From Andrew Kunas
Vernon, B.C. — (August 31, 2013) — Sometimes, things just go your way. It was the case again for Scott Aumen on Saturday night at Motoplex Speedway as a timely caution flag and a car in front of him pulling off the track under that caution put him right behind race leader Ron Larson with just six laps to go. With a clear shot at the leader, the Duncan, B.C. driver took advantage of the opportunity and went on to score the Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association main event victory.
Aumen, only two weeks removed from scoring his fifth Daffodil Cup victory at Western Speedway, started the 35-lap feature 11th but wasted no time working his way up into the Top 5. However, the race stayed green for a long time, allowing Quesnel, B.C.’s Larson to pull away from everyone else while Victoria’s Matt Mansell ran second and former NSRA champion Matt Hein of Roseburg, Ore. moved up to third eventually.
Aumen was fourth, and really out of time to pose any threat to win had the race stayed green the entire way, when the race’s only caution came out with 29 laps completed. Mansell had broken the right rear spring on his car about five laps into the race. He managed to hold on to second place until things finally gave way and he spun his car out in Turn 2 to bring out the yellow flag. During the caution Hein’s car began overheating and he was forced to the pit area.
Suddenly sitting in second place and having the stronger car, Aumen used his golden opportunity. Stalking Larson for a couple of laps, Aumen made his move on Lap 32, looking to the outside in Turns 1 and 2 before making the outside pass in Turns 3 and 4, motoring away from there aboard the Wickham/Turner/Stewart No. 44s Mid Island-powered A&A.
“(Caution flag) helped big time,” Aumen admitted. “There was no way you’d catch (Larson). I’m sure he was the last guy who wanted to see that caution. We knew we needed it.”
Aumen earlier in the evening set the new Motoplex Speedway track record in qualifying, touring the ½-mile, semi-banked, D-shaped oval in 14.753 seconds. He also won his heat race, with the main event win capping off the clean sweep to back up his Daffodil Cup performance.
“We’ve been on a little roll here,” Aumen said. “Set the track record at Victoria, won there. Did the same thing tonight. Too bad it’s the end of the year.”
A disappointed Larson, who led Laps 2 through 31, settled for second place in his own No. 12 Diablo.
“I was OK until (Hein) went out. I knew I was done when I saw Scotty got up there,” Larson said. “We had a pretty good car, if I could’ve kept it going. That caution wrecked it for us. For the year we’ve had, we’ll take (the finish). We’ve had a lot of bad luck.”
Larson also won the evening’s first heat race.
Former NSRA champion Sierra Jackson’s evening was far from dull. Facing engine issues during practice and qualifying, Jackson did not get a qualifying time. Starting 13th in the feature after fixing the motor issues, the Middleton, Idaho driver worked her way up through the field. After a clean but spirited mid-race battle with Aumen before he got out ahead, Jackson ended up with a third place finish in the Spiers-Jackson Racing No. 25j Ford-powered Diablo.
“It was good, our first Top 3 we had in a while,” Jackson said, “would like to have won it of course, but it was nice to have the good finish considering how our night started.”
Jackson was among several drivers who raced at the ½-mile track for the first time Saturday. After a race in 2002 the NSRA attempted a number of other races at the Vernon facility over the years but got rained out every time until Saturday, which saw warm, sunny weather. The track’s front stretch is more of a long curve and both sets of turns are rather sharp, but passing on both the outside and the inside was prevalent all night.
“It’s really different, but we got it figured out,” Jackson said, giving her take on the unique track. “It’s way different from anything we’ve seen before. It was interesting.”
Most drivers openly expressed the hopes to race again at Motoplex Speedway in the future.
Larson had lapped through sixth place during the long green flag run before the lone caution came out. With Mansell and Hein dropping out, only the podium finishers finished on the lead lap. Twelfth starting Johnny Giesler of Boise, Idaho finished fourth in the Spiers-Jackson Racing No. V23 Chevy-powered Diablo. Victoria’s Chris Schmelzle, piloting the Zema Racing No. 26z LeJeune, finished fifth.
More information on the ASA-affiliated Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association can be found online athttp://www.nsraracing.com/.
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NSRA sprint cars
August 31, 2013
Fast qualifier: 44s Scott Aumen, 14.753 seconds (New Track Record)
Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. 12 Ron Larson, 2. 98h Matt Hein, 3. 22 Richie Larson, 4. 26z Chris Schmelzle, 5. 17 Nick Wood, 6. 91 Darren Yates.
Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. 44s Scott Aumen, 2. 14 Matt Mansell, 3. 25z Rob Haslam, 4. 76 Andy Alberding, 5. 25j Sierra Jackson, 6. 2 Chase Larson, 7. V23 Johnny Giesler.
Feature (35 laps): 1. 44s. Scotty Aumen, 2. 12 Ron Larson, 3. 25j Sierra Jackson, 4. V23 Johnny Giesler, 5. 26z Chris Schmelzle, 6. 22 Richie Larson, 7. 76 Andy Alberding, 8. 14 Matt Mansell, 9. 98h Matt Hein, 10. 17 Nick Wood, 11. 91 Darren Yates, 12. 2 Chase Larson, DNS – 25z Rob Haslam.
Lap leaders: 1 Richie Larson, 2-31 Ron Larson, 32-25 Scott Aumen