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Solwold Scores in ASCS Northwest Prelim at Yakima

[i Shawn Miller, YAKIMA, Wash. (September 25, 2009)]

It’s not very often when a race car driver complains about too much speed.

However, that was the common sentiment Friday at the Central Washington State Fair Raceway in Yakima, Wash., where Jason Solwold outlasted Roger Crockett in a fast and furious start to the final weekend of the American Sprint Car Series Northwest Region.

Both Solwold and Crockett took turns getting hung up in lapped traffic, which prompted Solwold to slow down on the 3/8th mile track after the final restart with seven laps remaining.

“I kinda slowed my pace down a little bit trying to give myself some room toward the end, in case I did have to race with Roger,” said Solwold, a Burlington, Wash., resident who tied Crockett with a region-best five wins at the track.

“You just kinda set a pace to where you don’t get to those lapped cars too soon. You don’t want to go wide open and catch up to them as fast as you can because that’ll usually get you in trouble.”

Solwold caught up to the back of the pack on the final lap, but Crockett was unable to make a pass.

“It was a pain,” said Crockett, who hails from Medford, Ore. “The lapped cars were going just good enough you had a hard time getting by them. It was really, really hard to pass lapped cars.”

The finish was bittersweet for Crockett, who all but wrapped up the Northwest Region point’s title. Crockett will clinch his first career ASCS championship by starting the feature of the season finale Saturday (Sept. 26) in Yakima.

“It’s nice to have the points done,” he said. “To run second and just break a bunch of stuff is frustrating.”

Crockett also battled car problems for the second half of the race. He said a shock, radiator and header all broke, among other things, and estimated the damage at $3,000-4,000.

Crockett, who said the team would put in the backup motor for Saturday’s finale, attributed the trouble to some rocks scattered throughout the track and the challenge of passing cars, an idea that third-place finisher Steven Tiner of Visalia, Calif., shared.

“(The track) was just too fast,” Tiner said. “You couldn’t pass nobody. I rode around a lapped car for 10 laps. I couldn’t pass him.

“Even if that lapped car wasn’t there, I would have lined up behind Roger and Solwold (on the final restart). And those two drivers are the best there is around here. On a track like this, you’re not going to get by them unless they mess up or lapped traffic comes into play.”

The two Northwest veterans went back and forth for much of the race, including several close calls in lapped traffic. In the end, Solwold credited his success to starting on the pole inside of Crockett.

“The (pill) draw was key,” said Solwold, who became the only other Northwest Region racer besides Crockett with multiple wins in the Series this season.

“Basically, I knew if I could get down in front of Roger down in turn one, he was going to have a tough time getting by us. The draw tonight was critical. Lady Luck was on our side for that one.”

Solwold and Crockett weren’t the only drivers in the top five feeling stress. Three different competitors who were running in the top four had problems in the final 18 laps.

While running in fourth, Brock Lemley of Bellingham, Wash., stopped in turn two on a restart of lap 13.

On lap 24, Chico, Calif., resident Stephen Allard pulled his car into the infield while in third place.

Henry Van Dam of Enumclaw, Wash., who inherited the third position on Allard’s caution, then went to the pits because his right rear tire was flat.

Tiner held onto the position in the final seven laps despite a near run-in with a lapped car on the restart.

“That’s just the way it goes,” Tiner said. “This is racing and you’ve got to take anything you can get. I’ve had my share of bad luck this year. To have a little bit of good luck tonight, I’ll take it.”

Jay Cole of Shelton, Wash., was fourth and Marysville, Wash., resident Colton Heath was the Hard Charger after driving from 12th to fifth.

Also of note, Justyn Cox of Sacramento, Calif., claimed the Northwest Region Rookie of the Year.

ASCS Northwest Region results from Central Washington State Fair Raceway (Sept. 25):

Heat One (10 laps): 1. 08-Steve Vague, 2. 94-Steven Tiner, 3. 23n-Stephen Allard, 4. 1-Glenn Borden Jr., 5. 5x-Colton Heath, 6. 38-D.J. Kosa, 7. 44w-Austen Wheatley, 8. 2l-Logan Forler, 9. 18-Travis Jacobson.

Heat Two (10 laps): 1. 11-Roger Crockett, 2. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 3. 25c-Chad Groves, 4. 12p-Randy Pierce, 5. 98-Joe Ramaker, 6. 29w-Steve James, 7. 22-Jason Bloodgood, 8. 98m-Mitch Olson.

Heat Three (10 laps): 1. 73-Jason Solwold, 2. 5h-Justyn Cox, 3. 40-Brock Lemley, 4. 44-Kelly Miller, 5. 6m-Phillip Del Rosa, 6. 7k-Brian Kirkpatrick, 7. 9p-Jared Peterson, 8. (DNS) 6-Bob Stevens.

Heat Four (10 laps): 1. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 2. Oj-Jay Cole, 3. 11w-Shane Broers, 4. 12-Jared Ridge, 5. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 6. 6n-Billy Nutter, 7. 23-Colin Baker, 8. 15d-Jeff Dunlap.

“B” Feature (12 laps): 1. 1-Glenn Borden Jr., 2. 12-Jared Ridge, 3. 98m-Mitch Olson, 4. 38-D.J. Kosa, 5. 98-Joe Ramaker, 6. 22-Jason Bloodgood, 7. 18-Travis Jacobson, 8. 15d-Jeff Dunlap, 9. 23-Colin Baker, 10. 29w-Steve James, 11. 6n-Billy Nutter, 12. (DNS) 7k-Danny Kirkpatrick, 13, (DNS) 6m-Phillip Del Rosa, 14. (DNS) 9p-Jared Peterson, 15. (DNS) 44w-Austen Wheatley, 16. (DNS) 2l-Logan Forler, 17. (DNS) 6-Bob Stevens.

“A” Feature (30 laps): 1. 51-Jason Solwold, 2. 11-Roger Crockett, 3. 94-Steven Tiner, 4. Oj-Jay Cole, 5. 5x-Colton Heath, 6. 08-Steve Vague, 7. 5d-Josh DeWitt, 8. 5h-Justyn Cox, 9. 12p-Randy Pierce, 10. 25c-Chad Groves, 11. 33v-Henry Van Dam, 12. 98m-Mitch Olson, 13. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 14. 1-Glenn Borden Jr., 15. 38-D.J. Kosa, 16. 23n-Stephen Allard, 17. 40-Brock Lemley, 18. 44-Kelly Miller, 19. 11w-Shane Broers, 20. 12-Jared Ridge.

ASCS Northwest Region Points (Top Ten): 1. Roger Crockett 2,276, 2. Jared Ridge 2,180, 3. Steven Tiner 2,161, 4. Henry Van Dam 2,101, 5. Chad Groves 2,049, 6. Mitch Olson 1,980, 7. Justyn Cox 1,881, 8. Randy Pierce 1,849, 9. Colin Baker 1,556, 10. Jason Solwold 1,254.