COOS BAY, Ore. – On Friday, Steve Vague was on the fence about whether or not to head to Coos Bay Speedway for Saturday’s NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series event. After winning his first career non-wing sprint car event at Willamette Speedway that night, he was having so much fun racing without the wings that he made up his mind, and it paid off as he won the NWWT’s inaugural event at Coos Bay Speedway.
Vague, from Kirkland, Wash. put on a driving clinic on Saturday as he swept the entire program, including leading all but a few laps of the 30-lap main event aboard his No. 08 Shark-powered Rocket. Vague also became the first driver in more than two years to win consecutive NWWT events.
With a lower than usual car count, the NWWT elected to alter its heat race format. With only ten teams able to make the long tow to Coos Bay, located on the Oregon coast, all ten cars ran two heat races together with points being accumulated to determine dash cars and the rest of the main event line-up. The first heat race was lined straight up by qualifying time with the line-up for the second heat being completed inverted. Vague, having set fast time in qualifying, won the first heat race from the pole position, and then after starting last in the second heat race he dazzled the Coos Bay Speedway crowd after he marched his way forward through the field and made a last lap pass to win it. He then won the trophy dash to earn the pole for the main event.
Vague took the early lead at the start of the feature race, only to make a rare mistake and lose the lead to Gaston, Ore.’s Corey Esteban when he slid up high on Lap 4. When Esteban was held up by a slower car on Lap 9, Vague took advantage and moved back past Esteban to re-take the lead. From there, Vague never looked back as he motored away for the win.
Esteban, the NWWT points leader entering the night’s program, ran second until drive line problems forced him to stop on the track with 24 laps completed. Kyle Mehner of Damascus, Ore. inherited second place and finished there in the Don Mehner No. 7k Larry Fast-powered DRC. Vancouver, Wash.’s Mike Romig finished third in his No. 22 Raybourn-powered Eagle. Defending NWWT champion Theo McCarty finished fourth in his own No. 24 McKinney-powered Maxim despite losing a cylinder in his motor. Creswell, Ore.’s Jesse Thistle took fifth place in his family’s No. 4 Drummond-powered Maxim.
For Vague, who is better known for racing winged sprint cars, it was just his third main event start in non-wing sprint car competition. After running third in the Big E Non-Wing Challenge at Grays Harbor Raceway in September, Vague was immediately hooked on the non-wing action and has since wanted to do it more. While not chasing points with any tour this year, Vague has registered with the NWWT and has said he’ll try to make as many events as he can throughout the year.
Vague’s win in the first heat race came over Romig, Thistle and Mehner. That race saw a big crash on Lap 8 as McCarty and Gary Davis made contact coming out of Turn 4 while in a four-way battle for the second position, resulting in Davis going for a wild series of flips down the front stretch, ending his night. McCarty missed the second heat race, but after making repairs to the front end of his machine he was able to start at the back of the main event field.
Mehner led most of the second heat race until getting passed by Vague on the final lap. Mehner finished second ahead of Mark Herz and Esteban, who earned just enough passing points to clinch the last spot in the trophy dash pill draw.
With finishing points and passing points being tallied, the top six point scorers over the two heats were locked into the trophy dash and drew for their starting spots. Vague, again impressing the fans in attendance, came from the fifth starting position to win the dash and the pole for the main event over Esteban, Romig, Thistle, Mehner and Herz.
Vague’s pace setting time in qualifying was 14.490 seconds around the 1/4-mile, slightly-banked dirt oval. Esteban was second fastest with a run of 14.751 seconds, followed by Thistle at 14.807 seconds.
The NWWT will return to Coos Bay Speedway on Saturday, August 6th. The next scheduled event for the NWWT is Saturday, June 18th at Grays Harbor Raceway in Elma, Wash. More information on the NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series can be found online at http://www.nwwinglesstour.com.
– – –
NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series
Coos Bay Speedway
Coos Bay, OR
June 4, 2011
Fast qualifier: 08 Steve Vague, 14.490 seconds
Heat 1 (10 laps): 1. 08 Steve Vague, 2. 22 Mike Romig, 3. 4 Jesse Thistle, 4. 7k Kyle Mehner, 5. 8 Tony Offutt, 6. 28 Mark Herz, 7. 04 Brad Rhodes, 8. 24 Theo McCarty, 9. 9 Gary Davis, 10. 36 Corey Esteban.
Heat 2 (10 laps): 1. 08 Steve Vague, 2. 7k Kyle Mehner, 3. 28 Mark Herz, 4. 36 Corey Esteban, 5. 22 Mike Romig, 6. 4 Jesse Thistle, 7. 8 Tony Offutt, 8. 04 Brad Rhodes, DNS – 9 Gary Davis, 24 Theo McCarty.
Heat race points: Steve Vague 33, Kyle Mehner 23, Mike Romig 21, Mark Herz 18, Jesse Thistle 17, Corey Esteban 15, Tony Offutt 13, Brad Rhodes 12, Theo McCarty 3, Gary Davis 2. Top six point scorers are locked into trophy dash.
Dash (6 laps): 1. 08 Steve Vague, 2. 36 Corey Esteban, 3. 22 Mike Romig, 4. 4 Jesse Thistle, 5. 7k Kyle Mehner, 6. 28 Mark Herz. Finish determines first six starting positions of Feature.
Feature (30 laps): 1. 08 Steve Vague, 2. 7k Kyle Mehner, 3. 22 Mike Romig, 4. 24 Theo McCarty, 5. 4 Jesse Thistle, 6. 28 Mark Herz, 7. 8 Tony Offutt, 8. 04 Brad Rhodes, 9. 36 Corey Esteban, DNS – 9 Gary Davis.
Lap leaders: Steve Vague 1-3, Corey Esteban 4-8, Steve Vague 9-30
– – –
NWWT: The NorthWest Wingless Tour sprint car series