DEMING - For the past seven years, two divisions has been enough at Clay Cup Nationals.
Since the 250 class ceased to be a part of the annual summer showcase event at Deming Speedway, the 600s and 1,200s have owned the show.
But with an increase in the number of cars and the quality of racing throughout the racing season, the 600 Restricted class was added to the fray for the 30th annual event.
The result was a whole lot of racing, and for the most part, some of the best action the track has seen in years.
Ashley Thompson ended up grabbing the first 600 Restricted Clay Cup feature checkered flag on Thursday, July 18, on the first night of preliminaries.
Tyson Cross won a caution-filled 1,200 A-Main, and Kyle Mitchell held on for a preliminary night win in the 600 feature.
All three classes will have one more night to try to pile up a good preliminary points total on Friday, July 19, as they try to earn good starting spots for championship night on Saturday, July 20.
The 600 Restricted class is usually reserved for the less-experienced drivers at Deming Speedway, allowing many a chance to move up from the Kasey Kahne Junior Sprints to the bigger cars.
Thompson obviously showed she is making progress, as she grabbed her first A-Main win of the summer.
Thompson, a 2013 graduate of Arlington High School, worked her way around two cars on Lap 5 to claim second place, and three laps later worked her way under Ashleigh Johnson coming out of Turn 4 to assume the race lead.
Johnson attempted to keep the pressure on during a couple of mid-race restarts, but couldn't reassume the lead and ended up finishing second ahead of Jake Helsel, Riley Watkins and Dylan Resch in an inverted field for the feature races.
The 1,200 A-Main was a bit more choppy with a number of early-race cautions and a red flag six laps in after Derek Holmwood, Brad Davison and Darren Hillberg were involved in a spectacular wreck entering Turn 1.
"Sorry to fans for all the cautions, but that's just Clay Cup," Davison said in an on-track interview during the red. "In front of me, I saw a couple cars get some big air, and there just was nowhere to go."
Tony Helsel led the first 10 laps, but spun by himself in front of the field between Turns 1 and 2, giving the lead to Cross and bringing out another caution.
Two laps later, Nate Vaughn grabbed the lead from Cross coming out of Turn 2, but it was Cross who came high off Turn 2 to take it back two laps later.
Vaughn put some pressure on Cross on a Lap 16 restart, but Cross was able to stave off the challenge, and Vaughn ended up losing second to Brock Lemley on the outside of Turn 2 with three laps to go. Lemley and Liam Ryan, who finished fourth, both had big points nights, as they worked their ways up from the rear end of the field to join Jacob Buckenmeyer in the top five, piling up the passing points.
Cross' victory marked the third straight year he grabbed a preliminary win.
Mitchell was both lucky and good in winning the 600, after grabbing the lead on Lap 6.
The British Columbian driver twice surrendered the lead to hard-charging Liam Ryan, only to have the lead given back to him when the caution flag waved before the lap had been completed.
But coming to the white flag, with Ryan again charging around the high side, Mitchell slid up to block coming to the white flag and held on for the win his second preliminary victory at Clay Cup. Spud Allen, Jacob Brown and defending Clay Cup 600 champion Heath Duinkerken rounded out the top five.
Brandee Wood led the 600 Restricted B-Main from start to finish. Jesse Schlotfeldt was the hard-luck recipient of the race, as he looped it between Turns 1 and 2 seven laps in, giving up second place in the process. He ended up finishing 10th, while Isaac Abenroth and Kaitlyn Hammer finished behind Wood.
Shaun Holtorf used a Lap 2 restart in the 600 B-Main to jump up three spots to second place, but he never was able to make a serious challenge to Robbie Price, who took the lead coming off Turn 4 on the first lap and never surrendered it during the 15-lap race.
Derek Torkelson, who did not take a qualifying lap, worked his way all the way from last place to the final transfer spot in the 10-lap 600 C-Main, finishing behind start-to-finish leader Kris LaBree. Torkelson worked his way under Hannah Lindquist coming off Turn 2 on the ninth lap.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
30TH ANNUAL CLAY CUP NATIONALS
Preliminaries (Night 2): Friday, July 19
Championship night: Saturday, July 20
Site: Deming Speedway
Gates open: 5 p.m.
Racing starts: 7 p.m.
Tickets: Preliminaries - Adult $14, juniors (8-17) and seniors (65 and older) $12, children (7 and younger) $5. Championship - Adults $17, juniors $14, seniors $12, children $7.
30TH ANNUAL CLAY CUP NATIONALS
At Deming Speedway
A-Main (25 laps): 1. (09) Tyson Cross, 2. (10) Brock Lemley, 3. (N8) Nate Vaughn, 4. (87) Liam Ryan, 5. (98K) Jacob Buckenmeyer, 6. (13) Steven Hendrickson, 7. (6) Jared Gundersen, 8. (22) Eric Drake, 9. (9) Clennon Holloway, 10. (55) Tony Helsel, 11. (21) Derek Holmwood, 12. (51) Ben Dial, 13. (7) Dick Williams, 14. (2) Derek Junell, DNF (16z) Zack Keefe, DNF (21c) Ryan Cully, DNF (72) Chance Arrants, DNF (99) Kyle Johnson, DNF (11) Brad Davison, DNF (01) Darren Hillberg, DNF (11m) Dwayne Mackey.
Qualifying top time: (87) Liam Ryan 68.999 mph. Heat 1 winner: (98K) Jacob Buckenmeyer. Heat 2 winner: (21) Derek Holmwood. Heat 3 winner: (09) Tyson Cross.
A-Main (25 laps): 1. (76k) Kyle Mitchell, 2. (87) Liam Ryan, 3. (12) Spud Allen, 4. (23) Jacob Brown, 5. (79) Heath Duikerken, 6. (83c) Chance Crum, 7. (9p) Jared Peterson, 8. (40) Madison Hess, 9. (00) Bayden Planko, 10. (21b) Landon Hurst, 11. (19) Shaun Holtorf, 12. (76) Chase Schmidt, 13. (78) Joe Constance, 14. (71) Dustin O'Brien, 15. (17) Kevijn Wilkinson, 16. (96) Greg Hamilton, 17. (1) Austin Sheridan, DNF (7j) Michael Faccinto, DNF (10) Brock Lemley, DNF (33s) Lance Sargent, DNF (14) Keith Wickkard, DNF (21p) Robbie Price.
B-Main(15 laps, top 6 advance): 1. (21p) Robbie Price, 2. (19) Shaun Holtorf, 3. (14) Keith Wickard, 4. (1) Austin Sheridan, 5. (17) Kevin Wilkinson, 6. (96) Greg Hamilton, 7. (78) Joe Constance, 8. (5d) Annie DeRemer, 9. (13) Kris LaBree, 10. (28R) Kelly Mauck, 11. (47) Derek Torkelson, 12. (12x) Brent Holloway, 13. (29o) Aiden Ostrom, 14. (N8) Nate Vaughn, 15. (4x) Tom Hovlnd, DNF (12s) Hayden Schmidt, DNF (8) Kyle Kennedy, DNF (M79) Dahnelyn McKay.
C-Main (10 laps, top 2 advance): 1. (13) Kris LaBree, 2. (47) Derek Torkelson, 3. (3H) Hannah Lindquist, 4. (8R) Rachel Westmoreland, 5. (11C) Chad Sinner, 6. (41) Ozzie McGee.
Qualifying top time: (76) Chase Schmidt 69.045 mph. Heat 1 winner: (12) Spud Allen. Heat 2 winner: (33s) Lance Sargent. Heat 3 winner: (87) Liam Ryan. Heat 4 winner: (76k) Kyle Mitchell. Heat 5 winner: (10) Brock Lemley.
600 Restricted class
A-Main (25 laps): 1. (41) Ashley Thompson, 2. (0) Ashleigh Johnson, 3. (44) Jake Helsel, 4. (55z) Riley Watkins, 5. (23R) Dylan Resch, 6. (29b) Jacob Brown, 7. (29) Galen Turner, 8. (9T) Tristin Thomas, 9. (3H) Hannah Lindquist, 10. (25) Darius Walker-Perkins, 11. (76e) Eli Schmidt, 12. (78) Spencer Constance, 13. (91) Isaac Abenroth, 14. (22) Sawyer Sorgenfrei, 15. (1w) Brandee Wood, 16. (48T) Tanner Holm, DNF (12p) Tatum Pospical, DNF (39k) Kaitlyn Hammer.
B-Main(15 laps, top 6 advance): 1. (1w) Brandee Wood, 2. (91) Isaac Abenroth, 3. (39k) Kaitlyn Hammer, 4. (48T) Tanner Holm; 5. (25) Darius Walker-Perkins, 6. (22) Sawyer Sorgenfrei, 7. (53) Ian Humprhries, 8. (J10) Jaden Thomas; 9. (55) Kinser Kennedy, 10. (21) Jesse Schotfeldt, 11. (08) Lizzy Johnson.
Qualifying top time: (9T) Tristin Thomas 64.074 mph. Heat 1 winner: (78) Spencer Constance. Heat 2 winner: (44) Jake Helsel. Heat 3 winner: (23R) Dylan Resch. Heat 4 winner: (29) Galen Turner.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.