J.J. Hickle Wins Season Opening Feature at Skagit

Skagit Speedway 2015 Top Story Logo

From Kaleb Hart

ALGER, Wa. (April 20, 2019) — Opening night at Skagit Speedway saw JJ Hickle claim his first career win in 14 years of trying at the 65 year old track, going wire to wire in the Budweiser 360 Sprint Car division. Chase Goetz claimed his first sprint car win in the Sportsman Sprints, with Chris Beaulieu taking the Modified main event win and Vance Hibbard victorious in the Outlaw Tuners.

Lapped traffic was hairy for Hickle, who has been coming to Skagit Speedway seeking race wins since 2005. A still young veteran at this stage in his career, the Quilcene, WA driver and former Grays Harbor Raceway track champion led all 25 laps of the main, dealing with heavy and inconsistent lapped traffic, as slower cars changed lines in front of him frequently. Eventual second place finisher Greg Hamilton closed to with a car length multiple times in the late stages of the race while the lead pair dealt with the slower cars, but it was Hickle making the right moves to take his first Skagit Speedway win, followed by Hamilton and fast qualifier Colton Heath. Travis Jacobson and Luke Didiuk won the heat races.

Chase Goetz stepped into the driver’s seat of the Roger Oudman owned Cook Road Shell Sportsman Sprint and responded by going 25 straight laps for his first sprint car win at Skagit Speedway. Similar to Hickle, Goetz found fast and smooth lanes to navigate slower cars in a dominating performance that saw him finish half a track ahead of John Tharp and Sean Johnson who claimed second and third. Joe Lyon was quick time. Heat wins went to Michael Bollinger and Jayme Barnes.

Late race shenanigans benefited Chris Beaulieu in winning the Skagit Aggregates Modified A Main. Beaulieu led laps 3-14 before Lane Zerbin found a fast way around the outside of slower traffic to take the top spot from Chris. In a recurring theme, lapped cars were heavy for the lead pair all race long and while Zerbin opened up an advantage on Beaulieu, Chris would find his way back to the front after Zerbin and a slower car made contact in turn three of the final lap, causing Zerbin to pop a front tire and slow, giving Beaulieu just enough time to close and take the win. Zerbin limped the car along to second place and Kevin Smith was third. Heat wins went to Smith and Beaulieu.

Vance Hibbard went wire to wire for the Outlaw Tuner win. Brian Michelson would close and pull even with Hibbard a number of times off turn four, but Hibbard was consistently better in the first and second corners in securing the victory. Michelson would settle for runner up with Howard Vos rounding out the podium. Michelson and TJ Campbell were heat race winners.

Budweiser 360 Sprints

Fast Time – Colton Heath 12.165

Heat 1 – Travis Jacobson, Colton Heath, Cam Smith, Lance Sargent, Steve James, Bailey Sucich, Chris Bullock, Derek Roberts

Heat 2 – Luke Didiuk, Greg Hamilton, JJ Hickle, Eric Fisher, Brock Lemley, Matt Jensen, Garrett McLees, Jeff Dunlap, Corbyn Fauver

Main – JJ Hickle, Hamilton, Heath, Fisher, Smith, Devon Borden, Sargent, Didiuk, James, Fauver, Jensen, McLees, Bullock, Dunlap

Lap Leaders – Hickle 1-25

Cook Road Shell Sportsman Sprints
ast Time – Joe Lyon 12.547

Heat 1 – Michael Bollinger, Chase Goetz, Kelsey Carpenter, Joe Lyon, John Tharp, Cory Swatzina, Malachi Gemmer

Heat 2 – Jayme Barnes, Sean Johnson, Bill Rude, Jake Helsel, Steve Parker, Eric Turner

Main – Chase Goetz, Tharp, Johnson, Parker, Rude, Turner, Lyon, Swatzina, Ashleigh Johnson, Helsel, Carpenter, Bollinger, Barnes, Malachi Gemmer

Lap Leaders – Goetz 1-25

Skagit Aggregates Modifieds

Heat 1 – Kevin Smith, Mike Steltz, Ben Gunderson, Mel Decker, Dan Butenschoen, Jeff Jansma, Rick Smith

Heat 2 – Chris Beaulieu, Craig Moore, Jeff Blanton, Lane Zerbin, Adam Holtrop

Main – Chris Beaulieu, Zerbin, K Smith, Moore, Gunderson, R Smith, Steltz, Blanton, Butenschoen, Louis Nutter Sr, Jansma, Mel Decker, Holtrop

Lap Leaders – Steltz 1-2 Beaulieu 3-14 Zerbin 15-24 Beaulieu 25

Outlaw Tuners

Heat 1 – Brian Michelson, Vance Hibbard, Brandon Jensen, Kyle Hanson, Max Sanford, Howard Vos

Heat 2 – TJ Campbell, Mike Thomas, Jon Edwards, Leah Hanson, Clint Meins

Main – Vance Hibbard, Michelson, Vos, Sanford, Edwards, L Hanson, Meins, Jansen, K Hanson, Thomas, Campbell
Lap Leaders – Hibbard 1-17