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Allard Aces ASCS Northwest Finale as Crockett T…

[b Allard Aces ASCS Northwest Finale as Crockett Takes Title]

[i Shawn Miller, YAKIMA, Wash. (September 26, 2009)]

Much like a relationship, the American Sprint Car Series Northwest Region and its drivers couldn’t have an easy end to the season.

Instead, it was a dramatic roller-coaster ride from the moments before drivers were set to pack the track until Stephen Allard held off Shawn Rice to claim his first career ASCS victory in the season finale Saturday night at the Central Washington State Fair Raceway.

“I’m just happy,” said Allard, a Chico, Calif., resident who won in only his second career ASCS race.

“It was almost like a big weight taken off my shoulders.”

The evening began with a power outage sparked by a nearby fire, which delayed the start by a little more than an hour. However, because of the uncertainty about when power would be restored, the race was unofficially canceled at one point and the stands were evacuated.

But just as frustration began to boil at the fairgrounds, which was struggling to operate the second day of the Central Washington State Fair, the lights flickered back on and the event was resumed about an hour behind schedule.

“You wait until you hear the official word,” Allard said. “I just relaxed and had a couple drinks of Gatorade, water. I don’t get stressed out as much as some (drivers).

“I’m really glad they got it in and I think it put on a great race for the fans.”

The power outage was just the start to the hectic night that wrapped up the season. After making it through four heat races and the B main with only three combined cautions, the opening lap of the feature was wild.

As the green flagged waved, polesitter Justyn Cox of Sacramento, Calif., appeared to drive into turn one too fast, which pushed his car up the track and into Orting, Wash., resident Logan Forler.

Cox spun out in the middle of the track and Forler slid up the slight banking in the turn, collecting Medford, Ore., resident Roger Crockett, who claimed the Northwest Region point’s championship when he started the feature.

Crockett wasn’t the only one involved in the melee. Visalia, Calif., resident Steven Tiner, who finished second in points, also sustained damage, as did Snohomish, Wash., native Jared Ridge, who ended the season third in points.

Joe Ramaker of Boise, Idaho, and Snohomish, Wash., resident Josh DeWitt were also caught up in the crash.

That moved Allard to the pole on the complete restart of the race, which was originally cut from the usual 30 laps to 25 because of tire concerns. However, after three more cautions in the first seven laps, the feature was red-flagged to allow the cars to refuel and officials decided to make the main event 20 laps because of the tire wear.

Allard, who jumped to the lead and stayed on the bottom of the track, held off Rice, a Tacoma, Wash., resident, in a close battle until the checkered flag waved.

“We had a winning car, just not enough tires to get there,” said Rice, who didn’t know until Saturday morning that his friend Steve Vague wanted Rice to drive his car that night.

“It was great. It’s cool that I could help Steve get the car out there, make a little money and have fun doing it.”

Mitch Olson of Tacoma, Wash., shared the follow-the-leader approach to a third-place finish.

“Stay on the bottom, stay on the bottom and stay on the bottom,” he said. “Just keep it locked down on the bottom.”

Jay Cole of Shelton, Wash., finished fourth for the second consecutive night and Crockett managed to work his way to fifth.

Despite the early frustration, Crockett secured his first career ASCS title and his seventh series championship. He also won four Northern Sprint Tour titles, the only Northwest Sprint Challenge Series season and a California Sprint Car Civil War Series championship.

“It’s just really a show of the momentum we’ve had and how well our team has been working together,” said Crockett, who has a career-best 22 wins this season. “It just kinda caps off a successful season.”

Enumclaw, Wash., resident Henry Van Dam passed 10 cars in the feature to beat Tiner by one car for the Northwest Region’s Hard Charger award for the season.

“Obviously you want to go win the races every night, but to be the guy that’s passing the most cars every night is something to be proud of too,” Van Dam said. “With the quality of field we have now, it’s not easy to pass.”

Cox secured the Northwest Region Rookie of the Year honor Friday night in Yakima.

ASCS Northwest Region results from Central Washington State Fair Raceway (Sept. 26):

Heat One (10 laps): 1. 98m-Mitch Olson, 2. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 3. 94-Steven Tiner, 4. 73-Jason Solwold, 5. 25c-Chad Groves, 6. 40-Brock Lemley, 7. 6m-Phillip Del Rosa.

Heat Two (10 laps): 1. 12-Jared Ridge, 2. 5k-Brian Kirkpatrick, 3. 2l-Logan Forler, 4. 98-Joe Ramaker, 5. 5x-Colton Heath, 6. 15d-Dan Dunlap, 7. 29w-Steve James.

Heat Three (10 laps): 1. 23n-Stephen Allard, 2. 5h-Justyn Cox, 3. 08-Shawn Rice, 4. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 5. 6-Bob Stevens, 6. 11w-Shane Broers, 7. 6n-Billy Nutter.

Heat Four (10 laps): 1. 1-Glenn Borden Jr., 2. 11-Roger Crockett, 3. 12p-Randy Pierce, 4. 0j-Jay Cole, 5. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 6. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 7. 38-D.J. Kosa.

“B” Feature (12 laps): 1. 5x-Colton Heath., 2. 0j-Jay Cole, 3. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 4. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 5. 40-Brock Lemley, 6. 15d-Dan Dunlap, 7. 29w-Steve James, 8. 38-D.J. Kosa, 9. (DNS) 11w-Shane Broers, 10. (DNS) 6-Bob Stevens, 11. (DNS) 6n-Billy Nutter, 12. (DNS) 6m-Phillip Del Rosa.

“A” Feature (25 laps): 1. 23n-Stephen Allard, 2. 08-Shawn Rice, 3. 98m-Mitch Olson, 4. Oj-Jay Cole, 5. 11-Roger Crockett, 6. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 7. 12p-Randy Pierce, 8. 94-Steven Tiner, 9. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 10. 2l-Logan Forler, 11. 12-Jared Ridge, 12. 98-Joe Ramaker, 13. 1-Glenn Borden Jr., 14. 25c-Chad Groves, 15. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 16. 5k-Brian Kirkpatrick, 17. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 18. 73-Jason Solwold, 19. 5x-Colton Heath, 20. 5h-Justyn Cox.

Season Awards:

Points: Roger Crockett
Rookie of the Year: Justyn Cox
Hard Charger: Henry Van Dam

Final ASCS Northwest Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Roger Crockett 2,416, 2. Jared Ridge 2,308, 3. Steven Tiner 2,295, 4. Henry Van Dam 2,233, 5. Chad Groves 2,171, 6. Mitch Olson 2,124, 7. Justyn Cox 1,991, 8. Randy Pierce 1,985, 9. Colin Baker 1,556, 10. Jason Solwold 1,368.