 20s
UP NEXT –
Friday and Saturday at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., and Monday at Antioch Speedway in Antioch, Calif., with the World of Outlaws
FAVORITE NUMBER –
12: Wheatley’s result in the B Main the last time he competed with the World of Outlaws at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., on March 12 of this year.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS –
ON THE AIR –
Click on the link below for video of Wheatley’s bad crash on his qualifying night at the Knoxville Nationals on the Dirt Report on Speed TV:
Here is another link to the wreck from the Knoxville Raceway network and High Vista Video Productions:
Wheatley has gray and white t-shirts, gray sweatshirts, and charcoal gray hats and beanies for sale. For more information, visit www.austenwheatley.com.
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Redlined Welding & Construction
Redlined Welding & Construction performs welding and construction for fishing boats and processors. Based out of Lake Stevens, Wash., Redlined Welding & Construction is owned and operated by Austen’s father, Shannon Wheatley.
“Without Redlined Welding & Construction, we wouldn’t be racing,” Austen said. “It’s the biggest supporter of my career and it allows my dad the opportunity to spend the time with me on the road and at the race tracks.”
Wheatley would like to thank his sponsors, including Wolfweld, The Oil Medics, SpeedMart, Fire-Down Graphics, Advanced Racing Suspensions, Astro Titanium, DMI, Brown & Miller Racing Solutions and Goodyear for their continued support.