On Thursday, it was Tayler Riddle showing the way, but older brother Owen Riddle picked up the pace and turned in a near flawless day of competition at the 7th Annual Summer Showdown on Friday.
The Naches, Washington driver concluded final practice atop the board, but admitted in passing while in line for pre-qualifying technical inspection that he may have simply caught one good lap. That was all he needed for time trials though as the past winner of such major Super Late Model events as the Montana 200, Yakima Fall Classic, Tucson Chilly Willy 150, and the 2017 running of the Evergreen Speedway 5/8-mile’s Mark Galloway Memorial was clocked with the fastest time of 22.051 seconds.
While the $1,000 top prize for earning the pole was nice, where the field lines up for Saturday’s 200-lap did not stop there. A trio of 25-lap qualifying heat races set the first 16 rows instead. The way it shook out, it was defending Summer Showdown winner Preston Peltier starting alongside Riddle. The two competitors fought tooth and nail for the top spot over the course of the short stint.
“Preston is tough no matter where you are at and I know he doesn’t roll over,” Riddle told Speed51.com. “He leaned in the window and told me right before the race that he’d like to start on the front row, so I pretty much knew we were going to go racing. It was harder than I wanted to go, but that’s all right.”
Part of the reason some racers elected not to go all out was because the tires in which they raced on would be the same set in which they run the first 100 laps on Saturday night. Nevertheless, Riddle mentioned that being put to the test for the lead helped rather than hurt.
“I know that we can make a few changes for tomorrow, which is not always a bad thing,” Riddle continued. “It’s better to be able to have to go a little harder. I realized we were a little too tight, so we will make an adjustment for tomorrow.”
The second heat race had many similarities to the first one. Hometown racer Lex Johnson had a respectable second best time in the qualifying session. Current SRL Southwest Tour point leader Jeremy Doss was faster in a few parts of the race track and late in the going peeked his way under Johnson. The two made contact in turn three and Doss slightly backed off for the remaining lap.
“I guess he got down inside me it looked like,” Johnson explained. “After the fact, I didn’t realize he was there. My bad to kind of make contact there, but we both survived and will move on to the 200 lapper tomorrow and that’s what is important.”
With the win, Johnson will start outside of the front row and much like Riddle gained some information about tweaks that may need to be performed for the green flag.
“We need to find a little bit more speed to be there at the end, but we’re going to keep plugging away,” Johnson added.
The third and final qualifying heat featured a different story play out. Another weekly racer at the Monroe, Washington facility, Tyler Tanner, convincingly cruised to the victory following a battle on the opening lap with Texas driver Chris Davidson.
While learning a good amount about his car, what was learned about his competition did not factor in as much.
Tayler Riddle was on the move from the get go, but then noticeably backed off as the laps wound down. Riddle went on to acknowledge after the race that he was saving equipment with enough of a margin on the next position to take it easy.
Meanwhile, Tanner had a somewhat differing perspective regarding the approach to the upcoming race’s format.
“Our car was good and we ran it hard at the beginning to see what it would trend to and what we’d have for the race,” Tanner said. “We know we’re going to get new tires at halftime so why not find out now what kind of adjustments we need to make for the race.”
The Super Late Models will receive another practice session late morning Saturday to test some potential race runs and setups out. The 50-lap last chance qualifier for those not yet transferred, including Kulwicki Driver Development Program members Brittney Zamora and Molly Helmuth who both suffered mechanical issues on Friday, will take place at 4:00 p.m. PT.
The $25,000-to-win Summer Showdown is slated to kick off at approximately 7:00 p.m. Speed51.com will have Trackside Now coverage from the final practice all the way through victory lane ceremonies.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage of Friday's events at Evergreen Speedway by clicking here.
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com National Correspondent – Twitter: @aaron_creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Michele Martin
Seventh Annual Summer Showdown Lineup (as of Friday night)
|33||Last Chance Qualifier|
|34||Last Chance Qualifier|
|35||Last Chance Qualifier|
|36||Last Chance Qualifier|
|37||2018 Evergreen Points|
|38||2018 Evergreen Points|