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– COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (Sept. 6) – A year later, Trey Starks can see his transformation as a sprint car driver.
In his rookie season last year, the Puyallup, Wash., resident struggled when the World of Outlaws made their annual end-of-summer trip to his home state. He finished 11th in the B Main both nights at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash.
That changed dramatically last weekend when the 15-year-old nearly recorded his first top 10 with the premier 410 series and almost pulled off a trio of top 15s in the Northwest. Oh, and he just about picked up a 360 victory in between.
“I can really see my growth over the past year,” he said. “We were very competitive at all four races last weekend.”
It began on Friday at Skagit Speedway, where he had his best career qualifying performance – seventh – with the World of Outlaws. Starks then finished third in a stacked heat race and he missed advancing to the dash by one position. Had he placed in the top two during the heat or qualified sixth, Starks would have been in the dash to determine the first five rows of the feature.
Instead he started the main event 11th. Starks maintained a top-10 position until disaster struck on lap 12.
“Another driver came off the bottom and just didn’t leave me any room, and I wasn’t going to lift,” he said after being put into the frontstretch wall. “I rode the wall and I ended up stopping on the top of the track going into turn one. It was so dusty you couldn’t see. I just got it out of gear when I was drilled from behind.”
Another driver was unable to avoid the stalled Starks and crashed into him. The impact punctured the tail tank and spilled fuel onto the track. It also ended Starks night with an 18th-place finish.
Starks battled a tight race car for much of Saturday at Skagit Speedway. After qualifying 23rd and finishing last – ninth – in his heat race, Starks was relegated to the B Main. He managed fifth, which earned him a transfer to the feature.
As the car freed up throughout the main event, Starks worked his way forward and finished 14th – only one spot off his career-best finish with the World of Outlaws.
“I think we got the car pretty nice for the main,” he said. “We got a good, solid finish. For starting way in the back, we did good.”
The momentum continued at a 360 race at the Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore., on Sunday. Starks qualified seventh quickest and finished a narrow second place in the heat race to track champion Roger Crockett.
Starks then started the 30-lap feature in fourth, but took the lead on the first lap by utilizing the top groove.
“There was a caution on lap six and I saw on the scoreboard that Roger was in eighth,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’m in a good position. It’ll take him awhile to get to me. I’ll be fine and ride it out and hope the top doesn’t go away.’”
Near the halfway point, Starks dropped to the bottom to pass a lapped car when he saw Crockett drive by on the top. It was about that time that the track began to take rubber.
“I got up to him again and tried to slide him once, but in the rubber, it didn’t really work,” Starks said. “After the rubber got laid down, it was just kind of nose to tail.”
Starks finished second, which was his career-best result at the high-banked, ¼-mile track. He returned with the World of Outlaws on Monday, when rubber again played against Starks in the feature.
After qualifying 17th, Starks settled for the sixth and final lock-in position in his heat race. He then started the 40-lap main event in 17th, but was quickly up to 12th.
“It went rubber-down pretty early,” he said. “It started at the top of the race track and worked its way down.”
On the last restart with about five laps remaining, Starks was forced to take evasive action when a car in front of him got into the wall. Starks got stuck in the middle and a half-dozen drivers rocketed by. He finished 17th.
Although the final laps didn’t go as well as he hoped all weekend, the speed was evident and Starks is excited to continue his momentum against the stout competition.
He will compete with the World of Outlaws on Friday and Saturday at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., for the Gold Cup Race of Champions.
QUICK RESULTS –
Sept. 2 – Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash. – Qualifying: 7; Heat race: 3 (2); Feature: 18 (11).
Sept. 3 – Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash. – Qualifying: 23; Heat race: 9 (8); B Main: 5 (5); Feature: 14 (23).
Sept. 4 – Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore. – Qualifying: 7; Heat race: 2 (2); Feature: 2 (4).
Sept. 5 – Cottage Grove Speedway in Cottage Grove, Ore. – Qualifying: 17; Heat race: 6 (6); Feature: 17 (17).
SEASON STATS –
44 races, 42 features, 1 win, 8 top fives, 19 top 10s, 27 top 15s, 40 top 20s
UP NEXT –
Friday and Saturday at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, Calif., with the World of Outlaws
FAVORITE NUMBER –
13: Starks’ career-best feature finish with the World of Outlaws, which came on April 2 at Calistoga Speedway in Calistoga, Calif.
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS –
ON THE AIR –
Here is a video of Starks’ first career victory – Aug. 20 at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash. It starts around the two-minute mark.
Starks has shirts, sweatshirts and beanies for sale. The colors are black and gray for the shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Shirts are $15, sweatshirts are $30 and black beanies are $15. All sizes range from small to XL. For ordering information, visit www.treystarksracing.com.
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Blue Dot Fabrications
Blue Dot Fabrications is owned by Trey’s uncle, Dean Starks, who fabricates various types of vehicles, including vintage cars and road race cars. Blue Dot Fabrications even built quarter midgets when Trey began racing.
“Blue Dot Fabrications is another business that has been around my family my entire life,” Starks said. “My uncle, Dean, has always been around ready to fix anything that gets dinged up at the track.”
Starks would like to thank his sponsors, including Starks Timber Processing, Northwest Powder Coating & Sandblasting, Masco Petroleum and SpeedMart for their continued support.