The last name of the driver who scored the pole for the 25th running of the Montana 200 came as no surprise after qualifying was said and done – Riddle. After all, the #15 of Tayler Riddle had been on rails all weekend and had been the only car to scoot under the thirteen second barrier in traffic.
But as Riddles as wont to do, there was a bit of a trick behind the truth. Owen Riddle, Tayler’s older brother, was the very first car out in qualifying but managed to turn in his fastest lap of the weekend and score the pole for the most prestigious Late Model race of the year in Big Sky country.
“It feels really good because we had to work really hard all day today and yesterday” said the elder Riddle. “Just didn’t think we had a lot of speed until it really counted. I was really nervous about Tayler. I knew he could beat me because he’s just been plain faster than us all weekend.”
The Riddle brothers have a light-hearted and cheeky rivalry between the two of them, but there is a clear bond in the pits between the two. Right after failing to knock Owen off the top spot at the end of the session, Tayler was the first to come give his brother a celebratory handshake.
“We’re really competitive,” said Owen, “but somehow we both end up doing about the same as the other. I wouldn’t say that one of us is doing any better than the other right now. If he gets ahead, I catch back up.”
Bobby Hodges, an SRL regular from California, made the long haul to Montana and was rewarded with a second place effort in time trials.
After qualifying, four trophy dashes took place for bragging rights as well as four heats to set the order of the field. Owen Riddle and Hodges were locked into the front row by virtue of their qualifying times, but positions 3-26 were up for grabs in the heats.
Dashes went to Gracin Raz, Shelby Thompson, Gary Lewis, and Jeremy Doss. When Riddle did not win his heat, he was unable to clinch a potential $5,000 bonus that would have been given to him if he had won time trials, the dash, and Saturday’s main.
The heat races were mostly clear affairs with Braeden Havens, Ryan Wells, Tayler Riddle, and Alex Lessor taking the heats. By virtue of their heat finishes, Tayler Riddle and Jeremy Doss will make up row 2.
The 25th annual Montana 200 will run Saturday evening with opening ceremonies set to start off at 6:00 PM. Speed51.com Powered by JEGS will be back at Montana Raceway Park at noon MT for Trackside Now coverage.
Starting Lineup – 25th Montana 200:
— Story and Photos by Tim Quievryn // Speed51.com Southeast Editor // @thethirdturn