Wenatchee, WA -- For Mike Longton the chance to race played a major factor as to why he entered the 52nd Annual Yakima Speedway Apple Cup. For the last few years the Moxee Missile’s foray into Northwest Super Late Model Series racing has been few and far between.
“If I could I’d race every weekend but it’s getting tougher and tougher these days. Work has kept me so busy the last three or four years that we’ve only been able to get out to a few races a year,” Longton said. “Last year we got wadded up in the first race of the year we ran and we didn’t have the time to fix the car, so we were done for the season.”
Longton is excited to aim for a win, put on a show for the fans and support a longtime sponsor.
“It’s always cool to win at your home track in front of the home crowd. I haven’t run Yakima since Doug (Bettarel, Yakima’s new promoter) took over but I’ve heard nothing but good things. It will be nice to have (Bettarel) running the track because he’s someone that cares about racing and the racers. Doug has helped and supported so many racers, including myself back to my go-kart days when I was just 15-years old and then onto my very first Late Model. He will do great things there.”
With a limited racing schedule the last few years, Longton explained that tire management is key to getting his No. 37 Ford to victory lane and the Apple Cup 125 trophy.
“The tires we run now aren’t the same as when I got started 20 years ago; that’s just what Super Late Model racing has come to. We run single file for 180 laps at times (in the big 200-lap shootouts) with a lot of riding waiting to get to the end of the race then make our moves.
“You can’t really practice on old tires and learn anything like we used to be able to do. Some guys (still try) and sticker up for every practice and some use old tires. We’re kind of in the middle of the road with that (strategy). Yakima still has enough grip left in it that you’ll have to have a well-balanced car (to win the race). If you’re on the flip side, you’ll burn up the tires with too much power being put to the track.”
Focused on the setup of his own Ford, Longton still takes time to watch how his competitors approach the weekend.
“Oh yeah you have to watch at the track and maybe learn something or see if they are doing something different than you are for setups.”
Apple Cup is the first of several big races offered in the Northwest that Longton has circled on his 2019 schedule. Earning a weekend victory adds to a few more races Longton would like to win in 2019.
“I’ve been going to the Montana 200 for so long in my career that it’s one that’s at the top of my list. The Evergreen (Speedway) Summer Showdown is also right up there with them.”
Apple Cup weekend events include Saturday’s Qualifying, Trophy Dashes and Heat Races. Sunday features main events for all divisions, concluding with the 52nd Annual Apple Cup 125. Ticket and other information can be found at www.yakimaspeedway.us.
-Northwest Super Late Model Series Press Release & Photo