On Saturday night, the small quarter-mile of Idaho’s Stateline Speedway will roar to life with 200 laps of Late Model thunder. The Idaho 200 has seen different winners in each of the last five years. Two drivers in particular, Garrett Evans and Gary Lewis, wouldn’t mind putting an end to that trend.
“It would be awesome,” Evans told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I would love to do that. We won it a couple years ago and I’ve been wanting to do it again.”
Evans scored his first, and so far only Idaho 200 win in 2012, leading 58 laps in the process. He’s consistently a contender in this race. In five starts Evans has three top five finishes and four top-10’s to go along with his one win.
But Stateline Speedway is a quarter-mile oval. It’s a tight bullring and that means anything can happen. Sometimes trouble will find a driver, no matter how good they are at the track. Last year Evans failed to qualify for the race. Earlier this year at Stateline he got caught up in a crash.
“The last time I was there the car got tore up pretty bad,” said Evans. “It’s just a matter of staying out of trouble and not getting your brakes too hot and being around at the end of the race.”
One driver who did a great job at being around at the end of 200 laps is Gary Lewis. Lewis won three straight Idaho 200’s from 2007-2009. Then something changed.
“The race used to be during the heat of the day,” explained Lewis. “It’s real hot in this area. Usually 105-degrees. Now they moved it to Saturday night because people complained it was just too hot to run that long of a race. During the heat of the day our setups really worked at that track. In the evening races we’ve struggled just a little bit.”
Lewis’ streak ended in 2010 when he finished second to Jeff Dillon. He’s scored one top five finish since, but had his best chance to visit victory lane once again just barely slip away last year.
“The car was great,” said Lewis. “I jumped out into the lead and led the whole thing and right at the end I got a flat tire and lost it.”
When all was said and done Lewis ended up 13th, with a finish that doesn’t show just how strong he ran.
But why was Lewis so strong again after struggling for a few years? Last year the Idaho 200 was a day race once again.
“Last year there was a wind storm that came in,” said Lewis. “They cancelled it on Saturday night and had to run it on Sunday afternoon and I was all excited. Sure enough it worked out awesome.
“I’d like to have it be during the day but it’s not so we’ll just get our evening setup worked out.”
Getting back to victory lane would mean a lot to Lewis. He’s yet to score a win in 2015. Doing so in the Idaho 200 for the fourth time in his career would make the return to victory lane even better.
“It would be awesome,” Lewis said. “I have a great group of guys on the team. We’ve been working extremely hard to make sure everything is right. I really want to get a win for my team and everybody involved.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo