DEMING - The way qualifying went, 1,200cc season points leader Tyson Cross probably would have just been happy to be running when the checkered flag flew on the first night of the 29th Annual Clay Cup Nationals on Thursday, July 19, at Deming Speedway.
Not only was Cross' 09 car still rolling on the 30th lap of the feature event, it was leading the pack coming out of turn four, as Cross claimed from Zach Keefe coming off Turn 2 and never let it go to claim the victory on first of two preliminary nights.
"This is a déjà vu of last year for us," Cross said in a post race interview. "We did not have the night we anticipated. We haven't qualified outside the top six all year. ... Anything that could happen (with the engine), and we had nothing happen all year, it happened tonight."
For the second week in a row, Jared Peterson made the low line work to claim victory in the 600cc feature.
"We struggled a little early on, but we've really put it together the last couple of weeks," Peterson said in a post-race interview.
Cross' win was a bit surprising after he appeared to have engine trouble during qualifying and had to pull into the pits. He was allowed to finish his qualifying session at the tail end, and turned in the second-slowest time.
But with the full-field invert on preliminary nights, allowing the fastest cars the chance to start at the back and pick up the most passing points, Cross started on the front row.
With his motor seemingly intact, Cross didn't long to make the prime starting spot pay off, as he quickly grabbed the lead and was never seriously challenged, despite a choppy finish to the race.
Wade Spreckelmeyer made a last-lap pass of Brad Davison to claim second place, while Steven Hendrickson finished fourth.
Liam Ryan turned in the fast time in qualifying, but came to a stop on the first lap of the feature. His crew quickly changed his left front tire, but 18 laps later, something appeared to break on the same corner of the machine, sending Ryan hard into the inside wall in the middle of the backstretch.
What appeared to be a strong points night for Aaron Fell, after he worked his way up from the back of an inverted field to fifth place, was spoiled when he appeared to run out of gas with two laps to go.
Peterson claimed his ninth feature win at Deming Speedway, as he seemed to hook up in the low line early. That allowed him to move up from the fifth starting spot and work his way under Dougie James for the lead coming off Turn 2 11 laps in, and he never looked back.
"It's really high caliber racing," said Peterson, who ended up on top of the 51-car field in the 600s. "You just look at the caliber of cars and drivers from California. They got so much time and money. Even the drivers from here are really good."
Dylan Black and Ryan both scored big points nights, working their ways up through the inverted field to finish second and third, respectively. Trent Carter and quick-time qualifier Heath Duinkerken finished fourth and fifth.
Defending champion Michael Faccinto appeared to get hooked into the infield wall on the back stretch, bringing out one of a number of midrace cautions and ending his night.
Brayden Planko went wire-to-wire after grabbing the lead in the 600 B-Main over defending Clay Cup Champion Faccinto coming out of Turn 4. Planko had to hold off serious challenges late from Clay Cup legend Stan Yockey and Faccinto on the final two laps, though. Yockey appeared to be making the high groove work, but he got a little two high on the 18th lap and nearly spun out. He held on for second ahead of Faccinto and Shaun Holtorf, who grabbed the final transfer spot.
In the 600 C-Main, Cory Eliason won a wheel-to-wheel first lap battle with Spud Allen while digging out of Turn 4. The 2006 Clay Cup champion was never again seriously challenged on his way to the victory. Allen held on for the second transfer spot.
Clay Cup continues on Friday, July 20, with the second night of preliminaries, before the champions are crowned on Saturday, July 21.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
20TH CLAY CUP
At Deming Speedway
Thursday's preliminary results
A-Main (30 laps): 1. (9p) Jared Peterson, 2. (21b) Dylan Black. 3. (87) Liam Ryan; 4. (13c) Trent Carter; 5. (79) Heath Duinkerken; 6. (29J) Dougie James; 7. (00) Brayden Planko; 8. (2) Ryan Reeves; 9. (4) Mitchell Faccinto; 10. (66) Blake Brigge; 11. (519) Shaun Holtorf; 12. (1) Austin Sheridan; 13. (78) Joe Constance; 14. (92) Kyler Shaw; DNF (9t) JR Thomas; DNF (71) Dustin O'Brien; DNF (11) Greg Tourond; DNF (10) Brock Lemley; DNF (76) Chase Schmidt; DNF (1F) Michael Faccinto; DNF (8) Kiwi Alexander; DNF (7) Stan Yockey.
B-Main (20 laps, top four transfer): 1. (00) Brayden Planko; 2. (7) Stan Yockey; 3. (4) Mitchell Faccinto; 4. (519) Shaun Holtorf; 5. (10j) Cory Eliason; 6. (88) Koen Shaw; 7. (56k) Kelly Mauck; 8. (23) Jacob Brown; 9. (8v) Bryce Volpa; 10. (29o) Alden Ostrom; 11. (12a) Spud Allen; 12. (96) Greg Hamilton; 13. (17x) Kevin Wilkinson; 14. (179) Landon Hurst; 15. (18E) Jon Engler; DNF (8r) Rachel Westmoreland; DNF (21p) Robbie Price; DNF (14) Keith Wickard; DNF (22) Mike Schott; DNF (N8) Nate Vaughn.
C-Main (15 laps, top two transfer): 1. (10j) Cory Eliason; 2. (12a) Spud Allen; 3. (12s) Hayden Schmidt; 4. (9) Chase Goetz; 5. (83c) Jarid Kunkle; 6. (45) Jerrod Saddler; 7. (40) Madison Hess; 8. (C17) Cory Samuelson; 9. (1w) Jared Gunderson; 10. (76m) Kyle Mitchell; 11. (5D) Annie DeRemer; DNF (38) Alex Gauthier.
Heat 1 winner: (1) Austin Sheridan. Heat 2 winner: (9p) Jared Peterson. Heat 3 winner: (92) Kyler Shaw. Heat 4 winner: (66) Blake Brigge. Heat 5 winner: (10) Brock Lemley. Heat 6 winner: (13c) Trent Carter. Top qualifier: (79) Heath Duinkerken 69.538 mph.
A-Main (30 laps): 1. (09) Tyson Cross; 2. (2sp) Wade Spreckelmeyer; 3. (11) Brad Davison; 4. (13) Steven Hendrickson; 5. (6) Jason Bloodgood; 6. (10s) Forest Metcalfe; 7. (7) Jared Gundersen; 8. (10) Brock Lemley; 9. (9) Clennon Holloway; 10. (55) Tony Helsel; 11. (11m) Dwayne Mackey; 12. (98K) Kyle Kenoyer; 13. (16z) Zach Keefe; 14. (15) Aaron Fell; DNF (22) Eric Drake; DNF (87) Liam Ryan.
Heat 1 winner: (13) Steven Hendrickson. Heat 2 winner: (10) Brock Lemley. Top qualifier: (87) Liam Ryan 70.644 mph.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.