Grays Harbor Raceway
Blood, Dixon and Sanford Victorious!
Blood, Dixon and Sanford Victorious!
By: Aaron Reed
Photos by Josh Bryant
The IMCA Modifieds, Hornets and Limited Sprints were in action on September 30, 2023 for a non-points event as the 2023 season closed on the point standings and champions were crowned earlier this month.
Scott Miller of Shelton and Olympia's Austin Rognlin set the front row of the 25-lap feature event. Miller took the early lead with Rognlin moving back to second. Tumwater driver Tyson Blood looked to work into the top three as he battled with Jeff Westergard of Sedro Woolley. Blood worked his way into third, setting his sights on Miller and Rognlin. The 3/8 banked clay oval was lighting fast and starting to show character with some rough spots as the moisture started to come back. Blood worked his way into second as Miller put some distance on the rest of the field. Miller saw lap traffic, allowing Blood to close in. The top three put some distance between each other as Westergard saw Shelton's Brenton Schnitzer look to go after the fourth position. The first caution of the feature saw Elliott French of Hoquiam spin on the front stretch after contact by Miller. The battle for the lead was the race to watch throughout the feature as Blood looked to take over the top spot. Blood looked low a handful of times but couldn't make the pass. Just as the lead battle heated up, third position saw Westergard and Schnitzer go for a podium spot. Some contact between both drivers saw Schnitzer move into third. A late race restart saw a 3-lap shootout between Miller, Blood, and Schnitzer. Blood looked to make one last charge, looking low in turn two on the white flag lap. Both Blood and Miller raced side by side down the backstretch with Blood taking the lead and picking up the win. Miller, Schnitzer, Rognlin and Vancouver's Don Jenner rounded out the top five. Elma Lane's Hard Charger was Chaz Wilder of Elma, going 11 positions and finishing 7th. Heat race winners earlier in the evening were Jenner, Rognlin and Campbell River, BC driver Lane Zerbin. Blood also picked up quick time, as the IMCA Modifieds qualified for the first time in many years, turning a lap of 16.877.
Chris Foster of Renton in his first sprint car race ever brought the field to the green flag. Foster, normally a competitor in the Northwest Focus Midgets Series, bought a car from past Northwest Limited Sprint driver Eric Turner. Kai Dixon of Maple Ridge, BC took the early lead. Foster bobbled in turn one making contact with Levi Kuntz of Carnation. Both drivers continued on. Olympia's Xan Miller moved into second with Kuntz looking to make a bid for the runner up spot. Dixon put a straightaway lead on Miller, Kuntz and Mt. Vernon's Steve Vague. Dixon made a few appearances throughout the year and was close to that first feature win on the banked clay oval. Kuntz saw trouble later in the feature, spinning in turn two, bringing out the caution. Dixon led Miller, Vague, and Olympia's Destry Miller to the green flag. On the restart Dixon looked strong out front as Vague looked to make a bid for second on Xan Miller. Kuntz quickly worked his way back into the top five after started 7th on the restart. Dixon picked up the win over Kuntz, making a last lap pass off of turn four, Xan Miller, Vague, and Foster. Dixon and Xan Miller picked up the heat races earlier in the evening with Vague picking up fast time.
Elma's Brandon Tyler and Max Sanford of Belfair set the front row of the 20-lap feature. Sanford took the early lead from Tyler. Jeff Hatton of Grayland ran in third. The yellow flag flew for Oakville's Payton Harding, spinning on the backstretch after contact with Bremerton's Steve Morgan. A complete restart saw Sanford take the early lead. Tyler ran in second as Morgan worked his way into the top three. Steve Peters of Monroe worked his way by Hatton, looking to track down Morgan for a podium spot. Sanford put some slight distance on Tyler early on, as Morgan and Tyler battled for second. A slight bobble by Sanford allowed Tyler and Morgan to close in, bringing Peters with them. Tyler looked to the high side a for numerous laps to try and take the lead. Both Sanford and Tyler raced side by side with Tyler taking the lead momentarily. Tyler ran the high side, Sanford was low. Tyler took the lead on lap 7. Sanford stayed within striking distance but the caution flag flew on lap 8 for debris. Tyler led the field to the green flag, as the battle with Sanford continued. Sanford took the lead on lap 10 with a pass in turn four. A three-car battle for the lead made for an exciting race. Morgan and Tyler battled for second, with some slight contact. Both drivers raced side by side with Morgan moving into second for a moment. Tyler powered the high side of the raceway, taking over the runner up position. Sanford continued to lead and picked up the win over Tyler, Morgan, Peters and Harding. Heat race winners were Morgan and Peters.
The final race of the 2023 season will be next Saturday night as the Limited Sprints will return along with the Northwest Focus Midgets as they will have their final points race of the year plus its the Focus Fall Classic and the Summer Challenge Series championship. In the track championship Alex Peck of Federal Way currently has a one point lead over Elma's Garrett Thomas (who as of this writing has work commitments out of town and will not be there) and a four point lead on Shane Smith of Bow. Rounding out the top five is Arlington's Ashley Thompson and Chris Foster of Renton. It will be one wild feature event, crowning the 2023 track champion for the Northwest Focus Midgets. Also on hand will be the Super Stocks. Gates open at 4:30PM with racing at 6PM.
Grays Harbor Raceway
September 30, 2023
08 Steve Vague
- 20K Kai Dixon, 2. 29K Levi Kuntz, 3. 08 Steve Vague, 4. 77 Alex Olsen
- 23X Xan Miller, 2. 3X Destry Miller, 3. 29 Chris Foster, 4. 51D Dustin Gehring
- Dixon, 2. Kuntz, 3. Xan Miller, 4. Vague, 5. Foster, 6. Olsen, 7. Destry Miller
97TB Tyson Blood - 16.877
- 6X Don Jenner, 2. 97TB Tyson Blood, 3. 66 Jeff Westergard, 4. 17 Brian Izzi, 5. 28H Brian Harding, 6. 98D Dan Sheller
- 81R Austin Rognlin, 2. 58 Devon Reed, 3. 419 Jeff Hunt, 4. 34 Jason Tole, 5. 42 Kevin Valen, 6. 25 Will Taylor
- 81 Lane Zerbin, 2. 87K Brenton Schnitzer, 3. 93 Elliott French, 4. 26 Scott Miller, 5. 15 Clyde White, 6. 16 Chaz Wilder
- Blood, 2. Miller, 3. Schnitzer, 4. Rognlin, 5. Jenner, 6. Zerbin, 7. Wilder, 8. Westergard, 9. Reed, 10. Hunt, 11. Harding, 12. Izzi, 13. Valen, 14. Sheller, 15. White, 16. Taylor, 17. French, 18. Tole
Elma Lane's Hard Charger: 16 Chaz Wilder (11 positions)
- 35 Steve Morgan, 2. 29 Payton Harding, 3. 3 Max Sanford, 4. 13XXX Don Briggs Sr, 5. 425 Jacob Saulsbury, 6. 017 Wyatt Covert, 7. 0 Zach Dalrymple, 8. 25 David Dykstra
- V8 Steve Peters, 2. 07 Jeff Hatton, 3. 18 Brandon Tyler, 4. 22 Scott Henry, 5. 8X Nick Sheats, 6. 96 Jeff Signs, 7. 37 Mark Cooper
- Sanford, 2. Tyler, 3. Morgan, 4. Peters, 5. Harding, 6. Saulsbury, 7. Dalrymple, 8. Briggs Sr, 9. Dykstra, 10. Covert, 11. Sheats, 12. Signs, 13. Henry, 14. Hatton
Article Credit: Aaron Reed
Submitted By: Shaun Hulbert