Experience, new talent both shine at latest CCRA races
It was a day for experienced professionals, and it was a day for talented newcomers.
Former Columbia County Racing Association division champions Clark Tenney, Clyde White and Shelby Wegner all captured main event wins on July 7 at River City Speedway in St. Helens.
And Tracer Division leader Trenton Brogan of Longview remained undefeated in the series for youths ages 13-16 as he won the main event.
In other events, Longview's Josh Rodgers won the Dwarf Car Division main and Josh Warbis won the Four Cylinder Division main event.
White, the defending Sportsman Division champion, came from behind and took the lead on lap 13 after passing Woodland's Devon Reed, who led the first 12 laps of the 30-lap event. White went on to capture his first main event win this year in his D & S Light Truck/Eric's Frame Repair sponsored 2016 Chevrolet Impala. Reed was runner-up, followed by Brad Beehler of St. Helens, Steffan Strawn and Trevor Lively. Reed won the trophy dash in the division, and Beehler and White won heat races.
"We started in the middle of the pack and I was able to move through traffic and eventually get up front and hold on to the lead to get the win," said White, 50, whose PNE Construction race team includes crew members Craig Olson and Kevin Walker. "I had a really good race with Reed, who has really improved a lot this year. We were racing bumper-to-bumper and side-by-side for a number of laps, which was lots of fun."
In addition to the flat-out fun of the event, White was glad — and relieved — to get a much-needed "W."
"I had a good race with Reed and Beehler and the three of us had a pretty good battle," White said. "We had a really good night overall and it's nice to get the monkey off our back. We're hoping to come out here and get a few more wins this year."
Tenney won the Modified Division main with his 21st Century Towing/David's Automotive open-wheel style racer. For Tenney, a former series champ (2013), it marked his second win of the current season, following his victory on June 16. Tenney also won the division's trophy dash.
Defending series champion Stephen Kaptur of St. Helens took second, followed by Derek Campbell and Mark Hill. Kaptur won the heat race and leads the division standings at the midway point of the 14-race series. Kaptur, 42, is seeking to win a second straight series title with his Malar Performance Engines/Discount Race Car Parts open-wheel racer.
Wegner, 27, grabbed the lead on the final lap to win her first-ever Tuner Division main event with her PSP Powder Coating/Economy Auto Parts 2001 Toyota Celica. Bob Berg of St. Helens, took the lead on lap three and was out in front for a majority of the 30-lap race in his Cozy Lawn Maintenance/Eaton's Tire & Service Center 1997 Dodge Neon.
Wegner, a former Four Cylinder Division champion (2015), started in the back of the seven-car main alongside Berg. Both drivers worked their way toward the front of the pack, with Berg taking the lead on lap three. Berg, 54, led the next 26 laps on the quarter-mile clay oval, however, his Neon's handling was severely hampered when the power steering belt came off on lap 25, which made it very difficult for him to drive in the corners.
Wegner, 27, grabbed the lead on the final lap, passing Berg on the inside of turn three on lap 30 and pulling in front to get the victory. Vancouver's Sande Simmet was second, followed by Berg, Ryan Potter of Vernonia and Rudy Stellflug of St. Helens. Berg, the 2016 Four Cylinder champion, and Wegner each won heat races. Berg, the Tuner Division points leader, was a two-time winner as he also won the trophy dash.
Brogan, 14, won his fifth consecutive Tracer Division main in his Ram Light Truck Salvage 1996 Nissan Altima. Brogan led the 20-lap race from start to finish. Kelso's Wendy Vough was second and Paige Gump was third. Brogan won the trophy dash and Vough took the heat.
"Since it's my first time competing in this class, I feel a little surprised that I'm having so much success," said Brogan. "I would like to see a few more cars than just three. It was a lot more fun in the last race (June 30) when we had six cars and I passed everyone to get into first place. My goal this year is to win the championship and the Rookie of the Year Award."
Rodgers won the Dwarf Car main with Shawn Dorie of St. Helens taking second, followed by Dennis Liebig of Scappoose, Scott Dorie of St. Helens and Gary Kordosky of St. Helens. Rodgers and Scott Dorie won heat races and Shawn Dorie captured the trophy dash.
Warbis captured the Four Cylinder Division main, with Jacob Shultz taking second, followed by Dan McDonald, Lynn Yeaman and Sean Elliot to round out the top five. Shultz won the trophy dash, and McDonald and TJ Landis won heat races.
The eighth CCRA event at the Columbia County Fairgrounds facility is the July 28 Stock Car Showdown & Studebaker car show.