Spokane, WA – Jason Jefferson had never raced at Hermiston Raceway before Sunday night but by the end of the evening, he had earned a hard fought come from behind victory in the “Atomic 125”. Jefferson got into race leader Chad Hinkle on lap 19, sending both to the rear of the field, setting up a meticulous drive to the front for the now two-time winner in the series. The incident with Hinkle was unfortunate for both drivers, but Jefferson was able to parlay a fast Super Late Model into a fortunate win.
“I certainly didn’t mean to get into him”, Jefferson explained. “I was working on my timing trying to get underneath him. I know that he’s a big motor car, so he was slowing down in the middle and I was working on momentum. I certainly didn’t mean to get into him, and I deserved to go to the back. At that point I had my work cut out for me, after I caused that problem, but the car was good. I can’t thank Brian Goetz enough for letting me run their racecar. I’m super humbled and happy to get the win for them.”
20 Super Late Models appeared for the penultimate event of the eight-race season for the series. Corey Allard maintained his momentum from his “Idaho 200” victory at Stateline Speedway, earning the Five Star Racecar Bodies Fast Time Award with a lap of 14.738 seconds around the 3/8-mile oval. June’s Hermiston winner Haeden Plybon clocked in second quick, only 0.008 seconds back. Max Schroeder was third, followed Jason Jefferson, Colton Nelson, Garrett Evans, Chad Hinkle, and Dave Garber.
The top-eight redraw found Garber on the pole, flanked by Evans in the much slower outer groove. The race got off to a rough start when Colton Nelson spun in Turn 4 of the opening lap. The field regrouped and Garber jumped to the lead over Evans and Hinkle. Another quick restart on lap 6 found Garber again moving to the front, with Evans falling to fifth behind Hinkle, Plybon, and Jefferson. On lap 10 Hinkle was able to get under Garber for the lead, with the #93 freight trained back to fourth.
Jefferson would chase down Hinkle and apply heavy pressure when on lap 19, contact between the two leaders in Turn 2 sent Hinkle spinning and Jefferson to the back, setting the recovery in motion. Plybon would inherit the top spot in front of Evans and a charging Aubree Cristiani, Max Schroeder and Allard, who was making his way from eighth starting.
A 21-lap green flag run would ensue with Plybon pulling out to a comfortable lead ahead of Evans. Allard would work his way forward getting by Schroeder, who was the victim of multiple upper groove restarts, and Cristiani on the low side. Jefferson found himself up to eighth by that point, as the fastest car on the track. Another caution on lap 52 found the top-three unchanged with Jefferson now up to fifth, restarting in the preferred lower groove.
The restart shuffled Evans back in the outside line with Allard and Jefferson nose to tail on the bumper of Plybon. The yellow flew again on lap 71, with the restart resulting in the biggest wreck of the evening involving half a dozen cars, including early leader Hinkle. The restart allowed Jefferson to get under Allard from his third-place starting position, before another yellow for Aubree Cristiani set up the deciding move three laps later.
“I had seen he was tight early on there, sizing him up a little bit”, Jefferson recalled. “When I knew I was on the outside for the restart, I knew it was my chance to try to get up front and try to hold him off at that point.”
The ensuing restart saw just that, as Jefferson was able race side-by-side for several laps before completing the power move for the lead. Allard showed his strength two laps later, getting under Plybon for second, taking up chase of the leader. Allard would close on Jefferson’s bumper and apply pressure to the multi-time Yakima Speedway Super Late Model Champion, giving Jefferson pause for concern.
“I haven’t raced but once this year, so I was worried about everybody”, Jefferson admitted. “I didn’t know who it was, but I knew I had to do my job. It’s hard to stay focused when you don’t race every week like some of theses guys, but it worked out and I’m super happy for all my guys and my crew.”
The heated race for the front cooled when the yellow flew again on lap 91. The restart found Plybon taking advantage of the lower groove to move back by Allard, as Jefferson pulled away. It would take Allard a few laps to get by Plybon once again, however, and take up chase of the leader. The field would run clean and green as Jefferson began to encounter lapped traffic, allowing Allard to close to within a few car lengths at one point.
On lap 122, a spin by Christopher Kalsch would give Allard one last chance at Jefferson. But the upper groove proved to be his undoing with the savvy teenager, Plybon, moving back to second. Jefferson was able to take the checkered unpressured, as Allard got to Plybon’s bumper, but was unable to make the move, as Allard recalled the last restart.
“That last restart, we just didn’t have enough time to get back to second. We were on his bumper coming back to the checkered, but we couldn’t quite pull it off. If the final restart was a little different at the end, then we could have had something for him (Jefferson). It is what it is, and we’ll take a third place, fast time, the car in one piece, and we’ll move on.”
Allard may have had the fastest car at certain points, but he and Jefferson put on a fun duel over the closing laps before, the “Idaho 200” winner settled for third.
“I think we had something for him there, but I screwed up a couple of times and heated the right rear up a little bit too much trying to get under him”, Allard confessed. “After you do that, you have to take it easy for a few laps to get it back under you. He got out there a little bit and had three or four car lengths, but we were swapping lap times back and forth. I would be a little faster and then he would.”
Haeden Plybon would have another solid run, after scoring two victories, a third and now a second in the 2021 NWSLMS season. The Spokane, WA driver knew they missed the setup a little bit, but he was able to battle to a second-place finish behind Jefferson.
“We kinda missed it a little bit, but we will know for next time. It will be better next time”, Plybon volunteered. “Jason was a little better than us through the center, as we were just a little tight through there after the first 50 laps That last restart definitely helped out a little bit. Corey hadn’t had the best restarts all night and we took that to our advantage. I pushed it in there, as it was open, and we came out with second.”
The next event for the Northwest Super Late Model Series will be the season finale at the Wenatchee Valley Super-Oval on September 25th. Fouth-place finisher Garrett Evans will take the championship lead over new championship runner-up and Rookie-of-the-Year leader Max Schroeder, who finished fifth. Eighth-place finisher Bryce Bezanson will look to retake the rookie lead, and the runner-up point position, at a track at which he almost won the season opener.
- Jason Jefferson, 2. Haeden Plybon*, 3. Corey Allard, 4.Garrett Evans, 5. Max Schroeder*, 6. Alan Cress, 7. Colton Nelson*, 8. Bryce Bezanson*, 9. Tristan Haider* 10. Dave Garber, 11. Aston Cristiani*, 12. Derek Ball*, 13. Dale Wennerberg*, 14. Aubree Cristiani*, 15. Dylan Caldwell, 16. Ken Bonney, 17. Cristopher Kalsch, 18. Chad Hinkle, 19. Jim Franklin, 20. Jeff Mullins
ABOUT THE NORTHWEST SUPER LATE MODEL SERIES
The Northwest Super Late Model Series is the premier regional touring Super Late Model series in the Northwest. The series has many valued partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, McGunegill Engine Performance, AR Bodies, Leonard Evans Used Car Superstore, Joes Racing Products, Penske Racing Shocks, Five Star Bodies, AFCO/Longacre Racing Products, Wheel Chill, Atomic Screen printing and Embroidery, Franks Racing Radio, BLP, Jefferson Racing, Driven Racing Oil, Vital Signs, Bassett Wheels, American Racer and The Ti Company. For more information on the series visit www.nwslms.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
-Northwest Super Late Model Series Press Release & Photo