From Kaleb Hart
Alger, WA — (April 30, 2016) — Colton Heat capped a fantastic night of racing at Skagit Speedway with a win in the 360 division to win the opening race of the 2016 season. Thrilling racing occurred in all four classes, with Logan Forler winning the Sportsman Sprints, Kevin Smith beating his brother Rick for a win in the High Society Modifieds and Brian Michelson achieving a seven year dream by winning the Outlaw Tuners.
A slick and wide surface awaited the 360 Sprints for their 25 lap feature and on the initial start, Eric Fisher beat Heath out of turn two to take the lead. A yellow for a spinning Greg Hamilton brought the field to a complete restart, and this time Heath would beat Fisher out of turn two to grab the point. Colton executed his game plan of racing in clean air in the high groove while using the bottom to slide past slower traffic, as the race behind him for second intensified, as Travis Jacobson and Jason Solwold diced in and out of traffic in pursuit of second. Both drivers eventually passed Eric who encountered mechanical trouble and dropped from the contest. A lap 17 yellow for a slowing Michael Bollinger bunched the field together for one last restart, but Colton would get away from Travis before a little traffic hindered him at the end and allowed Jacobson to close within five or so car lengths. Heath would pick the correct lines consistently and parked his car in victory lane for the win with Jacobson and Solwold taking second and third. Heat race winners were Jacobson and Bollinger. Time trials on the evening were cancelled due to scoring loop malfunction, so all cars lined up via pill draw for heats.
The thrills continued in the Sportsman Sprint main event, as Bill Rude worked to fend off ASCS star Logan Forler who came to town running Doug Rutz’ potent ride. Forler was all over Rude, but the former track champ was up to the challenge until lap 11 when he spun by himself in turn two, handing the lead to Logan. The race was marred by stoppages after that, as the race halted four more times before track officials deemed a lap 24 green white checkered restart would be the last restart of the race. Forler would bring the field back to green slowly, and the field stacked up behind him with the result being a red flag that ended the race one lap early and gave Logan the victory. Greg Otis capped a strong night with second and Steve Parker ended up third. Otis, Roger Oudman and Derek Roberts won the heat.
The Smith Brothers brought their sibling rivalry to the High Society Modified division for a 25 lap main and as the dust settled, it was Kevin coming out on top of Rick. Rick held point for the first five laps until losing the handle on the outside of turn four, allowing Kevin to take the lead. Kevin held the lead for the next twelve laps while Rick drifted back as far as fifth before finding a good line around the outside of the speedway and working back up to third. Following a Carl Franssen spin on lap 18, the field bunched up for a Delaware style restart where Rick would blast around the outside of Mel Decker and brother Kevin to take the lead. Kevin rallied back down low and would go side by side with Rick until lap 22 when he slid past him to retake the top spot. Rick returned the favor back to Kevin by again putting his right rear on the cushion and claiming the lead on lap 23. Kevin (who mentioned in victory lane that he’d lost braked around lap 15) then barreled deep into the first turn on the 24th lap and took his brothers line away by washing up high, securing the lead for the final time coming to the white flag. In the end, the large Skagit Speedway crowd cheered both brothers as they came to a 1-2 finish, followed by Decker in third. Kevin and Lawrence O’Conner won the heats.
Brian Michelson has been racing an Outlaw Tuner at Skagit Speedway full time since 2009 and on opening night of 2016, picked up his first career win by leading all 17 laps of the feature. Eric Thibert ran second with Brandon Berg taking third. Berg and Clint Meins won the heats, with Meins challenging Michelson in the main event until encountering mechanical gremlins.
360 Sprint Cars
Heat 1 – Travis Jacobson, Greg Hamilton, Colton Heath, Jason Solwold, Luke Didiuk, Bud Ashe, Steve Reeves, Daniel Cernich
Heat 2 – Michael Bollinger, Logan Forler, Eric Fisher, Lawrance Kirkham, Nate Vaughn, Justin Youngquist, Cale Brooke, Trevor Cook
Main – Colton Heath, Jacobson, Solwold, Forler, Ashe, Hamilton, Youngquist, Vaughn, Didiuk, Cook, Brooke, Fisher, Bollinger, Kirkham, Reeves, Cernich
Lap Leaders – Heath 1-25
Sportsman Sprint Cars
Heat 1 – Greg Otis, Logan Forler, James Bundy, Paul Burdick, Chris Ochs, Julian Fuentes, Freddie Vela
Heat 2 – Roger Oudman, Devin Barnes, Glenn Reinstra, Victoria Cantu, Clayton Sibley, Dave Mead
Heat 3 – Derek Roberts, Bill Rude, Bert Johnson Jr, Steve Parker, Adam Hinds
Main – Logan Forler, Otis, Parker, Bundy, Johnson Jr, Lyon, Cantu, Mead, Ochs, Rude, Sibley, Fuentes, Barnes, Burdick, Oudman, Hinds, Roberts, Reinstra
Lap Leaders – Rude 1-10 Forler 11-24
High Society Modifieds
Heat 1 – Kevin Smith, Rick Smith, Mel Decker, Louis Nutter, Mike Knox Jr
Heat 2 – Lawrence O’Conner, Branden Nutter, Tyler Ketchum, Jeff Jansma, Becky Boudreau, Tom Warner, Carl Franssen
Main – Kevin Smith, R Smith, Decker, Knox Jr, Franssen, L Nutter, Warner, Boudreau, Ketchum, Jansma, B Nutter, O’Conner
Lap Leaders – R Smith 1-5 K Smith 6-18 R Smith 19-21 K Smith 22 R Smith 23 K Smith 24-25
Heat 1 – Brandon Berg, Eric Thibert, Brian Michelson, Dan Butenschoen, Kevin Reuter
Heat 2 – Clint Meins, Jack Desrosier, Vance Hibbard, Dalton Taylor
Main – Brian Michelson, Thibert, Berg, Butenschoen, Reuter, Meins, Desrosier, Hibbard
Lap Leaders – Michelson 1-17