The Northwest Super Late Model Series (NWSLMS) will make their second trip to Hermiston Raceway (OR) in 2021 when the series visits for the “Atomic 125” on Sunday, September 5th. Round #7 will be the penultimate event of the season for the series and will be Day #3 of Oregon’s Speed Week “Labor Day Spectacular”. 23 Super Late Models are on the expected entry list.
Hermiston Raceway will host the NWSLMS for the seventh time in its history. The track was one of the founding facilities on the “Tour” and hosted four events in its inaugural 2014 season. Mike Longton was a two-time winner that season, while the late J.C. Wofford, and Tayler Riddle scored single victories. The 2019 event was won by 2019 NWSLMS Champion Trevor Cristiani, in a wild event that saw Garrett Evans collide with Tayler Riddle on the final lap of the event. Garrett Evans took the checkered flag first, but was penalized for the incident. Tayler Riddle received a disqualification for a post-race incident. In June of 2021, Haeden Plybon came home with the win over Garrett Evans, Tristan Haidar, Andy Beaman and Max Schroeder. All five are entered for this weekend’s event.
Plybon is the only repeat winner in the series in 2021, and has had a history of success in both his Super and Pro Late Model at Hermiston. He has victories in both classes this season and will look to pick up Hermiston and NWSLMS wins number three. The rookie driver dominated Round #4 of the season, in his Cascade Rain Gutters, Joes Racing Products, Muffler Mart on Division, The Wheelman #55 Camaro. But despite his success, he is not sure of the key ingredient to his accomplishments at the 3/8-mile oval.
“I’m not too sure”, Plybon admitted. “I just save tires and am easy on the throttle and it tends to do us good for the end of the race.”
One driver, who is surprisingly winless in a Super Late Model (SLM) at Hermiston, is June’s second-place finisher Garrett Evans. Evans won the first segment of May’s “Duel 50’s” for the Pro Late Models but hasn’t turned the trick in the SLM, with two second-place finishes, two third-place results and a fourth in six starts. Evans enters the “Atomic 125” as the championship leader and will have to balance his desire for his first Super Late Model win there, with the quest for his fourth series championship.
“To finish first, first you must finish. But I am still trying to win a race there.” Evans replied.
Another driver who is winless at Hermiston Raceway, is a multi-time track champion at Yakima Speedway, a winner in the Northwest Super Late Model Series, NASCAR Northwest Tour Series, Rocky Mountain Challenge Series, ARCA Menards Pro Series West, and Late Model Challenge Series. The driver is Naches, WA resident Jason Jefferson, who will make his first start at Hermiston Raceway thanks to Bryon Goetz and the Goetz family.
“It is my first-time racing at Hermiston”, Jefferson stated. “I had an open weekend, so I decided to do it. Bryon Goetz and family are letting me race their new Port City Racecar and I’m extremely thankful for that! I also wanted to support the Walden family as well and Oregon fans. I couldn’t begin to do this race without my brother’s (Jeff) help as well.”
Following that theme, another driver who has spent more time turning wrenches lately than turning a steering wheel is Chance Overholt. Like Evans and Jefferson, Overholt will be looking for his first win at Hermiston Raceway. He has experience at the facility in Pro 4 Late Models and in the Legends. He will be making his fourth start in the NWSLMS, but first since 2016. Overholt will be participating in the Pro Late Model “Bettarel 100” on Friday as well. He will be looking to have a fun Labor Day Weekend at the track and learn a little for the teams he supports.
“My goal is to have a good time”, Overholt explained. “I don’t get to race very often, but have been itching to get back in the seat lately. I’m hoping that I can learn something that may help with chassis tuning for my customers.”
Chad Hinkle is another driver who will be making his first start at Hermiston Raceway. Hinkle is coming off a series best second-place finish at South Sound Speedway (WA) in the series last event. He will be relying on help from Crew Chief Steve Conduff and the experience of former NWSLMS Hermiston winner Tayler Riddle, as he explained.
“This is my first time to Hermiston so I will be leaning on Taylor and Steve. They have been there. It’s a low grip track, and a long race, so we will try to not use up our stuff and hopefully be there at the end. I’m looking forward to trying out a new track and hopefully I’ll reach the podium again. This is my last race of the year so that first win in the NWSLMS would be a nice start to the Winter.”
2019 Hermiston winner and NWSLMS Champion Trevor Cristiani won’t be racing in this weekend’s “Atomic 125”, but he will be there helping his wife Aubrey, as well as Ashton Cristiani in his #94 Super Late Model. Aubree will be doing double duty, participating in Friday’s “Bettarel 100” for the Pro Late Models, before making her series debut on Sunday. Aubrey has one previous start at Hermiston, finishing second in the Tri-State Challenge Series Pro Late Models earlier this season. She hopes that experience, along with her husband’s knowledge, will help her throughout the weekend.
“Hermiston is a very unique track”, Cristiani began. “It has a very abrasive race surface as well as a lot of quirks. I personally think it takes a lot of patience to do well there and being aggressive at the right times. I’m excited to race my first Northwest race. My husband (Trevor) won the championship in 2019, and I got to go to a majority of his races. I know firsthand that there will be stout competition. With it being my first race in the Northwest Tour, I would be super happy with a top five or top three, but winning is always the goal.”
Perhaps the hottest driver entering the “Atomic 125” is Sandpoint, ID chauffer Corey Allard. Allard is coming off a win in the Idaho 200 at Stateline Speedway. He then followed up with a Fast Time, and runner-up result two weeks ago in his Pro Late Model at the ¼-mile track.
“As a driver you definitely have more confidence in yourself and your car after a win like that, and since we were able to back up the “Idaho 200” win with Fast Time and a second-place finish in the Main at Stateline last weekend, we are for sure going into the weekend at Hermiston looking to get a top-five finish”, Allard stated.
Allard has one start at Hermiston, coming home with a top-10 in 2014. It was an event he remembers with fondness regarding the track.
“I have only raced at Hermiston the one time, and that was back in 2014, but I really enjoyed it”, Allard recalled about his experience. “The track has “character”, with some bumps and an abrasive surface that puts the racing and saving tires back in the driver’s hands, more so than other tracks. I think drivers usually enjoy tracks like Hermiston because of those things.”
With a strong field, and multiple drivers making their first series starts at Hermiston, the championship battle could see a major shake-up. Garrett Evans enters the event with the championship lead garnering 278 points. Jefferson Racing Rookie-of-the-Year leader Bryce Bezanson is second with 254 points. Fellow rookie Max Schroeder is third, only two markers back. Kole Raz is fourth followed by Christopher Kalsch, Tristan Haidar, Trenton Moriarty, Dale Wennerberg, Haeden Plybon and Matt Doyle.
After winning in his series debut in 2020 at South Sound Speedway, Schroeder will be looking to score a win this weekend to close the gap on championship leader Evans, and “Rookie” leader Bezanson.
“It’s really surreal being in the championship fight with Garrett Evans and the Rookie battle with Bryce Bezanson”, Schroeder began. “Being only a few points behind them, going into Hermiston, just puts a bigger fire under me to really push my team, car, and myself at Hermiston. Entering the weekend winless this season just motivates me to get it done at Hermiston. I love racing at Hermiston, it’s a real drivers track and scoring our first win of the season here would be something special.”
The Northwest Super Late Model Series will compete on Day #3 of Oregon’s Labor Day Spectacular. They will be joined by the Mini Stocks, Jr. Late Models, Street Stocks and Legends, which will serve as a Regional Qualifier for the division. Qualifying will begin at 5:30pm with the Super Late Models last to take to the track. Fan-Fest will begin at 6:30pm with Heat Races at 7:00pm. Main Events for the Mini Stocks, Jr. Late Models, Street Stocks and Legends will follow. The “Atomic 125, for the Northwest Super Late Model Series will complete the program.
- 021 Todd Connell Yakima, WA MAYBE
- 3 Andy Beaman Selah, WA
- 3 Ken Bonney Hermiston, OR
- 5 Chance Overholt Kennewick, WA
- 7 Bryce Bezanson Snohomish, WA
- 15 Jim Franklin Kennewick, WA
- 17 Max Schroeder Tacoma, WA
- 22 Jason Jefferson Naches, WA
- 23 Corey Allard Sagle, ID
- 24 Tristan Haider Olympia, WA
- 27 Derek Ball Kennewick, WA
- 33 Christopher Kalsch Hillsboro, OR
- 38 Chad Hinkle Yakima, WA
- 40 Dylan Caldwell Nampa, ID
- 55 Haeden Plybon Spokane, WA
- 64 Garrett Evans E Wenatchee, WA
- 70 Dale Wennerberg E Wenatchee, WA
- 84 Colton Nelson Meridian, ID
- 88 Jeff Mullins Naches, WA
- 91 Alan Cress Stayton, OR MAYBE
- 93 Dave Garber Spokane, WA
- 94 Ashton Cristiani Meridian, ID
- 96 Aubree Cristiani Meridian, ID
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.