ELMA, WA – September 4, 2017 – Shane Stewart led all 30 laps at Grays Harbor Raceway, but it wasn’t easy. With five lapped cars battling for position directly in front of the leaders in the closing laps, Brad Sweet stalked the Larson/Marks Racing No. 2 before pitching his No. 49 to the bottom off of turn four coming to checkered. Sweet led momentarily, but Stewart’s momentum on the cushion was enough to cross the line .205 seconds in front of Sweet. David Gravel charged late to land on the podium for the second consecutive race.
Stewart started third and won a hectic Craftsman Club Dash that saw the front row starters end up finishing at the rear and Sweet come from fifth to second.
The lone caution flag of the Feature came on lap 15 when Jacob Allen suffered front end damage, spinning his No. 1A to safety on the bottom of the track. The caution erased Stewart’s sizeable lead, but also gave him a clear track with no lapped cars in sight.
By lap 20 Stewart had once again stretched his lead to over two seconds. However, it was inevitable that he would reach the back of the field before the conclusion of the Feature. He did, in a big way.
“I was trapped. I could not get a good enough run to split the two lapped cars in front of me,” Stewart said in Victory Lane about the stressful final laps.
“My car has been really good lately and that is a testament to Lee, Heath and Dennis. It’s a tough gig out here. Lots of miles on the road and countless hours spent maintaining these cars to compete at this level. I wouldn’t be here without these guys,” a thankful Stewart said.
Stewart’s boldest move was on the final circuit where he was forced to come off his preferred line, the cushion, entering turn one. The aforementioned allowed Sweet to get a run down the backstretch to make his challenge for the lead, to no avail.
“I wish I could redo that last corner. I might have done something different,” Sweet said following yet another runner-up finish. “Overall, it was a good night. We like to be on the front stretch at the end of the night, but we have a lot of second places this year. This West Coast swing is usually pretty for good us, I’m back at my hometown tracks so hopefully we can get this Ollie’s Bargain Outlet where it belongs,” the Grass Valley, California native said.
While all eyes focused on Sweet chasing down Stewart, David Gravel might have had the fastest car on the track in the closing laps. “We were really good there at the end. We just need to do a better job in the heat races and put ourselves up front in the Feature. We’ve been really strong the last two nights,” Gravel said after coming from his eighth starting position tonight.
Jason Johnson and Daryn Pittman, who established a new Grays Harbor Track Record in Qualifying, completed the top five. Dominic Scelzi picked up KSE Hard Charger Honors coming forward to 11th.
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series travels to Oregon to race at the Willamette Speedway on Wednesday, September 6. For more information on Wednesday’s event, click here. After that the Series will continue to trek South for the Gold Cup Race of Champions at the Silver Dollar Speedway over the weekend.