On September 2, 2017, the SPEARS (SRL) Southwest Tour Series and the Northwest Super Late Model Series (NWSLMS) will converge at Rocky Mountain Raceway in West Valley City Utah for the Retro Custom Metals 150. The event will be the first time the two series have come together for a single affair, paying $10,000 to the winner. In 2015, the SRL and the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series (RMCS) put on a similar event at the same facility. 2015 SRL Champion Jacob Gomes was the $10,000 winner of that feature with the SRL taking home seven of the top 10 positions at the RMCS’ home track. 29 cars appeared for that event, and a similar sized field is expected for this weekend’s race.
Heading into this battle, Speed51.com powered by JEGS spoke too many of the competitors, about their thoughts on the track, the competition and the challenges they were about to face.
Derek Thorn – Three-time SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Champion and current point leader: “It’s great to be going back to RMR, after being absent for a couple of years. It has always been a lot of fun to drive and to be running against the guys (and girls) from the Northwest. It should be a good time.
Jacob Gomes – 2015 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Champion and winner of the last combination race at Rocky Mountain Raceway. Gomes is currently sixth in the championship standings: “I’m really excited to go back. It is by far one of my most favorite tracks the tour has gone to. I’m really looking forward to racing against another group of competitors, as it should make it more interesting. I’m really hoping to become a three-time winner there. That would be great.”
Mitch Kleyn – Two-time championship runner-up in the Northwest Super Late Model Series and currently second in the season standings with one victory: “Myself and the entire Wild 1 Racing Team are looking forward to this weekend’s SRL event at RMR. I feel that with any 150 lap event, tire management is the number one priority. 150 laps is a long time on the same four tires. Then you have to stay out of trouble and have a car left at the end of the race to be able to win the race. Our plan is to save tires and keep the fenders on and be there at the end!”
Bobby Hodges – SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series competitor who was fourth in the championship standings in 2016, and the winner of the Speed51.com Most Popular Driver Award. The fun loving driver is currently third in the standings with one win, three points behind Ricky Schlick: “I’m excited to see what these NWSLMS guys are about. Mike Naake does the shocks for Garrett Evans, Trenton Moriarty and a bunch of the top teams. They have really been bugging us to go up there, and we will give it right back to them saying, they’re too scared of the heat in the SRL, and back and forth, it’s all in fun. It’ll be cool to turn some laps with them!”
John Dillon – 1990 NASCAR Northwest Tour Series Champion and 14-time winner in that series. He has multiple wins in touring series competition at Rocky Mountain Raceway and is a winner of the Idaho 200 at Stateline Speedway (ID): “This event will be my first event with a brand new Port City car. I am anxious to debut it with some of the best drivers on the West Coast. My limited schedule is targeting the best events, with the best teams and drivers. If I am going to be something less than first place, then I want it to be against someone that is great at what they do."
Chris Eggleston – 2015 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Champion, and current championship runner-up. Eggleston has won four of the last five, Super Late Model races he has entered at Colorado National Speedway (CO): “Although I have never raced a SLM race at Rocky Mountain Raceway, finding out they are coming to Salt Lake is almost like a home town track for me, in regards to a geographical standpoint. We have had a good string of recent success here in Colorado, winning the last four of five races here in Colorado, and are excited to see how we stack up against some of the big names known to race in the SRL series.”
Brittney Zamora – Current Northwest Super Late Model Championship Leader, and the winner of the series feature event at Douglas County Speedway (OR). Zamora was also the 2016 NWSLMS Rookie of the Year: “The NWSLMS has a talented group of competitors that are often underestimated, and I am excited to see where we stack up against the SRL competitors. We are all going to bring our A-game, so that we can run with the best of the SRL."
Keith Spangler – SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series competitor who is second in all-time starts with 83. Spangler is not known as a great qualifier, but a tough competitor, who is practically a shoe-in for the “Rockwell Hard Charger Award” at each event. He is known as a driver who gets the most out of his equipment. He is currently third all-time in top ten finishes in the SRL: “It is always fun to compete against new drivers. Racing against the best drivers in the area really makes you step up your game”
Dominic Ursetta – 2014 and 2016 Colorado National Speedway Champion with 24 wins during that period. Ursetta is also an accomplished dirt track racer, with six IMCA track championships on the dirt: “I have never raced with the competitors in the NWSLMS, and I am looking forward to it, but I love racing with the SRL boys. They are fast and when you beat those guys, you are doing something.”
Craig Raudman – 2001 NASCAR Southwest Tour Series Champion with 14 victories in that series. Raudman is currently fifth in the SRL standings, with three career wins, and was the championship runner-up in 2008: “I haven’t raced at RMR myself, but have been there many times as a crew chief, and it is a nice facility. I don’t know too many of the other drivers, from the NWSLMS, so that could be a concern because I haven’t raced them before, and I don’t know their personality, or how they race, as I do with the SRL drivers. However I am really looking forward to racing with Dominic Ursetta, as I have heard he is coming down. I have also heard that Jonathon Gomez will be there, which will be awesome! I can’t wait to get on track, and I feel the Dave Reed Racing Team has really been giving me some fast race cars to drive. I can’t wait!”
Jan Evans – 2017 Northwest Super Late Model Series Rookie of the Year Leader, and current third place contender in the championship standings. Jan is the son of Northwest racing legend Garrett Evans: “I feel good, and I love going to new places with new competition, so I look forward to it. I think (racing against the SRL) is going to be a challenge, because every series races differently. But I also think our series has some of the best drivers in it. That will create that same challenge for them. As far as winning the event, the obvious key to finishing is patience. Nobody is going to win the race in the first 100 laps, so I think the last 50 laps is go-time.”
Dennis Furden – SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Rookie of the Year Contender at the age of 55 years young. Furden missed the first two events of the season, due to damage to his car in the Winter Showdown, but is now driving a former Bob Lyon owned race car and sits 16th in the current standings: “The number 20 is looking forward to seeing old friends like Jeff and Greg Hillock and racing with some new faces.”
Ed Thomsen – Northwest Super Late Model competitor who currently sits sixth in the championship standings. Ed finished sixth in the 2016 final standings as well: “I am originally from Utah, and have been looking forward to this race since it was announced. I have never raced at Rocky Mountain Raceway, so that will be exciting.”
Ricky Schlick – SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Rookie of the Year Leader and current championship runner-up. In 2013, Schlick was the SRL Legends Tour Champion: “I believe in a 150 lap event, with a bunch of fast guys, and people I haven’t raced against up there, the key is to stay out of trouble, stay focused and hit your marks lap after lap, in order to be there at the end for a strong finish or a win.”
With the “Retro Custom Metals 150” being the first event of its kind, between the NWSLMS and the SRL, each series will be looking for bragging rights, in addition to the winner’s check of $10,000. The action is sure to be hot and heavy, with action on the track beginning at Friday’s practice session. Saturday’s activities begin with practice from 12:30 to 1:30pm. The front gates open at 4:00pm with qualifying scheduled for 5:00pm. The B-Main Event (if needed) will roll off around 7:25pm with the first of two 75 lap segments scheduled for 8:15pm (All times are Mountain Daylight Time, MDT). The North/South 150 lap Super Late Model race will be accompanied by the Maverik Modifieds, Super Stocks, Pro 4 Bangers and the Jr Stingers. Coverage of the event can be found on Speed51.com’s Trackside Now programming.
Current Top 10 in NWSLMS Points: 1. Brittney Zamora 235, 2. Mitch Kleyn 217, 3. Jan Evans 205, 4. Brooke Schimmel 196, 5. Alan Cress 193, 6. Ed Thomsen 183, 7. Christian Roeder 125, 8. Stephanie Evans 106, 9. Garrett Evans 96, 10. Glen Knutson 95.
Current Top 10 in SRL Points: 1. Derek Thorn 786, 2. Ricky Schlick 742, 3. Bobby Hodges 739, Blaine Rocha 726, 5. Craig Raudman 710, 6. Jacob Gomes 696, 7. Eric Schmidt 695, 8. Carlos Vieira 627, 9. Scott Sanchez 575, 10. Keith Spangler 516.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Kevin Peters Photo